Monday, April 23, 2012

Relatively speaking

Seattle today~ April 23, 2012
by sherry

Today was Terence's weekly oncology appointment at UW Medical center.
We enjoyed Seattle's beautiful skyline today- it was absolutely beautiful.  
We are also very thankful to be here in Seattle.  Terence is getting such excellent 
and personal care at University of Washington/Seattle Cancer Care Alliance.

  Terence's appointment went relatively well; meaning there were no surprise 
procedures or emergency surgeries needed.   I can't remember the last time 
he hasn't had need of some sort of emergency procedure.......
so after only a minor incident of dealing with a blocked Foley catheter/urethra and 
draining his bladder of 600 cc's brackish fluid and heading off a life threatening infection...
I'd say the day went well.  He came home with one more urine bag, but who's counting these days.

So that's good news.

His labs came back good today, everything right and in it's blood transfer needed.

That's good news too!

He's still  in a wheel chair...sort of... but that's due to the lymph edema swelling (it happens when he's on his feet), but he can walk if he had too just not more than a few hundred feet.  
No grocery shopping or trips to Home Depot.  He also started driving again.  
A few weeks ago, this wasn't possible either.

Again, good news!

He's still dealing with nausea and chemo related fatigue, but he can deal with that if it means chemo relieves the cancer related pain.  And so far, it is......

.....good news.

Scans are coming up in a few weeks which will determine whether or not he stays on chemo. Life off of chemo isn't very pleasant and life on chemo is like walking on pins and needles.  

Neither one sounds very pleasant, so we  remain hopeful in a miracle :)

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fearfully & wonderfully made

 April 20, 2012
By Sherry

I just want to remind my husband (who is having a difficult day today) and all of our friends who are ill, dealing with disease or fighting cancer of these powerful words:

"You are fearfully (intensely) and wonderfully created, God's works are wonderful, we know this well and we praise Him for it"  Psalm 139:14

I want to join you in praising God for creating you in such a wonderful manner.



Monday, April 16, 2012


Chemo today.
April 16, 2012
by sherry

How much? How much? How much can one person take?
Don't answer me, I already know the answer- I just had to vocalize the question out of shear frustration for Terence.

Lab work and chemo went well this morning.  We were both happy that he could re-start chemotherapy for pain management. His pain levels have increased to the point he has been at a permanent level 6.  So chemo today was good.

However last nite, as I was flushing Terence's nuphrostomy tubes (kidney by-pass), I noticed it was leaking at the incision site (see graphic ) when I flushed it with saline.  That's not a good sign- that could only mean the tube has puled away from his kidney, which could put him in renal failure again (since it is his only functioning kidney).

By the time I was able to draw attention to this (during chemo) by having Eric help me to test  drain it, it was leaking through the O.P. site dressing and Terence's clothing-- a trip to radiology for a CT scan,  some kind of sino-something (I've lost track of what kind of 'grams')-
and another replacement by-pass in the left kidney- which would be tube #3/but by-pass #4 (since February).

So here we wait. It's pretty important. He only has one kidney. My heart has been pounding with anxiety all day.  Terence has been through chemo today and is patiently waiting for the next procedure.  How frustrating. I feel angry for Terence.  In a weird sort of way, I feel like I want to beat cancer up because it's hurting him.  I don't think I've felt this kind of anger towards cancer until today!

"To them that have no might He increases strength." God comes and
takes us out of our sentimentality, and turns our fear and frustration into
 confidence and praise. The only way to know the strength of God is to take
the yoke of Jesus upon us and lean on Him.

It is a positive crime to be weak in God's strength.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Finding the great

Father's Day, 2009 T & S with our grand kids.

April 12, 2012
by sherry

My last blog was skimpy in words, because like my mom always said "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all".   
I didn't have a fit word.  I wouldn't have encouraged any body,
so I had to take some time to meditate and find  'good' in all of this.

Don't get me wrong- there are many good things happening in our midst- 
I cannot even begin to list them. 

 I just needed to understand the greater testimony in our situation.

So here's what I've been thinking today.  Psalm 119:125 says, "Give me understanding that I may 'know' (Hebrew; 'Yada'- to become intimate with) your testimonies". 
 What this scripture is saying is  "I want to experience your testimonies".  I think we all want to experience the miraculous, but I suppose great need  always precedes deliverance. 

This great need brings us to our knees.  Day by day we pray, watch and anticipate a miracle and before we know it we've pressed in and drawn close to the Lord.  I am sure many people have experienced Him in new and deeper ways due to prayer because of cancer.

 That is, that is great.....

I suppose that's the best part- is that through this cancer mess, 
more people get on their knees. 

Medical update:

Terence begins a new cycle of chemotherapy on Monday (April 16th).

The swelling in his legs/pubic area lymphnodes have increased- Dr. M believes the chemo will decrease the tumor sizes and allow lymphatic fluids to flow which will hopefully reduce the swelling and bringing him some relief.  Until then, he is off his feet, which creates a new challenge- of remaining healthy even while he is sedentary.

His new "ride" is a wheel chair.
His kidney functions were higher in this week's labs- so that is requiring some medicinal changes.  His nephrostomy tube and Foley catheter are being managed well.

He is battling daily pain but we try to stay on top of it with morphine so it doesn't get away from him.  This takes an immense amount attention (by me) and incredible focus from Terence- he spends most days attempting to remain quiet-in order to overcome pain.

We are humbled to be recipients of your prayer and God's goodness.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Sometimes my words need to be few.

April 11, 2012
by sherry

 Since it is impossible to speak the Word of God and things that are non-edifying, or just plain unprofitable at the same time, my words need to be few at times like this... for “out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks” (or as I like to say, if you open your mouth your heart will fall out) Matthew 12:33.

And I'm tired of my heart falling out. 

I've been praying that the Lord would create in me a confident heart and renew a steadfast spirit within me since duct tape, zippers, crazy glue, are not really practical deterrents to disparaging speech!

 We are in the fiery furnace of testing  and what I need is unwavering faith.  Over the next few days I hope to engage in the spiritual tools at my disposal like reading the Word, praising God, and praying in the Spirit- which will enable me to come back and share a word rooted in faith regardless of the medical report:)

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The scary side of sickness:

The scary side of sickness: 
frustration, fear and despair

April 10, 2012
by sherry

In the midst of a medical emergency that lasted for many days, I found found myself reading Psalm 12 sometime in the middle of the night on one of the 11 days I spent by Terence's side in the hospital.

It was evident to me that (King) David was weary and worn down by life's pressures, disappointments and trials. Yet, he refused to bottle up those feelings and and put on a happy face. David vented. But he vented to God. "Help Lord", David cried out in weariness and despair.

 Terence was weary from physically fighting day and night to overcome sepsis and was frustrated that his body would not recover the way he thought it should, but I was the one who finally fell into despair.

The scary side of sickness is watching someone you love become overwhelmed by something beyond their control.  I can't even begin to tell you how brokenhearted  I was.  It wasn't until day 9 or 10 that I fell apart- up until that point I had been doing "good"~ working with the doctors fighting for what was needed and was was not needed for Terence day and night. It was important that someone stay with him because he wasn't coherent. 

Once he came home all he wanted to do was walk far enough to tag his truck.
It wasn't until the incoherency continued on and on that I began to allow fear to settle in my mind.  There were times his eyes were vacant, unseeing and then they were wide open and wild with excitement or confusion.  At times he was witty in a confused sort of way and other times he was delirious.  I helped him with the most simple tasks such as getting out of bed, personal hygiene, showering......the sadness in my heart peaked when I asked him "do you know my name?" He answered "yes, your name is Sherry" and I asked him "who am I?"to which he said "you're my caregiver".

Days of exhaustion and mental weariness took over and  I started to cry for the first time and I couldn't stop. I asked him to look at his wedding ring and asked him to read it. He took it off and read, "Nalani" (my middle name). I asked him who Nalani was and he said "You are! You're the last descendant of the great pizza delivery people!!".  He was so proud of that answer but fear collided with my faith  and I wept and wept because he had no emotional connection with me.   I wheeled him out of the room (all my children were there) and into the waiting room where we could be alone. I looked at him eye to eye and cried.  He  back at me and was sad because I was sad...but he still had no connection. I was so struck with fear that Terence and I were no longer soul mates. I cannot even begin to put into words how my heart shattered when I held his face to my face and cried, saying "Terence, Terence, do you know that I love you?" (his reply was  "weren't  you were the one who shot that big elk last year?" (I have to admit that even in that terrible sad moment for me, I chuckled. He loves the hunt).

Any ways, I left the hospital while Terence entertained my (grown) kids with "what's behind curtain number three?".  I cried in the car on the way home, feeling very alone.  I came home to find that my sisters were waiting for me with much compassion, open arms and a cup of tea.  I took a hot bath and 'vented' to the Lord as King David had done. I had nowhere else to go.  "Oh Lord, Help me face this! LORD, you are true to your promises,  You will protect us and  keep us safe....have Mercy Lord, Have mercy, Have mercy". 

After my venting period, I was able to get dressed and get back to the hospital.  I felt stronger and capable again to stand by his side and face this with him. The Lord strengthened me according to His word.

My scary moment lasted 14 days. 14 days watching Terence fight, get lost and finally find his way back. Cancer is still here, he is still recovering and we are still hoping that there is treatment for the cancer sometime very soon (he can't be treated until he regains his strength and recovers completely).

I don't know..... all I want to say is that this was the first time that Terence and I both really faced the scary side of sickness (in different ways, but it all manifested at once).  At different times we both cried out "Oh, My God" (not OMG).  The relentless pressures and daily disappointments led us to cry out to our God, who is our Father.

Medical update:
After his R kidney-bypass removal on Wednesday.
We are back at our own oncology hospital, Terence was able to get better evaluation that was specifically directed to his cancer care, not just the sepsis.  The nephrostomy tube that drained his right kidney from infection was taken out on Friday, his left one remains and is doing the lion share of the work. He also had a foley catheter inserted to catch the overflow of urine that the left kidney is producing due to the aggressive amounts of Lasix (diuretic)- which we hope will drain the fluids from his legs and pubic area.  His white blood cell count is still high, but we are keeping an eye on it. His lymph nodes are going crazy with cancer, so he needs to be back into a chemotherapy regimen quickly.  He uses a cane, a walker....a wheel chair was delivered to our house the other day since he has difficulty walking again....though we are very grateful, there was a long silence that followed that gift .

His body is on the mend and will start chemotherapy
again very soon, just waiting for the call this afternoon.

Cognitively, he is back thank goodness.
I didn't like Lady Gaga being his best friend. I don't suppose Robert and Carmen would mind that they were in the NASA program where they met Terence.  And I am sure he had fun speaking all those different languages to Nadine and Charla. I think Brook and Charla would like to come out of the world war 1 era and now our kids can come out from behind "Curtain number 3".  The good thing about delirium is that during his stay there he thought he was in a hotel.

I confess that I often must consciously engage my heart and mind around the leadership of the Holy Spirit in my life. When the scary side of sickness premiers it's ugly face- it reminds me that my sanity, my peace and comfort all come from the Holy Spirit's leadership or fear becomes a permanent resident in my life.