Friday, February 24, 2012

Not Just A Survivor

Friday, February 24, 2012
From Bob

This turned out to be a "typical week." Sunday was a great day. I went to church, Bible study and Patra and I went out to lunch. It was wonderful but I was exhausted when we arrived home. I took a long afternoon nap.

Monday, after I left dialysis I passed out.

Tuesday, I had my fourth Epidural Steroid Injection (ESI.) This shot was in the low back. (Last Friday the pain had gone from my back to the quadriceps muscle in my right leg.) As I was getting up off the table the nurse told me my color didn't look right. I told her I was light headed and she had me sit on my walker. I vaguely remember her calling for help. I thought I had seen it all with respect to passing out. This was the first time that someone used "smelling salts" and I can testify that is one of the worst smells I have smelt. While I "reacted" to the "smelling salts" that did not revive me. When I did come back to reality, I was in a bed with my head lowered , the doctor taking my blood pressure and a nurse holding a cold compress on my head.

When we got home, Adam was at the house and he came to the car to help me in. "You passed out again?". I told him everybody deserves to pass out once a day! I went to bed and slept almost 4 hours.

Wednesday was a very good day at dialysis. They were able to get all the excess fluid off and I had no problems with my blood pressure.

So a "typical week." Two days up and two days down.

As I write this on Thursday, it has been a good day. My back and leg feel significantly better after the ESI.
God is good. I can hardly believe that as many times as I have passed out over the past two years, I have never hurt myself.

Almost every day I hear someone say, "I am a cancer survivor." What exactly does that mean? I wanted to know if I was a survivor of this "nasty little disease." Does a doctor have to say you are a survivor? None of my doctors have said that. Does a doctor have to say you are in remission? None of my doctors have said that either. Do you have to live a certain amount of time after diagnosis? Is two years enough or do I need to wait longer to make that claim?

I decided to do a little research and went to Wikepedia. I was a little surprised to learn that I am apparently not the only one who has ever pondered this issue. There are differing definitions and even differing preferred terms, including "alivers," "thrivers," and even "diers."
Remembering that my grandson Austin (5) had cautioned me that Wikepedia is not always a reliable source, I decided to go to the web site of the National Coalition for Cancer Survivorship (NCCS.) "Founded by and for cancer survivors, NCCS created the widely accepted definition of survivorship and defines someone as a cancer survivor
from the time of diagnosis and for the balance of life."

As I was reading my Bible this week I realized that it really didn't matter what the definition of cancer survivor is.

Romans 8:35-39 "Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
"For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

I am not just a survivor. I am "more than a conqueror." My "nasty little disease" was conquered before I was even born.
Andrew (6) starts little league this week. I know I'm old but this week we were watching ESPN and Jenny noted they were doing a segment on Michael Jordan. Andrew piped up, "Who is Michael Jordan?" Jenny, isn't it great getting old?

Dear God: I am so grateful that I am "more than a conqueror." You are always good. Thank You for your presence and protection. I want to be faithful to You. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday.
God willing.


Friday, February 17, 2012

The Big Office Move

The Big Office Move
Friday, February 17, 2012
From Bob

There is something new in the upper right column of my blog. You can enter your email address and every time we publish a new post, you will receive an email with a link to the blog site. Unless something dramatic happens, it is my intention to continue to only write a post once a week, on Friday.

I wish everyone a belated Happy Valentine's Day. It seemed apropos that Patra and I spent the morning of Valentine's Day at the HEART doctor's office. The Echocardiagram went smoothly, but it will be several weeks before I get the results. This week I get my low back epidural steroid injection which should continue to help manage my back pain.

Last Saturday was moving day for my office. We knew that the responsibility would fall mostly on Adam, Emily and Jenny to pack up and move everything (I offered to move the heavy stuff myself, but no one took me up on it), and they did a tremendous job. Jenny put the word out to her church small group, and many volunteered their Saturday morning to help us. With the large moving truck James was able to bring down from Gainesville, our moving "team" got the entire office packed up into one load (plus a few truck beds). Everything was finished by lunchtime. Patra and I are so appreciative of everyone who gave of their time and effort to help us out. It meant so much.

**From Jenny: I try not to overstep the boundaries, but I'm hijacking my dad's blog for just a moment here! The "Big Office Move" last Saturday was an amazing experience for me, personally. When we decided that we needed to get everything moved out, I was once again reminded of how grateful I am for the relationship I have with each of my siblings and their spouses (Emily, James, Adam, Sharon & my husband David). Each of them sacrificed their own plans to do what needed to be done, just as they have done time and time again over the last few years.

In addition, I am overcome with gratitude for our little home-group from church. Their overwhelming response to help just confirmed to me that my Dad's motto (Faith, Family, Friends) is spot-on. Many of the guys who helped us Saturday have never met my parents. They just helped because they heard of a need and wanted to show God's love to someone in a tangible way. Words just don't do it justice. But I thank God for showing me yet another example of the community of believers who have done SO MANY things for our family over the last 2 years. Thank you all! (Ok... back to my Dad, who might just be changing his password after this - haha!)

Patra and I continue to count our blessings. Last year at this time we were making regular visits to the hospital. While dialysis continues to be a challenge, we understand that it is essential. I am learning to cope better with spending 3 days a week at dialysis and then feeling the effects when I come home.

2 Corinthians 12:9 "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

Just before this portion of his letter to the Corinthian church, the apostle Paul has referenced his own "thorn in the flesh." Paul says that he asked the Lord 3 times to remove this infirmity. What was the Lord's response? "My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness." God didn't "heal" Paul, God didn't remove the "thorn in the flesh."

All of us experience problems. Some are physical illness, some relational, some vocational, some financial. My current problem is a "nasty little disease." We really want our problems to "go away." Sometimes they do and sometimes they don't. The fact that Paul asked 3 times suggests that he really wanted the problem removed and he knew that God could do it. I have prayed more than 3 times that God would heal me. I know He could and I would really like that.

What is most important is OUR response. Paul responded: "Most gladly therefore will I glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

It is my prayer that I will respond to my illness in a way that glorifies God.

Thank you for your continued prayers for me and my family.

Dear God: Your grace is amazing. May all glory and praise be lifted up to you. In my weakness help me to find the strength You have promised. May You be with all of our friends who are ill or have other needs. In Jesus name. Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.

Friday, February 10, 2012

Justice, Mercy, Humility

Friday, February 9, 2012.
"Justice, Mercy, Humility"
From Bob

I have an Echocardiagram next Tuesday. I'm anxiously awaiting the results. The last couple of times I've "sweet talked" the technician into telling me what they thought. However, their impression didn't always agree with the doctor's interpretation so I may just wait this time to hear directly from the doctor. It usually doesn't take long.

We are having this test done to see if there has been any change in my heart function. My heart catheterization several months ago confirmed my previous Echocardiagram that my heart function was 30%. (I was pleased to learn that a "normal" heart functions at 60%, not 100%.)

Tomorrow we (not me) will be cleaning out my office for an anticipated sale. Jenny's friends from church volunteered to help so we have plenty of people-power and trucks lined up. What a blessing! While there is really no choice but to rid ourselves of the financial obligations associated with the office, it is still emotional. Patra is having a harder time than I am. She physically painted every wall and installed all of the interior woodwork. We spent many wonderful days there together running our business. I have been told that my biggest contribution this weekend would be to stay out of the way. My back is still very painful so I will comply with that request.

The grandchildren continue to be a blessing. Andrew (6) has started little league practice. I told him I am feeling better this year and want to go to more games. He asked me if I could go to ALL of his games. I hope I can. Austin (5) continues to amaze and entertain us with his "Austinisms." He already knows more about exotic animals than I do. The other day Patra asked him why God made an animal a certain way. He told her he didn't know but he would google it and tell her the answer. Megan and Avery (2) are like sisters. They play together so well and are beginning to talk all the time. We can already see that Riley and Anderson will soon be little boys and not babies.

Micah 6:8 He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God?

This is a great verse to memorize since it so clearly gives us directions for living our lives. I will just talk about walking "humbly with thy God." It is so easy to see ourselves as the center of our universe, to think we are in charge. I confess that as a grandparent that is the message I am giving my grandchildren. It's their parents responsibility to teach them the truth about themselves. The other day I was thinking about how great it is not having to be the disciplinarian. It will no doubt be harder for this generation. What with television, video games and the Internet, our children must be more diligent than we were. My grandchildren won't be watching "Father knows best," "Mary Tyler Moore," or "Bonanza."

Having this "nasty little disease" has taught me so much about walking humbly with God. He is the center of the universe, He is the One in charge. That is a very good thing -if I were in charge, I would really mess things up.

Dear God: We continue to pray for many friends who are ill. May they know your presence in a special way. I pray for relief from back pain. Help me to seek justice, love mercy and walk humbly with you. Thank you for teaching more about You every day. In Jesus' name. Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.

Friday, February 3, 2012

"Living Water"

Living Water

Friday, February 3, 2012

From Bob

(John 4:7-15 HCSB) A woman of Samaria came to draw water. "Give Me a drink," Jesus said to her, for His disciples had gone into town to buy food. "How is it that You, a Jew, ask for a drink from me, a Samaritan woman?" she asked Him. For Jews do not associate with Samaritans. Jesus answered, "If you knew the gift of God, and who is saying to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would ask Him, and He would give you living water." "Sir," said the woman, "You don't even have a bucket, and the well is deep. So where do You get this 'living water'? You aren't greater than our father Jacob, are You? He gave us the well and drank from it himself, as did his sons and livestock." Jesus said, "Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again-ever! In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up within him for eternal life." "Sir," the woman said to Him, "give me this water so I won't get thirsty and come here to draw water."

February, 2012. I have made it another month. It has been 5 months since I have been in the hospital. What a blessing! God is good - all the time. God is good - every month!

I had a good day at dialysis on Monday. My sitting blood pressure stayed high enough to get me released. In fact, my dialysis went so smoothly that I finished before Patra arrived to pick me up. That had never happened before. The nurse pushed me in my wheelchair to get my weight and then opened the door to the waiting room. That is the last thing I remember for several minutes. One of our friends waiting for her husband later told us she knew something was wrong when I didn't respond to her. She touched my arm and it was clammy. I think she thought I had died. She said she yelled for help and several nurses responded. I have no recollection of any of that.

When I was "coming back" a nurse had pulled back on my wheelchair and I was looking at the ceiling. They put me on oxygen and were preparing an IV to give me fluid. Fortunately, by that time Patra was there and stopped the IV from being inserted. (I've had enough "pokes.") Patra knew I just needed to drink some water and I would be OK. (Unfortunately we are now somewhat "expert" at handling my "syncopal"episodes.) The nurse in charge agreed and Patra gave me water to drink. Soon I was back to normal. My new normal is not what it used to be!

On Wednesday, my blood pressure problem started early in dialysis. My systolic (upper number - "the phase of the heartbeat when the heart muscle contracts and pumps blood from the chambers into the arteries.") blood pressure began falling very quickly. When we first noticed, it was 102, then 98, then 89. I think it bottomed out at 79. The nurses tilted my chair back, gave me fluids, and decreased the amount of fluid they were taking off. Soon I was feeling much better. My nephrologist talked to me about these episodes of "hypotension" and he adjusted my "dry weight." If I am still having problems, he will consider changing my blood pressure medications.

In the story related above from the gospel of John, Jesus is traveling through Samaria and encounters a Samaritan woman. It was bold of Jesus to go through Samaria because at that time the Jewish people would "walk around" Samaria. It was even bolder for Jesus to engage a Samaritan woman in a conversation. As the Bible says above, "Jews do not associate with Samaritans." The Samaritans worshipped in the Temple on Mount Gerizim and the Jews worshipped in the Temple in Jerusalem.

Jesus interrupted this woman's life. I imagine she had made this trip for water on many occasions. As she walked along, I imagine she thought of the many chores she needed to accomplish that day. Then she meets Jesus and her plans are interrupted by His questions and prophetic utterances. Just as does today, He offered her eternal life by telling her he could give her water and she would never again thirst. From the Biblical account, it appears she didn't understand at that point what Jesus was really offering. She didn't want to be physically thirsty and have to keep coming back to draw water.

When I was first diagnosed with this "nasty little disease, I was told I would have problems with my fluid levels. Over the last two years, I have been instructed to drink more water and I have been instructed to refrain from drinking water or any fluids. For months, I had daily IVs of significant amounts of fluid and now I have fluid removed three times a week. I have never been more thirsty than when the doctors limited my fluids. I would eat ice chips, chew gum, and eat hard candy trying to calm the thirst. While I still drink more than I should, the situation has improved.

I think I know how that Samaritan woman felt. "Jesus, give me water so I don't thirst and in my case don't give me too much either."

More importantly, Jesus interrupted my life when I was a young boy and I received His gift of eternal life. He quenched the real thirst of my life and I will never be thirsty again-ever.

I hope He interrupts your life. He goes where you are, even to Samaria. We just need to accept His offer. He gave His life for you and me.

Dear God: I pray that we will be able to correct my blood pressure problems. Thank you for the staff and nurses and doctors that respond so quickly and work so hard in treating me. I thank you for your gift of eternal life. I pray that I will be faithful to you always. In Jesus' name, Amen.

Until next Friday. God willing.



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