Recalculating Route.

Posted: January 24, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

d0eb2620-a62b-492e-87c3-e3f94186eaae

Diana and I have gone on a lot of road trips together. Years ago, we would pack the essential road grub (beef jerky, pork rinds, Mountain Dew, and Munchos), then we would grab our trusty Rand McNally map. It was huge and spiral bound and very exact. Using highlighters, We would map out the route ahead of time. We knew exactly where we were going.
After a few years, the Rand McNally was dog eared and falling apart. It had taken us places.
But now when we travel, We plug in a phone, pull up the map app and enter our destination. Then, We listen to a calming voice coming out of the phone. (My voice is the standard issued ladies voice, Diana has opted for the voice of a British man, both voices are equally helpful.)
The voice tells us where to go.
Step by step.
But, We have to pay attention.
Sometimes, because of twists, turns, and unexpected traffic the voice has to recalculate our route.
There was a time when I used to think that navigating life was like using the big Rand McNally.
I had all the answers and I knew exactly where I was going.
I had a plan.
In the last year I have realized that life is full of unexpected twists and turns.
Things, sometimes really hard things, happen that you never planned.
They change everything.
Then those things change.
You don’t know how to navigate.
Then you hear the voice.
It is a step by step navigational Spirit system.
The plan has been in place, we just don’t get the big personalized map, we get the voice.
Sometimes the route is recalculated.
We have to pay attention to the voice.
It’s called walking by faith.
Instructions are pretty simple for this crazy road trip that we call life…
Love God.
Love EVERYbody.
Listen to the voice.

T.N.T.

Posted: January 22, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

5c59e4b3-9897-4a10-9280-bff42c024132

“’Cause I’m T.N.T. I’m dynamite
T.N.T. and I’ll win the fight” – AC/DC
It’s a T.N.T. Tuesday…
Transfusion and Treatment.
I start the day with a blood transfusion.

I’m in a filling station and I opted for the high octane stuff.
We had to be at the hospital infusion clinic early.
Every chair is full at the filling station.
Every one of those chairs is a massage chair.  That is pretty awesome.
Every chair contains a different story.
An infusion room is a symphony of sounds.
I hear moans, groans, beeping machines, crying, my belching, and even laughter.
Laughter is the most powerful sound.
It is the music that changes the mood.
As I write this paragraph, my IV has just gone off letting everyone in the room know that I have just finished one bag of blood.
They take my stats every ten minutes and everything has been fine.
I look like a businessman on vacay in Vegas with my Hawaiian shirt unbuttoned down to my belly, showing off my hairless chest and allowing access to my port.
There’s a sweet older lady next to me who refers to her husband as hunny bunny in a slow southern drawl, he holds her hand as she drifts in and out of slumber.
Speaking of slumber, I’ve been given Benadryl again, so I feel like an elderly boa constrictor who has just swallowed eight Big Macs, I just want to lay on a rock in the sun.
After about four hours I’m done with my first T.
Two bags of a stranger’s blood have been pumped into my veins.
It is truly amazing what fresh blood can do. It changes my color, it quickens my step, it gives me life.
There is power in the blood.
Now we are onto T number two…
I’m at my oncologist’s number two office.
My doctor’s entire staff is awesome.
They have become good friends.
Some have become family.
They are people who care about people.
I take a seat in a beige non-massaging chair and I start treatment…
First off is a delightful cocktail of saline and steroids.
I get some anti nausea stuff. I like that stuff!
Then…ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls…
The star of the show…
A chemo drug with a name that I can’t pronounce.
It seeps into my body and serves notice.
As I sat here in my Hawaiian shirt, sipping a cold ginger ale, next to my rock star wife, in my mind we are sitting in the sand at Myrtle Beach.
There is power in the imagination.
T.N.T
“I’ll win the fight.”

UFC

Posted: January 21, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

0aafa176-3dbd-492e-97a7-ecec13313952

 

It’s deja vu all over again.

I climb up into the crunchy blue vinyl chair, I’ve spent a lot of time in this chair in the last six months.
I unbutton my shirt until I suddenly look like chubby Elvis without the gaudy TCB necklace.
Our friend, the captain of the infusion room sticks a needle in my chest and the familiar fight is on.
It’s about to get UFC (Ugly Fighting Cancer),not that it’s been pretty so far.
But, this is a new bout.
In the midst of the familiar, there is a new fight.
The rules have changed.
Just like Mixed Martial Arts, the tempo is different. It’s more of a street fight.
I step in…
Instead of an octagon, I enter the circle of suffering.
It’s early when I arrive so most of the chairs are empty.
They slowly fill up with fellow fighters of all ages and backgrounds.
In the midst of my tests this morning, I find out that my hemoglobin is low AGAIN. So tomorrow along with my regular treatment, I will receive a blood transfusion AGAIN.
I used to give blood semi regularly, whenever I can give again I definitely will.
I’m so thankful to the anonymous donors who have taken the time and effort to share their life with me…literally.
My blood pressure is also a little low too. Being broken is so annoying.
Brokenness shows its self in small ways…
Hurt…
Weariness…
Tests that you can’t study for.
Today, I got fluids, and steroids, Benadryl (which even after all the other other drugs I’ve taken still makes me fuzzy brained), and some gnarly chemo drugs.
I received some drugs to help fight tumor lysis (which is what happens when the tumors burst…not a good thing!)
I start receiving some ugly new drugs on Wednesday.
The new drugs have new possible side effects, things I haven’t encountered yet…
Seizures…
Coma…
We are praying hard about those things.
After treatment, we had to drive over to the hospital to get some more bloodwork done so I can get T-n-T tomorrow (transfusion AND treatment)…Yippee-Ki -Yay!
Once again I’m going to the bathroom every four minutes, which is a fairly mediocre exercise plan, but I am moving around.
For two shining weeks I have had facial hair. It was nice while it lasted and it WILL grow back.
We got to cheer for a friend as she rung the bell today. Her chemo is done and she is in remission. We are so happy for her!!!! We continue to pray for her because it takes a while for the body and brain to catch up with the bell.
Another incredible friend brought us some delicious food. I just polished off some amazing meatloaf! I love meatloaf! I’m so glad that my tastebuds are still cooperating!
So, the fight goes on…
I hike up my shorts, readjust my gloves, look up and wobble into tomorrow.

6be18b4d-2502-4c1a-aa15-c72cf292752b

Image  —  Posted: January 21, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

64e3e305-6d0c-4368-8260-a5f1cc554999

Image  —  Posted: January 20, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

Sweet and Sour.

Posted: January 16, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

b6cf1108-6eb5-4671-95f7-46c8ae6b2d5f

We live on a broken planet.

That’s pretty easy to figure out.

You watch the evening news and realize that things are really screwed up.
Then it gets personal…
We have all been the givers and takers of selfishness and hurt.
Life can be pretty sour.
While we have walked through our cancer adventure, we have tasted something in stark, beautiful contrast to the sour.
We have tasted of the sweetness of life.
We have experienced the best of humanity.
We have been the recipients of kindness and care, goodness and generosity.
We have known love.
It is sweet.
Let me share our latest example…
Yet another story of the incomparable sweetness of life…
Our four year old next door neighbor and monster truck aficionado, Bryson, prays for us every night with his awesome parents.
He prays for “Wuke and Diana” and then he says “now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord to keep all of my paw patrol stuff”.
Life is sweet…
so very sweet.

Buckle up.

Posted: January 15, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

7667f8f0-3baf-4c64-97f0-aa8b31861278

Years ago, I went to Carowinds with some fun seeking coworkers.
We were there for some serious team building and corn dogs.
We rode some rides, and laughed, and talked, and then we found ourselves at the turnstiles of the Intimidator.
I was a little intimidated, but I was relieved that I was tall enough to ride. It’s a roller coaster named after Dale Earnhardt. I’m a NASCAR fan so I couldn’t wait to ride. I grabbed a seat right up front and waited. The teenage girl ride attendant came along and was putting everyone’s safety harness in place. She got to me and tried to shut my harness…
It wouldn’t click.
She pushed harder and literally put her entire body weight into trying to fasten it.
She was suspended in midair trying to buckle up my belt.
It wasn’t working…
I was too…umm…thick.
Too many corn dogs, I suppose.
And, I couldn’t ride without a safety harness.
I had to get off the ride and walk the chubby walk of shame.
It was embarrassing.
Safety harnesses are important…
A day ago, I went to the oncology clinic with my wife.
It felt like the first day of school.
We were ready to re-enroll in the school of weakness.
It’s like the second semester of college, I know a little more of what to expect.
It has almost become routine.
We had our school supplies…
Books and blankets.
Snacks and slip on shoes.
Diana’s work stuff.
But then one of the nurses came out to tell us that we were still waiting on insurance approval for this next “semester”.
So, we wait.
While we wait for a few days, I continue to recover from my biopsy surgery.
We met with the surgeon today and everything is healing up nicely.
The great news is that I can take bubble baths again…I’m man enough to loudly confess that I love bubble baths.
We are also trying to tame my wild digestive system. It has been behaving like an angry warthog.
This has been a crazy mental roller coaster, and i think I’ve established the fact that I’m not built for roller coasters anymore. But, here I am sitting right up front with my wife.
This time, our customized safety harnesses are firmly in place.
We wait to see what is around the next curve.
Here is one thing I learned during my first semester:
Life is both routine and risk.
You find yourself standing in the same places day after day.
But, on any given day the floor might fall out beneath your feet.
And THAT is why you need a safety harness at all times.
So buckle up!
and take a bubble bath if you get a chance!