Friday, May 27, 2011

Memorial Day

From the Revolutionary War through the present:

1,343, 812 killed while in military service.

1,529,230 wounded while in military service.

38,159 MIA while in military service. (starting w/ World War I)

If you are able,
save for them a place
inside of you
and save one backward glance
when you are leaving
for the places they can
no longer go...take one moment to embrace
those gentle heroes
you left behind.
Major Michael Davis O'Donnell
1 January 1970
Dak To, Vietnam
On March 24th, 1970, Michael O'Donnell along with crew mates Berman Ganoe, John C. Hosken, Rudy M. Becerra, John Boronski, Gary A. Harned and Jerry L. Pool went Missing In Action.

One day, they will hammer their sords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and they shall remember war no more. Until then, join me in celebrating the lives & sacrificies of those who never came home. And be thankful for those who did, like, say, the former U.S. Navy pilot I'm hanging out with this afternoon.

Memorial Day? Baloney.

Every day is Memorial Day.


Progress. Progress?

Here's the latest (Fri, 5/27, 8:00 a.m.)

Noticeable improvement. Still a considerable amount of pain, but visible improvement. And still a long way to go.

I still take 2 different pain meds, staggering them so that I'm taking something every 2 hours. (1's a narcotic; the other is a heavy dose of anti-inflammatory drugs). I *hate* taking lots of pain meds, because I hate the sleep/stupor they put me in. And yet I still have to do so because of pain. *sigh*

One big sign of progress is that I find myself looking @ the clock & getting bummed out as the time for the narcotic one approaches. Earlier in the week, I looked @ the clock in eager anticipation of temporary relief from pain the next dose would bring. Now I look with a heavy sigh, knowing that I still have to take it, and also knowing that it'll put me in that stupor for a while.

I'm still sleeping on the couch out of 2-way fear (hers and mine!) than Lisa or I will roll over in the night & hit my incision. Which would be a whole lot of bad...and would be pretty easy to do.

*Eagerly* anticipating the following, perhaps some day in the not-too-distant future:

--sleeping in my own bed

--NOT having to deal w/ the narcotic stupor

--sitting in a tub & soaking for a while (Progress: I *can* shower now, but no soaking in a bath tub)

--riding my bike

--driving my car

--an entire day of productivity, rather than the occasional minutes of productivity right now

--mowing my lawn (no, really! In the mean time though, I'm *so* thankful to a friend who has told us he'd mow it for as long as we needed)

Speaking of pain-med stupor, um...night night! *sigh*

Thanks for your continued prayers!
With love & hope,

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

"First Time Here..."

I saw it again a couple of months ago when I was last out here.

I totally felt the guy's pain & could relate to what I saw on his face.

I still remember, although from a different perspective.

This time, I was heading out of M.D. Anderson's main clinic to catch the motel shuttle after my "good news" visit, and there he was.

A guy who stepped inside the door for his first-ever visit there.

Like all of us on our first visit, he was absolutely overwhelmed, by which I mean his already worn-to-a-nub circuits were totally overloaded when he stepped inside the door.

There's no describing the depth of feeling and emotion he felt that day.

I know, because I can't describe my own feelings & emotions from that day for me 2.5 years ago. I've tried in this space and many other times in never-published drafts.

Based on my interpretation of what I saw, he was not the patient. She was waiting outside on the bench until he made sure they were in the right place. Conserving her strength for whatever this terrible detour into the deep woods & weeds of their life's journey held.

It was all right there on his face.

"There must be some mistake...cancer--especially the kind that gets one sent to MDA--happens to OTHER families. Not ours..."

"Look at the size of this place! We'll NEVER find the right place"

"I'm the guy; I'm supposed to know how things work. Here, I got NOTHING..."

"Is she gonna die? What happens between now & then? Can that be delayed?"

"My God, my God! Why have you forsaken me??"

Those five thoughts can create a mighty anguished look on the face. I 'spect mine looked that way too in May, 2008. Lisa's too, since she was actually in this guy's shoes as the spouse of the patient. (Aside: it's been said before, but bears repeating: it's WAY easier to be the patient than the spouse of the patient.)

He stopped in front of one of the police guys who happened to be near the door, & just said the one phrase: "First time here..."

He was too stunned to cry or even to talk much at that point. He just looked like a 5-year-old boy who's gotten away from his folks at a huge outdoor event & has no clue what to do nor where to go.

The policeman gently showed him to the concierge station just behind them, where his "process" questions were expertly answered. Which helps a LOT!

But still, the huge, gaping questions remained. Some of which will likely not be answered this side of eternity.

And once again, I wanted to hug a perfect stranger & say "There's hope! 2.5 years ago, I walked in here overwhelmed just like you. Stage IV of a very nasty breed of cancer. And yet, here I am, with no signs of cancer any more."

I didn't do that, nor say that. He was too busy getting directions & learning how the valet parking worked & where the escalators are & where the elevators are & what time the cafeteria closes & where the hospital part is & where the bathrooms are & how to retrieve a daily schedule & how often they'll need her patient ID number & that the coffee shop is right over there & where the regular cafeteria is & which elevator to take to get to the specialists in her type of cancer...

Which, frankly, are more pressing @ the moment than the deep questions cancer calls forth.

So, I prayed for him as he walked by & stepped out & called my brother to celebrate with me on the phone.

Just another day in the life of the tens of thousands of MDA cancer patients & families.

One day, cancer will be no more. Sickness & death will have been utterly & decisive defeated. Perhaps even a cancer vaccine will be developed before that day. Who knows?

But until then, please join me in thanking God for the men & women who work @ MDA, giving their days & energies to eradicating this illness I hate so much. Men & women who enfold every first time patient into the MDA world lovingly & tenderly & with great grace.

And please join me in praying for those who have to walk in & get a patient bracelet, and for their loved ones. Once, for example, I saw a young father & his very young daughter leaving as they talked about Mommy up there in the hospital room..."We'll come back tomorrow, Honey; Mommy needs her rest right now"...That'll break down the bogus "I-never-cry-because-I'm-a-man-&-I'm-strong" thinking in a quick hurry! And it will also do wonders for your prayer life & your gratitude quotient...

God, teach me to number my days, that I may gain a heart of wisdom (Psalm 90:12) Help me be thankful & grace-filled every day that you grant me, for I am already living "outside the numbers" to quote my Dr. Use me, Lord, glorify Your holy Name in me & through me. As the old hymn says, Make me a blessing to someone today. And God, grant grace & endurance to the Drs. & Nurses & Techs & Food Service Workers & Janitors & Security Guards & Welcome-Desk volunteers as they together seek to address this insidious, horrible illness known as cancer. And please, God, grant that same enabling grace & endurance to those whose universe has been rocked by a phone call or a Dr. appt. during which the bad news was received.

Use such things as cancer to make us LONG for that oh-so-glorious day when You Yourself will wipe away every tear from our eyes as sickness and death will be no more. May we be found faithful to magnify Your Name and the glories of the Gospel between now & then.

In the Glorious Grip of His Grace,

Monday, May 23, 2011

Update, 5/23, 9:00 p.m. => Home

After squeezing an 8-hour drive into 10 hours (because of having to stop & walk), we are home!!

I, of course, had the magic pain pills; therefore the trip did not seem that long at all. (Deep & frequent naps can distort time like that...) Lisa's trip probably seemed a tad bit longer methinks. She had to rely on the ipod, which today featured the teaching of Russell Moore & J.D. Grear, plus the music of Astral Project, among others. (She made it OK)

The post-op recovery continues to go surprisingly well. I've definitely had some significant pain, and will have more before it's over. However, both of us agree that this has been by far the best post-surgery recovery of the four. Even though I'm down more of the rib he took out last year...

So now I basically sit around & try to not move. (Aside: you know how uncomfortable it is to get pinched? Now picture that on the *inside* of the chest wall, with two of your ribs doing the pinching when you move...Hello pain meds!)

Lisa's off tomorrow, which is a great blessing for her. The agenda for the day is to re-patriate some cars & fetch the dogs. Then they & I will lie around & be utterly useless for a few days (I'm really hoping Lisa notices the difference! *huge grin*) while waiting on the incredible blend of God's grace, the wonder that is the human body, and better living through biochemstry to combine such that I'll be able to resume functioning as my usual semi-productive self.

Here are some things I'm *eagerly* looking forward to in the next couple of weeks:
--an actual shower
--washing my hair
--an actual sit-in-the-tub-&-soak bath
--walking farther than the end of my neighbor's yard
--riding my bike (that's a while down the road...see "pinching" analogy above...)
--driving a car (Anne & Lisa will come to eagerly anticipate this one too...)

I go back out to Camp Happyland in about a month for followup stuff. (Watch this space for details as they become known).

THANK YOU *so* much for your prayers & friendship. I deeply cherish the prayers & acts of service & encouraging words we've received through this journey.

With a full, loving, hopeful heart,
2 Cor:4:16-18

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sunday mornin' coming down...

(Update, Sun., 5/22, 8:30 a.m.)

--Relatively good night sleep for me last night (within context of a hospital, that is...which is an important clarification!)

--Considerable pain this a.m. I think it's just because I'm about due another batch of pain meds, but it hurts! Related, My left shoulder hurts during these "end-of-pain-med-dose" times. As it turns out, one's shoulder has to be contorted pretty seriously during surgery to get to where my tumor was; bummer!

--Dr. Mehran's resident, Dr. Marks, came by ~7:oo & said Dr. M would be by ~ 9:00 t0 check me again. Then, pull out the IVs & chest drains & color us gone!!

(Important note: based on prior experiences, the leaving process is a VERY slow one. So we will not be out in time to head back to the Burg today. We're planning to spend tonight in a hotel here & then head out tomorrow a.m. for the long drive home)

Even w/ this a.m.'s pain, this has been--by FAR--the easiest recovery yet, including the 2 VATS surgeries in Summer 08, which were much less intense surgeries than this one physically. Praying for that to continue in this next phase.

I'm very eager to have no more IV ports attached; that way, I'll stop catching them on clothes & bedsheets & tables & anything else around every dadburn time I move. *smile*

I'm also very eager to have these 2 chest drains removed. While walking around with two round vials of post-op chest surgery drainage fluids is pretty attractive & all,...the thrill is gone. *grin* (No pics, so rest easy) Once that's done, I'll be able to wear an actual shirt!

Which leads to this: Those who know me well will smile @ this mental image...Lisa had me a Hawaiian shirt custom-made for this occasion with full zippers down both sides! (so we can do wound care stuff) I can't wait to rock it on the ride out of here! Regs do require me to ride out of here on a wheelchair, sadly.

BTW, in the 30 min since I started writing this, the anti-inflammatory has kicked in for the shoulder. *Much* better already!

Hopefully, my next update will be from a hotel here in town.

Thanks SO much for your prayers & friendship & good thoughts! We are most blessed. One of the great things about this journey--really!--is that we see the very best people have to offer, & are reminded of the incomparable value of having friends & being a friend. Thank you for teaching us this anew, & for being the hands & feet of God for us!

With love & hope,
2 Cor 4:16-18

p.s. - VERY eager to put on the Hawaiian shirt! ;-{)}

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Update, Saturday, 5/21, noon

There's progress. Remember my comment about post-op recovery being a progressive unplugging of tubes & catheters & such? I'm down to one working attachment, & it's being removed in the next few minutes! (Still have 4 separate IV's attached, but they're not wired to anything @ the moment; oh and the fingertip oxygen monitor, but I disconnect that one to go on our walks)

A couple of hrs ago, they turned off & disconnected my epidural pain med pump. @ that point, I switched to oral pain meds. (The epi is still there, but it's not hooked up to anything any more). Assuming that switch continues to go well, we're discharged tomorrow!!!! Will spend tomorrow night here & then head east Mon. a.m.

Thus far, the switch is going well, and this is still the best post-op recovery period I've had. *Much* less pain than last Summer's recovery; much less pain med required, etc. As an added bonus, each of the 3 meals I've had are still on board! (as opposed to the previous three surgeries...*clears throat nervously* *smile*) Plz join me in praying that continues the rest of today + when we get home.

Aside: my surgeon is dept. head of thoracic surgery...da boss. And yet, here he was @ 10:00 on a Saturday morning, checking on me.

Another aside: he said I should be able to ride Short Ribs the bike this week!! (While I'm generally very optimistic, I'm not sure about that one...maybe the following week...*smile*)

FYI, this tumor was a new metastisis, even though it was in the same area as the last one.

My nephew Jamie (Jim's older son) is marrying his sweetie Liz tonight in Nashville (they've been dating since high school; 7 years!). Obviously, we won't be there for the wedding; Jim says we'll "be there for the marriage, if not the wedding," which sentiment I just LOVE. Plz pray for Jamie & Liz as they start their life together. They are great folks; among the many 20-somethings that give me hope for the future. Thanks so much! (and MAN, do I wish I could be there! *sigh*)

Thank you SO VERY MUCH for your prayers & thoughts & love for us! Words fail @ this point, but know that you've been prayed for from room 717 of the thoracic surgery recovery ward of MDA today.

In His Grip,

Friday, May 20, 2011

Post-Op Report, Friday 5/20/11

Live, from a room @ M. D. Anderson, it's mmbeachbum with an update at 4:30 p.m. on May 20...

*Huge* difference between this surgery's recovery & last year's recovery so far. This one's going *much* better. Far less pain...much easier to breathe...much easier to walk (I actually walked last night, just a few hrs after surgery!)...much less pain meds required...which means I'm much more coherent (insert your own punchline here *grin*)...already off of post-op oxygen (last year we travelled home w/ oxygen & needed it a few days after arriving in the Burg.)

The big explanation for this: the grace of El Elyon, sovereign God of the universe! (and one of my favorite names of God in Scripture)

The detailed explanation: different approach to pain mgmt this time. I had a epidural pump inserted into my spine very similar to what some ladies have during childbirth. (I was assured beforehand that I'm past child-bearing years, so we felt safe. *chuckle*) This device pumps meds continuously that block nerves; plus, I have an extra pump I can hit as needed to give an extra shot. (I needed it last night & early this morning; haven't needed it since) Use of this particular pain mgmt approach means I need far fewer narcotic type drugs. That's the most likely medical explanation.

Whatever the reason, I'll take it! *smile*

Of course, the bummer is, the pump gets removed when I leave, at which point the pain of getting cut on will likely elevate significantly. But let's not talk about that just now...*another smile*

As an added bonus, post-op pain meds usually have a single-episode of a very impressive effect that I'll not elaborate on much. Let's just say that I'm very pleased that my first real meal at lunch today is...well, still on board. ;-{)}

--continuation of the good post-op recovery
--safe travels back home whenever we get released
(estimate is 3-5 days after surgery; we're ready when it happens & aren't worried about when that is)
--quick & complete recovery once I get back home.
Basically, I'm eager to get back on Short Ribs the bike!
(Due to thoughtful graciousness by my boss & a colleague, I don't have to teach again until July, which frees up a bunch of time to recover fully...hopefully)

We've had *great* experiences with some amazing Drs. & Nurses & Techs & other patients out here...But I much prefer clean scans that do not require surgery or immunotherapy or chemo or anything like that.

Lisa & I are so humbled & so thankful to be prayed for & served by so many. We'd not have chosen this journey, but we are SO very blessed to have seen the Body of Christ function on our behalf. As nasty as cancer is, I shudder to ponder having to undergo the journey of the last three years without the prayers & love of our friends, some of whom we haven't even met yet.

With love & hope,
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Go Time!

Thursday a.m. (5/19) @ 8:00, we report to MDA for metastatic melanoma surgery #4 since Summer 08. I'll be under the excellent surgical care of Dr. Mehran, who did the other three also.

To my chagrin, this one--like last year's--will require removing part of another rib. Which means (lots) more than a few days of feeling yucky when we get back home. (Last year, I had to re-fill the pain med prescription they sent home with me...yeah...*sigh*)

[Ever known a 50-something-year-old mixed martial arts fighter who's missing parts of multiple ribs? Me neither. So since that career path is out, I s'pose I'll keep on professoring. ;-{)} ]

What's it like the night before metastatic melanoma surgery? What goes through one's mind?

I can't answer for everyone; just me. Bottom line: Very Heavy-Duty stuff! I'm pondering things like pain, my own mortality (as Dr. Mehran says, we should not take surgery lightly!), heaven (how awesome it will be whenever that day comes for me), friends (great ones I have & not-so-great one that I've been at times), being a husband & father (basically, coming to grips that I've not been nearly what I should be as a husband & as a father...and earnestly desiring more chances to love & lead Lisa, James, & Anne...and trusting that God's grace will magnify my efforts far beyond my own abilities), unfinished business, life & ministry impact (or lack thereof at times), the you-gotta-be-kidding-me amazing grace of God that overcomes all of my own sins & shortcomings...

Fairly overpowering stuff, apart from the grace of God, I gotta tell you! (Nearly overpowering *with* the grace of God!) I'm struck that such things should go through our minds at times *other than* the night before surgery...Hmmm...

Gloriously, God gives a greater grace in the form of mental blocking mechanisms & distractions. (Related, I'm VERY thankful for Stu Weber's book Infinite Impact on this trip...I've long loved Stu's writing, & this one's exactly what I needed so far on this trip.) Plus, my Business students will be pleased to hear that our hotel's free newspaper is the Wall St. Journal. Oddly, there seem to be extra copies left @ the end of each day. Strange... ;-{)}

Also, as much of a bummer as another surgery recovery is, a quick glance around MDA--even just around our hotel!--reminds me that as far as cancer journeys go, I am *most* blessed & fortunate! On a fairly regular basis, I'm undone by seeing fellow patients & their families. I rarely cry when I see them...until they pass by, or until a bathroom avails itself, whichever.


My part's easy; hers is...not easy. I'd *much* rather be the patient than the loved one of the patient!

So our hope is that by this time tomorrow I'm in the warehouse as I call it (recovery room) getting ready to head to our regular hospital room. Our further hope is that by this time next week, we've been back home in H'burg for a couple of days already with me on the mend.

While you're at it, would you please pray that the melanoma doesn't come back in me ever again? I'd *love* for that to be the case, but that, of course is not up to me nor to Dr. Mehran, nor any other Dr. here.

Thanks so much for holding us up & encouraging us through "this light, momentary affliction."

With much love & great hope,
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

(p.s. - ever seen an xray of a guy missing part of a rib? It's fascinating...would be more so if it weren't an xray of me! *smile*)

p.p.s. for all who insist on lying in the sun and/or on the tanning bed: I have some scars to show you, with more to come tomorrow...and my melanoma showed up over 30 years after I moved away from the beach. And my family does not have a history of melanoma; well, not until me. Effect, meet cause...

Monday, May 16, 2011

Why, God, Why??

(Some birthday musings I've been pondering lately, coming to you live from Houston & a hotel near M.D. Anderson Cancer Center. Caution: this one's pretty alarmingly transparent; I question God repeatedly in it. You've been warned.)

...why was I born an American, where there were no police busting up my church's worship services yesterday?

...why was I born into a family that loved me & nurtured me & disciplined me & taught me & encouraged me & provided for me? Why did you allow me to have James E. Madaris & Sarah B. Madaris Hicks as my amazing parents?

...why was I allowed to be John & Martha Benton's grandson and Charlie & Mattie Madaris' grandson?

...why did you give me such an excellent brother who has become such a great friend?

...why did you give me such an oustanding bunch of relatives who love me & encourage me & teach me & challenge me & pray for me & guide me & love me anyway?

...why, oh why, did such a wonderful, beautiful lady fall in love with me & marry me nearly 27 years ago?

...why did you grant me two such amazing children, who are so very different and yet so very much fun to hang out with?

...why did you let me sit under the fantastic preaching of Dr. Tony Merida for four years?

...why did you give me friends from all over the planet?

...why did you redeem me by your grace, despite my many & manifest shortcomings & failures & sins & despite my rebellion against your love, both actively & passively?

...why did you allow me to grow up around the beautiful beaches of NW FL & on the Choctawhatchee Bay?

...why did you give me so many friends growing up, so many of whom are still friends today decades after I moved away from there?

...why did you put me around so many excellent friends in Gainesville, FL despite my own hammerheadedness back then?

...why did you let me attend the University of Alabama, thereby fulfilling a childhood dream?

...why did you put me under the discipling ministry of this veterinarian from Smith County, MS named Johnny Mayfield?

...why did you let me sit under the incredible Bible teaching of this pediatrician from the MS Gulf Coast named Ronnie Kent, who still teaches me & encourages me & prays for me despite my having not been in his class for nearly 20 years?

...why have you given me so many amazing friends from Temple Baptist Church where I've been a member for 21 years? And so many others from the Hattiesburg area where we've lived that same 21 years?

...why do you let me teach some *superb* folks in an adult Bible study class every Sunday morning?

...why did you let a chowderhead like me earn a Ph.D. in Financial Economics and then have some fantastic jobs, including most of all the one I have now at William Carey University, where I'm surrounded by incredible colleagues & awesome students, many of whom become friends?

...why did you let me come under the incredible medical care of Drs. Brett Robbins, Steve Conerly, Greg Owens, Nagen Bellare, & Rick Pecunia in Hattiesburg? And under the incredible medical care of Drs. Homsi & Mehran out here at M.D. Anderson?

...why am I still around three years after stage IV metastatic melanoma reared its ugly head?

...why is my prognosis for this upcoming surgery 3 days from now rather positive?

...why have you allowed me to live 52 years, despite my own foolishness in so many ways through those years?

...why do you magnify yourself through such a vastly inferior dude as myself?

...why, O why, God? Why do you love me so? Why are you so good to a wretch like me?

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The M.D. Anderson Schedule for Next Week (in briefer form)

Here, FYI/FYP, is the sched of the upcoming festivities related to my next surgery:

Sunday 5/15 - Lisa & I drive to Houston after teaching my Sunday School class.

Monday 5/16 - Pre-op scan/test/stick day

Tuesday 5/17 - Dr. appts: 1 w/ surgeon, 1 w/ anesthesia

Wed 5/18 - Off; nothing on the schedule

Thurs 5/19 - Surgery Day!!
Dr. Mehran likes to operate early; my guess is that we'll be @ the hospital ~6:00, w/ surgery to follow shortly after.

**Please pray for Lisa this day.** Hers is--by FAR--the hard part; sitting & waiting & wondering.

Fri & Sat 5/20 & 5/21 - Recovery in Hospital
(Best guess: in the hospital for a couple of days; Lisa can stay with me in the room on a tiny pull-out bed.)

Sun 5/22 - Lounge around in hotel
(again, this is a guess; whenever I get discharged, we'll stay in Houston another day or so to make sure all my systems are turning back on properly)

Mon 5/23 - LONG travel day
(once again, a guess; this assumes I'm out of the hospital Sunday morning) It's long because Lisa has to do all the driving + we have to stop every hour or so to make me walk for clot-avoidance.

We're optimistic here, as are the Drs. Still, it's surgery & anesthesia &, oh yeah...cancer.

Your prayers are, as always, MOST welcome & SO very much appreciated!

With Hope,
2 Cor 4:16-18

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

MDA in May (Schedule)

("MDA in May" doesn't sound nearly as cool as "Memphis in May" or "Jazz Fest" or anything like that...and well it shouldn't!)

Here, FYI/FYP, is the sched of the upcoming festivities related to my next surgery:

Sunday 5/15 - Lisa & I drive to Houston.

Monday 5/16 - Celebrate my birthday in the following manner:
blood specimen collection
Chest Xray
CT Scan of Chest
complete pulmonary function test (which is the worst of these!)

I know you're jealous, but we can't *all* have such wild BDay celebrations as I. Sorry.

(Aside: I'm already looking forward to eating vast quantities of either the Med. Buffett or of Tex Mex. Post-scan gluttony. )

Tuesday 5/17 - 2 key appts: 1 with my surgeon to discuss the results of Monday's tests, and 1 with anesthesia to discuss the preparation & application of the voodoo that they do. It's the appt. w/ the surgeon that will yield the official "go" or "launch delayed" decision btw.

Wed 5/18 -(*best E. Starr delivery*) "Absolutely nuthin...huh" (Zero scheduled items this day; Lisa & I are considering rolling over to TX's version of Gulf beaches, which are not far from Houston.)

Thurs 5/19 - Go Time...Surgery Day!

Dr. Mehran likes to operate early; my guess is that we'll be @ the hospital ~6:00, w/ surgery to follow shortly after.

**Please pray for Lisa this day.** My part's easy: show up, receive anesthesia, & wake up some time later. Lisa's the one who has to watch the clock in the waiting room m o v e S O s l o w l y while waiting on Dr. Mehran to come speak with her. Thanks

I'll probably be in the hospital for a couple of days; Lisa can stay with me in the room on a tiny pull-out bed. Not the most restful sleep time for her, as I seem to get poked & prodded about every 30-60 min. while there. I *love* having her around at all times, but esp. during surgery recovery.

We plan on staying in Houston another day or two after discharge to make sure all of my systems are turning back on properly. Then the long drive home. I say "long" because Lisa will have to drive the whole way. And I'll be drifting suddenly & randomly from full-engaged thinking & talking to stone-cold deep sleep, with virtually no transition & no warning (all depending on what the pain drugs happen to do). Plus, we'll have to stop every hour so I can get out & walk for 10 minutes or so to reduce the risk of bloodclots in my legs. It'll be a long day for Lisa!

We're optimistic here, as are the Drs. Still, it's surgery & anesthesia & oh yeah...cancer. Your prayers are, as always, MOST welcome & SO very much appreciated!

With Hope,
2 Cor 4:16-18

p.s. - I don't teach until the 2nd half of the summer b/c my thoughtful boss & a gracious colleague made it possible for me. Thus, I'm planning on a bunch of sitting around & reading & watching the pine trees grow & taking care of some left over whittling & such for the first few days after we get home.