Posts Tagged With: pain

Still here, and sick again.

Greetings friends. Forgive the prolonged silence here. And the unecessarily shocking headline. The illness at present is not nearly as serious as cancer or crohns, but in the present, it is no less taxing. And so I write now merely to ask for prayer, for we are feeling the absence of intercession these days (if only in the details).

There is no doubt much good to say, much news to tell, but I haven’t the energy now nor the clarity of thought to tell it. I did a few weeks ago, during which I spent parts of ten days piecing together a two page update creatively detailing the major stories of these past three months. But then, before I got a chance to post it, I lost it. Stuck in dismay over a good work gone, I haven’t been able to try my hands at it again, until today. Today is just too much.

But first, the few paragraphs I had backed up before my computer crashed…

My heart aches with gratitude. A weight of abundant blessing hangs heavy on my heart. Like an anchor, not a plow. Not a burden, but a mooring, a point of reference. A launch pad, perhaps. Or the bottom end of a kite string, firmly held, so that instead of being blown away, this kite rises higher with each blast of wind.

God, thank you for gratitude. Thank you for nurturing gratitude, for feeding it, for creating the context for it to flourish naturally. Almost effortlessly. How refreshing. How contrary to the gratitude hard won by faith these past years – that posture of praise that is one part reaction and three parts will. How grateful I am for this gratitude you’ve put so deep within me, anchoring the lighter, more visible, wind-catching aspects of my being.

Thank you for the steady hand of gratitude holding the other end of this kite’s string. And because of it, I am not blowing away, but rising again. In this wind.

Christmas this year was pleasant, rich, peaceful… almost enchanting.

It didn’t have to be. Sick kids. Sick us. Has hardly been a day since early December that one of us hasn’t been sick. Head colds. Respiratory infections. Stomach flu. Ear infections. I took my annual trip to ER in an ambulance a few days after Christmas. And spent my first night up on the eighth floor at Regions since January 2006.

And there’s the looming financial uncertainty. In the nation’s economy and our family’s bank account. Shrinking reservoir. The calendar year for our health insurance turned over early December, so we started over on our out of pocket expenses again. One trip to the pharmacy for five medicines cost $600, another $500. Good news is, add that to the trip to ER, and we’ve probably met our deductible for the year.

So Christmas didn’t have to be good, but it was. Like the feasts and festivals the LORD gave the ancient Hebrews. Like the year of Jubilee when debts were cancelled and slaves released. We gave been cared for this Christmas in ways practical and abundant. We were able to buy gifts without impeding budget boundaries. We were able to give generously. I can’t tell you what good that has done for our hearts – for my heart specifically – to be able to turn from a primary function of consumption to contribution. To be able to give.

So that’s the bigger story context for this lament and plea for prayer.

We truly had a wonderful December. Three solid months, actually, of me on steroids. And it was good. Productive. Hopeful. Manageable. It really felt like the beginning of something new, something kind of like me (and Jen and me) before all of this broken body stuff. I was doing stuff, and dreaming, and capably caring for my family. But, little by little, since midnight on the 26th of December (when Jen first got sick, and I dropped into the final descent of my taper off prednisone), the colors began to fade.

The pain has come back. I’m weaker in my hands and wrists than I remember being before. I’m clumsy. I drop stuff. Keyboards hurt. Computer and piano. I’m discouraged, really. A guy has a hard time hoping when he can’t do stuff.

Then I got sick. Then Ade, and Eli, and then Jen again. Right now, all four of us are sick with something, each of us racked with a different variation of a malicious bug. And then really, who takes care of whom? We’re managing, with family nearby (Jen’s dad, Bruce, has been here four days this week), but not well. And the frustration is going deep, as well as the subversion of hope. When will things change? And how?

May, maybe. When baby Erickson number three makes his home here. We learned a month back that the bun in the oven is a boy. Good news in many ways, as we were told we’d unlikely be able to have kids again. So that’s great! But how are we going to do this? Really. I’ve got more questions now than answers. More problems than solutions. And it is such a sharp contrast to the inertia of hope I felt so deeply just weeks ago.

So we’ve got troubles on the outside (being sick, mostly, and in pain), and troubles on the inside (discouraged, depressed maybe?). Those of you who are still checking this blog regularly are probably those of you who pray. I trust you’ll know what to do with this. I’d write more of gratitude and momentum and hope and faith if I could (and there would be much to write), but I can’t. My wrists hurt, and I’m tired. And I think number two just woke from his third nap today.

Unpoetically grateful and hopeful (while shamefully despairing),

I am still…



Categories: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

There Will Be More

00lollipop.jpgThank you faithful friends and onlookers. I know you’re out there. I’m still here. There’s much to say, but I’ve been relatively unable to say it. At least on the page. I should maybe start podcasting. Yapping’s just not the same. My wrists have been bad these past months. Haven’t been able to write much more than a few short emails. I do seem to be getting stronger altogether, just not in my wrists. Pain’s not vamoosing either. I snagged iListen for my Mac, but my G4 can’t keep up with it (or me) yet. I speak a sentence three times before I realize it’s working on what I said, then it spits out three different versions of that sentence – none of them making any sense at all. Sometime in the next week or two I hope to post a page. Been busy with clinic visits, rehab, and work on a room in our basement to serve as a music/writing studio for me someday. Yes, someday. Still hoping, trusting I will get that new body. Or at least this one made new. Please check back again soon, and don’t stop praying for us in the meantime. 00poindext.jpgDifficult transitions abound. Struggles in the head, heart, and hands. Pocketbook, too. Have posted a message from a three part series I delivered back in August. The other two I’ll put up once it seems the first has gotten out. The JE myspace (link to it from my homepage) now has two video clips from FLY 2005. Long overdue. But it’s fun now to see the cueball. New photos on this site are also long overdue. I have hair now. And get haircuts. Would be much easier if I could hold a mouse. Someday…

Still here (and His),


Categories: Cancer | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments

Rant I (My Aching Back)

I apologize again that it’s been so long.

Believe me when I say it grieves me that I cannot write more these days. There is much to tell. For so many people, blogging serves as some sort of therapy. It is no less for me.

As a dude with a poetic bent, writing is almost as primal as breathing. I do it to live.

shades.jpgRegardless of the medium, the act of writing is always a conversation – with myself, an audience, or God. And as such, I always come away with a deeper understanding of something.

These days of limited strength and mobility – especially in my hands – I miss it like a fish might miss the water.

I can only tap out about a sentence or two at a time. It is painful, and it wears me out.

So I cannot take the time to follow this worthy tangent any further. This makes me sad.

This past month has been a hard one. Released from the predictable routine of weekly chemo crashes and monthly prednisone hits, I anticipated a slow but progressive regaining of strength, and a gradual diminishing of the pain.

It has been anything but this.

I began regular trips to the Y therapy pool. I’m not exactly swimming. What I do is more like floating, but it is helpful nonetheless. I’ve been told this is what I need to do to get my joints and muscles working again.

I stretch and I breathe. I do arm circles. I’ve been doing this for an hour a day, four days a week, for three weeks now. Is that over doing it? Is that not enough? It’s really about all I can do if I still want to walk to my car when I’m done. My back is so stiff and swollen. And hot. And it hurts. Did I mention that it hurts?

If this is the pain I must push through to get stronger, to get better, so be it. Like the two weeks of conditioning practice at the beginning of the football season. Coach says it’s good for me, so I do it. Even though it feels like I’m breaking. If this is that, then I’m glad I’m getting better.

But I remember that kind of pain. And sometimes I’m not so sure this is it. This feels more like injury. Like a sunburn in the sun at eleven in the morning, with six hours of UV to go, and no shade or sunscreen in sight.

cennlake2.jpgI have to ration my steps. Like I only have so many per day. One Saturday night we took the boys to the park. We walked too far one way and I barely made it back. Two days later I thought I was going to pull muscles in both ankles walking to the kitchen for Tylenol.

It is very hard doing life right now. I understand the process of healing from the cure can be a long one. My oncologist and friend said it may be August before I begin to feel significantly better. But both he and another doctor I recently saw shrugged their shoulders at the apparent worsening of my pain and the lessening of my strength.

It’s not just my back. It’s my shoulders, wrists, hip, legs, and neck. I get muscle cramps and spasms when I sit or stand for too long. All this while still on 24/7 narcotic pain meds.

So I began seeing a chiropractic doctor last week. Longtime friend and neighbor Joel Fugleberg is a doctor now. He’s got a clinic in Chanhassen and a home here in Bloomtown. I called him up on a Wednesday in a fog of pain, and asked him if he could take a look at my back.

My first adjustments were, plain and simple, out of this world. Two cracks in my neck released a rush of life down through my chest as though blood started flowing to the rest of my body for the first time in two years. Just incredible. And after a week of this, muscles around my spine have ditched some inflammation. I’ll be seeing him regularly now for the next several months, and look forward to describing all this in greater detail when I can.

I am simultaneously seeing a physical therapist who is not frowning upon my chiropractic affair. Rather, she seeks to works with what Joel is doing to rebuild strength, stamina, and proper function in my back and the rest of my body.

As to what exactly is wrong with my back (and subsequently the rest of my body), there is no one thing that can account for it all. We know I have spinal stenosis and several compressed and mildly herniated discs in my lumbar region. I have an abnormal curvature in my spine. A bone spur and several slightly pinched nerves in my neck. There’s an aberration in my left hip joint and minor osteopenia in my bones. And for years now, I’ve had seasonal inflammation around joints all over my body.

Major muscle groups in my trunk and limbs have either atrophied or stopped firing when or in the way that they’re supposed to.

How this is related to the cancer is loosely assumed. Except that I spent much time in bed these past two years. And when I was up and around, chronic fatigue didn’t allow me the liberty to spend extra calories on correct posture, so little muscles along my spine have been working overtime. My medical records show a cumulative height loss of at least half an inch (some as much as three-quarters) since I was initially admitted in May of 2005.

I am shorter now than I was in seventh grade.

So this is what we have to work with. I’ll say this briefly to end this entry on a positive (albeit staccato) final chord: I feel very cared for by the handful of health professionals that are contributing to my recovery right now (Naomi, Joel, Trisha, Randy, Roy, Lucy, etc…).

I am very appreciative of the fact that each of them recognizes and respects the worth of the other, acknowledging the intricate integration of each of their fields (massage, chiropractic, occupational, oncological, cranial-facial, dental). And that they understand collectively that health is multi-faceted and modern science is young.

It may take work on account of the patient to bring both alternative and widely accepted therapies to the same table, but it also takes willingness on the part of the practitioners to work together. I am in the care of such people.

tinfish.jpgMy hands have done too much. This is the work of several days of writing. Again when I can I will post a lament about chemo brain, fatigue, toxins, finances, or the adverse effect of all these things on family life. In the meantime, please be praying for me and mine.

Still His,

PS. Thanks to those of you who let me know you’re out there. Some surprises, to be sure. I wish I had the time and all else to write a little something to each of you in return. I hope that this will suffice. Oddly, there are still at least another thousand regular readers who remain nameless to me. Perhaps this is something I must get used to. Regardless, warm welcome to all of you who find yourselves here from time to time.

PPS. Keep in prayer my good friends Kanoa Boroos and her husband, Jason. Kanoa was diagnosed last week with a brain tumor that is to be treated with 6 weeks of radiation. Her prognosis is good, but radiation is unpleasant, nonetheless. She currently has 35 staples in her skull and a beautiful head of hair. Not to mention a gracious spirit. God bless you, Kanoa.

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

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