Thursday, January 11, 2018

Jeff's Update

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Friends and family - I've been fairly quiet these past few days. There's been so much going on with my struggle and I'm feeling well enough right now to share a little and keep you in the loop as much as I possibly can. 

I'm going to be totally honest and tell you the last couple of days have been some of the most difficult days of this journey. I've wanted to give up more than once and actually wondered why anyone, including myself, would be subjected to any of this. Yet I am still here and I know there's a purpose - I just don't understand it. I am afraid and confused. 

Most of last night and early this morning was spent in the ER and hospital with probably the worst amount of physical pain I have ever experienced. It seems like every single thing going on in my body - and it's a lot - all converged at one time in so many places in so many different ways that I seriously did not know for sure that I was going to be ok. I'm not sure I remember ever thinking that.

I am home again where I feel safe, but I am afraid to be alone. Tomorrow the routine resumes: see the Oncologist, review my blood levels, and if within the required parameters, chemotherapy again on Friday and more on Saturday and Sunday. Is it still working? I won't know until the next CT scan, sometime shortly after this round. If so, more of the same and that part of this journey will stay the same.

If not, then Plan B which is a different type of chemotherapy and I won't have any idea what that is like until I get there. It is stronger and more powerful, and the side effects are likely to be also. I hope and pray that is not in the cards but like everything else, I simply have no control over it.

This sense of no control, and the physical pain, are the worst things about all of this. Last night it all came together in an overwhelming kind of way that I can't even explain in words. I'm sure there are any number of people who have experienced something similar on their own journeys and I know this because I have met them. And they couldn't explain it any better than the miserable job I'm doing right now.

I could say "unbearable", yet I am still here, so somehow through the grace of God I did bear it. I have absolutely no idea how. It was that bad. And the thought of experiencing that again is more frightening than actually having gone through it. Does that make any sense at all? Probably not. But it's the best I can muster right now and I am still in an enormous amount of pain.

Next week, after I've finished this course of chemo, I am going back to the Urologist and having the stent that was placed in the ureter leading from my kidney to my bladder removed. It was placed there after two large kidney stones were removed but honestly, the stent is as painful as the stones were. I am not looking forward to that procedure because I will be awake and conscious while they remove it, no general anesthesia. Apparently that's how this is typically done, but my God, you can imagine my anxiety. They say it's fast and "relatively" painless. Ok. Seriously?

So that's another thing to worry about, more anxiety on top of everything else. Yesterday's visit to the hospital also included some rather extreme methods of dealing with constipation from the pain medications I need to just function and get around - and I hope and pray I never have to go through that again. I won't go into any details but it involved a variety of things in succession that didn't work and finally resulted in my needing to be sedated and left with yet another bout of pain today that's new and awful. I am literally afraid to go to the bathroom, so add that to the list. That part of my hospital visit was the worst.

Yet I cannot function without pain medication, so that's a catch-22 I will have to discuss with the doctor tomorrow. More pain, more anxiety.

Cancer sucks.

If you've read this far, God bless you. I would never, ever wish any of this on the worst of my enemies, and I can't honestly say I have any right now.

When I remember back to different times in my life when I thought I was struggling, having a bad day, or carrying a grudge against someone I am almost ashamed at how selfish I really was in those moments. I would give anything to trade any one of my current issues for all of those times, every single one of them.

I am not a bad person, I know this, and I've dedicated most all of my adult life to helping others in one capacity or another. Yet like everyone, I have wasted so much time and energy over the most trivial and egocentric nonsense that we all get caught up in from time to time.

What I wouldn't do to go back and have a do-over and get that wasted time and do something productive and loving with it. I guess we all think of that sometimes, don't we? But right now - in the midst of this pain - that just keeps playing over and over in my mind.

Writing has always been therapeutic for me and I made a decision early on in this battle with cancer that I would write about it and share the good and the bad, as honestly as I could. This has helped me, and maybe it has helped some others cope with whatever struggles they are facing in their own lives.

I know this: no amount of worrying is going to change anything. It WILL add additional pain and stress and anxiety. All I can really do at this point is to find those things I actually can change and change them. I have to live in the solutions to problems I can fix and try hard not to be consumed by things I have no control over. That's a tall order for me today, but I am trying my hardest to let God handle what I can't and take care of the things I can.

No matter how difficult this struggle is at the moment, there is one single, solitary truth that stands out. One thing that I know is absolute truth beyond any doubt:

God requires me to do all that I can about any problem or situation first - then He will take over, if I am willing to surrender it to Him.

I do something, then He does something. It just has always worked that way for me, all throughout my life, in every situation. Maybe you've never looked at it that way, and maybe it will or won't be true for you. But for me, and the pain I am enduring right now, it is true. And I am doing my best to let go and surrender because I cannot fix this or ease my suffering.

I am in too much pain to write anymore tonight, but God willing, I will continue to share as I am able. 

No matter what, know that I love you. Know that your kindness and grace to my family has been so meaningful and precious at this worst of times for us. You have made a difference. You are angels and your actions have helped change lives in this and other families. You are amazing and awesome and beautiful. And, you are appreciated beyond words. Know these things and never, ever forget them. This is my testimony today and I wish only that God - as you understand Him, Her, It, whatever - blesses you with joy and a day free of pain.

Thank you from the bottom of my heart for just being there and for being YOU. ❤️