In March, we felt a clear answer to a prayer. We were concerned about how our kids were coping with Tara’s illness, and from our knees we prayed, asking God with pure intentions to give us wisdom. Within days, we got a call from a friend who is involved in Inheritance of Hope, an organization that helps families who have a parent with a life-threatening or terminal diagnosis. We were offered a Disney retreat with other families in the same situation. That is what is taking place this weekend. There is counseling for the kids and the parents. Perfect.
Today we learned that Tara’s persistent fevers were from an infection in the fluid pockets in her abdomen. She will need a drain tube installed, which could be permanent; as in the rest of her life. Also she will need intravenous antibiotics. The tube will go in tomorrow morning, the antibiotics will begin Wednesday or Thursday. Florida is out. “No chance!” say the doctors. “Tara’s life would be threatened.”
I was dead wrong about that trip being an answer to prayer. It sure seemed right. I don’t understand. Someone said with good intentions, “You have to ask yourself, ‘What God is trying to teach you?’ ” Tara’s response was, “What do you mean? This isn’t about me.” God is sovereign, meaning that he is right just by being who he is. Who are we to question his plans or motives? He cares deeply about us but he knows our ‘best interest’ has everything to do with him.
We are in tough place right now but we are certain to make it. Time won’t stop for us; we have no choice. The sun will rise tomorrow while the world keeps turning, and then the sun will set, and that is one more day down. It will happen. And we will still be here, and that means we made it, right?
Work keeps going with its ever-present demands. The kids still need us for love, training and encouragement. Tara’s health is becoming more and more complex, with the most life-threatening pieces right now not being cancer. But God is faithful and he will provide for us somehow….again. Maybe it will begin with a glimmer of hope from an encouraging word or a sunny day. Maybe the word of God will speak to us again in a perfect way. Stay tuned, because I am sure it will happen, even though we can’t see any way right now.
This last week tested our resolve. I pray this week is better. Some improvement on Tara’s condition would be great. But if not that, at least some encouragement; a word from God that it will be okay; that at some point soon Tara will have the strength to enjoy life again. From others who have been through chemo, I hear it will get better. It just seems for now that it will never end.
Tara has apologized a few times lately saying, “I am sorry I have been angry and mean.” Well first of all she hasn’t been that bad; think about it. Tara, mean? Second of all it would be understandable if she was angry and mean. She describes to me the frustration of extreme, ravenous hunger coupled with nausea. And weakness that won’t allow her to go down our stairs to the car. I have to carry her when we go somewhere.
So pray for healing, encouragement, strength, endurance. Pray for peace and rest. Pray that the doctors will get to the bottom of the specific problems going on right now.
In the fall of 1988 an interesting discovery was being made just north of Kansas City along the Missouri River bottom. Sunk on the river in the 1850s, the steamboat Arabia sat preserved under 45 feet of silt. The river channel shifted nearly one half mile over the 130 years and the remains were discovered in the middle of a farm field, 45 feet deep.
This was our territory. This is the river that made us men. So when we found out about the discovery early in the process, we knew we needed the inside scoop. So we approached the dig site one afternoon with only one acceptable outcome; a close examination of the site. Security was tight and we had no credentials. In fact until someone asked us why we were there, we didn’t even know we were writing an article about it. It just came out. We were welcomed and showed around.
I don’t know what I expected. Maybe guns or dead people or something more exciting. There were only crates of butter, china, salt, and other items intended for general stores up the river. That was really about it. No one even died. Because it was still there and buried with all its cargo, it tells me that life just went on without that boat. There was nothing special about that era. People wanted butter then just like we do now. They were just dudes.
People will look back 130 years from now at artifacts we leave, and will perceive something about us. Will they see only butter and dishes? Likely so. When looking at skin, bones, butter and dishes, it will be pretty much the same. It will all still be here buried and rotting.
But we want to leave more than skin, bones, butter and dishes. We want to live well. And die well. We want to leave something that our kids and their kids will talk about. Legendary stuff. And it isn’t stuff…..it is a faith that finds action in the reality of hard life. So simple, but not easy. Now here’s the chance. So man up.
There was no right or wrong decision. With Tara’s fever continuing off and on throughout the day, and her inability to take much water, and her feeling like crap, we thought it best to get fluids via I.V. and to get the same set up for tomorrow and Sunday. We waited to put the kids to bed, then we went out for our midnight escapade to the ER. It is not a big deal.
Even now as the I.V. is dripping, she is starting to feel better. Her blood counts were good again when checked tonight, which is great. We wonder if it was really necessary to be in the ER for something like this. But if she feels better and gets some rest tomorrow as a result, it will be worth it. Additionally, this is Tara’s first trip ever to the ER. Congratulations Tara! To celebrate, at midnight, to satisfy a craving she had, we ordered a Topper’s pizza; for her of course. She had four bites and I had four pieces. Uh oh!
Keep praying that Tara will feel like a champ come Thursday. That is the day we head down to Florida. My gut feeling is that no matter how she feels, she’ll get on that plane. And if she is going to feel bad, it might as well be down there.
So don’t feel bad for us this night. Tara is okay. The discharge papers are in hand and we just have to get the rest of the I.V. into her body. Then the weekend is here and I can devote my time to pampering her and spending quality time with the kids. Life isn’t so bad. God has been faithful again today.
This treatment process has continuously been two steps forward and one step back. Today was the step back. No big deal. Tara woke up with a fever. I was gone early so I had no clue. When I called to check in, she was recovering from fainting. She felt it coming and got to the carpeted floor without crashing hard. When she woke she gathered some strength and made it to the bed.
I came home around 7:45 to make sure she was okay. She needed more than I knew how to give. So we called on the doctor. They took blood to make sure her counts were okay; fortunately they were. Still nauseous and too weak to walk, she was wheeled to a different building to get an I.V. and take an antibiotic. The doc thinks she has an infection of some sort and since the blood counts are okay, we can try to let her body fight it with the help of the antibiotic.
Now she is laying here with a 102 temperature, a high heart rate, and feeling miserable. We keep wondering if we should go in. We may yet. We’ll see.
Implications? My sister and her family were planning to come for a quick visit this weekend. That won’t happen. Also no chemo this week, which means there will be 2 weeks in a row without it (because next week we will be in Florida).
So I’ll keep you posted as to what happens tonight. Tara is fighting hard. There have been so many days of feeling better that this setback is somewhat expected to fit the pattern of the last few months. Maybe it was meant to be so she wouldn’t have chemo this week and she could feel better next week in Florida.
We are tired. The candle that has been burning on both ends, is eerily close to meeting in the middle. We need strength to carry on.
As a teen, my parents gave no curfew. I gave them no reason to; other than a “little” adventure. Each night, Mom and Dad unplugged the phone so no late-night calls wouldn’t wake them. One night I had come home and was locked out. My brother in the basement was my first attempt to get in. I lightly tapped the small egress window to get his attention. Little did I know that inside, a series of now-famed events would follow.
My brother thought robber. Obviously. With a single pump BB gun in hand, he dashed across the dark basement and face-planted firmly into a metal pole mid-room. Dazed, he continued upstairs to exclaim to my poor sleeping father, “Dad, there is a robber?” Heart rate instantly at 150, Dad takes the BB gun with his pants still around his ankles, trying to prioritize pants or pumps. He rapidly pumps it about 20 times then fumbles to get his pants up without tripping. Mom picks up phone to hear no dial tone and screams, “Honey, they cut the line.” Who is “they”? Scared senseless, they hear the knock on the door. They anticipate the climax of their fears…..only to hear me asking them to unlock the door.
All the craziness, all the worry, all the thoughts of potentially bad things, all the lies in my head, the misconception; Why? It is a lie. False. Not true. Life is a gift and out of the last 100 or 1000 or even 10,000 years, who has added a single minute to their life by worrying. God has a plan for us and he started the good work a while back and He will be faithful to complete it; and not a minute too late.
So I should put the gun down and quit tripping over my pants and relax, it is handled.
One of my best friends was a runner in high school. His favorite thing was to be in the lead, often at record pace, and have the announcers call his name over the loud speakers. They would sometimes even comment on the pace over the speakers. On a 1600 he could keep that pace up for a good 3 laps, often having a 100 meter lead going into the last lap. But I never saw him win. That last lap was too much. The winners followed a plan, a pace that they had rehearsed a hundred times before. They were able to kick at the end and easily catch my friend.
We have one shot at this race. I have no idea about the pace. You can’t rehearse it. We try to gauge how we are doing but really don’t know. The bummer is we don’t even know how long the race is. So forget having our names called over the loudspeaker. We just want to be able to finish.
Tara is doing pretty good. Her abdomen problems have been gone for several days. As usual, she is short on energy. Today was a 7 though. Better than the 4 of yesterday. She went for a walk in the afternoon which pretty much spent her. We hope she gets better and better before we leave town for a few days late next week and over Memorial Day weekend. That would be a huge blessing.
From my first hour class, I heard them talking in the hallway. The Vice Principal and the Security Guard, were opening lockers, one by one, trying to find the source. They eventually would. And they would eventually realize it was me. My stomach was getting sick with nerves.
Earlier, minutes before first hour, Kyle and I had this great idea. We would take some hair, and damp paper wrapped in dry paper wrapped in Scotch tape. We cleared the bottom of his locker and hung the smoke bomb from the coat hook and lit it. We didn’t know Jim wasn’t coming to school that day. So it just smoldered and filled the halls with smoke. Other than Kyle and I, only one kid (who we found out later was a rat) knew what we did. We thought just maybe we wouldn’t get caught. But I was sick thinking about it all day.
In 6th hour I remember hearing over the intercom in our classroom, “Please send Kyle to the principal’s office.” I knew we were had. Five minutes later I was called down. Discipline was rightfully heavy. Fire in school is a big deal. And it was almost a relief to be caught. To have the weight of the issue out in the open allowed my conscience to rest.
Openness is freeing. Opposite of the feeling of hiding something, waiting to get caught, openness is the freeing feeling of having nothing to hide. It is that way with my life before God. There is nothing to hide, and no point in trying anyway. The beauty is that I can simply be me, just who I am. I am already caught, charged guilty and set free.
Monday is over. Four on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best day ever. Tara is still weak and slightly discouraged. Work again took more of my time that I wanted. So here we are again. God give us strength to continue. Heal my wife. Protect our family. Help us to look beyond ourselves.
Looking at pictures from 5 months ago is hard. Tara looked so much different in the pictures than now. I can remember the energy she had. She carried so much of the weight of the family; getting the kids places; keeping up with the finances; managing our calendars; training our children. Things that just don’t make her priority when she feels like crap.
As amazing as she was at those things then, I am most amazed by what she is able to do with the hand she has been dealt now. Her attitude continues to amaze me. Life has become more simple for her. Now is the time to be a good mom, not when she feels better. Now is the time to enjoy things.
On Friday we were given a good report on the cancer numbers. We are down to 13 on the CA125. Yeah! And other than yesterday, she has been feeling better. But it reality hit as the doctor discussed next steps. There are a lot of possibilities and uncertainties that we will have to deal with for a long time. We likely aren’t just going to get through chemo then look back at this as a great experience. It will continue to shape us (not define us) potentially for ever. So, learning from Tara, I have to learn how to take advantage of NOW. I can’t simply be the strategic planner, planning for 5 to 10 years out. My energy needs to go in to being a husband and father now.
As we laid in bed tonight I began to dread the week. I’ll have another week of catching up from the storm (man, I hate snow); going in early and getting home late. That effects her greatly. It really isn’t fair to her at all. For years, right or wrong, I had put most of my energy and emotion into the business, church and other stuff, knowing Tara had the home-front covered. That doesn’t work now, and maybe will never work again, because when I can finally figure out how to change to give my family what they really deserve from me, I will hopefully never go back.
We were dropped off at the I-435 bridge over the Missouri River.. We planned to camp for the night. By 11 pm we were bored and not able to sleep. The walk home would be about 10 miles and that seemed better than waiting out the night. The shortest route home would take us through an area known for dark things; a place called Wolcott.
A few miles into our walk home, near the dam of Wyandotte County Lake there was a swampy area; a flooded lowland forest. The moonlit night was bright and standing on a levy we heard a noise. Our eyes were quickly drawn to the figure of a man who thought he was hidden by the night. He didn’t answer when we said “Hello”, then crawled into the water between us, up to his neck, and moved directly toward us. He emerged 20 yards from us at the base of the levy.
Why did he not answer? Who could know his intentions? Not us. So we ran. Knives drawn for whatever good that would have done while running. Adrenaline carried us. We stopped a half mile from the road that would put us in familiar territory. We kept looking back to see if we were followed. Ahead on the road, we saw headlights scanning back and forth as if looking for someone. Us?
Three hours later, and a whole other story later, we made it home. It was the most scared I had ever been…….. until January 30, 2013.
After several days of feeling relatively good, last night began a 24 hour period of Tara feeling absolutely awful. Hopefully 24 doesn’t turn into 48. We are counting on a great Mothers Day. We need that. She needs that.
One can get numb to the uncertain condition. But not to the real discomfort that comes with chemo. You can’t get numb to that. There are times when Tara feels good, and other times awful. This just happens to be the latter. But we know it will pass. I just hate watching her leaning over the toilet crying for this to go away. She hurts. I hurt.
I pray tomorrow will be a real special day for Tara.