How long has it been since I’ve posted? It seems like forever, though it has only been a few weeks. Well, a lot has happened the part few weeks – I’ve been pretty sick, and I haven’t been in the mood to share. Frankly, right now I’m so tired of fighting cancer that I’ve really wanted to just hide in my house with my dog in my lap; I’ve definitely avoided talking to folks because, really, for the first time I have felt very insincere answering the “how are you doing?” question with “I’m doing Okay,” and telling the truth of “cancer is kicking my butt” makes for awkward moments at your son’s basketball game or even during the Passing of the Peace at church. You learn quickly to avoid saying things during what is supposed to be a brief conversation which might leave the other person with no easy words of response. So, I began to pull away. And where do you think that has left me? Sick, discouraged, and alienated. Ugh. Happy New Year!
Well, since I’ve just finished a 10-day period which included several trips to Nashville for clinic trips, a surgery center, a phlebotomy clinic, 2 different urologists, and even a day in the local ER, I thought it might be a good time to touch base, or, more accurately, my wife of substantial, clear-headed wisdom thought so.
To give the story some context, my issues began during the holidays when I began to experience heavy, heavy sleep with extraordinary dreams. I even got pretty violent one night, according to Kim. I found myself cold and would sleep under several more inches of bedding than my partner lying next to me. Instead of waking up ready to start the day, not even the warm smell of coffee or the teen angst from the kitchen on a weekday morning could wrest me from bed. Upon rising, I couldn’t dress fast enough to throw off the chill, goose bumps covering my body. I found myself dozing off several times throughout the day and often in a daze. I suspected it was the medication, but was most troubling was the amount of pain coming from both sides of my pelvis, so I relied upon moderate, consistent dosing of opioids for survival. Honesty.
Over the next few weeks, the situation progressed such that I thought I must have the flu, though I never had a fever. I was lethargic and unable to maintain coherent thoughts for long periods; work was near impossible. So, upon the advice of my medical team in Nashville on Jan 10th, Kim took me to Piedmont Athens Regional ER to see if there was something clinically wrong with me–I had everyone worried. Well, despite the 6 hour bed rest in the tiny hospital room, the fluids, and the battery of tests, they found nothing definitively wrong, except that I was battling some sort of UTI, in addition to depleted blood counts.
I didn’t improve much over the weekend, and I began to get frustrated. I didn’t want to leave the house, but I knew another trip to Nashville was coming on Sunday. At church, I sat in the back on the floor and avoided people. I looked like crap, and I didn’t want to see that realization on the faces of the people in my congregation. I came to worship, not fellowship.
Finally, my bloodwork on the following Monday showed that I was pretty anemic and had been taking the wrong antibiotic for the UTI. So, they scheduled me for a blood transfusion for the following day. To make matters even more fun, an appointment with a new urologist in Nashville resulted in a scheduled return later that week to get the pesky ureteral stents replaced as well as the probable removal of the unpleasant nephrostomy tube. The next day (Tuesday), I was given 2 liters of blood, and we drove home. The following Friday, we flew back to Nashville for the urological procedures under general anesthesia, spent a very difficult, painful night at an otherwise cozy bed and breakfast, and returned home in the wee, dark hours in the deluge of rain.
The great news is that I no longer have a nephrostomy bag. I hope everything works out from this new doctor’s quick decision to remove it.
I’ve tried to remain in sweatpants as often as possible and to rest at home, though Kim and I did enjoy a lovely dinner at Thai Spoon Friday night in Athens. They have really good soup.
The kids have been away this weekend at a Winter Retreat with their amazing, seemingly peerless, youth group, and are on their way home as I write. I’m feeling much, much better and hope to finally be able to return to work this week.
After 6 straight weeks of trips to Nashville, Kim and I finally get a break. In 2 weeks, though, we’ll return (Feb 4-5) for the first MRI and CT scans since I started the new therapy. For my friends and family who pray, we beseech thee again. If the treatment is working, then I will only need to travel to Nashville every 3 weeks. If not, well, I’ll have to start this whole process over again with a new therapy.
Frankly, I don’t know if I’ll have the energy to go through this again, though I know we’ll survive somehow.
Thank you a million times over to family and friends who have helped us out in so many ways over these past weeks (and years, really). And thank you to my understanding employers over at the CCRC. God bless you.
We’re staying strong, folks. Kim and I have just begun a new devotion on the Psalms together, and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a devotion, yes, but it is something my wife and I will do together, which is intimate. For this next study, I purchased a copy of Eugene Peterson’s translation of the Bible, The Message, the version that got Bono all giddy. I highly recommend watching this fascinating conversation between the two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-l40S5e90KY).