It has been just over a month since I last wrote and believe it or not, this is the first week that I have been mentally able to write. In late August a PET-CT revealed no cancer had resurfaced. Then on the 27th of August I under went what the doctors termed “day surgery” that lasted two and a half hours while they removed scar tissue from the first surgery and radiation, and the turbinates in both sides of my nasal passages in an effort to open everything up so I could breathe. And, yes, the surgery was a resounding success. I can breathe like seldom before. It feels like a wind tunnel up there.
For some reason I was equating day surgery with minor surgery, and minor surgery this was not. They put me on a 14 day antibiotic and steroid program which was fine for the first 10 days, but as they were weaning me off the steroids, things changed and I physically went down hill from there. From the beginning I spent a lot of time napping, but that changed to most of the time. I tried to golf and did not have the strength or coordination to do it, so finally gave up for the year. I had to stop driving as I was having trouble staying awake just driving to town. Then I caught a cold, followed by the sinus infection returning. Last week I came down with the flu which I didn’t think was even going around. For about a week I was either on the couch or in my recliner, not sure whether I was going to live or die, and not really caring which one would win. Finally turned the corner Sunday afternoon and now feel like I can start the road to recovery once again.
It has been a frustrating year in that I thought by this time I would be well on my way to being back to full strength, but instead am back to square one and starting all over again. In looking back I see that I probably overdid it after the first surgery, and again after the radiation, but this time will be different. I am just not able to do much physically and that was one of the reasons I put the clubs away for the year, just to avoid the temptation. I am doing as little as possible and trying to be smart when I do anything. I am taking plenty of naps and trying to eat something every meal even though most of the time I don’t feel like eating.
This year we are heading South earlier than ever. In the 36 years we have been on this farm we have only missed one Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrating it here with the family. This year will be the second time. I came to the realization that I do not have the strength to deal with winter in November and December. So we will be pulling out of here October the 25th or 26th, and parking at Randy and Lani’s in Portland until after Thanksgiving. I have a doctor appointment on 10-28, and then Jeri and I fly out to Hawaii on 10-31 where we will spend the first three weeks of November at my sister and brother-in-law’s condo at Waikoloa beach on the Big Island. We are doing this on my doctor’s advice as he says the salt water will be great for my nose. Seriously, that’s what he said! Unfortunately, I don’t think the IRS will by into it as a medical deduction.
We will spend Thanksgiving in Portland with part of the family and friends, then head to California for December. After that, not sure.
This past Sunday our Pastor preached on Chapter 33 of Numbers. In this chapter are recorded the many campsites where the nation of Israel stopped during the 40 years they wandered in the wilderness. He related how his family had spent time camping and remembered some campsites were very enjoyable and others not so much. He shared that life is made up of many campsites, places where we have lived and how each has made an impact on our lives. As I look back over my life and the many places God has provided as campsites, most have been enjoyable. Jeri and I have been camped here on the ranch for 36 years now, and during that time we have experienced some deep and dark valleys and some incredible mountain top highs.
With everything that has happened this year, we are wondering if God is preparing us to start packing and be ready to move to another campsite. We are going to wait until we return in the spring and see what my health is like before making any decisions. God has always made things crystal clear in the past when we were suppose to move on and I expect no less this time. So Jeri and I will be ever alert for those signs and until we see them clearly, we will continue to stay here and enjoy the elk and deer, the hawks and eagles, the coyotes and turkeys, the wide open spaces and peace and quiet, things most people dream about. Yes, we have been blessed beyond our wildest dreams.
Wednesday, September 1, 2010
Have you ever been an invalid? I haven’t, but I am starting to get a taste of what it is like, and I definitely don’t like it. Not one bit! This whole year so far has been a time of being knocked down followed by a period of trying to get better, only to be knocked back down and start all over. And now a third time, all because of two little polyps that together were smaller than an eraser on a pencil but with the potential to kill me if left unattended. I feel like the old middle weight boxer in the 12th round of a 15 round fight, getting the stuffing beat out of him, and nobody will throw in the towel.
Am I going down a road that no one else has traveled? Heavens, no. There are those who have traveled much harder roads, for longer periods, and probably did it with less complaining. This road of mine has been specially laid out by my loving Heavenly Father, who is still molding me and shaping me into the kind of man he wants me to be when I finally leave the bounds of this Earth and join Him in Glory Land. I’m not sure just what he is trying to accomplish but I do know that it has nothing to do with my physical being, how I look or feel, but will have more to do with my spiritual being, my integrity, how I relate to others, compassion, love, all those Christ-like attributes I apparently am lacking. Surely there must be more to this than giving me fodder to write about. But try as I may, this is the thing that dominates my life and hence, pretty much obscures all else as far as subject matter.
I am not sure if this is because God desires you to read about what I am going through to encourage you or others when you are faced with similar trials, or if it is to show you that no matter what happens in your life, God, the church and most of your friends will be there to help you through the most difficult of days. This year I have had to rely on others to for some of the yard work and getting in my winter supply of wood. (Well, rather the fall and spring supply of wood, since I have no intention of being here in the winter.)
Because of my weakness, others are being allowed to use their spiritual gifts to help Jeri and me. There have been times when I have been the helper, now I am the helpee. It is not an easy position to be in, but I understand it. In order for God to use the gifts of believers, someone has to need help. That doesn’t mean that God intentionally knocks people down just so someone can exercise their gifts; no, Satan takes care of that side. God just provides the help when we need it. He then uses the experience to teach us about ourselves, and about God, Jesus and the Holy Spirit. I have written about what I have learned in a previous article, and soon there will be a part 2. Any experience, good or bad, has things we must learn. If we do not, then it is a waste of time and energy.
Now my friend Marcus Carpenter is starting down the cancer road that I first began four years ago. I can relate to the anxiety that he and Sharon are going through. He will be deluged with information and choices to make that will begin to overwhelm him. He faces, at the very least, surgery, then maybe radiation and/or chemotherapy. None of it is pleasant. It means the next year or two will be spent fighting this cancer and then fighting to get well. It is a fight and it takes a strong will to endure. Marcus is in good health, which will make recovery easier. And I know he has a strong will to live and serve God. What we need to do as a church family is to be there with encouragement, prayer, and availability to help in what ever area they need when they ask. Marcus has been much like me, very self-sufficient and able to handle things himself. But the time has come when in the days ahead, they will need help and we need to be there for them. He and Sharon will have to make choices on type of treatment, doctors, and where to have all this done, and we need to support them in what ever they decide.
I have gone through two different kinds of cancer and on this day I am cancer free. I have no idea what tomorrow or next year or the year after will bring, but today I am cancer free because of the expertise of the doctors at OHSU, the gifts of knowledge and insight that God has given them, and most of all the prayers of so many people all over this nation: care groups, Sunday school classes, people I know nothing about, but because of one or two friends getting their church to pray for me has made the difference. Now we must join forces and pray for God’s best for Marcus and Sharon. Then in a year maybe we will be able to sing “Halleluiah” three times for Marcus.