Posts Tagged With: wrist pain

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

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

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