Day 9 – Saturday (9/01/18)

Today was not super eventful.  There has been no change or update to my health status.  The next step is tomorrow at 10:30am when I get a PET scan.  Nobody has told me, but I’m pretty sure the results will not be immediately available to me.  I assume that the doctor will review, and I will likely hear from them on Tuesday.  I believe at that point we will also know if the pathologist has had any luck finalizing the results, or if another biopsy is needed.

I spent most of today at my parent’s house.  My Dad has been teaching my son the art of woodworking, and my son is entering a whirlybird into the NC state fair.  I am truly impressed how patient my Dad has been to let my son do all the work.  He taught him safety, how to make and use jigs, how to get good paint layers, etc.  The bird turned out super awesome.  My daughter is also entering a water color painting into the fair.  The only thing left to do on it is to mount it to the backing for display/hanging.  I think we will take care of that tomorrow afternoon.  My brother and Grandma on my Dad’s side were at the house as well, and it was nice for all of us to get to talk and solve the world’s problems (haha).

My Dad emailed me a song the other day.  It was “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VaVg0cWkgAw  While it wasn’t the first time I had heard it, I found the song really spoke to the current situation for me.  Also, it may speak to a situation any of you fellow blog readers may be going through.  I know we all go through trials at some points in our life.  This song talks about having faith and trusting God (like when Peter walked on water), and having faith in tough situations (like when David went up against Goliath).  It cautions about listening to the lies the devil will tell you.  Lies that you are not good enough, that you don’t deserve God’s love, etc.  Instead, we must make sure that we listen to the voice of truth.  Don’t let yourself go to the dark place Satan’s lies can lead.  If you find yourself struggling in whatever your current situation is, make sure to talk to other people… your pastor, a family member, a friend.  You are not alone.

Getting this song emailed reminded me that Casting Crowns lead singer Mark Hall recently had his own bout with kidney cancer.  I found this article on his story, and I highly recommend reading it (it’s a quick summary read).  https://www.guideposts.org/inspiration/inspiring-stories/stories-of-faith/what-cancer-taught-casting-crowns-mark-hall  I found it gave me encouragement in my current situation, and may give you encouragement to see how God works, and how awesome He is.  A song that Mark wrote while he was undergoing treatment was “Just Be Held”.  Here is a link to it also.  The words are very powerful.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yutmTFtalKs

Dear Heavenly Father, thank You for a wonderful day spending time with my family.  It is awesome that I have so many family members and in-laws that live so close to me.  I think I took that for granted until recently.  Thank You for using my current situation to show me this.  Help me to keep priorities in line, even when I’m through this storm.  I pray for our pastor’s father-in-law as he preaches tomorrow.  I know I can’t be there due to the PET scan, but I pray that You would speak through him to those who can attend.  Help the Holy Spirit move through the sanctuary, and stir hearts and souls as needed.  I pray for a good night’s sleep tonight, and that the test tomorrow goes smoothly.  I pray it will show good, accurate results, that can guide the doctors in the steps moving forward.  Thank you for all you do each and every day, amen.

Day 8 – Friday (8/31/18)

Note: I got a little out of sync on the blog today because I needed to use it to get information to everyone in a timely manner (I didn’t want to leave you all hanging when I finally had a few answers).  This blog “day” is now updated and finalized.  I will resume with a new blog post tonight, covering Saturday.

So I know the question on everyone’s mind.  Did I finally get that call from the doctor?  Short answer, Yes.  The long answer is bullet pointed below:

  • The Doctor who ordered the biopsy called me
  • The pathologist does not have final results yet
  • The samples they took have narcotic tissue on the outside, which means that there is scarring on the tissue that you have to “peel back” like an onion to get to the useable tissue.
  • This has complicated things.
  • At this time, the pathologist is reasonably confident the mass is a lymphoma.
  • The question is, what type of lymphoma. In order to determine, they are having to do a “stain test”, which takes time.
  • There are three types of lymphoma it can be. All three are considered cancerous.  However, one is easily treatable.  One is hard to treat, but we have the technology locally to do so.  The last is super aggressive, and would require treatment at a major university that is about 4 hours away.
  • The doctor is worried that the current biopsy samples may not be good enough to give the definitive answer to the pathologist.
  • He is already in talks with another doctor to go in and do another biopsy (if needed… he is working this in parallel so we don’t lose time). This biopsy would be actually putting me to sleep and going in and cutting a larger piece out.  It is my understanding the final decision on this will be made Tuesday.  If the pathologist is confident he has an answer, we skip the second biopsy.  If he is still unsure, we proceed.
  • Meanwhile, they have enough probable cause that this is cancerous to authorize a PET scan. They are setting this up for Sunday.  This scan uses a dyed sugar that is injected.  Tumors soak up sugar faster than other tissue, so all tumor cells will be highlighted.
  • About an hour after the call with the doctor, I received a call to schedule the PET scan. This will be at 10:30am on Sunday, 9/2.  The test will take about 45 minutes.

I guess I could say I had mixed emotions in the hours following the phone calls.  I am the personality type that just wants a straight answer.  “You have THIS… and this is how we fix it”.  The wishy washy diagnosis at this point I guess was a little frustrating for me.  Nonetheless, I want to make sure there is an accurate diagnosis.  So, if more time is needed, or another biopsy is needed, it’s cool.  I had a lot of people offering encouraging words and support after the phone call (both to me, and to my wife).  My wife was still at work (school) because they were having a pep rally.  A couple of her teacher friends helped her out getting her and the kids home and such.  This was much appreciated.  We even hung out with both of them for a couple hours in the evening just to stay busy.  This was a nice distraction also, and I thank both of them for it.

I also was super excited when a neighbor that we met last week came over.  My wife and kids had “ran” into her one day last week while they were all walking around the neighborhood.  We had never met them, even though they had moved in some time back.  A good conversation ensued, and my wife had told her about the blog and what was happening with me (I had been asleep, taking one of my world famous naps during all of this).  The neighbor said she would pray for us, and would check on us next week.  Often times, I hear these types of comments come from a complete stranger you met 10 minutes ago, and I assume it is simply them being nice, and trying to exit the conversation quickly, stage left.  Not these neighbors though.  Again, when I saw her coming up the driveway to see how we were doing, I was amazed.  It was like God was showing me that people actually do care, and I shouldn’t be so cynical about new relationships that come our way.  In fact, I should be thankful for new relationships, and look forward to how God can use them.

Dear heavenly Father, today was a day full of mixed emotions.  Anxious for the phone call, frustrated when answers were not crystal clear, exhausted knowing more patience was required, and excited knowing that new relationships were forming.  I pray for continued guidance for the pathologist.  It would be nice if they can get a 100% diagnosis from the current samples, but if they can’t, I will know it’s Your will for another biopsy.  I guess my concern is time.  If this is aggressive, time is of the essence.  If it is not, then waiting a few more days for resolution is okay.  The assurance I have, though, is that You know the beginning from the end.  You are not constrained by time or this world.  You are the Almighty God who holds everything in Your hands.  I yield to Your will and wisdom Lord.  Help me to take the knowledge I have in my head about You, and fully transfer it to my heart so that I may live it.  Help my actions echo my words, so that others may see the Holy Spirit living in me through all that I do.  Amen.

Day 7 – Thursday (8/30/18)

I’ll be nicer today, and not lead you on.  At this time, we still don’t know from whence blobby comes.  Maybe (probably) tomorrow his origins will be positively identified.

That’s right fellow blog readers.  Another day, and no results yet.  However, I make sure to remind myself each morning since this started, each day is a good day, and should not be squandered.  If all I did today was sit around and wait on the phone call that never came, it would have been a wasted day.  Thankfully, God has allowed me to be in a reasonably stable condition during this waiting period, where I can work and do daily tasks.  The only true “symptoms” I have been having over the past week or so is the intermittent rapid heart rate, and general fatigue.  I guess I’m not used to having my heart in the “fat burn” zone for multiple hours per day.  Talk about multi-tasking though!  Who else can go to work, perform their job function (or sleep at night), AND get a full workout simultaneously?!?  Sorry gym, I won’t be needing a membership for the near future, haha :)

I did call the doctor this afternoon, hoping they had just forgot to call.  No luck.  They said the results were still showing pending.  They told me they have no reason to doubt that they should be in tomorrow, but obviously, could not promise.  I guess while the bonus physical exercise is happening automatically for me, the exercise of patience is a bit more of a conscience, concerted effort work out.  Keeping my mind busy at work seems to help with the patience side of things.  I find when I’m focusing on job duties (or any task), I’m not even thinking about blobby.  Poor guy.  Not getting any love…

There wasn’t a whole lot of excitement today.  Once I got home, we all ate together, and I fell asleep for a couple of hours.  Now the kids are getting ready for bed, and I’ll probably head to bed too.  I don’t seem to have any trouble falling asleep lately.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for another beautiful day.  Thank you for my loving wife and kids who are being very patient with me.  I don’t feel like I’m a lot of fun for them lately since I fall asleep so fast.  However, they never complain, and when I am awake and focused, we are able to make the most of it.  Help me look at their patience with me, and use that as motivation for me to continue to be patient for the test results.  On the outside, I portray like all is good… but You know my heart.  I have bouts of impatience.  Nonetheless, you help me through them by shifting my focus.  I pray that You continue to be with the lab technicians who are analyzing the results, and that You give them the knowledge and skills to make an accurate diagnosis.  I continue to thank You for all of the blog readers and their prayers for this situation.  I continue to pray for the lost, and that if You can use my situation in any way to further your kingdom, that You would show me how, and what You need me to do.  Please help all of us, no matter what we are each going through today, to remember Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous.  Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you”.  Amen.

Day 6 – Wednesday (8/29/18)

The question on everyone’s mind… Did I get a call from the doctor?  YES!

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They called to check to see how I was doing post biopsy.  “Booooo…  let down… I can’t believe you just got our hopes up!” says the blog reader.  Don’t worry, that is how I felt when I saw the phone number from the hospital on my phone, just to hear them ask how I was doing.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m thankful they care enough to call and check on me.  Just, given the circumstances, it wasn’t the call I was looking for.  They did check on the status of the results for me, and it said “pending”.  Kinda feels like that spinning wheel of death on computers these days.

I found out today that our plant manager’s father passed away this morning.  I would ask that all blog readers say a prayer for him and his family as they go through this difficult time.  He took off and was on his way to Michigan.

Also, our Wednesday Night Bible study was on the importance and urgency of praying for the lost.  I would also like to ask that everyone join me in praying for them as well.  Ask how God may use you to help reach the lost in your circle.  God may very well be adding an awesome testimony to my story that I can use in the future to help others in similar circumstances who may not know Him.

I had a late night tonight as I supervised my boy mowing our yard after church.  He did a great job (considering his supervisor, haha).  I’m going to cut this blog short since there is not much new news to discuss, and I’m feeling pretty tired.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for Psalms 27:14 “ Wait patiently for the Lord.  Be brave and courageous.  Yes, wait patiently for the Lord”.  Also thank you for Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”.  Having both of these versus show up in family devotions, and passed to me this morning was a true blessing.  Thank you for the open fellowship You and I are having through this process.  It truly helps strengthen my faith.  Thank you for all of those praying for me.  Please be with my plant manager as he traveled today.  Be with him and his family as they mourn the passing of his father.  Please help stir up Your Church with a passion for the lost.  Help us to keep our eyes open for divine appointments that you have made, where we can share the gospel with those around us.  If it’s Your will Lord, I pray that the results would come in tomorrow, and I would get a phone call tomorrow afternoon.  I pray for a good night’s rest.  Thank you for all you do, amen.

Day 5 – Tuesday (8/28/18)

*NOTE* – If you are queasy, you may want to skip today’s blog.  I intend to describe the biopsy from my point of view.  It was the coolest, strangest, grossest thing I have experienced since watching the miracle of childbirth of my two children (now THAT…. was disturbing… o yeah… and “beautiful”, haha).

Today was the big day.  Honestly, I was not even too nervous about the biopsy procedure.  I had done some reading on it.  Put a needle in, use another needle to go into the first, remove sample, done.  All was going to plan.  I arrived at the hospital a few minutes early.  The lab technician drew blood to get my clotting specifications.  They sent me up to the radiology waiting room, and I sat with my mom and wife and… you guessed it… waited.  The nurse came and picked me up from the waiting room right on time.  We walked back to a “pre/post” op side room, and got ready.  The doctor came in and went over how everything was going to happen.  He then proceeded to tell me I needed to sign a form that said I understood that I could (1), have a lung collapse, (2), get an infection, (3), have internal bleeding, (4) the needle could hit a major blood vessel.  Wow…  thanks doc.  So much for not being nervous!  I was doing great until you read me the list of possible side-effects!  He then said, “sign here”… unless you don’t want to sign, then we can just skip the biopsy.  You have the choice to just live with the mass… or have the docs just go in and cut it out… but they won’t… because they don’t know what it is.  Is it just me, or does this feel like the EULA agreement we all have to accept from Apple before we are able to use an iPhone?  I signed the paperwork.

Once they wheeled me back to the CT scan room, they got me setup on the scan bed.  They put a “marker” on my chest that would act as a reference point for them to locate where they should insert the needle into my chest to make first contact with Blobby.  They did a CT scan, then took measurements from the reference and put an X on the entry location.  The first step was to sterilize and numb.  The numbing was a shot, similar to numbing your teeth before a filling.  I excepted this and was good, until suddenly he jabbed it deep and said “got to make sure we are numb down in there!”.  A little freaky seeing a needle sticking straight into your chest.  With the numbing done, the doc took a scalpel and made a small cut, then pressed the large, “outer” needle into my chest (about the size of a pencil).   Honestly, I did not feel this at all.  They ran me back into the scan machine and scanned again.  A little right, a little left, hold on, too far… back a little… THERE!  “Alright, now for the deep plunge”… “I’m sorry, time for the wh…”… too late, “ugggggg”, deep plunge done…  we just busted down Blobby’s front door.  That plunge…  that hurt.  However, once it was “in”, I just felt pressure.  The doc then put the “gun” needle into the outer needle and started “popping” samples.  You could only get one sample at a time.  I lost count, but I think he got about 7.  I picture this as the police, having knocked down Blobby’s door, proceeding through his leased property, and taking one item of interest from each room of the apartment.  “Ohh, that looks like a good one”, I heard the doc say.  Hey, I like the sound of that!  After the last sample, they pulled the needle out and had a band-aid on me in no time.  They did one more scan to make sure everything looked okay.  I was monitored for about 30 minutes, then I was allowed to leave.

Now the waiting game.  44 hours, 45 minutes, 15 seconds, 14, 13, 12, 11…. Haha.  Not like anyone is counting down to the results, haha.  Jokes aside, I should have results for sure by Friday morning.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you for keeping me calm today.  The whole time I was listening to “side-effects”, laying on the table, etc… I knew I was in Your hands.  You were guiding the doctor’s every move, and he did a fantastic job.  I’m thankful that you have gifted and led people into the various medical fields.  I’m not going to lie, waiting the next 48 hours will be tough from a patience aspect, but I know you have it all under control.  I look forward to the results, and I look forward to the journey ahead as You show me how to have a more intimate relationship with You.  Help me to be an encouragement to others through this process.  I thank you Lord again, for all You do, amen.

Day 4 – Monday (8/27/18)

Let me start today with the pertinent information regarding Blobby’s World.  I got a call from the radiology department this morning to schedule my biopsy.  The biopsy will be at 1:00pm tomorrow (Tuesday), but I have to be at the hospital at 12:00pm.  They want to do blood work first to make sure what “number” my clotting “score” is.  The results from the biopsy will take 48 hours to receive.  I went ahead and called the oncology doctor to see if I could “preemptively” setup the follow-up appointment.  I figured the results would be available by Thursday afternoon, Friday at the latest.  The oncology doctor is only open until 12:00pm on Friday.  I wanted to make sure I got a time slot in before the Labor Day weekend.  The last thing I wanted was to have to wait through that to get the results.  Rats.  No luck.  The receptionist told me that regardless of when the results were available, there were no available appointments this week.  HOWEVER, she said that I could call and get the results of the biopsy after they became available, so at least I would know what it is.  So… It is my understanding that I have the biopsy tomorrow, results late Thursday, probably (more likely) Friday.  I can call and know what it is, but I won’t be able to meet with the oncologist and discuss what we do about it until Tuesday or Wednesday next week.  I don’t have on official appointment setup yet, because they said they oncologist has to review and make a plan before I meet with him.

This morning was quite a ruckus at my house.  It was the first day of school, and the kids were adamant that THIS year, they were going to set alarms, wake up on their own, and make sure they were not late.  “Daddy, don’t you turn our alarms off!” I was reprimanded last night.  “Yeah yeah,” I replied.  Now that morning has arrived, let me paint the picture.  Have you ever heard 4 different alarm songs, all playing at the same time, over and over again… for 15 minutes… with nobody budging?  My house had to be pushing 100 decibels, three bodies still drooling on their pillows, and me, torn between proving a point, and losing my hair (wait… for those who know me… too late).  Decision time.  I could shut all the alarms off and sneak out of the house.  I could leave the alarms going and sneak out of the house.  Or I could grab a pot and a spoon and make sure everyone woke up!  As tempting as all three of these options were, God gave me the wisdom of Ephesians 6:4 “Father’s, don’t provoke your children to wrath.”  I inferred that probably was meant for spouses as well.  I decided to take the safe road and shut the alarms off, and gently woke everyone up.  The good news was, I was immediately rewarded for my decision.  “Dad, did you shut my alarm off?  I told you not too, it was going to wake me up!”  “Yeah yeah”.

Once everyone was up and moving, I was able to make it to work today with no issues.  My kids and wife made it (on time) to school also.  My son started 5th grade, my daughter started 4th grade, and my wife is stuck in 1st grade again for the 5th year.  Makes you wonder about these tutors sometimes, when they can’t even pass the first grade, haha.  At work, I found out that my bosses boss (operations manager) and my bosses bosses boss (plant manager) had heard about my situation.  They both pulled me aside and we talked for a bit and they gave me some encouragement.  I thank God that He put me in a work place that I feel like my coworkers and superiors are family also.

Time is running out, so I’m going to cut this edition “short” for tonight.  I’d like to end with this.  A fellow blog reader sent me this devotion they read tonight.  2 Corinthians 2:14 “Others will see Me in you as I give you victory over your trial”.  This is honestly one of the main goals I have with this blog.  I want God to use my situation to reveal Himself to everyone.  We all go through trials.  Often we try to hide them and work through them on our own.  We put on our happy faces and pretend like everything is okay.  I think this builds a culture where we isolate ourselves and we begin to think that we are the only person that has problems.  There is strength in numbers.  If would all be more open when struggles enter our lives, we would all see that we are not alone.  We can help prop each other up through prayer and scripture.  Hebrews 10:23-25 “Lets us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful.  And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting (encouraging) one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”

Dear heavenly father, today was a good day.  The sunset tonight over the park was beautiful.  I love the beauty that You painted in all of Your creation.  I pray that we don’t take Your creation, or the days that you give us to live on this earth, for granted.  Help us to make the best out of all situations, and in all things, point to You.  It is only through you that I have the strength to hold my head high and keep trucking through this trial.  It is my sincere prayer that if anyone who reads this does not know you as their personal savior, that they would come to know you today.  We know that Your will is that all will come to repentance (2 Peter 2:9).  We also know that if we pray anything according to Your will, You hear us (1 John 5:14).  Thank You for hearing our prayers Lord.  Thank you for answer according to Your will.  Amen.

Day 3 – Sunday (8/26/18)

One thing that I struggled with as a young Christian was understanding how God speaks to us.  I would read in the Old Testament how God would speak directly to people like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, etc in an audible voice.  As a child, I would pray about a situation, asking for an answer from God.  I would try and try to hear an audible voice.  I never did.  Then I thought maybe God still spoke through dreams.  No luck there either.  Now, I’m not saying that God can’t, hasn’t, or won’t speak to us today in these methods.  However, I have found as I have matured in my faith in God how God speaks to me.  God tends to always speak to me through devotions, fellow Christian’s, and/or preachers (in person or on the radio).  Often, God will hit me with all 3, as if to make sure He gets my attention.  Now, there is a prerequisite to hearing God speak in these ways… You must be listening.  What makes me listen?  It starts with me praying a request to God, and then culminates by me having the faith that God will answer, and actively listening for/looking for His answer.  Let me give a real life example that happened today.

As blog readers know, I have been praying over the last few days about my blobby situation.  I sent out the blog to many people.  Last night, I got an email response from a fellow church member who gave me some advice that helped her during a time of need in her life.  She said “just keep saying faith not fear, remember God is in control, and rest in His peace”.  I thought this was great advice.  Then, this morning when I woke up, I opened up the Wisdom Hunters devotional (www.wisdomhunters.com).  I have read this devotional for a couple of years now, and I have found God speak to me through it more than any other method.  Low and behold, the topic today was “Don’t Be Afraid.  Fear cannot coexist in the presence of faith”.  The scripture referenced was Matthew 17:7-8.  So, now my “God’s speaking to me” ears are perked up.  Two positive confirmations from two different sources in less than 12 hours… wow!  Now fast forward to our guest speaker at Church this morning.  He gave a great sermon on 2 versus…

Proverbs 3:5-6 “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”

Bam!  Confirmation number 3.  God is clearly saying to me that there is no need to fear anything.  Have faith, trust Him, acknowledge Him, and he will guide me through this valley.  Then, just for icing on the cake, my brother showed me after church the scripture from his Bible app this morning.  Psalms 139:13-14 “For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.  I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.”  This was a nice reminder that God made me, and for that, I will praise Him.

I am truly thankful how God spoke to me today.   In addition, there was one more event for which I am also thankful.  At the end of our service, the chairman of the deacons brought before the congregation my situation.  The entire church gathered around me and my family, and prayed for us.  I am so thankful to be a part of Christ’s family, and have so many brothers and sisters that care about me.  The outpouring of love that I felt this morning from all of you will no doubt help carry me through the coming week, and the uncertainty that lies within.

Dear heavenly Father, thank you so much for my church family.  Thank you for the love and compassion that you have placed in their hearts.  Thank you for always being willing to answer our prayers, provided we are willing to listen.  I understand sometimes you may not answer our prayers in the manner that we would like (or with the answer we want).  However, I know that it is Your will, not mine Lord.  You see the beginning from the end.  You know what is best for us.  I yield to your Holy wisdom in the matters that lie ahead.  Faith not fear.  That will be my motto as we move through the coming week.  Thank you for showing me that today.  I love you always Lord, amen.