The LORD is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him.
Nahum 1:7 (NIV)
Dear Family and Friends,
It’s been a month or so since our last update, and seems an appropriate time to fill you in on our news.
5-day radiation regimen concluded
I concluded the five days of radiation to the spine a little more than three weeks ago. This treatment was to try to halt cancer growing in the spine, which could eventually result in nerve damage. While I did have some constriction of the esophagus, the most difficult side-effect was muscle related. There was a period when transitioning from sitting to reclining, or rolling over, was very difficult. I believe that most of those discomforts have passed. Thank you for your prayers!
Still struggling with fever issues
For the last several weeks, I’ve been experiencing a fever cycle. I start the day with a normal, or even low, temperature and then it climbs throughout the day, reaching as high as 102 degrees. As it climbs, it saps my energy and motivation.
Dr. Mo, my oncologist, suggested taking a double-dose of Aleve twice daily. I tried that last week with great success. My temperature normalized, and I was able to function much better. In fact, I was able to direct a special concert of the homeschool choir on Friday night. What a blessing for that relief.
Unfortunately, the higher dose of Aleve also caused stomach cramps and bleeding, so I’m off of that regimen and all other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs, such as Ibuprofin, until the stomach heals. I’ll be trying some Tylenol to manage the fever.
Due to the unpredictable nature of the fever, its brutal effects on my energy and my mobility challenges, I find myself wanting to hibernate at home, my safe place. In fact, there are times that I don’t even want to venture to the basement, because getting back up the stairs could take so much energy. I’ve been unable to attend church for the past three weeks, and am missing the comfort of participation. (Now maybe you can understand why the brief window of no-fever last week that allowed me to direct the choir concert was such a blessing to me!)
Please pray that we’ll find another way to reduce the fever cycles, that my energy level will be increased, and that I won’t become anxious to leave home.
Signed up for Hospice Care today
(and only a few tears were shed)
Though it seems a little early to me, we signed up for Hospice Care today. We’ve been told that most people wait too long, and the nurse said that this was about the right time, even though I am still under the care of my oncologist and may undergo additional treatments.
Hospice provides several services to those with end-stage, incurable diseases and their caretakers. This includes palliative (that is, comfort) care for me, training and respite for Lu, and other practical services. Hospice also provides us with a local medical provider in the event there is a medical emergency, or even if we just have questions.
Our beloved former family doctor, Dr. Bell, is the medical director, so that’s an additional blessing for us.
The visiting nurse today listened to my lungs and cough, and thought the lungs sounded fine. She did rightly diagnose that I’ve been breathing shallowly. (It’s probably due to muscle discomfort in my rib cage muscles, whatever they’re called, and possibly a tumor below my diaphragm.) She suggested that I start taking some pain medication (not Ibuprofin!) regularly to see if that helps with both my cough and deeper breathing.
Please pray that I’ll be breathing deeper, and avoid the shallow breathing that I’ve been doing.
Expecting to return to UIHC next week
We haven’t been notified of specific appointments, but I think we’ll be returning to UIHC next week for some medical trial pre-screenings and some scans to gauge how the disease is progressing. Following that, we’ll need to decide whether to try any additional treatment options.
Please pray for wisdom as we consider options and weigh potential benefits and side-effects.
Working with disability insurance
Since I’ve never been what I’ve considered fully disabled — I’ve been able to work at least part-time during most of my treatments — I didn’t think that my disability insurance policy would offer any benefits. However, the agent that Lu and I worked with since we were married until his retirement recently called and suggested that I have the new agent pull and review the policy to see if I was entitled to any benefits.
It turns out that my policy includes benefits for not only full disability, but also residual disability. Residual disability is a disability that results in loss of income, even if I am continuing to work. Every one at the local level agrees that I’m qualified for benefits. So, I’m working through the claims process, providing mounds of documentation, and interacting with people who are less-inclined to provide benefits than the local agents who sold the policy.
Please pray that the claim will be swiftly approved.
- Matt was home to visit a few weeks ago during his spring break (unfortunately, Dani’s spring break was several weeks earlier).
- Bethany is home this week on her spring break.
- Bethany will be presenting a harp recital on Friday, and both my parents and Lu’s parents will travel here for that.
- Lu’s father is recovering well from a recent, unexpected surgery.
- For the recent homeschool choir concert, and that God provided a fever-free window so that I could fully participate.
As always, we conclude by thanking you for your continued expressions of love and concern.
Jeff and Lu