12 Witnesses

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Chemo and a Miracle

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Let’s start with the Miracle
So, my back pain had been so intense and unrelenting, only the maximum dose of pain killers would allow me to rest. in the wee hours of Monday morning, I awoke and needed more. Knowing it would take a while for them to kick in, I got up and got on my laptop, looking for a distraction from the pain.

While surfing I began to look up opioid addiction and tolerance, since mine seemed no closer to getting better. In fact, I was uncomfortable in every position and situation.

As I studied, I came to understand the ratcheting up of opioids among those with chronic pain. In the elderly and the terminally ill, it is generally thought that increasing dosage is an acceptable treatment as their tolerance builds, realizing that they will reach their life’s end by the time they reach what is considered a “maximum” dose.

However, I am not elderly, and certainly am hoping, praying for, and intending not to be terminally ill. And clearly not terminally ill from back pain.

So I became concerned that the pain was going to have to be addressed and I was going to have to come off of the painkillers. I had about four hours before I started Chemo, the painkiller I had taken earlier kicked in, and I went back to bed.

On the way in to the treatment center later that morning, I prayed a simple prayer. I asked God, with all that I had on my plate, if He would not just remove this pain in my back and take away my need for pain killers. When I sat in the recliner, I found it to be the most comfortable seat I had taken in weeks. There was nothing about the recliner that made it special. In fact, it was kind of hard. To me, though, it was great. All day my back relaxed and my last pain killer was the one in the middle of the night.

Seems to me, that’s just an outright answer to a prayer for healing that God was merciful enough to grant.

So keep praying, friends. He answers the fervent prayers of the righteous.

Chemo
Years ago, when trying to explain the lifestyle of a Christian on mission, a Missional Lifestyle, I turned the phrase that “I am a missionary to wherever I’m standing.”

That phrase came back to me as I entered a place filled with people who are suffering and are in need of ministry: workers and patients alike.

And, sure enough, people all around were in need of and open to conversations. Across from me sat Jack. Jack is 71, but looked like he was in his late 50’s. Jack had the exact same kind of cancer as I do. Do you know how rare that is? According to one of the reliable cancer websites I read, 17,000 people a year are diagnosed with this disease in America. That’s really pretty rare. Yet, here we sat, right across from one another. We spent a little while getting to know one another, and he shook my hand on the way out.

Side Effects
I’ve been asking for “wildly successful” chemo and “minimum side effects” and you’ve been quoting that back to me in your affirmation of prayers. Thank you so much.

I think it takes a few days to make any side effects apparent. I started feeling run down at the end of the day and my stomach was upset to some degree. That could have just been from staying up later than I had been used to. The next day I began to feel more energy and having gotten my nausea meds in place (in addition to our prayers), felt less nauseated.

At this point, the worst of it is that I can taste the chemo that I’m having on a continuous pump. We’re just getting started, so please keep praying, and plan on praying this prayer for the duration.

Catching up on the past newsletters

Several people have referred to this newsletter as a blog. I can see why. I write it like one, having once been a consistent blogger. It isn’t a blog, however, and if someone found themselves coming in later to our story, they would have no way to go back and read from the beginning. Also, it might be nice to be able to go back and reread something from the past if you wanted to do so.

This started as and remains an email newsletter to a list of people who have agreed to pray for me. I’ve converted these emails into blog posts so that people might more easily find my journey or reread something I’ve written. The list referred to in the following paragraph will not appear at the bottom of these posts, but can be found by searching the category “cancer” in the drop down menu on the right.

In light of this, I am adding a list of previous newsletters, starting with the most recent and working backward to the beginning. This list can be found at the end of the newsletter under my signature and will be available from this newsletter on.

How you can pray:

  • Please continue to pray for my ability to eat. Right now, nausea is the biggest obstacle.
  • Pray for Chemo to work at the “miraculous” level. the Oncologist calls this “wildly successful.” This request will not change nor will it be absent from future lists.
  • Pray for the side effects to be minimal. This request will also not change nor be absent.
  • Pray for my faith to continue to grow. It’s hard to focus on my time with God. It’s hard to focus on anything. I’m a bit foggy, to be honest. It’s taken me a couple of days to write this update. I need Him more than anything, so please pray that I am able to find consistency and focus in the pursuit of Him.
  • Pray for my family to remain strong. It’s really hard on Bonnie, juggling a job with very high responsibilities, a doctoral dissertation (which they’ve graciously afforded her extra time, but it weighs on her mind), and me.
  • Pray for financial needs to continue to be met. Bills are starting to arrive and they are complex. We need wisdom to sort them well and how best to pay them. I’m on disability, which is a 60% paycheck. I’m grateful for that income, but it is a drastic reduction in pay with a drastic increase in bills.
  • Pray for my pain management. We just want to be wise about the use of pain killers. My tumor sometimes hurts, right in the middle of my guts. It can be bad. At other times, my back hurts from sitting and laying so much.
  • Pray for my ability to move about. I need to be as active as possible to keep up my muscle tone and strength. Laying around is not helpful, but energy and strength to move is also not always available.

Thank you in advance for your prayers. I am praying for you as I write this.

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