Friday, October 28, 2011

150 and Counting

150 and Counting

Friday, October 28,2011
From Bob

Megan and Avery's two-year-old birthday party was a great success. I may be biased, but these are the two cutest two-year-olds I know. Sharon and Jenny did a great job preparing for the party, and it was good to see so many family members. The girls had all of their grandparents there. That means a lot to me because I don't remember any of my grandparents. I find great comfort in knowing all of my grandchildren have loving grandparents who will always love and support them. Megan and Avery were also surrounded by brothers, cousins, uncles, aunts, and friends.




Unfortunately, while sitting in my wheelchair at the party, I twisted my back and it went into spasm. Monday, at the conclusion of dialysis, I was unable to get into my wheelchair due to the pain in my back. The nurses had me wait several minutes before I finally made it to the wheelchair. When they pushed me into the reception room, Patra said I looked terrible - no color in my face and my shirt was wet from sweat. We eventually were able to get me loaded in the car.

I had an x-ray yesterday of my low back and we are making an appointment with a pain management doctor.

This is the 150th post for this blog since January, 2010. I can't believe it. Moffitt Cancer Center recommended its bone marrow transplant patients keep a blog to update family and friends. I had never done anything like it before. I figured I would write a few blog posts while in the hospital. I honestly thought my "nasty little disease" would be in remission once I finished the bone marrow transplant and there would be nothing further to write about.

Boy was I wrong on the whole "remission" thing.

I would have never believed what has occurred during the past two years. Patra and I often talk about our "journey" and the twists and turns it has taken. This was not our plan for these years. I could not have made it without her. While we would not have chosen to walk through these "tall weeds," we know that God is in control and that He will never leave nor forsake us. It is in some of the darkest moments that I most feel God's love and mercy.

The blog has worked in keeping people informed. Surprisingly, writing the blog has been therapeutic for me. I think about the events from a different perspective. It turned into a "family affair" where Jenny, Emily, Adam and Patra have all been called upon to assist. I am especially appreciative of them taking charge during those times I was unable.

I hope my grandchildren will read the blog someday and feel like they know their grandfather a little better. I have tried to be honest and transparent in my writings so they will know the "real me."

One of the greatest blessings of the blog is the number of people in my life that it has allowed me to re-connect with. Friends from childhood in Miami, friends from Elementary school, Junior High School, High School, College and Law School, friends from Youth Group at church, lawyers and staff I have worked with over the years, friends from church and the children's schools.

Dear God: Thank you for always being there. You have never let me down. Help me to always be faithful to you. Father, help me to be the husband, father, grandfather and friend that I should be. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.
Bob

Friday, October 21, 2011

Thankful

"Thankful"

Friday, October 21, 2011
From Bob

I woke up this morning and it was 65 degrees! The weatherman said it would be in the 50's tomorrow. Enough cold weather! I don't mind it being in the 70's, but anything below that is too cold for this Florida boy.

I was reminded that about a year ago, Patra and I were in Minnesota. You want to talk cold; THAT was COLD. I saw enough snow to last me forever.

One of the memories that I have from our time there was Patra and I celebrating Thanksgiving together in the hospital room. I'd had surgery about 2 weeks earlier and was still recovering. Patra sat on the edge of the bed and we ate turkey and dressing from the hospital cafeteria... not exactly the Thanksgiving feast that I am used to. Because of the cold and being there so long, we were really missing the kids and grandkids. About a week after Thanksgiving, one of my doctors wanted to do an additional surgery. I told him that I was homesick, cold, and that we had doctors in Florida who I was confident could do the surgery. Within a few days, we were on a plane flying home. I hope I never have to go back to Minnesota between November and April.

Another memory that I have is of the nurses "encouraging" me to walk. I wanted to tell them that one of their surgeons had removed my insides, and as soon as he gave me back what he took out, I would be happy to walk. The nurses didn't seem to have much of a sense of humor, so instead, Patra practically dragged my body through the halls. Whenever we passed the nurse station, I made sure they saw me "walking".

I have actually thought a lot about Thanksgiving this year and can't wait to experience a full Florida Thanksgiving with the whole family. One of the reasons that I'm thinking so much about Thanksgiving is that I have so much to be thankful for. When we left the Mayo Clinic, there was a great deal of uncertainly whether I would still be here for another Thanksgiving. Our prayer was that I would be alive for the birth of both Riley and Anderson. Not only did I get to meet them but now am enjoying watching them grow. Adam drops Riley and Avery off at our house 3 mornings a week. They are sometimes still in their pajamas and watching them play sure cheers my heart.


Since I've reached those goals of meeting my newest grandsons, I've made some new goals to look forward to. Patra and I will celebrate our 39th wedding anniversary in December, and Adam will graduate from law school in May of 2012. It will be 36 years since I graduated from Stetson Law School. I sure do hope I can attend Adam's graduation.

Next week, both Avery and Megan celebrate their second birthdays. I will share pictures of their birthday party which we are all looking forward to.

As you know if you follow this blog, I have spent a lot of time in the hospital these last 2 years and have had a number of operations and procedures. It is amazing how well I am doing. I am thankful to you who have prayed for me. I believe I am alive today because God has answered many prayers. I am forever thankful for that.

In dialysis, it appears that I am in a vicious cycle where I drink too much fluid which results in "fluid overload". I try to drink very little each day but I am always so thirsty and sometimes I cheat. One of the symptoms of my disease is extreme thirst, and yet I must limit how much I can drink. When they take off my excess fluid it causes my blood pressure to plummet. As I have mentioned many times, after dialysis I am extremely dehydrated. I cannot describe how miserable that feeling is. In order not to faint, I drink some fluid as soon as Patra gets me to the car, and this causes the "fluid overload" cycle to continue. It is such a delicate balance... one that I have not yet mastered.

Dear God,
Thank you for so many blessings. I also thank you for our friends who have supported and prayed for us. We are truly blessed. I thank you for everyday that you have allowed me to be with my family and for bringing me through the "tall weeds". May I be faithful to you in everything that I do. May my thirst be only for you Lord. In Jesus name. Amen


Until next Friday,
Bob

Friday, October 14, 2011

Extraordinary

"Extraordinary"
Friday, October 14, 2011
from Bob

One of my doctors came up to me this week in dialysis and said, "I can't believe I haven't seen you in the hospital lately." It does seem that we measure this journey by my hospitalizations. I think I've been in about 10 times since January. There is such a balance between getting enough fluid and having a fluid overload which leads to congestive heart failure. Recently it appears that we have been able to finally balance those numbers a little better.

After dialysis I am always dehydrated and come home washed out. The only thing I can do is go to bed. The dehydration is still causing my muscles to spasm in my back and I am very uncomfortable. Muscle relaxer medication helps a lot. Fortunately, on the days that I'm not in dialysis I feel pretty good, but do sleep a lot from the medication.

Last Saturday night Patra and I went to the mall!!! We met some friends and ate at the food court. I'm not supposed to have salt, and I'm sure there was plenty in what I ate, but it sure tasted great. Never would I have imagined that doing something that ordinary like eating at the food court would feel so extraordinary. Maybe I'll feel well enough to attend our grandson's ballgame tomorrow morning.

This week, it has been one year since little Andrew (6) had brain surgery at All Children's Hospital. You would never know except for the scar on the back of his head. He has done remarkable. He is thriving and enjoying playing Little League again. We appreciate all the prayers that went up for him. Thank you.





Throughout the past 2 years that I have been sick, I have learned much about the power of prayer. I am so thankful for all of you who lift me up to the Father in prayer. We are not only thankful for the blessings we have been given, but it also gives us a chance to pray for our friends who are also walking through the "tall weeds" In addition, my own personal prayer life has grown. At night, when Patra and I pray, we may cry, laugh, or just talk. Not only has our communications as husband and wife been enriched, but also our communications with God has grown stronger.

Isn't it an amazing thing that we can communicate with the Creator of this Universe at any time and know that He hears our prayers.

Dear God, Thank you for another good week. Thank you for healing our grandson so perfectly. What a blessing to know you hear and answer our prayers. Thank you for extending my life a little longer. I pray that I will remain faithful until the end.

Until next Friday, God willing,
Bob

Friday, October 7, 2011

Silver Lining

Friday, October 7, 2011
from Bob

"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
He was in the beginning with God.
All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.
And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it." John 1:1-5


The above verses are some of my favorites in the Bible. While the divinity of Christ and the Trinity are difficult concepts to understand, these verses make it clear that Jesus was present with God from the very beginning, and in fact is God.

This week has been a pretty good week. (Any week I am not in the hospital is a good week.) I am still having blood pressure problems after dialysis. I can almost make it through the 4 hours, but right towards the end I usually get dizzy. I also continue to have painful muscle spasms in my back. (Fortunately, they are NOT as bad as the electric type shocks that I was having). The doctor prescribed a muscle relaxing medication which works a little too well. It's been effective in loosening my back muscles, but it has also been quite a trip! Patra was amused today when I looked at the clock and tried to say "eleven" - I think my 2 year old grand-daughters say it about the same way I did. "L a l a v i n", I slowly said. Patra said that's what time it is in "La la land." It's a good thing the meds have worn off enough for me to dictate this blog. Patra's been giving me some caffeine to jolt me out of a 3-day fog.

Saturday, our grandson Andrew (6) had a Little League game. It was cool and crisp here in Florida that morning, and everyone was energized by the refreshing weather. Patra pushed me in my wheelchair to watch his game. I had to wear a sweatshirt, but it felt so good to be outside. This time last year, I never would have imagined I'd ever get to see Andrew play another season. God is good... all the time.

Patra and I realize every day how blessed we are by our family and friends. Thursday night we were visited by 2 friends who drove up from Miami. I have known them since I was about 2 years old. We reminisced and laughed about old times at school and church youth group. The silver lining of having this "nasty little disease" is that I have had the wonderful pleasure of reconnecting with a number of friends I have known since childhood. Many from my church's youth group have dropped by to encourage us. We are all now in our 60's, but it seems that we've been able to pick up right where we left off.

Dear God, I thank you again for the blessings that you give. I thank you for Jesus who was there at the beginning and came to earth in order to die and be resurrected. Jesus did this because he loved all mankind. Father, please be with all of our friends that are also "walking through the tall weeds". Thank you for our family and long time friends who share a common bond through Jesus.
In Jesus name, Amen.


Until next Friday, God willing
Bob
 

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