DE81C59E-0E9D-4C2D-B24E-7280937700AF.jpeg

In the last few days we have moved from a suite in the ICU to a quiet little penthouse on the oncology floor. It was like going from Monster energy drink to milk!
Everywhere we went there were caring people in scrubs. I was poked and prodded. Numerous people felt my stomach and listened to my back. I was given shots, pills, and unbelievably nasty liquids. Nursing students got the huge privilege of watching me pee. I was weighed at two o’clock in the morning. I was scanned and studied.
All I know is that I feel much better than I did a week ago.
Thank you to the small army of good people who worked on me.
Thank you to the BIG God who holds me by the hand.
It’s ironic that I’ve spent my week in bed, but I haven’t got a lot of rest! Diana has got even less rest. She has tried to sleep on the hard hospital vinyl couch.
I’ve used a lot of bendy straws this week.
I love bendy straws.
Lately I’ve realized it’s good to live like a bendy straw.
Be flexible.
External forces constantly bend you.
If you are flexible those forces can’t stop the flow from coming through!
I learned about the wonderful world of puréed  cuisine. The “sausage” was the sketchiest, you can probably figure out why from the picture…
My good buddy, Marty, brought me new underwear. I was out and I’m a big
fan of the dry, clean undergarment. Real friends will bring you skivvies, no questions asked. Marty had even written a song for the occasion which he loudly sang as he entered the room.
We just heard those truly liberating beautiful words: “I’m sending you home with drugs.”
We are ready to break out of this joint!!
We are waiting for the wheelchair transfer person.
We are both so very tired, but I have no pain. My counts are good, my appetite is returning, and my good, unchanging God is in control.

Crazy Days.

Posted: March 12, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

 

It has been a crazy few days…

At one very vulnerable moment I’m pretty sure that my hospital bed was possessed. As I was sitting in my room, my bed started moving on its own….no SERIOUSLY! It went as high as it could and then the foot end went higher, the head went down. It was like the world’s slowest mechanical bull.

And I was trapped!
I finally managed to grab my  nurse call box.
The nurse came in and just started cracking up.
I had a procedure to see what was causing the internal bleeding. The anesthesia that they sprayed in my mouth tasted like a Walgreens receipt dipped in an ash tray. When I said that to the surgical crew nobody cracked up, laughed or even smiled. They just looked at me like I was weird.
Everything seemed to be getting better, but then I started throwing up blood again.
That can ruin a party pretty quick.
So at two o’clock Monday morning we were transported to the downtown hospital.
I was admitted into the ICU, which is evidently like fight club, there are rules. My nurse informed me that nobody wears underwear in ICU as he looked in disdain at my colorful boxer briefs. Since then countless people have viewed me without my colorful boxer briefs.
At one point, I had so many IVs that it looked like I had noodles growing out of my arms.
I had another procedure where they went through my leg to find the culprit and were able to stop the bleeding.
Since then I have been monitored and taken some incredibly nasty tasting meds.  My doctor just came in my room and said “well…it seems like it worked.”
So the plan is to move us to a regular room, maybe on a floor where they wear underwear.
They just brought me my breakfast, it’s green jello!

6CB77E28-0FBA-4765-8B42-7E9AC605F285

About midnight on Friday night, a car hit a transformer in our neighborhood.
That was the beginning of the wildness.
Suddenly our entire neighborhood was without power.
We were left in the dark.
We didn’t realize that we were in the darkness, we were sleeping.
Then…suddenly…Diana’s phone went wild. There were bells and whistles and it was super loud.
There was no incoming caller. The phone was just going wild.
We both sit up in the dark at the same time.
Diana grabbed for a flashlight, I felt weak and…a little wet.
She shined the flashlight in my face a gasped “WHAT IS ON YOUR FACE?!!”
Turns out…
I was spitting up blood.
That is where it gets wild…and…gross.
We tried to stumble, in the dark, to the bathroom.
We barely made it through the bathroom door and I passed out. I was sprawled in a twisted, yoga position.
I woke up to hear my scared wife talking to Lincoln County 911. EMS and the fire department came, in the dark, and loaded me up. They were awesome!
I got to take my first ambulance ride.
It wasn’t what I expected, I didn’t get to play with the siren.
My blood pressure was super low.
Most of my counts had taken a dive.
We got to the ER and I started getting wild amounts of fluids.
I’ve gotten four bags of blood so far. That seems to help, I’m not pasty white. I’m more of a pale taupe.
They ran a bunch of tests yesterday, we still have no answer.
I’ve been poked and prodded and, at one point, percolated.
I’ve been told “lay perfectly still on this table for eighty four minutes, do not move as we take these nuclear images!” Yep, you read that right! Nuclear images!!!
I can’t eat or drink ANYTHING!!! But, I’m saving a ton on delicious hospital food.
I received one IV that made it feel like the entire Panthers offensive line was standing on my arm.
I’m going to have a procedure today where they “go down” my upper GI track and see what they find. We will keep you posted.
As a kid I thought that a GI track was an accessory for my GI JOE  action Jeep.
I’m laying here in bed, in my green hospital issued mini dress, wondering why can’t things be simple for us?
Why things gotta be so wild?

Thank You.

Posted: March 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

48E2378E-06F5-4598-8029-6E822EA2531F

Today there was an amazing group of humans who gathered to help me and my family and all I can say is thank you!

They come around a table, that seems to be a very sacred thing, and they sacrifice, also a VERY sacred thing.
My brain is very foggy from the latest round of chemo drugs.

But, my heart is crystal clear.
It’s full of love and appreciation.
Thank you SO very much to Jamey Lowe and Smoky J’s BBQ for proving the space and the gift of meat!!! You guys are truly awesome.
Words cannot express my appreciation for my dear friends who have made/are making this act of random love happen.
A lot of incredibly kind people have stepped up and given really cool items for the auction.
They have made, sold, and bought t-shirts.
They are serving BBQ today, and I can’t think of all of this without crying huge tears of pure gratefulness.
I can’t be there today because my white blood cell count is a little crazy, my immunity level is wacky. I wish I could be there to hug each of you and sing the Golden Girls theme song (Thank You for Being My Friend.)
Just know, I see you.
We will never forget what you have done for us.
Through all of the pain of the last several months we have seen something so much stronger than pain, fear, and cancer.
We have seen love.
We love you.
Luke and Diana
carbonatedjoy.com

SURPRISE!!!

Posted: March 9, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

In this land of unknowns, we stumble on surprise.

(It’s definitely a stumble, I’m walking like a toddler drinking cough syrup).
We had a Doctors appointment today, it was supposed to be routine.
The plan was to rebuild some white blood cells, get a stronger defense while we prepare to punch again.
But, we live in a land of unknown.
SURPRISE!
It’s been a tough week, I’ve felt like I’ve been beat up by confused cobra kai rejects.
There’s been back pain and I have the appetite of a guppy.
I’ve lost a lot of weight, which recently wouldn’t have been a problem…suddenly it’s not such a good thing.
I’m under strict doctor’s orders to eat lots of peanut butter this weekend. I can do that.
There were concerns because of my blood tests, my hemoglobin is low AGAIN!
So, I spent my lunch hour today in a big vinyl chair getting some fluids.
And…
I’m spending my day tomorrow getting a blood transfusion…WOOOO!!!!
SURPRISE!!
In this land of unknowns, we stumble on surprise.
Some sweep your legs.
But…
some are good surprises.
Really sweet surprises!
In this land of unknowns, some things are known and those are the things we hang onto.
The good surprises…
Love with BBQ sauce stains.
Friends who show up and show off what real friendship looks like.
The hardest days often turn out to be the most beautiful if you hang onto the known things…
God is ALWAYS good.
There is never a time that love doesn’t win.
There is a simple goodness in the world that is stronger than the selfishness.
Thank you to our amazing friends.
You are louder than the pain.
That isn’t a surprise.

SPEED.

Posted: March 6, 2019 in Postcards from Cancerland.

44E2E16D-A1B2-407B-865E-B18A5E7601E2.jpeg

I’ve never been fast, but right now I really miss the limited speed I had.
Growing up I have possessed ridiculously small legs, think of a chubby corgi wearing toughskins jeans.
Nobody has ever looked at me and assumed that   I was fast.
I have never exhibited any real athletic ability other than I can watch hours of football and NASCAR.
I have always been almost as fast as cold apple butter.
I miss that now.

Right now, I find myself a slow motion version of myself.

I’m really weak.
Turtles make fun of me.
Chemo drugs have made me loopy.

I’ve learned a big lesson – we should appreciate whatever speed we’ve been given in life.

I’ve spent a lifetime taking things for granted…
I could walk, run, skip like a gerbil, dance like an excited toddler.
If we aren’t the greatest, we run the danger of taking for granted.
What can you do?
Do it.
Run your race and don’t compare.

I can’t trust my brain this week.

It tells me crazy things.
Weird things.
I forget things.
This week my brain is sluggish and just downright wonky.
I can’t trust it.
Luckily I’ve surrounded myself with people I can trust.
I’m going to listen to them.

69E4623D-D553-401D-896B-9B8ECE0240DE

A while back, we discovered that our fight wasn’t over.

The sniveling belly bully is still around.
A new plan was devised.
We are going to punch him harder this time.
The plan kept getting put off because of weird random medical stuff.
But…the time has come!!
We punched the belly bully in the face.
We had treatment this last week, I’ve had a needle in my chest for seven days.
That’s always awesome.

Do you remember atomic fire balls? Those super hot cinnamon candies that lit up your mouth?
My face has totally looked  like one of those!
During the last week, I’ve been back on a cocktail of chemo, steroids, fluids, and anti nausea meds.
I haven’t got much sleep, okay…I haven’t really gotten any sleep.
A delightful combo platter of pain and potty has kept me up.
I go to the bathroom every forty three minutes (seriously! I counted!)
After a two month hiatus, the chemo brain is back. That means that I’m a special kind of clueless. I’m extremely loopy today, to the point that the biggest decision I’m able to make is “what socks should I wear?”
I’m seeing things that aren’t there.
If I stare at the bathroom floor it starts to rotate and sparkle…once again, I’m not making this up.
I have the uninspiring dexterity of an intoxicated walrus. I’m tempted to wrap myself in bubble wrap so that I don’t cause harm to myself or anyone else.
Today, there was an ornery, elderly lady in the chair next to me at the infusion suite. She is eighty three years old and despite a fifty year age difference, she has a fairly obvious crush on our nurse.
That’s because he’s kind…and he’s built like a Viking.
It was a good day for her.
She was doing good until she went to the bathroom.
Everything changed.
She suddenly had problems breathing and communicating.
The Doctor came in and EMS was called.
She was taken to the emergency room.
We hurt for her.
She is someone’s mom, grandma, great grandma.
Cancer is stupid.
So tomorrow I go in and get a super shot that is supposed to boost my white blood count up. I will also get to take some tests (blood count and pee in a sippy cup).
This all leads me to the conclusion that it’s time to pull up my pirate pants, batten the hatches and again declare no quarter.
ARGHHH!