Sunday, May 30, 2004
Good news: Got a call this morning to come in to the hospital!
Bad news: they're not starting the treatment until tomorrow. All they did today was preliminary stuff, like collecting some blood, swabs, chest X-ray, urine collection, vital signs, etc. Well, at least my Hickman line is working. :)
Joked around with the nurses and just read the rest of the day. Then came home to a wonderful dinner, courtesy of my new brother-/sister-in-laws. It was a gourmet meal compared to the "food" I had for lunch!!
OK, won't be blogging for a week at least .. stay tuned for now at Seasons of Life.
Saturday, May 29, 2004
The despair and anguish of yesterday's fiasco at the hospital was ameliorated by the empathetic e-mails we received, as well as a timely visit last night from two young Christian couples we've known for less than a year. They brought some delicious food as well as encouragement and cheer, and soon, the pain and anger was largely forgotten. Also, our next door neighbor kindly mowed the front lawn for us!
Today, we had a visit from a Christian neighbor whom we hadn't seen for awhile. Then three Christian brothers came by to help mow the back lawn and do some minor repair work inside the house. We were later joined by another dear brother who ordered some food for us, and we had an awesome time of joking around, sharing our lives, discussing scriptures, and praying together. Throughout the day and night, we also received continuous phone calls of encouragement.
It was an awesome day .. thank you Lord!
And we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose ... What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all — how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? ... Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? ... No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor heavenly rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:28-39; NET
Friday, May 28, 2004
Continuation of the saga that began on May 7
Well, I'm back home .. Yay! The Lord miraculously healed me!
Went to the hospital at 2:00 pm and was admitted, given papers and all. Was given a room. Checked out the view. Checked out the washroom. Then 2 doctors walk in and said, "Sit down. We have some bad news and some good news ..." With absolutely no empathy whatsoever, Doctor Femme-Bot delivers the news in a I-don't-give-a-damn voice: "Sorry, we can't admit you today. Maybe Saturday or maybe Sunday." Maybe never. In other words, haul your sorry little yellow butt outta here.
Well, why don't I just slash my wrist right here and now, and bleed all over your @$#!% hospital bed?!
Our Mickey Mouse healthcare system is a @#$%!^&*()+=?!! JOKE!!!
So we drove over to our MLA's office, 2 blocks away from where we live. Of course he's not there, so we vent and dump on his poor little lackey. I tell him maybe I should just start shooting drugs and get AIDS. That'll definitely improve my chances of getting a hospital bed.
Drop by and visit me on Hastings street tonight .. and hey, how about bringing me a blanket?
OK, this is my Last Post.
At least for awhile ... Just got confirmation that I'm being admitted this afternoon! Got to pack now, check my Will, and have a bite.
For updates while I'm gone, check my wife's blog.
Bye for now!
"You've got to have a sense of humor in life, and I refuse to believe that Christians don't have a sense of humor. It's always about finding the truth in the humor." - Brian Dannelly, director, Saved!; quoted in Hollywood Gets 'Saved' by Bryan Belknap, Relevant, May/June 2004
Well, looks like my attempt at light-hearted humor was a big flop. Yesterday morning, I sent out an e-mail to all the Christians on my prayer list. I was bored 'cause I've been in quarantine at home for weeks now, with little human interaction. Usually my wife sends out regular e-mails to give an update on my status, and we usually get a flurry of e-mail responses right away. Reading all these responses helps me stay sane and helps pass the time. I had no such luck: last I checked, only 2 responses. Heck, I'll send it to the heathens and see if get a better response.
Just in case I've offended anyone by what I wrote, I repent. And to demonstrate that my repentance is genuine, I'm going to complete The Purpose-Driven Life in only 10 days instead of the normal 40 days. And to boot, I'm also ordering from Amazon.com, The Purpose-Driven Life Deluxe Journal to record my reflections and also Songs for a Purpose Driven Life to help inspire me to live a purpose-driven life. No more wasting my time writing silly e-mails. Rick Warren, you ROCK baby!! You're my role model! I wanna be like you and make tons of $$$ from writing books and from marketing the associated paraphernalia . :) My first book will be titled The Purpose-Driven Death ...
Thursday, May 27, 2004
Wifey probably won't like me blogging this, but hey, what's there to hide? We aren't perfect - you can be sure of that! Anyhow, my wife and I got into a stupid argument. Then I took advantage of my situation and refused to speak when she tried to make up. What a pouty little jacka**, right? I even went as far as to sleep on the couch downstairs, but she took Janelle (who had awoken from her sleep) down to lure me back to bed. It worked. But I still refused to talk to my wife, and went to sleep instead!
Confession: I can be a mean, snotty brat at times. God forgive me. Hopefully my wife will too! (She's so cute when she's mad :)
Ever since I got my catheter inserted on Tues., I have to go back to the hospital daily to get my dressings cleaned, in order to reduce risk of infection. And I'm reminded that I need to be cleansed daily by the Word as I walk through this sin-infected world.
Wednesday, May 26, 2004
With this catheter on, the pain and stiffness means I can't even hug my wife and kids. :( Also, I can't help out with doing the dishes or shower anymore because of the risk of infection. Argh!!!
Tuesday, May 25, 2004
What a long day ...
Was in the hospital today from 10:00 am to 5:30 pm. First they gave me another platelet transfusion (my 3rd one so far). Then they inserted the Hickman's catheter though my neck and into my right atrium. This will be the IV line for transfusions and drug delivery.
If you don't mind a bit of skin :) you can click here to see my catheter.
The insertion itself wasn't too bad; it only took about 15 minutes or so. They gave me local anethestics as well as antibiotics (just to guard against possible infections). Since I was breaking out in hives from the platelet transfusion, they gave me some Benadryl, which me very drowsy.
After that, they gave me a blood transfusion since my RBC count was around 86. I was sleeping most of the afternoon, but whenever I awoke, it was to a lot of pain on my right upper body. Every movement only made the pain worse. Finally, around 5 pm, I wimped out and accepted some Tylenol.
Monday, May 24, 2004
For those of you just joining our saga, please start reading from the May 7 entry first.
Went for my weekly blood test today; looks like my red blood cell count has dropped 20% since last time. We were also told that it was very unlikely that I'll be getting a bed tomorrow, as originally hoped for. To be honest, I'm really starting to get a bit ticked off with our crappy healthcare system. I mean it's been over two weeks since my diagnosis. Sheesh, maybe I should just cut myself shaving so they can rush me into emergency! ;-)
Sunday, May 23, 2004
Came across this interesting article:
God have mercy on the Church ...
Saturday, May 22, 2004
We have some Christian friends that we've only known for about 3 years, and whom we seldom see, since they live in Washington (Burlington and Seattle, to be percise). Anyhow, Phil, Mark and Becky drove in today to fellowship with us and to pray with us. Our conversation naturally gravitated towards spiritual matters, and then we shared a simple but satisfying lunch together.
Afterwards, they prayed for me with such sincerity, faith, and love that after the last "Amen", my eyes were moist, and my heart was so filled with gratitude for such loving Christians. They're not praying for me out of duty or to be pious, but because they truly loved me and cared for me. We shared some more laughs and our vision of church life and then all too soon, it was time for them to head back south of the border.
Friday, May 21, 2004
Had the opportunity to speak with two Aplastic Anemia survivors. Yesterday I spoke with Mechelle, who was diagnosed with AA 6 years ago when she was 31. She explained what it was like during the treatment as well as the post-treatment phases, both of which involved a ton of blood transfusions. The drugs are delivered through several tubes inserted into one's chest area using a Hickman's catheter. She said it wasn't too painful :)
She's been on cyclosporine since, though she's trying to get off it now. She had a relapse about a year later and had to undergo a second treatment; she couldn't go the BMT route as her only sibling's HLA didn't quite match closely enough. But she said she feels normal now and is living her life "normally".
Today we spoke Cindy, who happens to be a Christian, and also the founder of a local AA support group. She shared her experience with AA almost 20 years ago, and how she felt led to form a support group to help others go through the same ordeal. She said she will pray with us and look forward to meeting with us some day at a support group meeting.
So I figure I should get to know my disorder more, so I've been spending some time lately reading medical journal articles. Not exactly my first choice of reading material, as it's pretty dry and somewhat depressing. Still, it's been a learning experience, as I'm realizing just how serious and complex Aplastic Anemia is.
Wednesday, May 19, 2004
Read an interesting article by Jeffrey Boyd, MD, titled "A Biblical Theology of Illness" (TrinJ 24:2 NS; Fall 2003). Here's a few quotes:
This article will suggest some hesitation about the over-use of healing prayer in some parts of the church, praying with an expectation of miraculous cure.
Two large studies using Byrd's methodology [relating to controlled clinical trials] found no effect of intercessory prayer.
Augustine points out that illness is not the greatest suffering. Living in a fallen world estranged from the God we love, is worse.
Well, we are still praying for a miracle, but we also pray for grace to accept whatever is God's will for me in regards to this life-threatening, chronic condition.
Had to have another platelet transfusion today as my blood test from Monday indicated that my count was low.
Often what gets me through the day is my little bundle of joy, who never fails to make me smile, even when I'm feeling really down.
Monday, May 17, 2004
Just a reminder: this thread begins with the May 7 entry ...
Time to be pious and quote some scripture verses:
You do not know about tomorrow. What is your life like? For you are a puff of smoke that appears for a short time and then vanishes. You ought to say instead, “If the Lord is willing, then we will live and do this or that.” (James 4:14-15; NET)
But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that the extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us.... Therefore we do not despair, but even if our physical body is wearing away, our inner person is being renewed day by day. For our momentary, light suffering is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison because we are not looking at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen. For what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal. (2 Cor. 4:7,16-18; NET)
Sunday, May 16, 2004
Because I've largely been confined to my home since my diagnosis (due to risk of getting an infection), I'm "dying" to see people, so I decide to attend church. My wife gives me permission, but I have to wear this ridiculous looking mask for protection. Our good friend Shirley was preaching, which was a bonus, since we've never heard her preach before.
Shirley's message was very good, on following Jesus. Makes me wonder why they waited until she and Barney are about to leave before asking her to preach! (Would have also liked to have heard Barney preach .. oh well). Anyhow, afterwards, a few people came up to me to express their concern; a few even dared to shake my hand!
But I did notice that people in general seemed somewhat awkward towards me. (Could be that they didn't want to burst out laughing at my funny mask). In the end, I found myself standing alone near the exit. One fella (who's never made any effort to even say "Hello" to me) walked right by me without even looking at me. This after my wife made a tearful announcement and plea for prayer. (The most memorable line from her announcement was "You can't really tell he's sick other than he looks more yellow than usual, even though he is Chinese") I don't know, maybe he misunderstood my wife's explanation, and thought that I was the contagious one! Or maybe he doesn't like Chinks. I dunno. Whatever.
Friday, May 14, 2004
As I said earlier, I had been quite calm throughout all of this, but today, despair finally claimed me. I don't know. Maybe it was the fact that I had to work from home all this week (and will be doing so indefinitely until I am well again) and I'm getting cabin fever. Maybe I'm starting to think about the pain and anguish my wife, kids, family, and (hopefully some) friends will experience if the worst comes to pass. Maybe I'm looking back at my life and am cursing myself for stupid mistakes, missed opportunities, wasted time and misplaced priorities. Maybe I'm just feeling sorry for myself. I don't know.
Oh God, why? Why now? Why didn't this occur before we adopted our beloved Janelle? Surely, God is loving and merciful and He will spare me, will He not? I love my family too much; I can't bear to think of the sorrow I would leave them with should my life be taken. Please God, have mercy on me!
Got a call from Paul, a dear brother in Christ. He reminded us that too often we "limit" God in how we pray, how we sometimes hide our lack of faith behind pious phrases like "if it be Thy will". Anyhow, he said he's been "recruiting" other prayer partners to intercede for us. And, as is characteristic of Paul and his wife, they said they'd be willing to drive down (they live about an hour away) to pray with us anytime of the day or night. They aren't kidding; they've sat with dying people all night in hospitals; they've drove miles to encourage and pray with people. Paul and his wife are natural evangelists, and have seen many souls saved. No, they are NOT "ordained clergy", just Christians who love the Lord and people.
Wednesday, May 12, 2004
Our good friends Barney and Shirley, who are sadly soon to return home to England, had invited us over to their place for prayer for healing. Being charismatics, Barney and Shirley bring a whole different perspective on sickness and healing than I am used to, coming from a conservative evangelical background. We spoke about a bit about my life history, growing up as I did in a dysfunctional family; through the years of angst in university as I asked the Big Questions of Life and sought ways to fill the void in my heart; when I finally understood why Jesus died on the Cross and thus found salvation; and all the ups and downs of life right up to the present.
They noted several negative patterns in my life story and began to view my illness through the framework of spiritual warfare and generational curses. Then the prayed for me, replete with tongues speaking and all. It was a most interesting experience and I was grateful for them taking the time (it was close to 11:00 pm by the time we left) to really pray for us, not just a token 3 minute prayer that I'm used to getting.
How I will miss them when they leave .. though we've only gotten to know them well in the past year, they have left a deep impression on our lives. Shirley has really encouraged me and challenged me to use my gifts. I remember how I thought I really blew it when I preached last May, but both her and Barney were so quick to genuinely express their appreciation of what I had to say, and they encouraged me not to be so hard on myself. Barney has really helped me to fine-tune my thoughts on church life with his reminder that the "wine must dictate the nature of the wineskins", and he has challenged me to turn my visions of church life into reality by stepping out in faith and acting on my convictions.
Earlier that day, we broke the news to my family, and my dad took it quite hard, which was surprising since our relationship has always been somewhat shaky. But deep down I love my dad. I love my family, even though we're not that close. Sad that it may take a serious illness to restore the family relationships.
Tuesday, May 11, 2004
Well, the moment I've dreaded has finally arrived. Tonight we break the news of my diagnosis to the boys.
Well, their reaction was predicatable: they both broke down in tears. I spent some time with each one. The younger one had difficulty verbalizing his feelings. In the end, he could only hug me and sob repeatedly, "Dad, you can't go ...". My oldest boy, never one for loss of words, didn't manage much more, but he did say that he looked to me as the one that carried him through the turbulent years when his mom abandoned the marriage and the kids. Then after he calmed down, he declared that he had faith that God would heal me.
My God, please spare my life! My boys need me still!
Well, the specialist called and based on the bone marrow biopsy (which I had on Monday) results, it would appear that I most likely have aplastic anemia, a rare hematopoietic disorder characterized by pancytopenia and a hypocellular bone marrow. I receive the news without much emotion, since I'm still in a bit of a fog. My wife has created an e-mail list to ask our fellow Christians to pray for us. Maybe that's why I'm so calm and peaceful for the most part.
I continue to work, although I'm restricted to telecommuting because my white blood cell count is too low, which means I'm very susceptible to infections.
Sunday, May 09, 2004
For my wife's take on this, see her blog.
Friday, May 07, 2004
Well, you never think that it will happen to you. Then it hits you. Recently, I noticed strange marks (like pin-point red rashes) and bruises on various parts of my body. As well, I've been getting flus and colds almost non-stop since Oct. 2003, a very unusual thing for me. The doctor ordered several blood tests, a chest X-ray and an ultra-sound for me. At work today, my wife called me and asked me if I could come home (this was around 2:00 pm); when I asked "Why?" she broke down in tears and told me that the doctor had called with the results of my blood tests. Basically, the tests indicated that I had pancytopenia, meaning that all my blood cell counts are low, because my bone marrow is not producing enough.
One immediately thinks leukemia or lymphoma (blood cancer). I thought of my precious wife, my two wonderful boys, and my sweet little daughter that we adopted 7 months ago. Why, Lord, why??