Friday, February 12, 2010

The Book of Eileen

A year ago today my Gramcracker entered her rest, blazing, as always the trail before me. To me she was an anchor. She had cast herself upon Jesus; and she also cast me upon Him, every day of my life, as she loved me and prayed for me, every day of my life.

She prayed for me 15,845 days. That is probably the most significant thing anyone has ever done or will ever do for me, and one of my greatest treasures in this life. If I could find a precious of enough bottle, and bottle it, I would wear it around my neck and use it like Lucy's Narnian vial with the magical cordial with healing powers. Like my Gramcracker, did for me.

She lifted me up to Him and she carried me. When I could walk she took my hand and I scurried along, at her heels. She walked before me and I followed her. Along the way, we began walking side by side. Further on, as she would scoot along with her wheeled-walker, she would crack herself up (which always cracked me up) calling herself my "rockin' and rollin'" Gramcracker. And at times I'd push her in her wheelchair. I would receive a card a few days later thanking me. Even from a wheelchair that I was pushing, she was leading me.

To me she was a signpost, pointing me to Jesus, the Word who became flesh and dwelt among us. Now she is resting in peace, and dwelling in Him.

I don't know how many days she read His Word while she dwelt here. Her baby book records that as early as 21 months she began begging her Mum to read to her the Bible about Jesus. That is higher math and I'm no math guru, but I know that's a lot.

Here is just a sampling of some of her Bibles I collected from various nooks and crannies of her tiny apartment. As we were sorting through her things, I made a stack of her open Bibles and just sat there by myself for awhile, in awe. They were all worn, some to pieces, and were marked from cover to cover. Sermon notes, cross references, prayer requests, highlights, "precept"-style, names, dates, notes. A precious treasure trove.

The night before the funeral, I brought my Redheads to see my little "shrine". I wanted them to see this particular inheritance my Gramcracker, their Gigi, left us. I wanted them to feel the weight of her devotion to God. She didn't just read His Word (over and over and over...), she lived and breathed every Word. She loved God and she loved us, which was not just evident while she graced our lives, but all over the margins of her Bibles. (Do the math, Redheads, because you can be sure she prayed for you just as she prayed for me, all the days of your life for the rest of her life.)

Psalm 119:105 says, "Thy Word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path." I don't think it's any coincidence that my Gramcracker's name was Eileen, which means light. She showed me the path, helped put my feet upon it, pointed out the Lamppost for me, fought the fight, ran the race, kept the faith, and left the Book of Eileen behind for us to follow. Like she was leaving the light on for us.

She is still leading and I am still following.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010


My Redheads shook their heads and gave me that "silly Mum" look when I told them that as soon as I finished my last scan yesterday, I threw the nuclear medicine doors wide open and ran down the long hallway to the waiting room where Dave was doing Sudoku and waiting for me.

Once the doors closed behind me and it was just me in that long, hollow corridor, I couldn't help but throw up my arms, say "YES!" from the very depths of my soul, and then sprint out of there.

From the waiting room we decided that waiting was for the birds, rolled the dice, passed Go and went to collect the X-rays and reports.

I will cut to the chase and say that while we haven't talked to my oncologist yet and gotten her professional opinion and official word, the reports clearly say that from head to toe and inside-out, there is no evidence of metastatic disease in me! God has truly had mercy on me. By His wounds I am healed. Amen.
Dem bones be me
Dem bones be cancer free!
Dem bones be dancing
Like the Hand of God be upon me,
Doing a jig to Ezekiel's tune
That he sang in the Valley of the Dry Bones.
(Ezekiel 37:1-10)

Dem bones dance for Him.

1) My blood tests came back normal. White blood count down a bit, but no biggie. Liver and kidney function normal despite all those chemo cocktails.
2) My Muga Scan came back normal. There has been some decrease in the left ventricular wall motion but it is still within normal limits.
3) My whole bone scan came back normal. No evidence of skeletal metastatic disease.
a) It also says that my kidneys appear grossly normal. Not sure what that means or if I should be offended. Seriously, grossly? (A little sidebar, to my kidneys: I don't think you are gross at all. I think you rock. The way you took one for the team and tackled the chemo cocktails I downed... Well done. I'm proud of you. But mostly, thank you.)
4) My CT Scan of my head came back with no evidence of intracranial metastases.
a) I'd like to point out that in case anyone was wondering, it said, and I quote, "The post contrast images demonstrate no abnormal areas...." Just saying.
b) It also said that IACs (whatever they are) are normal bilaterally. No mention of bi-polar. Again, just saying.
5) My CT Scan of my chest and lungs came back with no evidence of metastatic disease in the chest. Thyroid gland appears normal. Lungs are clear except for some scarring from some past infection, no biggie.
6) My CT Scan of my abdomen and pelvis came back with no evidence of metastatic disease. It also mentioned something about a stable appearance of the abdomen and pelvis. I figure this is why I can't belly dance.
a) There is a lesion on my liver that was there a year-and-a-half ago when I did all the pre- chemo scans. It appears to have remained stable, most consistent with a cyst. Otherwise, my liver appears normal.
b) No abnormality in the gallbladder, spleen, adrenals, kidneys or pancreas.
c) This one may be TMI, but the freaking report said that my uterus appears unremarkable. Not gonna lie, this one did hurt my feelings. And my Redheads said it was an awesome womb, just not very well lit. So boom, roasted.

At this point I could say "The End", but there really wasn't any specific mention of my tail bone. Besides, to me it really feels more like flipping back to the beginning and starting over, a whole new "Once Upon a Time..."

So obviously "The End" doesn't work here and thus this tale ends up without a tail. Like Eeyore, but not melancholy about it.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Nevermind the Groundhog, Thursday's Forecast is Radioactive with a Chance of Superpowers

So it's February, and on the very first leaf of my calendar was my first "maintenance" appointment with my oncologist. I had no idea what that was going to involve. Didn't know if they were going to hand me a mop, have me change light bulbs, paint the chemo lounge... who knew? My friend Debbie said maybe they were just going to do a tune up to keep my warranty up-to-date.

I barely remember my very first chemo cocktail way back September of '08. I was pretty out of it on pain meds from surgery. But after a year-and-a-half of the chemo lounge, I had the drill down. I think I could've slept walked through it. I was a bit discombobulated learning the new steps, but there was no dancing with a mop. Debbie had the right idea.

My blood counts were good. My white blood count was my only flag. Just a little low. No biggie. They drew blood to run a bunch of tests on, establish some post chemo baselines. I did not miss Port Rapha even though they had to stick me the old-fashioned way to draw blood. I don't have the results of those blood tests yet.

My blood pressure, surprisingly, was decent in the chemo lounge lab. Talked to my oncologist about it and she just said stay the course with the anti-anxiety meds to help my body find its reset button. I follow up with my reg doc on that in three weeks, so hopefully it will all be good by then and I can finally leave Club Meds.

She did schedule another Muga Scan for good measure, just to make sure the blood pressure issues have no root there. It is tomorrow morning. So yes, my forecast for tomorrow is radioactive with a chance of superpowers. You've been warned.

She also scheduled the rest of the post chemo scans for Tuesday next. CAT, bone, head...basically from head to toe and inside-out. The radiology paparazzi are pretty much going to roll out the red carpet and just snap away. I have to admit that even after all my experience in the limelight of X-Ray rooms, I still am camera shy. Oh, and one of those scans also makes me radioactive with a chance of superpowers as well. I think it's the bone one but can't remember for sure. Anyway, that's practically a week of superpowers. All I can say, is that I will try and use them for good. (I can't say anymore on the subject, because they are secret superpowers.)

Anyway, it will be good to get back all the good results to establish new baselines and verify that the chemo did what it was supposed to. And then to be done with all the paparazzi and glam of the radiology department for a while.

Please pray for good reports from all the tests and scans, that their are no signs of cancer, that the chemo did its job, that the pics show a healthy me from head to toe and inside-out, and for me to maintain my trust in God, the One who heals me, through it all while I do this medical dance.

After blazing the "maintenance" trail, I headed up to the chemo lounge to have lunch with two of my chemo buddies, Shelly and Julie. Please continue to pray for them, as you pray for me.

And there are no oncologist appointments on my calendar until March 15. Sweet.