Monthly Archives: June 2006

WED 28 June 06

beach606.jpgWeary and a bit glum. That’s been my response to most inquiries as to how I’ve been lately. I apologize for the prolonged silence. Those of you who’ve been reading these for some time know that most often silence means things are just fine. This time, that’s not entirely the case. Although things have been far from unbearable, the reintroduction of methotrexate to my weekly cycle of chemo has not been altogether easy. We began again with a 25% reduction in my dose three weeks ago. While the presiding side effects are lessened in severity, I am still generally tired and a wee bit irritable (losing my whiskers once more, too). It makes ministry interesting. And hard. If only I had a full beard.

This last Friday I was cleared for another reduction. I’m now taking half the dose of the drug that was originally prescribed for my body at the top of this final round. I feel somewhat better this week. I take the same this Friday, then see one of the oncologists on Monday for an evaluation. The thing is, this particular drug has not been easy for me. While it is so for most (at least at my current dosage), it’s been a menace in my body every time and no matter how I take it. Messes with my head, and sometimes my heart. My at-rest pulse a few weeks back was 120 bpm. And in spite of that, I’m dead tired.

I’ve been hiding out a bit, and doing happy things while waiting out this balancing act of oncology: how can Patient A do life and therapy at the same time? (We have yet to find out.) We’ve managed to do a round of graduation open houses, including my friend Jessica’s in Wisconsin. It was good to see her on this side of this last year with hair and a huge cheshire. Her prognosis is good, and it seems they’ve found the magic mix for her maintenance phase.

beachB606.jpgWe also made it up to my sister’s place in Grafton, ND. Swam with the family at Homme Dam, and golfed nine holes with my brother-in-law (I don’t really golf, but I’ve got a good imagination. The trouble is, my imagination’s got a wicked slice, too). Then I gave the message at their church (Bethel) Sunday morning. Driving back to the Cities Sunday night seemed a vexing task when we left Grafton. I ached in my wrists and back, and was terribly worn out from the weekend. But Jen managed. And when the boys needed company, I was able to get behind the wheel for a while on a bottle of Arizona Black Tea.

That’s how it’s been lately: if I want to do anything that requires more energy than you’d use lying in bed, I do it on caffeine. Then I run around yapping with no point at all, happy but irritable, and crash hard when it’s all over. Otherwise I’m too tired and unmotivated to do much. I don’t like it. I’ve fallen behind on rehab. Missed one week of physical therapy. I’m most often achy, weak, and sludgy in the head. I’m glad it’s summer and that Emmaus has Mike & Liz on staff these months. They’re keeping the kids busy in my stead. And everyone’s happy.

eliswing606.jpgI’m expecting things will get better soon. I know what life is like now without methotrexate from that month and a half of summertime goodness, and I miss it. I got so much work done around here, and we were hopeful. It’s hard to be hopeful when you’re sleepy and grumpy. But we’ve been praying more lately. And reading Job together. And other parts of the Bible, too. Job is remarkable because he said some pretty crazy things in his suffering – crazy by most standards I’m aware of – and his buddies said some things that read a lot like good, sound teaching. Yet in the last chapter, God reproves Job’s friends for not speaking well of God, as Job did. Crazy. And it’s somehow so incredibly comforting right now. Something is letting up. Not sure if it’s the heaviness in our hearts or the weight of the daily grind or fewer pills in my cup come every Friday, but it’s welcome whatever way. And God’s behind it however it comes.

I’ve mentioned this to many of you (and this may not surprise the rest of you), but I’d really like to write a book about this past year. I’d like to say some of those things that (believe it or not) I haven’t said here – some of those things that are better said looking back (whereas this forum by design regards the present). I mention it here only because I would ask those of you who might like to see this happen to pray with us to that end. Because I’m not sure how to make the time, or that my wrists could handle the constant typing, or how I’d get published, or even exactly how I’d format the content. But I believe that God’s people praying to the true God moves the heart and the hands of God. And we’d need that kind of intervention for this to happen.

Sometime early July we’ll post another of the messages I’ve given this spring on the website. Thanks to those of you who’ve taken the time to download and listen. It’s our prayer through your encounter with our experience and our testimony that God might fortify your heart in Christ for the inevitable suffering of this life. I do believe it is by His inexhaustible mercy that we are…

Still His,

bighair606.jpgPS. I finished this update last night, and then wasn’t able to post it because Aedan got sick. High fever. I sat by his bed for an hour with a cold & wet washcloth on his head. He’s a good sick boy. Very happy. But sick nonetheless. Late night last night. Long day today. Had to cancel or at least postpone our trip to Emmaus’ family camp. Once again, we’re praying that I wouldn’t get whatever it is he’s got…

PPS. I’ve received so many encouraging emails and comments in the last thirteen months. Some very recently. I ache for the day I can sit down and respond to them all. Several come to mind daily, and I feel bad that you may not know how genuinely grateful I am for your words…

Categories: Cancer | 5 Comments

THUR 8 June 06

6-8-06 Update

harriet606.jpgJust wanted to throw a quick note up with the news that test results from my scans last week were good. No cancer.

The bone-density scan indicated slight osteopenia, and the MRI suggests my most recent visit to the orthopedic doc was a fluke. Nothing appears to be wrong with my hip. Yet there are still enough goofy things in my back to attribute for the pain I’m working with/around/against everyday: spinal stenosis, slight bulges, mild height loss… I actually lost a half-inch this last year. I was so proud of that half-inch. Now I’m five-six even.

I began another cycle on Monday with a chemo infusion at the clinic. I’ve been taking steroids this week, too. Couldn’t get out of bed ‘til the crack of ten on Tuesday and Wednesday, then I can’t fall asleep once I get back in it come evening. This week Dr. Hurley has me back on methotrexate, too. Haven’t had to swallow that poison for a month and a half. I’ll be taking those pills Friday at a 25% reduced dose. I hate that drug. Pray all goes well.

j&aplanes606.jpgThings have been good here. And I have the inclination to tell about it, as well as unpacking the mind-games we’ve played with the varying diagnosis of all these other non-cancer symptoms. The pain is real. The source of it seems a bit mysterious. We attribute most of it now to atrophy. Half a year in bed can do that to a guy. But I’m doing what I can to rehab: a couple days per week at the pool, massage therapy (the kind that hurts), and physical therapy once a week. Not to mention being a dad.

powertools.jpgSpending more time at work, too. And working on our deck. Friends Dave and Steve helped strip, sand, and stain the whole thing. Been fun making up for a years worth of inactivity around the yard. Gratifying.

Much to unpack some other day… some other time… it’s quarter to midnight, and I don’t have the gumption to finish what I’d most likely begin if I wrote much longer. I enjoy smelling a bit like chlorine at bedtime. Means I moved today.

Sweet dreams.

Still His,

Categories: Cancer | 3 Comments

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