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When you think there are no words….

well, after a year and a half of battling this horrible, horrible disease it looks like we are ending back right where we started from…. CTRC (Cancer Therapy and Research Center) in San Antonio. This is where we went after Paul’s whipple procedure in April of last year. Instead of going to SA for treatment, we went to the Corpus Christi Cancer Center where they followed the protocol that was recommended by CTRC. So we haven’t done any less than they would have done in San Antonio…..the problem is none of it is working.

The 6 month treatment of Gymsar and radiation didn’t work as evident from his bowel obstruction with evidence of cancer cells….then we tried 6 weeks of a 4 chemo cocktail and the results of his PET scan last week show that is doing nothing to slow down what appears to be the Attila the Hun of cancers. Several new “hotspots” showed up in the PET scan including lymph nodes in his chest, something on his ribs and a spot on his hip bone. We were told today there is nothing more available in Corpus for us to do and we need to investigate experimental treatments at a larger cancer center.

what do you do with that kind of news?

“I’m sorry but there is nothing more we can do for you here….”

This ordeal is exhausting. I always need about 24 hours to absorb news like this. I fall to pieces, cry, freak out, sob in my husbands arms about how I can’t bear the thought of even a day with out him, how I can’t believe this is even happening and losing him will be a TRAGEDY…..I mean really….I know so many people are vested in us…..I mean, our story alone tugs at the heart strings…..getting back together after 20 years…..people KNOW how in love we are and how perfect together we are….and to even THINK about a tragic end…..I just can’t….I just can’t….

We are far from being done. We both know there are trials going on at CTRC that he could do very well with. He is young, healthy and has a great attitude. They will be happy to try something new and progressive on a candidate like him, I know it. I refuse to believe there isn’t more we can do. Fighting to the finish is the only way we know how…..but the possibility of the “end” is looming larger and larger…..

I can be as positive as I want but I also have to be realistic. This thing is a monster and it isn’t going down any time soon. Knowing that this thing is continuing to wreak havoc on my husband with no sign of slowing down is disturbing on a whole other level. I can’t even fathom that nothing can stop this….how is that possible?

This much I do know….the level of my devastation at losing him will be immeasurable. I even felt some anger today….not at him of course, not at God…..but at the prospect of being left behind. I told him today if this doesn’t work he gets to go to heaven with Jesus and I’ll be stuck here in this shit hole for the rest of my days…..a life that won’t hardly be worth living. But I will be forced to live it because of my children. The concept of abandoning them in my grief simply is not an option. But the idea of spending 30 years without the love of my life is just……no words can describe……I can’t even imagine it. He goes on an overnight trip and I can’t wait for him to come home. My favorite part of my day is snuggling in bed with him and our little dogs watching food network or swamp people or some other silly show. When I get frightened during this fight he holds me close and knows exactly what to say to make me feel better. How will I survive my most devastating loss with out him?

I wish I could just live in denial…..that it just isn’t going to happen…..but that isn’t me. In fact, sadly, I have known this would be my destiny for the last 20 years. In my early 20’s I lost my step father tragically and suddenly. Being the love of my mother’s life, her devastation was beyond measure. In truth, she has never been the same. I spent 2 years in therapy dealing with abandonment issues and my intense fear of loss and my insistence that I was going to find the love of my life and I would lose him tragically just as she had done. Over the years I was finally able to let go of my “death thing” and not worry so much about losing my loved ones. So of course, this all seems an incredible premonition or cosmic joke.

even if it doesn’t come to fruition and he manages to beat this thing the damage is already done. Every ache and pain is cause for alarm and will be even if there is a complete cure and he lives another 30 years. Is this a lesson in faith? I don’t believe God works that way. He didn’t give Paul cancer so we could learn lessons. He didn’t give it to him at all. Things like this just happen but lessons can be learned through the suffering. My faith is the only thing that is going to get me through this ordeal. My husband will take me as far as he can but eventually it will be down to me and God. He will not let me down…..the question will be if I can put all my trust in Him.

More tears…..

More tears today….came out of the blue to be honest. Paul and I were talking about the physical effects his treatment has been having on his body and he says, “not to mention the psychological aspects. I’ll confess, I’m a little worried about Friday” ….Friday? What’s Friday?……his first PET scan. This is where we find out if the new treatment is working.

Paul and I were both surprised when he didn’t have regular scans with his first treatment but his doctor insisted it was ok not to. I’m sure they take everything like his age, health into consideration when making these decisions…..but it did seem strange not to get regular updates on how this was going. Sadly it took a medical complication like a bowel obstruction to show us it wasn’t working.

Anyway, this” before church conversation” of course set the wheels in motion…..almost like pre test jitters……is all this working? Are they even going to really be able to tell from this scan? and of course the one question that weighs the heaviest….what if it isn’t working?

That question alone is enough to send me spinning out of control into this incredibly vivid scene of life without my husband. The awfulness of it is unbearable. And let’s face facts…..it’s a distinct possibility.  Looking at him, standing at the podium at church reading the opening prayer with the congregation…..I am overcome with emotion. Eyes keep welling up and spilling over. It got embarrassing after a while since I sit in front of our entire church in the choir loft. My friend’s hand me tissues but I just can’t seem to get myself under control. Wave after wave of grief, fear, uncertainty…….sigh…..it was a rough service. But I made it through, gathering myself together when Paul went up to sing a jazzy little number about Jesus being the rock in the storm……

But even after a nice lunch with Paul and Daniel and my traditional retreat to the bedroom for my Sunday nap….I still can’t shake it. A little more crying then finally…sleep…..where I wake up with a little more perspective on things. I look around my home, noticeably empty after a successful pre-moving yard sale, and there is no time for tears. There is much to do and time is running short to do them. Packing, organizing children before they leave for summer adventures, more packing, more selling of unnecessary things, home hunting and of course, cancer fighting……always fighting……

 

Paul’s Surgery 4/12/11

First off, I can’t start this blog post without give a HUGE shout out to my best pal….GOD…..for getting me through this ordeal!! Yes, we all received the results we had hoped and prayed for…..but the most IMPORTANT thing I received was the STRENGTH to make it through this so far. I was able to kiss Paul goodbye and KNOW that he was safe in God’s hands….no matter what the outcome. So I got a big “Thank you Jesus!” on my lips because I was sure I would sob all morning and I was as cool as a cucumber.

So we got up at 4 and had a 5:30 check in. Paul was in the surgery ward by 7:30, processed and prepped and wheeled back by 8:30. My wonderful friend and pastor’s wife Margot drove up to sit with me and it made such a difference! I was really prepared to go it alone….I didn’t want to inconvenience anyone….and I just thought I could handle it….but I was so glad I listened to my husband, my mother, my mother-in-law and some friends…when they all said I should have someone there with me because it made a HUGE difference. So I am forever grateful for my blessings of wonderful, caring friends!

The wait really wasn’t too bad….we both started getting a little antsy at the end but that was after 4 hours. Fortunately, there was a phone in the waiting room so the O R nurses would call periodically to inform the families on how their loved one was doing.  We spent time with a woman whose husband was having some metal put in his shoulder and a pair of sisters who were there with their brother who was having a bottom lobe of his lung removed. All the phone calls we received were very positive. (Praise God!) I was notified when the surgery began, when they removed the head of the pancreas and when they were sewing him up. It was so fantastic and I wished ever hospital in the world did that. But this is part of the reason UTSA was named the Best Hospital in San Antonio.

I also need to mention how revered Dr. Glen Halff is. First off, I got a personal recommendation from a friend of mine who has known him for many years and says he is a wonderful person and very dedicated to his craft. All the staff and doctors we spoke with kept saying how lucky we were to get Dr. Halff. One resident said he did Whipples textbook and the other said “BETTER than textbook!”. Those are the kinds of thing you want to hear about the surgeon who is going to have his knife in the love of your life!

So after he was done they took him up a floor to ICU. Nurses came and escorted us to the ICU Waiting Room and we waited less than 30 minutes before I got to see him. Margot and I had the pleasure of talking with a large family  from the Valley whose father was receiving a liver transplant. They had gone to another hospital first (In Seattle) and said they were treated horribly. They said UTSA has been a MIRACLE for their family!

Then I finally got called back to see him, Paul was still pretty groggy but I was shocked to see how GOOD he looked! I mean, he had a nice color and didn’t look like he just had major surgery. His anesthesiologist tells me he was “better than perfect!”  Dr. Halff tells me everything went just like we had discussed. They did take a little of his stomach only because he had some scar tissue from a surgery he had as an infant. Other than that, removal of the gall bladder, the bile duct, some of the small intestine and the head of the pancreas (40%). fortunately, the 60% that is left is the part that produces insulin. There is some risk of developing diabetes with this operation but Lord willing, we will dodge that bullet.  He also said he saw NO EVIDENCE that it had spread to outlying tissue and that the definitive pathology report would be back in about a week.

So he is resting comfortably in ICU with an epidural for pain and several drain tubes and other gross things we won’t talk about here. They did already remove one of the IV’s and the chief resident remarked that Paul is already progressing much faster than the typical patient. I told him my husband is an overachiever! Ha ha ha!

I have been asked to bring the score to The Producers and his laptop tomorrow……can you believe? And of course I will…..I wouldn’t dream of denying him…….but I will make sure he doesn’t over do…….his nurse, a lover of theatre and Skyline Chili (!), is excited as well!

So I thank you all….your feverent prayers and good thoughts were felt and helped carry us through! But we aren’t done yet! So keep ’em coming and keep checking with us for updates here or on our Facebo0ok pages! Peace!

Time To Get Organized

Well, it’s finally here….time to get serious about this surgery…..everyone has been listening to us bitch about how bored we are and how tired we are of waiting but now that it’s time to start mobilizing the troops…….I don’t want too……but I will of course….once we get rolling I will be ok…..it’s the getting started part that is tough….

What do I have to do? Well, things I couldn’t do until now….I want the house clean and nice for my mother in-laws stay so that means cleaning of bathroom and bedroom, fresh sheets, pick up and dust, etc……it’s my mother in law so I am not going to go hog-wild but its current state is simply not acceptable……I have been a little lax these last few weeks in the area of housekeeping….

We also need to grocery shop. It’s a pretty big deal with 2 teens in the house and knowing you won’t be back for 7-10 days. Rachel wants to do some cooking so we will make sure she has ingredients for some of her “special dishes”.  I am quite sure friends will want to bring stuff and my family is the EASIEST to cook for! They love just about EVERYTHING! Chicken dishes, tacos, salads, pork, beef and seafood…they love it all. Not huge fans of spaghetti but love lasagna. Seriously, if anyone is wanting to bring something by, the kids and Grandma love it all 😀

Some have asked me what Paul will be able to eat when he comes home. From what we have read, they will have him on soft foods by the time he leaves so I am assuming he will be able to eat chicken, pastas, mashed potatoes and things like that. I am certain we will want to steer clear of anything too spicy or too heavy. Since this surgery involves removing his gall bladder Paul will need to steer clear of high fat foods as well so nothing fried and we will need to lay off the heavy butter and oils. So things like a nice stew or casserole will be great! And by the way, Paul LOVES puddings and pies and pretty much any flavor! lol!

If any readers have experience in the area of eating after a Whipple procedure, we would LOVE to hear from you!

The biggest difference he will experience is he won’t be able to eat a lot. This surgery will involve a resectioning of his stomach and small intestine so he will have to change his eating patterns to small portions 6 times a day vs. two large meals….as he is accustomed to eating……this will be a challenge for the free-lance musician/booking agent owner who spends a lot of evenings working gigs…..that lifestyle doesn’t exactly support healthy eating habits…..but his clever wife already has that under control with a little cooler and an ice pack! Have snacks will travel!

Other than that we still need to get a hotel room in S. A.  Paul has been playing phone tag with the Cancer Society to see what they have available. I want to make sure it isn’t a country mile away from the hospital. Otherwise we may just Priceline it and Paul has always done GREAT on Priceline…..you should try it sometime!

I am a little concerned about how much rehearsal time I am going to miss. I think I can keep it at a minimum provided he recovers well, which we anticipate. This one is still fluid at the moment…..we just can’t tell until we see how he does after surgery……and truth me told, I have my song down so it just needs some fine tuning and I don’t have too many lines so I am confident I can keep up 😀

What we are hoping for is a day or two in ICU then 5 – 7 more days in a private room then he gets sent home. Paul is bringing this huge binder with the scores for The Producers and Full Monty so he can help transpose the music into a smaller instrumentation. I would like to publicly thank JESUS for getting us these scores and providing my husband something to KEEP HIM BUSY during this hospital stay! THANK YOU LORD! So now he won’t be looking at ME saying how BORED he is! ……. I can see it now….”Honey, I am working here. Don’t you have a rehearsal you can go to?” HA HA HA HA! We can only hope and pray!

The children will be under the watchful eye of Grandma, church family and our theatre/teacher friends! I’ll be putting a schedule together for their weeks worth of activities and setting up some logistics with friends for rides and things. Thankfully we live in such a small town and everything is so close by I have dozens of people I can call on to shuttle a kid home from a school or church activity. Another blessing I can count!

So it’s time to start putting that plan in motion! Let’s get on with it!

Matthew 8:14-17

And when Jesus entered Peter’s house, he saw his mother-in-law lying sick with a fever; he touched her hand, and the fever left her, and she rose and served him. That evening they brought to him many who were possessed with demons; and he cast out the spirits with a word, and healed all who were sick. This is to fulfil what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah, “He took our infirmities and bore our diseases”

A Prayer for Paul

We received this from a friend of a friend! I thought it was simply beautiful and a good prayer for people who might not know what to say to God. Sometimes it’s difficult to find the words but this one is perfect……Thank you Hilda!!

Compassionate Father, our brother Paul Klemm needs Your tender loving care as he has been diagnosed with cancer in the small intestine.  He will have further tests to determine treatment, however, he is sure he will have surgery to remove the cancer.  He has much in his favor, Father, as You well know, and he is young.  Father, I ask that You guide his surgical/medical team and give them the wisdom to find the proper treatment.  Father, I ask that You give him, Lisa, and the rest of his family comfort, strength and the courage they will need as Paul begins his treatments. May they find that the treatments be easy and not make him ill. Please fill them with Your grace and  give them Your wonderful peace that surpasses all understanding. In Jesus’ precious name I pray.  Amen.

Amen!
 
 

Prayers for the Faithless

It’s 5 am……like clockwork the dogs need a trip outside……so following Abigail’s exuberant leap back into bed I crawled in next to her to snuggle in for the next 2 blissful hours…..then my mind starts going……then the music from our church service starts……I can sence His presence with us…….and it’s time to give up the plan for additional sleep (I can catch up on that later!) and hit the blog…..just too much going on inside this head!

Yesterday was such a great day…..the weather was beautiful, the windows and doors were open and it was like a breath of Spring blew through the house……

….then the dust bunnies decided to come out and play……

so the day was spent cleaning, doing laundry and making dog food! But it was long overdue. I am a cleaner you see…..Paul is a pacer….walking throught the house like a caged animal…..me, I CLEAN! The shower really took the brunt of it yesterday. But it shines like a new penny and I am confident I only lost a few percent of lung capacity due to the chemical combination I made in an attempt to chip off  particularly resistance soap scum. And I can rest easy knowing that IF someone has to come stay with my kids, the house is CLEAN! I know, I know….these are my friends and family….they don’t care if my house is dirty…..yea, yea, yea I know……but I think I really needed it.

Cleaning was almost therapeutic. It gave me time alone with my thoughts and with God. He hangs out when I clean you know. I spent a lot of time yesterday thinking of my friends without faith. Remembering my own trip into darkness….how sad and scary it was……but I was angry…..angry at what God had “done” to me…..so I turned away….but He stayed with me of course. And the last 20 years has been my journey back into the light.

I hear them cry….they are lonley….they feel unloved……but you don’t have to be! He is simply waiting for you to turn to Him to get ALL that you need! But you don’t believe He exists??!! That concept is so foreign to me now…..but I was there too……”God wouldn’t allow all these horrible things to happen”…”there is no scientific evidence” or “the Bible was written by a bunch of drunk monks”……I said them all…I believed it all….for YEARS……but I was WRONG.

I have been witness to the power of prayer NUMEROUS times! Just the fact I am sitting in my home is a miracle in itself. They money would run out and God would provide….a job would be offered the very next day or Paul would book a gig that night. It was CRAZY I tell you! When things were at their worst God would send that life raft like clock work! Recently, we were trying to figure out how to send Rachel to a weekend youth rally and within 15 minutes I had received a phone call saying a check for 1/2 the $$ was in the mail…….all we did was ask God to provide……not to send us money but to provide…..and He did, and HAS, numerous times!

Now, it doesn’t ALWAYS happen like that! LOL! There have still been lots of stressful and scary times and of course, we have lots more ahead. We will continue to have struggles. Being a Christian certainly doesn’t make us exempt from that! We will have tragedy and hard times just like everyone else and we will still get mad and upset…..but there is this underlying COMFORT….then we pull ourselves back from the edge, hand it over and say “God, this is yours” and he takes it and gets you through it.

Maybe that’s what it’s really about….that underlying comfort…..knowing you are not alone. Your friends may not come through for you….or your spouse dies….even your dog  just isn’t that “into you” today….but He will ALWAYS be there! All you have to do is ASK! He is there….all you have to do is acknowledge Him and accept His love! It IS that simple! But we continue to look for means of comfort outside our relationship with God…..we need a boyfriend or a man to be complete….to provide us with the comfort we seek……we need $$ and lots of it to be happy……everything will be fine if I can just “get this”…………*sigh*…..sometimes we just don’t “get it”! lol!…….there is NOTHING out “there” that will fill that void! That emptiness you feel cannot be filled with the love of another PERSON or with THINGS……there is only ONE thing that fits in that spot…and that’s God.

He doesn’t care what you have done! He doesn’t care if you have sinned! We ALL have! He doesn’t care about any of the horrible things you have done in your past! It’s a fresh start! He will welcome you with open arms and can provide you with a source of comfort and calm like you have never experienced! He will hold you….He will love you….He will provide for you…..all you have to do is ask! (see sample prayer below)

Am I living in some mass, planet wide hysteria?….this insane belief that there is a “God” that created us and is watching over us…..am I looking like a fool? ……Maybe……but I would much rather take my chances with Him……and this much I know…….my life is fuller…..I live with a sense of calm in my life…..I am able to look death in the face and not be afraid….too much……and He provides me with all I need…..and has for quite some time…ask me the stories! I have lots! ….. so if this is some delusion or mass hysteria…then so be it……but me and mine….we will follow the ways of the Lord!

If you aren’t sure what to say to God….try this! I found it online and it’s a great prayer!

“Lord Jesus, thank You for showing me how much I need You. Thank You for dying on the cross for me. Please forgive all my failures and the sins of my past. Make me clean and help me start fresh with you. I now receive You into my life as Lord and Savior. Help me to love and serve You with all my heart. Amen.”

Jesus said: ” Everyone whom my Father gives me will come to me. I will never turn away anyone who comes to me”. John 6:37

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