Fever.

Posted: November 5, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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It’s Sunday night and I find myself in the Emergency Room.
That’s not where I expected to be.
My Mom and Sister were here this weekend.
We had a great visit.
In a strange twist of suckiness, Mom was diagnosed with cancer the same day as me.
She fought her own brave fight.
She underwent six weeks of radiation.
My amazing sister, Hope, was by her side the whole time.
A few weeks ago, Mom was able to ring the bell.
She is cancer free.
I am so very glad.
It was good to hug her, hang out, and celebrate life a bit.
They flew home and things got weird.
I have felt really groggy today.
Then I got the chills and I got a fever.
That’s not a good thing with my beat up immune system.
So my doctor told us to head to the ER.
I was put in an isolation room with comfortable chairs and given a mask to wear.
After putting the mask on I was immediately thankful that I brushed my teeth before coming.
I was taken to one small room for a few tests and then taken to a bigger room where I was hooked up with a very ventilated green gown.
In the last few hours I’ve had people take blood and take chest X-rays.
I had to pee in something that looks like a plastic milk jug.
A pharmacist came up and quizzed me about drugs that I’m on. But she was wearing a mask so it sounded like “dooooth yoousth taaketh jour medths”.
They are giving me antibiotics and a “crap load” of fluids. (Those were my nurses exact words, I like exact measurements. I think crap load is part of the metric system).
So far the fever has just risen.
We were just admitted into a regular room where they are running more tests and taking my vitals every three minutes.
Another nurse just took a nasal specimen swab with a long stick. (It was a Q-tip from hell). They stuck it up my nose and I felt it touch my brain. That wasn’t pleasant.
Hospitals are tough places to rest.
Diana is trying to rest on the weird little hospital room vinyl couch.
Tomorrow was supposed to be the beginning of round six, instead I’m wearing lovely purple non-skid hospital socks.
Sometimes Sundays don’t work out the way you think.
Find the helpers.

The Weakness.

Posted: October 29, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Growing up I read countless comic books.
Many of them had the same enticing ads in the back, there were advertisements for X-ray vision glasses, and real live Sea Monkeys!
Then there was ALWAYS a full page ad for Charles Atlas (legendary bodybuilder and really strong guy). It was a simple story of a “weakling” finding new strength because of the patented Charles Atlas program.
Something that has surprised me a bit about this wild adventure in Cancerland is how weak I have felt.
I have never felt this weak in my life, and I’ve had my weak moments!
I have hauled hay, enthusiastically walked a 5K, worked the nightshift at Wal-Mart, and been in charge of countless lock-ins.
None of that compares to chemo.
There have been times when I don’t know if I could punch my way through pudding.
But…wait…here’s the truly crazy thing…
In my weakened state I find that I’ve never been stronger!
(I was going to type that last sentence in all caps, but that seemed too physically taxing.)
It’s true, as I have surrendered to the process, I’ve discovered new strength.
Maybe weakness is the secret to true strength. It seems like I might have read that somewhere.
Maybe surrender is the bravest thing we can do.
In my weakness I have leaned into the arms of an old friend.
I have been following Jesus since I was seven years old, but, I feel closer to Him than ever. I have clung to him like Velcro and I have gotten to know Him like never before.
I have realized that His joy really, really is my strength.
All of my life, The joy of the Lord has been the flag that I’ve waved.
We all find our own flag to wave.
But, there comes a time when you have to turn your flag into a stretcher, something that can carry you when you are weak.
You better pick something strong enough to support you during the weak times.
I choose joy.
During my weak times, I have experienced a fullness of joy that is ONLY found in His presence.
So, that is where I choose to hang out.
In my weakened state I find that I’ve never been stronger!
This past weekend Diana and I got to spend some time with my granddaughter, the amazing Moonpie McLovenugget, we sung “baby shark” eight hundred and seventy three times and we had a pretty crazy dance party.
I danced like a toddler hopped up on pixie stix, I was wild and uncoordinated.
I didn’t get tired at all. I didn’t get winded or worn out.
I think it’s because I lost myself in an act of pure joy.
In my weakened state I found that I’ve never been stronger!
This weakling has found new strength, because of my friend, Jesus.

Prank the Pain.

Posted: October 26, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Video might have killed the radio star, but caller ID killed the prank call.

There was a golden time when kids could grab their olive green rotary phones and spend their afternoons prank calling complete strangers.
It was AWESOME!
We would get off the school bus, grab a snack, ignore our homework, get the phone book (another cherished relic of the past), and start dialing innocent individuals and businesses.
It was a great way to shake off some of the pain of puberty. After navigating the social jungle of middle school, we just needed some mischief.
We stuck to the classics:
“Is your refrigerator running?”
“Do you have Prince Albert in a can?” (Best delivered to a retail establishment).
Or we would pretend that we were from the phone company and try to get people to take their phone apart.
We also, for some unexplainable reason, thought it was totally hilarious to call someone three or four times and say: “is John there?” Then call back and say: “this is John, has anyone called for me?”
We were completely unoriginal, but we had fun.
It was mostly harmless, except every once in a while you would encounter someone with some anger issues.
That actually made it even more fun! You felt really edgy and extreme if the person on the other end started cussing or threatening you.
Back then phones were big and clunky and immobile.
We used them for one thing…talking.
We couldn’t text, make or watch videos, play games, navigate trips, listen to music, or carry them everywhere.
If we wanted to have fun with a phone, we had to create it!
We had to make our own mischief!
That is actually an important life skill.
Sometimes life hurts.
You need to learn how to prank the pain.
Holy mischief is a powerful weapon.
Bullies hate to be laughed at.
Laughter can let the light in.
Here’s an example…
This sounds crazy, but one of the hardest times of my life was also one of the most tangibly joyful.
When my Dad passed away, he was unconscious in the hospital for eight days before he moved on to heaven.
During that time our family came together in a stuffy waiting room.
We cried, we hugged each other, we remembered, we cried some more.
But…
we also laughed, we shared old stories about Dad that gave us guts full of fresh laughter.
AND…
we pulled pranks on each other.
My Uncle Billy (who is a lifelong practitioner of the prank), my brother and I had a remote control fart machine that we used on unsuspecting family members and visitors.
My Mom’s Pastor was particularly fun to prank. Then we took the fart machine on an elevator and made …umm…new friends.
We got one poor young couple who were taking their newborn baby home…they were videotaping the whole thing, we provided the sound effects.
This probably sounds really strange if you haven’t walked through it.
But, We were able to laugh in the worst of times because we were able to hope.
We had the hope of heaven…of family reunions.
I had the hope that my earthly father was safe in the arms of my Heavenly Father.
We had the hope of a God, whose love is stronger than whatever opponent is staring us down.
Joy is born of hope.
Holy mischief is born of joy.
Sometimes life hurts.
Sometimes life is anything but funny.
It’s clunky and immobile.
It only comes in olive green.
You’ve got to dig deep and grab some hope.
Fight with joy.
Make some mischief!
Prank the pain!!

Contagious!

Posted: October 24, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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Disease can make things awkward.

People react to sickness and shortcomings so many ways.

Many people don’t know what to say or how to act, so they don’t say anything.
I get it!!
Some people cock their heads and only talk to you in hushed tones like they are talking to a small child with limited reasoning abilities.
That is kind of odd!
But, many people just talk to you like a friend. They ask how you are doing, but they also talk about football, and movies, dogs, and new  ice cream places.
That is good.
Some people are afraid to touch you.
Most of the time, they don’t want to hurt you, knock you down or spread germs.
That is thoughtful.
Some don’t want to catch what you got.
I’ve explained a couple of times that cancer isn’t contagious.
But, that doesn’t mean you won’t catch something from me…
What I HAVE is not contagious.
Who I AM is contagious.
It’s true!!
We are constantly spreading something.
We are born infectious. It’s not some weird zombie thing, it’s the fact that we, as humans, are created to rub off on each other.
That is supposed to be good.
Our attitudes and actions are contagious.
People are affected and infected by you!
It’s not about WHAT you have.
It’s about WHO you are.
Love is infectious,
So is hate.
Joy is infectious,
So is despair.
Hope is infectious,
So is fear.
We have to choose what we are going to spread around.
Maybe we need a soul vaccination against the things that can hurt us.
I think it’s usually a matter of perspective.
Do we live according to what we see or what we believe?
When our attitude is appearance based, it’s easy to get drug down and we end up spreading fear.
It’s not always easy to choose faith and trust.
But, it’s worth it to infect the world with hope and joy.
Find light in the little things and shine it around.
Choose joy.
Then throw it around like confetti.
You were born infectious.
Who you ARE is contagious.
What will you spread?

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Image  —  Posted: October 24, 2018 in Postcards from Cancerland.

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When your Monday resembles a Waylon Jennings song…

On a big vinyl chair, l’m sitting this cold morning,

Nurse is taking my blood without much warning. 

They are runnin’ my labs, and checkin’ things out.

Makin’ sure white blood cells are movin’ about. 

Lord, I’m feeling wild, wonky, and weak.

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I’ve wrapped up another five days of constant chemo. It’s pretty odd having a wheezing juice box hooked up to you for that long. It’s pretty heavy when I first get it, but slowly it gets lighter and lighter as the life giving poison oozes into my bloodstream, until it’s empty and it’s time for a quick pit stop/refill.

Hard walks are better when you are wearing fun socks.

Sometimes right after chemo I practice an extreme form of pest control by sitting in the backyard and daring mosquitoes to bite me.

Right now, it feels like I have a wool sweater on my tongue. That is going to make my coffee fun this morning…I’m still having coffee.

I took ten pills yesterday. I shouldn’t complain, I know people who take more. But, it makes me yearn for the days when I just took one pill and it was shaped like Fred Flintstone.

I’m a tired little cowboy! When I’m on the steroids, I basically just take quick power naps between going to pee every thirty minutes.

When I do sleep I have weird dreams. One night all of my dreams were like graphic novels, they were dark and apocalyptic. I was being chased by zombie gummy bears…it was disturbing!

My head weighs as much as a small foreign made car, or at least it feels like it.

Anything that is crafted with love, whether it’s a woven stocking hat or a molasses cookie, can bring healing.

This week I found myself sitting in an infusion room between a 84 year old and a 25 year old. I’m reminded that pain does not discriminate.

I’m also reminded that in some rooms, “WHY?” is the worst question you can ask, and the only answer is because this sometimes happens to humans and you are a human.

Life is a series of trust falls. You take your place, hold your breath and fall backwards, hoping, with all your guts, that someone is going to catch you.
I find myself caught in the strong arms of love.

My wife is beautiful.

The Holy Spirit is cool.