Monday, August 31, 2009

Looking Forward to Good Things

Bryan was able to preach yesterday. I received many comments from people who thought he seemed stronger than two weeks ago.

This morning he told me he will be finishing up his messages for our church camping trip today. Our friends, the Youngs, have blessed us with the use of their trailer for the weekend so Bryan will not have to sleep in a tent and we won't have to drive to a motel (which we have done the past two years). The children are so excited. Hannah packed her bag last night and told me what all I need to do today to get ready to go. I am fully aware of what it takes to prepare 11 people for a 5 day outing!! This year will be a little tricky with the addition of TPN and hydration, tubes and drains and dressings! I am not complaining, but thanking God that our dad gets to be with us on this camping trip. Not too many months ago did I even see it to be a reality.

Thank you, Lord, for Your gift of life for my husband! Your mercies are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Reaching Goals

Yesterday, after returning from Swedish for bile drain tube replacement, Bryan walked around the block! It was warm and I think it tuckered him out; he slept the rest of the afternoon.

The hiccups continue off and on. The off time is really a blessing and we keep hoping they will not return, but alas they do. He had almost 24 hours free late Wednesday to Thursday, but they returned just before going to bed. Disappointing timing!

Still fighting the low blood pressure. Yesterday's nurse said she hovers in the 80's for systolic pressure. I guess it is just a new normal for Bryan. I get a little jumpy when he stands and walks too quickly. Although he weighs only 102, it is still pretty heavy when it is dead weight, so I prefer he not faint!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Chemo Day Number ??

I have lost track how many chemotherapy treatments Bryan has received. I wish I recorded them all; my grandmother was proud of her record breaking 150 treatments--or something like that. All I know is the cancer center had her do a photo shoot for their brochure since she had more treatments than any previous client. It was really a social outing for her. The doctor said she could stop, but she really enjoyed the attention, so she kept right on going! The amazing thing she was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2001 and died in 2008 from other health problems, not the cancer, at age 94.

Bryan received irinotecan (CPT-11) today although his bilirubin is hanging around 3.7. He said today is the best he has felt in about a week. His blood pressure has been very low this past week. We have increased the dosage of the medication which increases blood pressure and have added potassium to increase electrolyte levels. For those who don't attend our church, Bryan was not in the pulpit on Sunday, he didn't even go. The hiccups kept him awake all night Saturday, and then with the low blood pressure, he knew it would be best to rest rather than preach.

I guess he is saving up energy for our annual church camping trip. He was writing his messages for the upcoming event this evening. It helps to have small goals as we walk this journey. After the camping trip, we await Josiah's 14th birthday at the end of October, then Bryan's birthday in November. I know he would like to eating again by Thanksgiving. If the chemo can reduce the tumors to open the blockage then there is a very real possibility. Pray, pray, pray!

His daily goals are related to exercise. It has been wonderful to see his slow, but sure progress. We started walking 5 minutes a day last week. The first time out he made it halfway to McKinley and back. The next time all the way to McKinley and back. Yesterday, we walked to McKinley and back, then to "I" street and returned home for a total of 15 minutes! We didn't walk today due to a long day at chemo (9:00-5:30). Looking forward to a possible jaunt around the block in a day or two. Small goals, it's not a race, just movin' the ol' bod'.

I close with the Psalm Bryan shared for family devotions tonight:

Psalm 4
Evening Prayer of Trust in God
Answer me when I call O God of my righteousness!
You have relieved me in my distress;
Be gracious to me and hear my prayer.
O sons of men, how long will my honor become a reproach?
How long will you love what is worthless and aim at deception? Selah.
But know that the Lord has set apart the godly man for Himself;
The Lord hears when I call to Him.
Tremble, and do not sin;
Meditate in your heart upon your bed, and be still. Selah.
Offer the sacrifices of righteousness,
And trust in the Lord.
Many are saying, "Who will show us any good?"
Lift up the light of Your countenance upon us, O Lord!
You have put gladness in my heart,
More than when their grain and new wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep,
For you alone, O Lord, make me to dwell in safety.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Family Reunion

I was too tired to post last night! Yesterday, my parents, from Portland, and my brother and his family, from Southern California, came to our house for a 2009 birthday party. We all had a delightful time including an edible present exchange, cake (with everyone's name on it) and ice cream. Bryan enjoyed the festivities, too. When they were getting ready to leave, Bryan stood up to say good-bye and within seconds I saw his eyes glass over so ran to his side to gracefully lower him back into the chair as he blacked out. This is the fourth day in a row of a hypotensive blackout. We have added some potassium to his saline this morning and increased the sodium in his TPN hoping this will balance out the electrolytes so he can maintain his blood pressure. We have added back the medication to help raise it, too. Hopefully, these new additions will help keep him even keeled.

The hiccups continue to be intermittent. He has been hiccup free now for about 14 hours! We can pray they stay away which helps him sleep well.

He is planning on preaching in the morning. Pray for strength of body and voice.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Wednesday Evening (Thursday Morning?)

There has been some good progress this week! After preaching Sunday, Bryan spent most of Monday in bed trying to recover his energy loss. Tuesday, we had an early chemo appointment so we were up and out the door by 8:45. Since Bryan had the CPT-11 on Thursday last week, it was too close to have another infusion of it Tuesday. Thus, he received vitamins, 5FU and leukovorin and 20meq of potassium because his potassium was low. He had a three pound weight gain; after the 16 pound loss in the hospital we have reached triple digits once again!

The exciting news: his hiccups stopped for more than 24 hours! Regretfully, they have returned this evening while attending prayer meeting. It was a nice break and we are praying for more like that!

A little side note: as most of you know, Bryan is a big Nebraska Cornhusker football fan. Needless to say, we were delighted to learn Dr. Chen did his first medical residency at the University of Nebraska and enjoyed a little discussion with him regarding the Huskers. Go Big Red!

Sunday, August 16, 2009


It was wonderful to hear and see my husband preaching on First Peter from the pulpit this morning. It took all his energy and he slept during the fellowship meal. He is sleeping now while receiving a bag of fluids.

I'll start the TPN around 8:00 tonight; it will run for 12 hours. We are adjusting to all the new drains and bags. At one point yesterday, Bryan had 4 bags attached to his body. It makes walking rather difficult so he stays in his chair and has other people get things for him. The time adjustment on the TPN will make it easier for him to start walking further than the bedroom to the living room. We hope to get at least 10 minutes of walking per day this week.

I know he will receive the Erbitux on Tuesday, but it may be too soon to get an infusion of CPT-11 (also called Camptosar or irinotecan) since he had one on Thursday. He may have to wait until next Tuesday for it. This may be a good thing because it will give his frail body time to adjust to the chemo and to continue to heal from the recent gastric drain placement.

Resting in Him,

Friday, August 14, 2009

Life Verses

Years ago, Bryan and I each chose a verse which we deemed our life verses.

Bryan was transitioning between Campus Crusade and seminary. One day, while reading Job 23 he came across verse 12:

I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.
He thought this would be a good verse for someone studying to become a pastor. It has served him well through the years, but especially fits now since he no longer consumes physical food. His entire nutrition is served intravenously.

My life verse is Philippians 4:13:

I can do all things through Jesus Christ who strengthens me.

Prior to Sarah's birth, we attended birth preparation classes. Our instructor suggested we have a picture or a phrase which we could look at or think about during labor to help us focus on the task at hand. I searched the scriptures looking for something which would be suitable and found the above mentioned verse. It has been part of labor and delivery for me nine times! In addition, anytime I find a difficult circumstance I know Jesus is with me giving me the necessary strength and stamina to accomplish what He sets before me.
I hear people say, "God won't give you any more than you can handle." That is so wrong! He gives us way more than we can handle alone--but not more than we can handle with Him as our strength. We have sung about this for years:

Jesus loves me this I know,
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong,
They are weak
But, He is strong!

In 2 Corinthians 12:8-10, we are told Paul implored the Lord three times that his thorn in the flesh might leave. God replied,"My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness." Like Paul, Bryan and I can say, "Therefore I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ's sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong."

Thursday, August 13, 2009

It's Raining!

I am a native Northwesterner and often times I am very thankful for the rain. Today is no exception, although it was a bit different than usual with thunderstorms and all. Today's rain has a deeper meaning to me. My love of literature and of rain culminates in Ernest Hemingway and something I learned in American Lit. The climactic portions or significant events are marked by rain in his books. Definitely not a man of God and I am not to say I live by Hemingway's novels, but I am surprised how often it rains at significant times in my life--I do live in the Pacific Northwest, and the probability of rain is great! But after such a long dry spell, today's rain was significant because Bryan received the CPT-11 infusion today!

This is the first since May 26th. The cancer has taken advantage of this and we need to fight it back down. We chose to go ahead with the CPT-11 although the bilirubin level is still a bit elevated. This could lead to increased liver toxicity, but which is worse, cancer overtaking the liver or possible liver toxicity? I sure don't know, but it does feel great to know something is attacking the enemy!

Tonight we are thanking God for chemo, rain, Dr. Chen, and God's provision of all these good things.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

We're Home!

Finally, we are all together once again. It was great having a family prayer time tonight in our living room.

When I tucked Bryan in bed he said he felt like he had run a mile. For his body, I am sure he did. Walking from the garage, up the back steps, to the living room is a long walk for someone who hasn't been more than two steps from the side of his bed for four days. He also took two--five minute walks around the nurses station today. Lots of energy output for a low energy guy.

We are trying to establish a new normal. The gastric drain means no food or drink orally except for a few swallows to take some medication. All inputs and outputs must be measured to make sure he is receiving enough fluids and maintaining electrolyte balance through the TPN, his IV nutrition.

We go to chemo tomorrow. Our plan is to ask Dr. Chen the risks vs benefits of infusing the CPT-11 if the bilirubin is still too high. We really need to get started on this chemotherapy to knock out the cancer. The hiccups continue, but are mildly controlled by some medication; side effect--drowsiness. Sometimes he chooses to skip the medication because he wants to be alert with hiccups rather than a zombie without.

Thank you for your prayers, love, fasting, rides for the kids, babysitting, meals, cards and calls!
Words are not able to express the gratefulness we both feel for the outpouring of love from our friends and family!

I'm tired and looking forward to sleeping in my own bed tonight. Good-night and God bless!!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Successful Day

I had a drain installed in my stomach earlier this morning and it seems to be working fine. I still have the hiccups, but they do seem to be lessening. Thanks to your prayers we have been sustained through this most recent hospitalization. Hopefully, I will be able to come home tomorrow.


David's graduation went well. Think graduation--speeches, introductions, awards, handshaking! He had a great week. Thanks for your prayers. We're glad to have him home. Hopefully, tomorrow we will all be together as a family once again!

Praising God for His continual provision,

Monday, August 10, 2009

An Extended Vacation

The results of the abdominal x-ray show a small bowel obstruction possibly due to enlarged lymph nodes. A NG tube was placed last night with the hope that removal of the stomach fluid would relieve the hiccups--this was not successful, although it did relieve the abdominal pressure and vomiting.

Bryan will not be able to attend David's graduation as planned (why do we plan?) since he will have a procedure tomorrow to insert a gastric tube. This will take a few days to heal and then he can come home. Everything they are currently doing in the hospital I can do at home except for the stomach draining; this tube will make this possible.

Please pray for the bilirubin level to drop low enough so Bryan can have the "big gun" chemo. There is still a glimmer of hope we can beat this cancer if we can get back on the CPT-11.

Trusting in the Lord, knowing He is good and will not withhold from them that walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). Yet, with Habakkuk I cry, "How long, Oh Lord, how long?" His timing is perfect and He ordains all things; even extended vacations! ; )

Sunday, August 9, 2009

A Swedish Vacation

Yes, once again we are finding a, hopefully, short vacation at the Swedish "hotel." We have a room with a view of the Space Needle. We have room service, that is if they would let Bryan eat. I had a cot so I could comfortably spend the night; early preparations for the church camp out! The nurses did his dressing changes, passed meds and hung the TPN so I was a lady of luxury watching my husband being cared for rather than doing the caring. What more could one ask for?


We haven't solved the hiccups. Medications slow them down, but don't eradicate them. He will go for an abdominal x-ray this afternoon to see what may be irritating his diaphragm. The initial guess by the ER doc was the pneumonia which is still lingering in his left lung. Dr. Chen doesn't agree, so we will wait and see what the x-ray will show. The results will determine the next step.

Bryan says he's still fighting. It is amazing how hope is renewed when one is hydrated! We rescheduled his chemo for Thursday this week, so Bryan could attend David's graduation from his Police Explorer Academy Basic Training. It would be a blessing if Bryan could still attend. We know God knows what is best, but we will make the desire of our hearts known.

Thank you, Lord, Your mercies are new every morning! Great is Your faithfulness!

Saturday, August 8, 2009

They're Baaaack!!

It has been a trying few days. The hiccups resolved after six hours, but then returned. Currently, they are intermittent. They stop when he vomits and then return within the hour. Drinking Dr. Pepper seems to give some relief, too. The vomiting has left him very weak and dehydrated. He has the TPN through the night, but it can't keep up with the fluid loss of vomiting. His stomach is not wanting to drain, although there is not a blockage. The condition is called gastroparesis. If he drinks fluids to stay hydrated, the stomach fills and then has to empty the wrong way.

Bryan is discouraged. He was looking forward to preaching on the holiness of God tomorrow. Now, we aren't even sure if he can attend church. It's a big Sunday with a baby recognition for two new little people, welcoming some new members, the last Sunday for two returning college students and Grace's birthday. The latter is not a church event, but it means something to her since she will be 5. When you are five it is difficult to understand things like cancer, but you know what it's like to vomit and "it isn't fun, Mommy!"

Please pray for God's mercy. I also ask for wisdom as to how I can best meet Bryan's needs. Should I take him to the hospital, again?

Lord, give us wisdom, direction and hope!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Hiccups Resolved!

The hiccups lasted approximately 6 hours, but praise God they did resolve and Bryan felt well enough to attend prayer meeting last night. It was a full house, and, as always, a blessed time before the Throne.

Thank you for your continual prayer and encouragement!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


The stent is not blocked, but the hiccups have returned.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Blessings and Challenges

Lately, I have been battling a reflux which leads to vomiting. Some days I vomit twice which makes my four pound weight gain today at the center a miracle. The blood work was also very positive today. My hematocrit had gone up, the white count was normal and the bilirubin is down. Tonight, I literally feel like a new man. The reflux has disappeared possibly in response to today's infusion? Just to be sure I am not developing a blockage, Susan and I will head to Swedish tomorrow for an endoscopy with Dr. Bedard. This is to check to determine if the stent is partially blocked which could be the cause of my recent discomforts.

One not so positive note, (remember the roller coaster), came when we discovered the CEA drawn last week came back at 25, the highest CEA reading I have ever had. All of this is relative, of course, and we have taken it in stride thanks to God's mercy and your faithful prayers. Dr. Chen thinks that I need to be back on the CPT-11 for a more effective approach for my cancer. Hopefully, next week I can begin this again. The bilirubin level must be below 2 for this to happen. Please pray accordingly.

Susan and I did enjoy a rich time of fellowship discussing the holiness of God, a subject I have been meditating upon for next Sunday's sermon. The subject matter of the remainder of First Peter chapter one is sanctification and holiness. It is so true that a contemplation of the holiness of God is the most sublime and greatest subject which can be contemplated by the mind of man. May I recommend Stephen Charnock's great magnum opus, The Existence and Attributes of God. This book spends all of 99 pages on the great subject of the holiness of God and the necessity for man to be holy as his God is holy. (I Peter 1:16)