Friday, April 13, 2012

Passionate Patience

"There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forgets the tempered steel of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next. In alert of expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged. Quite the contrary - we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit." Romans 5:3-5 The Message

Ever since I have left the hospital God has been working on developing in me this passionate patience. I am trying to be joyful for the things God has done for me these past few years and not allow self-pity to set in. I am working hard to keep trusting God and asking him to keep my joy full and abounding, even in these prison walls. I know in the midst of this storm, God is purifying and cultivating endurance in me. I am going to need this endurance as it will take sometime to completely heal. After all I have been through, I have definitely found the reasons for trials in life and the difference it can make to maintain our joy despite our suffering.

This past week, God has slowly started to reveal to me his plan and the miracles that have taken place since the day we started planning this surgery. It took over a year for me to convince the surgeons to do this surgery and for them to feel comfortable moving forward. I have learned that this wait was imperative to the success of the surgery. For when the surgery took place, it had been two years of being cancer free. A huge milestone for my type of cancer...for it is rare for this cancer to return after two years. My surgeons then felt it was safe to move forward. I too recently learned this was a huge step of faith for them to take. The risks were high and they were not confident it was going to work. They struggled for many months on whether or not it was a risk they were willing to make. On Monday, I had a follow up appointment with the surgeon who made my diagnosis and was on the surgical team. Without him I would not be here today. He is a very calm and collected man, yet warm and compassionate. Rarely have I seen him show any emotion over these past three years. At the appointment, completely out of character my surgeon raised his hands above his head and gave a cheer...he had reason to celebrate as the surgery was a success. This success was a miracle as the odds were not in my favor. God has used this man in more ways than one. My surgeon has shared with me multiple times how he second guessed the decisions he made during my surgeries causing him to go back at the last minute and make revisions. If he had not second guessed himself, I would most likely still have cancer and this last surgery would have failed. I know in my heart it was God nudging him and leading him to what needed to be done. God has been there all along during each phase of my surgery. Everything took place when it needed to happen and with surgeons that were among the best in their field. At times I would get frustrated and ask God where he was in the midst of it all. I did not see his plan at the time. Now, I am enjoying watching God's plan unfold and it gives me the strength to keep looking ahead and patience while healing takes place. It is encouraging for me to know God has had his hand in this all along and because of this, I know the end will be AMAZING!

God has perfect timing; never early, never late. It takes a little patient and faith, but it's worth the wait.

Today, with God's help, I feel at peace. I am starting to see signs of healing taking place. The swelling is slowly starting to go away. The skin graft is starting to blend in with the rest of my skin. My eye no longer droops down and my eyelid can close. I do struggle with double vision which should correct itself over time. I will begin Physical Therapy next week to help rebuild the strength in my shoulder as muscle and bone were removed to rebuild my face. Every day tasks can be difficult for me as my shoulder is very tight. Only time will tell whether or not further revision will be needed. As of now, things are going as they should and the surgeons are very pleased with the outcome.

I am so thankful for all of the meals being delivered to our home to keep my family fed and to give me time to rest and heal. Thank you all for your prayers and continued support. Those prayers kept me safe during the 18 hour surgery and are now helping me through my time of healing.

With love,

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Photo Booth

This is extremely difficult for me to say and never have I thought would I would find these words coming out of my mouth...I have found a flaw in the Apple Computer. Yes...I know...coming from someone who has just about every product the Apple Company offers, it is shocking to hear. But it has happened and I am about to drag an application on my hard drive to the trash folder and send it into never never land. It is the Photo Booth Application. Never...EVER...look at yourself in the Photo Booth Application after having massive reconstructive surgery. I am just saying.

These past couple of days I am finding myself shifting from being strong emotionally and weak physically to now being weak emotionally and strong physically. And it all started with finally looking at the aftermath of my facial Photo Booth. My face appears as it has been stuffed liked a Turkey on Thanksgiving day. My right eye has been shoved up into my forehead. I am black and blue, not only because of the surgery but because of the blood thinners. I now see two of everything and find myself bumping into things as I walk down the hall. I have an incision extending from my armpit to my waste and another incision down my forearm requiring occupational therapy to get the range of motion back into my shoulder....both of which are also black and blue. In a nutshell I look and feel like a train wreck. I have notified Jason that I will not be leaving the house for months to come and by no means is anyone allowed to come inside our home unless I am locked away in our bedroom upstairs. And as for the Aerosmith concert in June, (did I just admit we have tickets?) he might as well start looking for someone else to go with him. My mind knows that in time things will look better, yet in my heart I am feeling defeated and hopeless. The ugliness I so wanted to go away with this surgery has manifested itself 100 times over. I am overcome with sadness and regret.

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." James 1:2-4

During a hospital visit this week, my sister brought me a bag of reading materials. It included a new magazine called Life.Beautiful. It's subtitle is "Faith for your Journey." The first thing I, I KNOW...I will do when I get home is to order a subscription to this magazine. It is inspiring, creative and filled with wonderful articles of faith. Today, I read an article called "Rebuilding Through Faith." It was in this article that I found this verse in James. It was the first part of this verse that gave me a reason for my suffering and a purpose during my battle with cancer. And now it is the last part of this verse that gives me hope. For in the last part of this verse I feel God lovingly nudging me to persevere through this time of pain, suffering and healing..and in the end I will be complete. Not only physically, but spiritually as well. And cancer will be behind me forever.

The goal is to be able to go home tomorrow. For that to happen I will need to have the staples removed from my back and the last drain removed from my incision. I am so looking forward to being at home in the comfort of my own bed with home cooked meals. Yes, I will miss the time I have spent attempting find the top 10 informercials ever played at 3:00 in the morning and the hospital's diet caffeine free coke that tastes like soap. But I am hoping that being surrounded by the love of my family will help me to focus on the good things in my life and heal the part of me that needs to be healed the most confidence.

"Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever, is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable - if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise - dwell on these things." Phillippians 4:8

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart for your prayers for me this past week. Each time I hear the amazement and surprise in the surgeon's voices as they talk about the success of the surgery, I smile quietly knowing it is because I had prayers being said on my behalf.

With Love,


Sunday, April 1, 2012

Life in the hospital

Jason just left to go get a good home cooked meal and spend sometime with the girls. This morning, he showed up with some beautiful flowers to decorate my boring hospital room. He spent the day with me by my side, quiet when I needed it or as a good opponent in cribbage when I needed it. He even let me win a game....something I know does not come easy for him. I am so thankful for the man that he is, trying to be a support to me while at the same time working a job and spending time with the girls. How did I get so lucky?

Well I am hoping it isn't too early (knock on wood) to say that I am finally on the mend and that the worst is behind me. The surgeons are very pleased with the progress I have made - I think they have all taken a big sigh of relief each time they come in to check in on me. I am so thankful for each and every one taking the VERY long journey to mend my face and make it look the best it can possibly be. I am especially thankful for my Surgical Oncologist that cared for me during cancer. The night does not end without a call from Dr. K. asking the nurses to hold the phone up to the Dopplar monitors....monitors tracking the strength of the newly transplanted vein carrying blood to the translated tissue, bone and skin. I can tell he really cares about me and the outcome of this surgery. Hearing the monitors showing a strong working vein helps not only me to sleep well at night, but helps Dr. K to have some peace at night. The nurses have all been so wonderful to me..truly servants at heart and many of whom are very familiar to me due to the many stays I have had on this floor. I can go to sleep at night knowing I will be well taken care of. Someone is watching over me.

My face is still pretty swollen. I haven't had the courage to look in the mirror yet to see the changes..the ones I have been told I will be very happy with once the swelling goes down. I am starting to get up and around for walks around the nurses station. I have an incision down the side of my back from my shoulder blade down to my waist. It was stapled shut after some tissue and bone were used to reconstruct my face. The incision is very tight and at its worst feels like someone is digging their fingers into my back and pulling it apart. There are two drain systems connected to the wound on my back to collect any excess fluid or blood which is extremely uncomfortable. I have a feeling it will take months of rehab to get use of my shoulder back again.

Yesterday I was at my worst. I was not feeling good and feeling a lot of pain. I began to question my sanity and the decision I made to fix my face, despite the fact it was medically necessary. I could not believe I had put myself through this once again. I made a few phone calls in the middle of the night to Jason just to hear his voice...something that always brings me calm in the midst of a storm. I am feeling very lonely and missing the girls so much. You never realize how much space children take up in your life and fill it with joy and love. Both Mackenzie and Kendall have beautifully decorated some posters to hang in my room. Both of the posters say "My Mom Can Believe." I smile each time I look at them. I believe for them.

Last night I was feeling defeated.... instead of taking two steps forward I felt as I had taken two steps back. Something hard to swallow when the two steps back take you to a place you never want to go again. This morning I woke up and read a Facebook posting from a friend. It was as follows...

HE will silently plan for you,
His object of omniscient care;
God Himself undertakes to be
Your Pilot through each subtle snare.

He WILL silently plan for you,
So certainly, He cannot fail!
Rest on the faithfulness of God,
In Him you surely will prevail.

He will SILENTLY plan for you,
Some wonderful surprise of love,
No eye has seen, no each has heard,
But it is kept for you above.

He will silently PLAN for you,
His purposes will all unfold;
Your tangled life will shine at last,
A masterpiece of skill unfold.

He will silently plan FOR YOU,
Happy child of a Father's care,
As if no other claimed His love,
But you alone to Him were dear.

- E Mary Grimes

His purposes will all unfold; Your tangled life will shine at last, A masterpiece of skill unfold. Words of encouragement that could not have better timing. I did not take two steps back, but instead I took two steps down a new road with a glorious plan I am convinced God will reveal to me in his own time. My tangled life of cancer will shine at last.

Thank you to all of you that have been quietly praying for me and my healing. I am honored to have each and everyone of you in my life whether you are a friend, family member or stranger. I often visit Facebook and My Blog to read the words of encouragement that have been written by each and everyone of you. Please know they have no gone unnoticed.



Patient has typed this with one eye open and monitors taped to fingers. Patient to not be held responsible for spelling and grammatical errors.