Posts Tagged With: Crohns

Sick-Boy Cycle

Jo Isaac – Joseph Isaac: “May the Lord add Laughter.” We are praying for laughter. Both for a change in circumstance – one that might yield the fruit of laughter – and of disposition – one that might be more prone to laugh.

Those of you who still read this blog know that my months-long silence is a digression from my posting pattern of the previous two years. This has not been for lack of a story to tell. There’ve been other reasons for my silence.

If I could I would tell of a long winter. Of psychotherapy and depression. Of prednisone induced Bipolar II and mood stabilizers. Of 12 months of not writing. I’ve had the wind knocked out of me, in a way. Gut-punched while stepping out of the ring. Things were supposed to get better. But since last summer and the completion of chemotherapy I’ve stopped writing to ease my painful hands. I’ve got weak wrists. Haven’t been able to seriously play guitar for two plus years. Any creativity’s been thereby stifled. Dreams and momentum are doubled over, gasping for air.

In October of last year, Crohn’s disease relapsed in my body. I’ve since had to begin taking 6MP: a mild chemo drug that effects the immune system in such a way that there may be a possible link to the onset of certain types of lymphoma. Like the kind I got the last time I was on 6MP. Though it’s not proven, and it’s hard to be certain, the medical profession admits it is at least a potential instigator/catalyst to cancer. I’ve seen several doctors on this issue. There’s really just no great way of treating Crohn’s in the medical world.

Every treatment comes with a potential catch. And though the cancer connection is as of yet hypothetical, it is nonetheless a mental/emotional blow. Feels a little like we’re starting the cancerous cycle all over again. The sick-boy cycle. Question: “Will I ever be well again?” The answer seems to be given in a Crohn’s relapse and its subsequent treatment: “Forget it, sick boy.”

Clinic visits and doctoring are still a significant part of every week. Weekly schedules revolve around such things. Makes it hard to exist as anything other than “the patient.”

We have been genuinely enjoying the summer. July at least. But the pleasure seems an event, or pocket/exception, in an otherwise stark landscape/era of ambiguous despair. This is either the beginning of better times, or another precursor to hope deferred.

Jo Isaac is a prayer, and perhaps part answer to that prayer. He has been a delight. Sleeps well. Takes a bottle. He has unlocked untapped affections for the other two boys in me. Love and delight has been exponentially multiplied in his presence. I’ve enjoyed being a dad more these days than ever before. We’re praying he is this way a harbinger of better times.

I write now out of that need for prayer. Prayer for direction. Clarity. Strength. Hope. Hope. Hope. While I was on chemotherapy, hope was based at least in part on the fact that chemo would one day be done and I would be healthier than before. That day long ago came and went. Didn’t anticipate chemo leaving quite the mark it did. Fatigue from the fight with cancer and its treatment has been known to last for years. This is made worse by effects of Crohn’s and its treatment. And this chronic, undiagnosable pain and its treatment.

This is the backdrop for the persistent question of vocation and provision. Man’s got to do something. To work. To contribute. While I desire most to be a writer and itinerant speaker (and music would be nice, too), my hands hurt and don’t work well. The same could be said of my heart. Speaking then is also made difficult. I was in ND in March, right at the bottom of a mid-winter sinkhole, my heart was depressed and slow to hope. Speaking that week was very difficult, and I have doubts about how beneficial it is for my audience when I speak out of such a place. And it is a place I’ve found myself in more often than not this year.

Other jobs are made equally difficult, even unattainable, by these persistent ailments. Our current living arrangement is nearly perfect and the least expensive way we could live in the Cities. Still, the sum of my disability check and Jen’s wages renders even this unsustainable. We would soon sink were it not for charity. We float only on the good graces of generous people. And these days, just barely. Family, mostly. And a few good friends. The gratitude weighs heavily on my heart for some reason. The words “thank you” get caught in my throat. The pursuit of wellness for this body has become an expensive venture. And the weight of it is often debilitating. So pray, please. Pray with us. Pray for us.

I would not be writing or posting this if there were not still some faith in me. We are expectant. We are praying and asking others to pray with us that God would provide something, somehow, in such a way that we would laugh. We are considering paths for our future and asking God for discernment, words, and courage. We are praying for new ways of living. Pray with us, please. And rejoice for the prayer, the promise, and the life of our little Jo Isaac.

Thanks for checking in.

Still His,

P.S. I will be speaking/preaching in Illinois and St. Michael, MN three Sundays in August. This also in the midst of yet another Crohn’s flare-up. Again, your prayers are more than appreciated.

Categories: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments

Anticipating Easter

How things are.

The boys are healthy. Happy mostly. Jen is bigger. Baby’s good. Due late May. Still shuffling rooms. Trying to make out what life here will look like with three kings ruling roost. Jen’s as beautiful as ever. I’m impressed daily by her ability to manage a mess like this with such a predictable composure. And she works. She has a job and she does it well. It thrills me to be near her.

I’m treating another Crohns episode. Steroids again. Started fresh two weeks back. Less fun this time. The two months between last round and this one were the darkest months I’ve endured in a decade. Intense emotional/psychological unrest in the absence of the drug that synthetically raised me for the holidays. Feeling like a puppet on a string. The puppeteer being whatever drug is in my system. Or not in my system. Hard to trust me when me is jerked around so easily by necessary chemistry.

Began psychotherapy a few weeks back as well. Pray for Bob and Tom and Bryan. They’re a couple of the professionals helping me sort through me. I know two of them to be brothers in the faith. Committed to Christ and the caring practice of psychology/psychiatry. I am hopeful this will be beneficial. Having a hard time with reentry. Not just the physical stressors either – the bad belly, weak wrists, aching back – social/emotional muscles have atrophied as well and as badly. Faith muscle, too, maybe. Hard to tell when medicine’s got the best of you.

Easter came early this year. So early it hardly seemed like Easter. Eggs were hid well beneath six inches of snow. I related to the disciples locked in a room following Good Friday’s not so good goings on. At least from their perspective, things went horribly wrong. No doubt they were grieving big time. No doubt they were asking, “Now what?” They lost their leader to a gruesome death. They watched their friend die. The last three years of their lives hung over and haunted them like an investment poorly made. Frauds and fools each and all.

That’s where I am. I’m in that room right now, too. Or worse, like Thomas, I might be off somewhere else grieving by myself when the Lord stops by for some fish. Everyone else saw him, but I didn’t. Guess he’ll have to catch up with me later.

But I believe the tomb is empty. I believe it with my head, and parts of my heart believe it, too. But there’s a cold corner in there somewhere that needs a shot of Easter. Wish I could say I was one of the women carrying pretty smells to the tomb, or one of the guys with the legs who ran to see, but I’m pretty sure I’m locked up in that room with the rest of them.

And the good news for them is good news for me: locked doors are nothing to our Lord.

Come, Lord Jesus.

Still His,

Categories: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Prednisone, Again.

One beneficial side effect is that my wrists feel a wee bit better, and I may be able to tap out a few words this month. I’m on prednisone again. How about that.

11eli3.jpgPast few months have been busy for me in the clinical realm. Never fun. Interesting sometimes, but never fun. Rheumatology. Infectious Diseases. Physical Therapy. Chiropractic adjustments. Backaches. Cavities, toothaches, and root canals. An MRI. An EMG. X-Rays. Lab work. Prenatal, and Craniofacial Therapy.

This week I reconnected with my old GI doc: I’m having a Crohn’s flareup again. First time it’s been this bad since I was diagnosed four years ago. I’ve lost near ten pounds in two weeks. Haven’t been feeling so good. Until today, that is. Until I swallowed another 40 mg of the Zone. Never thought I’d do that again. At least now I don’t fall asleep watching the evening news – not like it’s uninteresting.

I was just kidding about the prenatal thing. Guys don’t do prenatal. You knew that.

11ade1.jpgThis afternoon I have my first CT scan since credits rolled on the chemo. I’ll know the results in about a week. It’s a big one. It’s been six months. I’m not nervous really; I just don’t like drinking Radiology’s version of a smoothie. Especially while my belly’s so stinking artsy. Sensitive to the core. I’d prefer Jamba. Or an Orange Julius. And four cups? Even when it’s tasty I can’t drink that much. Do I really look like I could pack that away?

I ended up backing out of a Writer’s Conference this last weekend. I was looking forward to meeting and hearing one of my heroes. And learning a thing or two about writing (and perhaps publishing something other than blogs). Walt Wangerin was at Luther College. I was supposed to be, too. But fatigue and frequent trips to the jiffy rendered me a no-show. Just couldn’t do it. Bummer.

Two weeks hence, I plan to be speaking at a youth retreat in Nodak. Then flying to Chicago for a video shoot with friends at Awana (I get to wear makeup). This would normally be far too ambitious an itinerary, especially with insides neglecting to absorb any good thing, but with corticosteroids jacking my adrenals, it’s actually starting to look like good timing. Funny.

11jna1.jpgSpeaking of timing, Jen hasn’t been feeling so well lately, either. She’s got a nasty cold. And some other stuff. Tired, and a cough that just won’t go away. Now I’ve got it, too. Goes with out saying that when mom’s well, all’s well. And when she’s not well? Well…

Things are at a pretty serious standstill here regarding my employment and things of that sort. I’m still on Social Security Disability – which has been a Godsend for a season (still is, really). When it kicked into effect a year ago they wrote a check that was retroactive back to five months after I got cancer. So for twelve months it was like we were getting twice what we were actually given. Monthly, that is. Now all our reserve is dried up. That retroactive lump sum routinely covered our monthly shortfalls. We had reserve. Now all we have is shortfalls.

I get a check from Social Security. Jen gets a check from Emmaus. And our kids get a little bit from the big G as well (perhaps another kid would actually be an asset…) All told, we’re still leaning hard into whatever help we receive from those who can give it. Life’s expensive. Especially with kids, no job, and a hobby like mine.

11eli2.jpgAnd these days, my medical hobby’s looked more like a vocation than an in-your-spare-time thing. And for as much as there is to be made in the medical profession, the pay’s not so great from this end.

So plainly said (gulp), we could use your help.

I’ve done this so many times I think I could accurately display some reflective psychoanalysis here: It is hard for anyone, especially a young husband/father of 2 or 3, to ask other people for his daily bread. Much easier to ask God who says he’ll give before you ask. Then go work your butt off to acquiesce.

It’s much easier to ask if a) you are really, really sick and incapacitated; or b) able to contribute something to society or the church as a whole, even if not directly related to the sustenance for which you are asking, in order to more or less earn your keep.

11eli4.jpgWell, trouble is, right now I’m only sorta sick (as compared to CALGB 8811 chemotherapy: a.k.a. the last two years) and relatively unable to do the things which I feel amount to my potential contributions to the body (write, perform, travel and speak, etc…).

Point is, asking’s pretty hard. Feels a bit like begging. Feels a bit like raw humility (not the admirable kind). But both desperation and prednisone has put me out here. So here I am. Out here.

11eli1.jpgI learned today that I need another root canal. Pronto. That’ll be before our insurance calendar year turns over, and will cost approximately a thousand bucks. A legitimate billing black hole with our car insurance people revealed this month that we owe $1800 in back payments. Treatment for TMJ (my painful jaw that limits singing and other things, like chewing food – my molars don’t come together on either side) yields a hefty debt that insurance barely touches. We’ve been working on that for a year, and still owe $1500.

One of our cars is so goofed up my dad’s got it checked into a garage up in Roseau with high hopes of nursing it back to health. Wrenches at Saturn down here in the Twin Cities were scratching their heads (and charging for that) at the myriad of things gone wrong.

So all of this has kind of come now. Right before the holidays. Right before gift shopping and birthdays and Christmas concerts. Right before some gradual, hopeful, and rather monumental changes in our lives, and it’s a bit difficult. This isn’t my sad song. These are just the details. Or some of the details. There’s still more to tell, and much of it is good (I hope to write the proverbial Christmas Letter this month – big news and all), but it is befuddling. For now, I think I’ve said enough.

11jnj11.jpgMy apologies for not sharing brighter news. My hope is my meager attempts at humor aptly allude to our joy and held out hope that things will get better, someday. Or at the least, that we, and our faith, will be made strong.

If for nothing else, thank you for being aware of our story. My hunch is there is even more for which I could say thanks, like your prayers. But I’ll save that for another post, when I have the stamina and the words to do it well.

Blessings, friends.

Still His,

11ade2.jpgP.S. If you are one who is able and would like to put bread in our basket, here are three avenues. The first is simple enough: you could mail it to us at 8121 Fourth Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55420. The second is like it: there’s a benefit fund in my name at the Citizen’s State Bank in Roseau, PO Box 160, Roseau, MN 56751. The third is a benefit fund set up at Emmaus that actually yields receipts for tax-deductible donations: In this case only make checks payable to The Jeremy Erickson Family Benefit Fund, and send to the same c/o Emmaus Lutheran Church, 8443 Second Ave. S. Bloomington, MN 55420. This last one is a channel specifically for paying medical related bills and monthly living expenses. The first two give us a little more leeway, like birthday gifts and nights out. In either case, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you…

Categories: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Create a free website or blog at

%d bloggers like this: