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Image  —  Posted: November 14, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

Bop It!

Posted: November 13, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Once upon a time there was an electronic game called Bop It, actually, it’s still around, it’s just much more complicated. It’s kind of a hot potato game where you follow instructions (bop it, pull it, twist it, etc.) and pass the game on, originally there were only three instructions, now there are like sixteen different chirpy electronic instructions.

This is my Bop It story.
It’s not pretty.
It’s not really family friendly.

You’ve been warned…

Years ago, I was flying home after speaking at a youth event in southern Louisiana. I had taken my bop-it game to use as an icebreaker.

I put my ratty little carry-on bag through security in New Orleans. Suddenly, I saw the tall, sweaty TSA agent nervously looking at me and calling for a bag check. I’m used to getting patted down at airport security because I look a little freaky, I had a weird beard. But, this was a new level of suspicion. Then I realized what was happening. I remembered the bop-it. It really did resemble a weapon of mass destruction. So I reassured him it was a mostly harmless toy. After 6 agents opened the bag I showed them how it worked and we all ended up playing for about 10 minutes. Finally, once the line was really backed up they let me take my toy and leave.
At this point, I REALLY need to go to the bathroom, so I darted into the friendly airport facilities. It was a full house, the only thing open was a urinal, which I normally don’t use because I’m 5’1” tall and most urinals come up to my chest…which is not cool, man!
BUT…as I mentioned I REALLY needed to go, so I hunkered up to a urinal and put my bag on the ground between my feet (probably not a hygienically wise decision, but whatever.) I went about my business…
A well dressed businessman started using the stall next to me. We were following all the necessary man bathroom rules: no talking, no eye contact, etc.
BUT THEN…
at that very moment, for some God forsaken reason my bop-it went off and said in a chirpy voice…
“BOP IT, PULL IT, TWIST IT!”
The businessman didn’t even finish, zip up, or wash his hands, he just turned and ran from the bathroom.
Other men looked at me with disgust and caution.
I picked up my bag and sheepishly walked out not knowing what to expect right outside the bathroom door.
Would I be arrested?
I sheepishly boarded the plane and flew home.
I felt very fortunate to escape Louisiana without a restraining order.
Sometimes, when you least expect it, life goes off.
Things get noisy at the worst times.
The unexpected bops you upside the head.
The unknown pulls you in a hundred different directions at once.
The unwanted twists you like a cheap piece of saltwater taffy.
It leaves you scared to go outside.
What do you do when life is like an out of control electronic game?
Know when to hand it off!
There is just so much of life that we can’t handle on our own…pass it off…lay it down.
Put it in the hands that are bigger and stronger and wiser.
Cast your cares on the one who is crazy about you.

The Sixth Round.

Posted: November 12, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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The chunky little fighter steps into the ring for the sixth time.
This is the last scheduled round.
It was postponed because the fighter was sucker punched by a hotheaded punk in the parking lot.
His cheeks are still rosy from the last round, which causes him to look like a hairless, jolly elf.
He is groggy.
He is ready for this to be done.
There is still uncertainty, it would be so easy to give into the dark thoughts.
Some days hope comes easier than others.
Some days you got to shake things up.
The fighter has a crazy thought…
a crazy, sweaty thought…
a crazy, sweaty, grunty thought.
Maybe, it’s time for the fighter to get a wild eyed look, stomp his short leg, and let out a loud “WOOOOOOOOO!”
Can you smell what the fighter is cooking?
The gloves are coming off.
He is thankful for the sweet science, but it’s time to revert back to lessons learned watching grown men in tights throw each other around on Saturday mornings.
It’s time to RASSLE.
It’s time to pull out a metal chair and hit the belly bully square in the face and follow that up with a chokehold.
It’s time to tag his tag team partner and watch Him work.
It’s time to stick to the script. The outcome is predetermined, the fight has already been won. That doesn’t mean that the pain isn’t real.
The fighter leaves the ring with a limp.
Most wrestlers end up with a limp.
Scars become stories.
Today begins chemo round six, it was supposed to happen a week ago.  We were detoured by a rude fever and life threatening infection.
But, today we start the last scheduled treatment.
Five more days with the magic juice box continually attached to my chest.
Then we wait.
Just like an election in Florida, we won’t know the results for a few weeks.
There will have to be tests.
We are praying for a complete knock out.
Cancer is like a tight, itchy orange sweater.
It looks different on everybody.
Every patient is different.

Every day is different.
Every one fights an unexpected fight.
In the midst of my fight, I remember I am not my own.
I have been bought.
I’m a thankful home for the Holy Ghost.
I’m His property.
The belly bully is trespassing on His property.
He has the authority to evict the bully.
I realize by watching my granddaughter prance around that toddlers are short for a reason…they fall down a lot.
When you are close to the ground, it hurts less to fall.
I’m thinking that maybe I’m short for the same reason.
I also realize by watching the Moonpie that, when you DO fall, it’s best to fall into the arms of someone you love.
I wait for remission.
I wait for (re)mission.
I wait for renaissance.
The One who made me can make me new.
It’s going to require a miracle.
I stand on the brink of a miracle.
I remember that forgiveness is a vital part of miracles. It opens the flow for impossible stuff to happen.
During your fight, you will inevitably be given many chances to forgive. People will say and do hurtful, selfish things.
They are not the enemy.
You have to forgive.
Grudge becomes sludge.
Sometimes the road to the miracle is rocky and hard.
It hurts.
It leads to a place of promise.
What if the pain is the necessary path to the next place?
God is the author of the promise not the pain.
The pain comes from the jagged edges of a broken planet.
God is the author of the promise not the pain, so
I pray the promise, not the pain.
As we wait for the promise, the pain can show us that we are stronger than we ever imagined.
We are like Glow sticks that only start to shine when they are broken and shaken. We only really shine when we build on our brokenness and let the light of Christ seep through our cracks.
I read old familiar stories of people who fought their own fights and trusted in God.
They needed miracles.
They prayed the promise.
They waited.
The stories are comforting to me because I know the outcome.
They won.
They received the promise.
They tasted the miracle.
But…
Then I realize that these people who fought their own fights did not know how their story would end.
Their miracles were a work in progress.
They had no clue how things would play out.
We forget that.
They had to walk by faith too.
Miracles are like a big, warm purple sweater. They look different on everybody.
The story is still being written…
We wait.

Old and Odd.

Posted: November 11, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Diana,

I have a simple dream my love…

I want to grow old and odd with you by my side.
I’m more convinced than ever.
I’ve seen you…
Unselfishly take care of business…
Take care of me in ways that define commitment…
Take care of our home…
Do your job with excellence and care…
Love the Moonpie…
Be a true friend to our daughter…
Walk the Wonder Hound…
Pay the bills…
Mow the lawn…
Plan meals for our full house…
Hold hands with me in dark places…
Laugh and cry with me…
Deal with unnecessary drama…
Pray with and for me for a miracle…
Kiss my hairless chin and reassure me that I’m still a pirate…
You have stayed and loved fierce and strong.
You have grown even more beautiful.
I didn’t think that was possible.
But…
I’ve seen the beauty of your character shine through.
And so I want nothing more than to grow old with you…
I will be odd.
You will be wonderful.
We will have great adventures.
We will dance and laugh loud.
We will look up and let sunsets take our breath away.
We will lose track of time as we play with our granddaughter…
There will be baby shark dance-offs, tea parties, snacks, ice capades, theme parks, cruises, high school graduation, a wedding, great grand babies!!
We will enjoy it all.
I want to grow old and odd with you by my side.
We will go to quirky little restaurants where we’ve never been.
We will eat breakfast at the same place everyday.
We will sit on beaches and sip margaritas.
We will watch Hallmark movies, because I like them more than I let on.
I want to grow old and odd with you by my side.
I love you.
I simply can not thank you (and the Creator of you) for what you have done and for who you are.
I will simply HAVE to live to be old and odd so that I have the time to express my gratitude.

defeat and de feet.

Posted: November 9, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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The other day when they told us that we could leave the hospital I didn’t waste anytime losing the lime green hospital gown that had exposed my expansive backside for days. I flung it off like yesterday’s spoiled yogurt. (I did keep the lovely purple skid proof socks, because I figured we got charged $148 for those.)

I got dressed in my street clothes in record time…cargo shorts…t-shirt…socks…37 seconds…BOOM!
Then, I put on my beloved slip on Vans…
They were much tighter than I remembered.
They were downright uncomfortable!
That was weird!
I mentioned it to Diana.
We decided my feet were probably swollen from all the fluids and laying around in a big mechanical bed.
So I just wore the shoes home, I grimaced every time I walked and wondered how big my feet were going to grow.
I took off my Vans as soon as I got home and tossed them in the closet.
This morning, as I was getting ready I slipped on my slip ons. They were STILL tight and uncomfortable. WHAT? This can’t be! My petite feet can’t still be swollen. I picked up a shoe and felt around inside…
LO and BEHOLD, there was a sock wadded up in the toe of each shoe!
Weird life lesson: don’t go through life with wadded up dirty laundry, it will only make things uncomfortable!

Discharged.

Posted: November 7, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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We are breaking out of this joint.

I think that the fever broke last night.

I’ve never been so happy to wake up in my own sweat.
We have been discharged!!
They didn’t have to tell us twice.
It was time, I was getting pretty gamey.
For those of you fine folks who want some answers, we know more about what it is not than what it is.
Due to a barrage of tests they ruled out the flu, pneumonia, and about 125 other bacterial bad boys.
It seems likely that I came in contact with someone with an infection and my body reacted in a most unfriendly manner. It could be sepsis, which could have been life threatening.
I was pumped up with enough antibiotics to sucker punch any virus villain.
I was given two units of someone else’s blood.
I’m forever grateful for blood donors.
I’ve done it before and I will do it again.
I’m pretty sure nobody wants my blood right now.
But, thanks to someone willing to share their O positive I’m feeling so much better.
My hemoglobin got better.
My white blood cell count was good.
They sent us home.
I challenged the dearly discharged older lady in the wheelchair next to me to a race.
She acted like she couldn’t hear me.
Maybe she wasn’t acting.
Now we are home and I ponder some stuff…
Taco Bell is better than hospital food…hello Chalupa!
Speaking of which…
The combo platter of hospital food and hospital toilet paper is just really cruel!
I don’t know if it’s a lunar thing, but it seems that 3:40 am is the optimum time for taking blood.
I had a nurse that I had a hard time understanding. At one point, she asked me if I passed gas, I totally thought she asked me if I loved God.
Fortunately the answer to both questions is the same!
They had an unexpected (to us) fire drill on our floor last night…that was alarming…literally.
I’m not a big fan of getting shots in my stomach.
But it happened…
three times.
Because…
I’m REALLY not a big fan of blood clots, and that is what the stomach shots are for.
It’s the little things that can make you vulnerable and bring you down. Just a few points on a thermometer can mess everything up.
We are home now and I’m realizing that clean underwear can be almost as life changing as a blood transfusion.

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Yesterday was spent fighting the fever.
At one point it got up to 102.2. That was a little scary.
I’ve had antibiotics pumping into my body and numerous electrodes connected to my pasty chest.
I’ve taken countless pills out of tiny plastic cups. I’ve consumed some amazingly bland hospital food…”WHAT kind of soup did you say that was?”
My hospital bed seems to have a mind of it’s own. It occasionally makes a whining noise that sounds like an airplane and it starts to move up and down. I need a seatbelt!
I met with several doctors, including one from the infectious diseases department, she asked me 897 questions, poked around my belly, rubbed my feet, looked between my toes, and stared at my throat.
It was awkward.
Speaking of awkward, one very enthusiastic nurse offered me a sponge bath…”UMMM, no…I’m good.”
I think she offered because my head was starting to smell like vinegar.
I took care of that.
I was woken this morning at 4:30 am with the news that I needed a blood transfusion. It turns out that my hemoglobin (which is not a villain on Batman) is wonky.
I signed some papers and now we wait for some blood.
Blood changes everything.