Sunday, July 8, 2012

Deuces Wild

What can be said for someone who claims to know what their own destiny holds in store? Would you believe them if they could tell you your own? How would you truly know for sure that it's true? The answer to all these questions is: You don't. I fully trust that God has a plan for me and it's yet to be revealed, and may never be. We are not meant to know, but are expected to trust that there is a 'reason for everything'. Not easy to do for us humans who are all naturally selfish and desire control over their lives. How do poker players control the outcome of a game of 'Hold 'em'? They stack the cards in their favor in order of precedence. We try to do the same in our own lives by habit. But what happens when we are dealt a bad hand in life? We try to barter and rationalize and jostle a way to make it work in our favor before 'throwing in the cards' and folding our hand, thus; giving up. Again it's not easy to sit back and relinquish control of our life to let the cards fall as they may. We want the best possible outcome for each round life throws at us.

The latest rounds we've been dealt has definitely made us feel like we are in a house of cards. Ok, enough card playing references, maybe. We've tried our hand at trying to seek the best path in natural medicine. During which we've met or been introduced from a distance to a very broad range of eclectic and eccentric people wielding a cure, well, a treatment at least. No one has or can claim a cure. We've been convinced and then misled, reassured and then let down, informed and then reproached. Through it all, all we wanted was a clear path that would lead to positive outcome. If it were a card game, every hand i've been dealt has been snatched from me, reshuffled, cards replaced or scattered out of reach midway through. There are so many answers out there for someone looking, but none have been valid or even offered as the best route with any degree of surety. I couldn't help but feel that precious time and resources have been wasted trying to seek an alternative. It has only led us back to conventional methods as my symptoms have worsened. I think my ride for the LiveSTRONG cancer foundation 2 weeks ago was a calm before the storm in the progression of my condition. I felt great the day of the ride, surprisingly so that I felt strong enough to ride hard, like I had a tangible goal I could physically control and work aggressively for when nothing else recently had offered anything close to the sort. I rode hard for the last 5 miles or so, pulled ahead of the rest of our team and focused on the effort, the will to fight hard. I passed the finish line in a blur of concentration and satisfaction of giving it the effort I wish I could distinctly pour into the real cancer fight i'm waging. The effort wasn't without it's consequences as my lungs protested a little afterward, but overall it was a day I felt strong and was proud of. Since then, i've been on a slippery slope of regressing into a state of severe pain that has drained me more than the chemo did. It's focused in the primary tumor which we've discovered has grown enough to now be putting pressure on my sciatic nerve, causing concurrent lower back pain on the left side, tingling and numbness in my feet and the feeling of 'restless leg syndrome'. Pretty much everything; bones, muscles, etc, from my hips to my thighs ache all the time with pretty severe focused pain in the middle. It's led me to need up to 6 Percoset per day just to alleviate the pain and keep me from writhing on the floor. I've now been prescribed a pain management program of low dose morphine to take regularly to fight it. Otherwise, I would be feeling worse than I did after a chemo round. In that much pain, nothing else really matters. I don't want to live like that either.

We also went to see a radiation oncologist to discuss the options and benefits of radiation and will be going for a SIM this coming Thursday and probably starting on several weeks of daily treatments shortly after. This will address the pain as well as attempt to shrink the tumor. It's extremely frustrating however, continually being told that because of the advanced nature of my condition, surgery is pretty much out of the question. Reading about similar cases on my own has only reenforced that statement, though it seems so counter-intuitive to what we're fighting to do that my mind hasn't accepted that as a valid answer. The answers have all resorted to being palliative: treating the symptoms to make my quality of life as comfortable as possible, but saying that there's nothing left to do to really treat it. That's led to some pretty grim thinking that is anywhere but where I want to be focused, but has become almost an inevitability that we've forced ourselves to address and begin planning for. We don't know what else to do...

I'm now in the process of writing a dedication of sorts as something to leave my children should our fears be realized. It breaks my heart at the thought of my children growing up without me. I've turned to finding scripture to include throughout my lessons I wish to leave them, but no matter how strong our faith, not even the promise of everlasting life through Jesus Christ after this mortal one, I can't find comfort in the prospect of my family being left without me. These things hurt my heart and soul more than the physical pain can. This coming week i'm going to be unplugged from the rest of the world and will be at a retreat at the New Clairvaux monastery/abbey in Vina, CA (between Chico and Red Bluff) to grapple with these heavy things weighing on me. This is a chance for me to find the solace, time for reflection, and hopefully rest that I have sought since the beginning of my diagnosis but has eluded me. I hope this time will provide the conversations with God from which I seek to gain guidance, peace, and the ability to truly submit to His will and fully lay my worries at His feet relinquishing the need to control them. I don't know what the cards will hold in the next hand dealt to me, but if I were a gambling man, i'd still have my money on my strength and that of the prayers of hundreds of people behind me giving me the winning hand of a 'full house'.


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