Friday, October 28, 2011

Family

I am privileged to work in a profession where I meet a lot of people.  Over the years my taste has changed and I find that I like the colorful characters the best.  Speaking of color, my Dad and I like to watch nature programs and he is sure to say with each viewing, "God has a lot of fun with color, doesn't He?"  I realize that my father may be referring to the marvelous variety among the hundreds of species of hummingbirds in that program but, as my thoughts linger on the interesting conversations I have had this week, my agreement is weighted with more depth and reflection.

We grew up with the idea that the United States was a melting pot and later in my Master's program the idea was suggested that, in fact, we are like a tossed salad.  A really great salad contains lots of variety in the ingredients, and if you look into the salad bowl you can easily identify what is what, as they remain sliced or chopped, but recognizable as their whole self.  We have not immigrated here and given up our identities.  Instead, we joined communities, gained employment and contribute in our own unique ways.  We are who we are but we form part of the whole.

Family is like that.  We grow up each forming a part of the salad and each adding to it in our own way.  There are many characters in a family and that can lead to conflict and division.  This is not always pleasant, but having a bowl of iceberg lettuce only seems hardly a salad.  It is dull.  It is lonely.  It is not very fun to eat.

Family is the very foundation of our lives.  It serves as our spring board each day to launch our lives.  It is the very air that we breath and the wind that we propel ourselves forward with.  Sadly, this can easily be taken for granted in large and extended families when each member does not give thought to the role they play in the success or the demise of the other family members.  Sharp words of criticism, selfish acts, negativity or a spirit on non-cooperation can begin to spoil the salad.  Generosity, patience, random acts of kindness aimed at family members, commitment to family goals, and intentional attempts to contribute positively to the family can do wonders.

It is not any more difficult to contribute to the good of the family than it is to contaminate it.  The more we examine our role in our salad, and take responsibility for the responses by its members, regarding our word and deeds, the more we can seek to make positive changes in the functioning.  It takes a degree of awareness and a great deal of commitment toward the good of the whole.  When things are at it's best our salad is full and crisp.  Each member has chosen to come and make their presence known and contribute by adding a measure of them self to it.  It becomes full and colorful and nutritious to those who are able to indulge in the eating of it.

There are those who would not make time for salad making.  There is so much to do at home.  Stress can get the better of these members and they will be absent from the salad.  It will be too far to travel.  Schedules will conflict.  It may time a long time to plan a get together and opportunities to get every one there may be quite few and far between.  Sadly, this tragedy compromises the ability to jump in and function as a great and bountiful salad.
We are entering into the season of family.  In writing this blog, I am not suggesting that we all make salads, but rather we come together in creative ways to connect and build family ties.  Have we harmed each other?  Have we been rude and uncaring?  Was I selfish and forgetful?  I pray that God will give me the courage to seek forgiveness and ensure that I contribute and uplift those in my family.  I pray that this year we grow stronger and closer.  I pray we narrow the spaces between us so that we may stand together when the tribulations of life come.

Don't forget the croutons as you examine yourself and take your inventory.

Susan

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

A Little Glimpse of Heaven

I keep getting this little glimpse of heaven in such a strange way.  Our little grandson Tan has grown up with some elegant dietary expectations thanks to his "gramPY".    At our house the refrigerator is ALWAYS stocked with a fresh selection of strawberries and more importantly, raspberries, just for you-know-who.  When he comes each evening Paul prepares a little dish with some of this fruit for Tan.  Tan has this cute way of fingering the berry up to his mouth and then popping it in with his index finger, one after the other.  (he also dragged me over to the refrigerator the other day and said "juice - me".  He's getting his language skills down pretty well)   Anyway, back to the point.  I sometimes want to say to Tan, "do you have any idea what raspberries cost???" but of course he doesn't.   From his perspective, they just appear and are there for him to enjoy in whatever quantity he needs or wants.  The concept of cost, money, labor and reward are irrelevant and unheard of.  The only currency he understands is the little kiss I request and am given.

This is my reminder and picture of heaven.  I look forward to the time when my needs are met not on what I can earn but on what I already inherited.  When all is provided with no cost.  A mansion, a feast, everything beyond what I can comprehend or imagine.  Not for a day or a week or a year but for eternity.  Not perishable but imperishable.   Just like the Children of Israel who took possession of a land flowing with milk and honey and great and splendid cities which they did not build, and houses full of all good things which they did not fill, and hewn cisterns which they did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees which they did not plant, I will have an eternal refrigerator stocked and supplied for me by the One who already meets all of my needs.  What's not to like about that?  

Oh, help me Father to focus on the eternal and not on today, on your purpose and not my own, and to trust you when I am afraid. 

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Re-Train Your Eyes

Tonight I am reminded of the story of David and Goliath.  I was thinking about truth and how easily our eyes and our thoughts can be deceived.  Once that occurs, it is very easy to have your faith shaken and to begin to forget the very promises that God has given to you.  I feel lighter hearted this evening, having been reminded about truth, and having been reminded my strength and my faith has been restored.

Here is an account of that famous story to refresh your memory.

The Philistine army had gathered for war against Israel. The two armies faced each other, camped for battle on opposite sides of a steep valley. A Philistine giant measuring over nine feet tall and wearing full armor came out each day for forty days, mocking and challenging the Israelites to fight. His name was Goliath. Saul, the King of Israel, and the whole army were terrified of Goliath.

One day David, the youngest son of Jesse, was sent to the battle lines by his father to bring back news of his brothers. David was probably just a young teenager at the time. While there, David heard Goliath shouting his daily defiance and he saw the great fear stirred within the men of Israel. David responded, "Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of God?"

So David volunteered to fight Goliath. It took some persuasion, but King Saul finally agreed to let David fight against the giant. Dressed in his simple tunic, carrying his shepherd's staff, slingshot and a pouch full of stones, David approached Goliath. The giant cursed at him, hurling threats and insults.

David said to the Philistine, "You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied ... today I will give the carcasses of the Philistine army to the birds of the air ... and the whole world will know that there is a God in Israel ... it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord's, and he will give all of you into our hands."

As Goliath moved in for the kill, David reached into his bag and slung one of his stones at Goliath's head. Finding a hole in the armor, the stone sank into the giant's forehead and he fell face down on the ground. David then took Goliath's sword, killed him and then cut off his head. When the Philistines saw that their hero was dead, they turned and ran. So the Israelites pursued, chasing and killing them and plundering their camp.  1 Samuel 17

Anyone looking down on that fateful encounter would not have believed that David could win.  Anyone trusting their eyes, that is, and not their hearts.   I am reminded that I need to see with my heart because that is where I hold the promises that God has made to me in his scriptures and to me in person.  I will re-train my eyes, as they read the reports, to see myself through the eyes of faith and not to see things at face value.

Thanks!!!  I needed that reminder.

Susan

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Thanking God For Small Miracles x 24 months

And praying for larger ones.

Today Susan and I had a pretty good day.  She completed a 6 course radiation treatment to her left hip and had a inconsequential visit with a oral surgeon who dismissed our concerns of mandibular necrosis.  We haven't quite decided if we believe him or not as she still has symptoms including chin and lip numbness and her teeth still feel strange.  We are still wondering if this is the 'duck' disease or not.  "if it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, it must be a.... duck".   In any event, the doctor didn't see anything fowl going on.   Ok, I know that is a major pun, I just can't help it.  So we are going to wait and see. 

We went to Olive Garden for a mini celebration dinner and then picked up the 2 year old and brought him back to "amPEE's" for a nap.   Tan proceeded to eat a half carton of raspberries and climb repeatedly onto the kitchen countertop that he thinks is his perch.  Why is it he understands "no" only in a uni-directional way?   From him to us and not the other way around.    Speaking of Tan, yesterday morning he climbed into our bed, elevated the head of it and settled in to watch his favorite Little Einstein video on the television.  When I wandered in to check on him, he pointed his finger towards the door and instructed 'go'.  I was being kicked out of my own bedroom. 

This weekend marks the exact two year anniversary of our sudden and terrifying trip to Colorado Springs when Susan was admitted to the hospital for the then undiagnosed problem that turned our lives upside down.  On that Friday night after work, we hurriedly threw some clothes into an overnight bag and caught an early flight out of Tampa the next morning.  We didn't know it would be this way then, but Paul has not slept a night in our Florida home since that fateful night that we came for a weekend and stayed for a lifetime. 

Two years later Susan is still going, some days stronger than others, but still going.  We have loved, laughed, traveled, and lived.  We are still dreaming, hoping, and praying.  God is still in charge, still on His throne, and still in the miracle business.  

Here's to the next 24, and the next, and the next. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

cystoscopy

Today I had the pleasure of visiting the Urologist to have a cystoscopy.  If you are not familiar with this procedure it is defined as an endoscopy of the urinary bladder via the urethra. It is carried out with a cystoscope.  Basically a small camera is inserted into your urethra and pushed up into the bladder.  The entire procedure is quite painless, due to the numbing gel, and takes only a couple of minutes.

For the last couple of months I have been having one Urinary Tract Infection after another.  I have had some pretty constant bladder pain for about two months.  I have learned from the Urologist that chemotherapy can irritate the bladder and cause this condition.  I had a Pelvis CAT scan to rule out kidney stones or other internal problems and the cystoscope did not reveal any damage.

Therefore, the Urologist has concluded that it is nothing more than irritation and infection resulting from all the chemotherapy.  He has put me on a three day anti-biotic regimen followed by an additional six months of a lighter anti-biotic to ensure that no bacteria is able to take hold and develop further infection.

If  you are undergoing chemotherapy please keep in mind that it can take a toll on your body in many, many ways.  I am feeling a bit disappointed that my complaints of bladder pain and concerns about all of the urinary tract infections were not handled more pro-actively.  I wish that I had known that this bladder irritation could be a result of chemotherapy.  I think that I would have been more aggressive in my advocating for myself.  I think I would have saved myself some pain and suffering.

Susan

Thursday, October 6, 2011

The Owl Video

video

Initial reaction embarrassment followed by flinging the poor owls across the room.  What can I say?  He is 2 1/2.  He did look them over later and the next day hugged them to his chest.

Sigh.

Susan

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

MRI of the Lumbar Spine from 9-30-11

FINDINGS:  This exam was compared to the MRI dated October 12, 09.

As shown previously, there is "bow-tie" loss of height involving the L3 vertebral body without associated bone marrow edema ( concavity of the superior and interior endplates) consistent with a chronic compression fracture.  The shape of the fracture and associated diffuse heterogeneous mottled decreased T1 and T2 bone marrow signal with associated heterogeneous post-contrast enhancement.of the bone marrow is consistent with fracture secondary to myeloproliferative disease such as multiple myeloma or metastatic adenocarcinoma from breast or lung.  Clinical correlation is highly recommended to rule out a neoplastic process.  The compression fracture and bone marrow signal characteristics are not typical of osteopenia versus osteoporosis.  In particular, there is not consistent with an insufficiency fracture.  There is no displaced fracture fragment.  The neural canal is widely patent.  There has been slight worsening of the loss of height, with the central (narrowest) portion of the vertebral body measuring 1.0 cm on the sagittal cuts, compared to 1.4 cm on the previous study.

There is slight (approximately 30%) loss of height of the L5 vertebral body without increased T2 signal, also consistent with a mild compression fracture, which is not present on the previous exam.  There is no displaced fracture fragment.

The remainder of the vertebral body heights and alignment are within normal limits.  The disk space heights are normal.  The neural canal and neural foramina are widely patent, there is no evidence of nerve root impingement or cauda equina, conus medullaris, or cord impression.

Developmentally, the spinal canal volume is normal.  The cauda equina, conus mdeullaris, and distal spinal cord show no abnormal mass, signal, or post-contrast enhancement.  In particular, there is no evidence of intrathecal metastatic disease.

The facet joints are normal.  There is no evidence of spondylolysis or spondylolisthesis.

IMPRESSION:  Bone marrow signal and shape of the loss of height/compression fracture of the L3 vertebral body are highly consistent with primary versus metastatic bone marrow disease such as multiple myeloma or metastatic adenocarcinoma.  Clinical correlation is advised.  Loss of height on the L3 vertebral body is slightly worse compared to the exam dated October 12, 2009, however, there is no associated bone marrow edema, suggesting a chronic healed compression fracture.  Considering the signal characteristics, shape of the compression fracture, and bone marrow signal finding, this is not typical of an insufficiency compression fracture fragment.  The neural canal and neural foramina are widely significant retropulsed or unstable fracture fragment.  The neural canal and neural foramina are widely patent.  The post-contrast enhancement of the bone marrow suggests a persistent active process.

Slight loss of height (approximately 30%) of the L5 vertebral body without increased T2 signal, also consistent with a mild compression fracture, which is not present on the previous exam.  There is no displaced fracture fragment.

The remainder of the exam is unremarkable. 

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

MRI of the Pelvis/Left Femur on Sept 30, 2011

FINDINGS:  This exam was compared to the MRI dated Sept 16, 2010

As shown previously, there is diffuse heterogeneous bone marrow signal involving the pelvis and the left femur, including the ischium, ilium, and sacrum, consistent with a metastatic neoplastic process with bone metastasis.  The mottled appearance of the bone, including the head of the left femur, is worse compared to the previous exam, with deformity of the femoral head, consistent with an associated compression fracture.  The bone marrow edema suggests an acute to subacute process.  The post-contrast images show heterogeneous enhancement of the head of the left femur and remainder of the visualized bone marrow consistent with an active process.

There is no other fracture.  There is no joint effusion.  There is no evidence of periosteal reaction or subcutaneous or deep soft tissue edema.  There is no evidence of muscle strain or tear, tendinopathy, or bursitis.

The visualized portion of the pelvis is unremarkable, without evidence of lymphadenopathy or an abnormal pelvic mass.  There is no evidence of inguinal hernia.  There is no free fluid.

IMPRESSION:  Diffuse metastatic bone marrow disease with a mild compression fracture of the head of the femur, at the weight-bearing surface, with adjacent sclerotic changes.  The abnormality is not present on the exam dated September 16, 2010.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Gifts are fun to give.

My son is of the age where he loves to recognize familiar objects and shout them out.  He is learning language and gets a big charge out of things.  When he sees an owl he goes nuts.  He shouts out a long drawn out, Owwwlllll and then says hoot, hoot, hoot. 

It does not matter if it is a cartoon owl or a real owl.  When we watch Toy Story he hears an owl, never sees it and shouts out Owl! 

I saw some knitted owls on facebook and found someone who could make him a set.  My cousin referred me to a friend and she did such a nice job.  She made him a Daddy, Mommy (with blue eyes like me) and a baby owl.  It feels like the night before Christmas for me, as I am eager to give him this gift.  I plan to take a video when he opens them.

My son brings me a lot of enjoyment.  He has a great sense of humor and brightens my day every day.  I feel privileged to be able to do special things for him when I am able. 

Susan