Thursday, December 14, 2017

The Heart of Christmas

I just watched this movie, "The Heart of Christmas".

WARNING!  Do NOT watch this unless you want to cry.

I went through a pile of tissues.

Ok warning over, but I need to tell you that it is a story about a family and their child going through the struggle of cancer. (I didn't read the info. about the movie beforehand.)

Anyhow, this movie really got me thinking about all of the relationships that develop between doctors, nurses, other cancer patients, the techs, the schedulers, the patient's family and the patient.  It's mind blowing how 6 months ago I had never met them, and now I have a close relationship with some of them.  We have been through ALOT together.  And you know what?  They genuinely care.  They are cheering us on.  I'm so grateful for their care and their concern about this cancer and my victory over it.

It also made me think about all of the blessings that have been given to us over the last several months.  You guys have poured love into our family and we can never say thank you enough.  We have heard about the prayers that are being said, we have received your emails, texts, and cards of encouragement, and we have been blessed by your generous giving.  People have traveled from near and far to visit with us--it has truly been humbling.

Along with all of these blessings,  we have also experienced all kinds of new things. 

Right now I am severely nuetropenic.  Which means that my immunization level is almost non-existent.  My doctor has basically made me quarantine.  We can not have visitors/family around because even the smallest infections could cause me to get sick and end up back in the hospital.  In our home you will find us wearing masks, spraying down common areas,  eating no raw foods including fruits and veggies, and being very careful to avoid germs.   By the way this is very common with cancer patients to experience this issue.  Chemo kills the bad AND the good.  It's one of the ugly side effects.  I could sit here and have a pity party--cause it is very difficult to tell your family they can't come around other than to the door to talk across the room. AND It is really hard to call your son and daughter-in-law and tell them that you can't host your granddaughter's 1st birthday party because you might get sick. (A few tears may or may not have been shed.)



Instead I've been trying to find "The Heart of Christmas" in this less than ideal situation.  

The first thing that I believe God arranged for me to experience was a visit in my chemo room this week.  Instead of chemo, my doctor arranged for me to have potassium and magnesium because they were low.  I was put into a large 4 person room and started getting my cocktail through my port.  About half way into my time, an older woman was wheeled into one of the "rooms" by her (daughter--I later found out).  I overheard the daughter tell the nurse that she was the "favorite" daughter.  This made me laugh because my daughters are always telling me that they are my favorite.  Anyways, we began a conversation with this family and soon found out that the older woman and her husband had been stateside missionaries during their marriage.  Over the years they had worked with unwed mothers, women and children who were abused, and a faith-based alcohol program for rehabilitation.  This woman was so gracious and wise (even though she said she didn't consider herself "wise).  She explained how using the things we have experienced--the good and the hard times--were ways we were supposed to minister to others.  Her daughter was just as precious.  She had flown in from out of state to help take care of her mom.  I later found out that she has stage 4 lung cancer and is having surgery on the 20th.  (Please put her on your calendar to pray for her--God knows her name.)  You want to know what?  At the age of 97 this sweet sister of mine in Christ was doing exactly what she was talking about.  She really ministered to me that day.

The second thing God arranged for me was to be blessed by was First Baptist Screven Youth Group last night.  Just yesterday I had posted that one of the things I missed about not attending church was singing with my church family.  Well last night the youth group came and sang Christmas carols outside of our home.  They didn't know it because I was wearing a mask, but I was singing right along with them.  And tears of joy snuck out.  What a joy it was to share that time--me on the inside, them in the yard.

The Heart of Christmas is all around us.  Are you looking for it?  What things has God done for you to let you know that He cares for you and loves you.  It's happening whether you recognize it or not.

Let me encourage you to take a break from your "crazy" and look and see what God is up to.

Love yall,

Julie


Monday, October 30, 2017

10/30/2017 Update

Julie was able to drink a small amount of water, a small amount of apple juice diluted in water, and a small amount of chicken broth today and tolerated it well. She could have probably had more, but she was strongly encouraged by the doctor to take it very slow.

Julie also walked today without the walker (I walked with her as a safety net) and is gaining in strength (ability to get up unassisted, etc.).

Overall, I would say this is probably the best day we have had since before surgery.

Ben

Sunday, October 29, 2017

10/29/2017 Update

The labs continue to come back as expected.  Also, today is the last day for antibiotics for the UTI -- all of the labs and the symptoms indicate that it is gone.  We did get get moved into a regular room yesterday afternoon just in time to watch the GA/FL game.  We are thankful for being able to get more rest as it is quieter up here.  The Heparin IV was removed as scheduled as she is now getting a shot twice a day of a medicine that we can and will administer at home to prevent new clots.

Julie has been continuing to improve in strength and general well-being.  She was up walking 3 times today and walking 2 full laps on each time out.  She is now starting to actually want visitors (but if you come visit please make sure you are not sick or been around people that are sick), watch TV, check Facebook, talk on the phone, etc.

The clamping of the NG tube did not work out so well -- she was having problems with nausea even before they clamped it and eventually vomited -- forcing them to turn it back on.  Friday afternoon the doctor decided to keep her on it throughout the weekend and try clamping again on Monday.  However, tonight the tube came out by itself so they are going to try leaving it out.  Pray specifically that her bowels start up fully and that she not experience nausea or vomit -- if she vomits they will have to put a new tube down her.

We still expect to be in the hospital for a number of days as they are keeping her on the TPA (feeding tube) until she is able to slowly progress through the various diet stages to slowly introduce food back into her intestines and is able to eat enough calories without the TPA to continue to heal appropriately.

Julie is experiencing no pains and is not receiving any pain medicine (not even the Tylenol).

Ben

Thursday, October 26, 2017

10/26/2017 Update

Things are progressing well now. Dr. Robertson cautioned us that we are not "completely out of the woods yet, but there is more sunshine than clouds"; meaning there is a slight risk of problems with the colon due to the previous lack of bloodflow. The good news is that all of her labwork is continuing to come back consistent and within expected ranges indicating there are no problems of that nature and no bleeding as well.

They have now clamped the NG tube (the tube that pulls stuff out of her stomach) with a plan to keep it clamped for 4 hours then measure how much bile is pulled out with a syringe. They have not yet had to reconnect the NG tube to the suction device today so there is a good chance of having it removed tomorrow.  After having it removed, this is the first step to preparing to introduce clear liquids (starting with water). If this goes well the next step would be to try it with some water and repeat and eventually take it out if all continues to go well.

We had orders to be moved out of ICU and into a regular room, but the floor she needs to be on is full so she is still in ICU tonight. This means that as soon as somebody on that floor is discharged and they get the room clean we will be moved back up to the 8th floor.

They are also taking her off of heparin IV tonight and going back to a therapeutic dose of Lovenox injection, which is what we will continue to do at home.

We still expect to be in the hospital for a number of days as they are keeping her on the TPA (feeding tube) until she is able to slowly progress through the various diet stages to slowly introduce food back into her intestines and is able to eat enough calories without the TPA to continue to heal appropriately.

Julie has no pains now other than tenderness where they went in for the procedure the day before yesterday.

If you are on Facebook, I have created a group that you can join where I put out updates as we get information throughout the day.  I am trying to summarize the information here at night, but you will get more real-time data there. 

Link to group:  https://www.facebook.com/groups/AgeeCancerFight/


Ben

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

PRAISE GOD!

[Hab 3:17-18 ESV] 17 Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, 18 yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

This verse was our devotion from yesterday.  I read it before they took Julie down for the procedure yesterday, but in the activity that was going on never was able to read it to Julie.

Before I share an update with you I want to say that God is worthy of Praise because of who he is and not because of what he does for us.  Habakkuk witnessed the collapse of most of what mattered to him, but he said, "yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation."  So we praise God for who he is.

AND

Today we also praise God for what he has done.  Several people have shared that they were praying and others fasting and praying.  I saw where God had several in our church up all night the night before praying for Julie as well as another member of our church who was in ICU in another hospital.  Julie's blood clot is dissolved and gone and blood flow has been restored to her colon with no indications that the colon was damaged and with none of the very serious risks that she faced with the aggressive treatment.  There is no explanation for this other than God heard the many prayers of his saints and performed several miracles.  He also heard the prayers of his saints and performed a miracle in Bo (the other church member) in that he is now responsive.

So please join us in giving God praise and glory not just for who he is but for what he has done!

In His Name and To His Glory!

Ben

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Update on Surgery 10/24/2017

Procedure is complete.  Dr just talked with me.  They were not able to get all of the clot because it had been there too long.  They are going to continue another treatment of focusing clot busting medicine into the clot for 2 to 3 days while she is in ICU.

Ben

Surgery time

We just received notice that they will come get Julie around 7:00am for the procedure.