Thursday, September 16, 2010

the fog is clearing...

I thought I'd take a second to update everyone on my progress.  I'm feeling much better today.  It really lifted my spirits to be able to sit outside on the deck in the sunshine most of the day yesterday.

It's also been helpful for me to establish a daily routine.  Now for those of you who think I'm too driven and too "Type A" (and I confess, you are right), I promise you it's a very "soft" routine that simply gives some structure to each day -- one that can be abandoned at any time when I can't keep up.  There's plenty of rest breaks throughout the day; at this point just showering and getting dressed exhausts me.

I've been reading two psalms a day and a chapter from John.  Today was Psalm 77 and 78.  I can tell I'm still feeling the foggy effects of the drugs; I started reading Psalm 77 and stopped about three verses into the psalm.  It seemed somehow very familiar, then I remember preaching a sermon on that psalm a few years ago.  (I may have to go back and see what I said.  Usually when I go back and read an old sermon I wonder why anyone ever put me behind a microphone!)

Psalm 77 is a lament, the most common expression in the psalter.  Written in a time of sleepless desperation, the psalmist encourages himself by remembering the greatness of God, especially as demonstrated by His redemption of Israel at the parting of the Red Sea.

I also have a slot in my day to listen to the great music of JS Bach.  A couple of years ago for Christmas, Charlene gave me the complete works of Bach on 155 CDs (eat your heart out, Brian Dunbar!) and I've also been collecting full orchestral scores of his works.  Listening to those CDs on the home theater system the choir gave me a few years ago is a daily treat.  Today I listened to a cantata entitled "Ich Hatte Viel Bekummernis" which begins,
"I had much sorrow in my heart; but your words of comfort refresh my soul."  This work contains a beautiful soprano/bass duet where Christ sings to his beloved church (as in cantata 140 which we performed in 2000 on the 250th anniversary of Bach's death).

In this original text, Bach beautifully demonstrates Christ's love for us even when we don't fully realize the extent of that love.  Here's the lyrics of two melodies beautifully woven together:

Bride: My soul shall die...
     Christ: Your soul shall live...
Bride: and cannot live!
     Christ: you cannot die!
Bride: I will always hover in sorrow...
     Christ: I will sustain you with Holy Wine
Bride: yes, oh yes! I am lost!
     Christ: no, oh no! You are chosen!
Bride: no, oh no!  You hate me!
     Christ: yes, oh yes! I love you!
Bride: Oh Jesus, sweeten my soul and spirit.
     Christ: Be banished cares and pain.

I know I'm a musical geek, but this stuff really feeds my soul!

Charlene and I went to the mall for a few minutes today (for those of you not familiar with Rochester, our mall is REALLY small).  I was able to walk from the food court to JC Penney, then I needed to sit for 15 minutes.  I realized I've never actually sat down in a mall before!!  I had to buy a pair of sweatpants (since none of my pants will fit around my swollen tummy!), then we made the trek back to the car.  That was quite enough for one day...after that it was time for a nap.

The only real pain I'm dealing with right now is back pain.  My stomach muscles are on strike (they're not very happy about a 12" vertical incision) so my back muscles are having to compensate.  I'm going to talk to a physical therapist friend in the choir about some simple stretching exercises so my body doesn't ball up into one big knot.

I got another flood of greeting cards today.  Thanks to all of you for your continued love and prayers for me.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Finally Back Home

This will be a short post...not a lot of energy for writing (much less thinking) right now.  Lots of very good news. The doctors were very, very positive in their post-op comments.  Both the rectal and (unrelated) kidney cancers were completely removed and the long-term prognosis is good.  After a month to heal from surgery, I'll begin a final round of chemo in late October.

The first couple of days post-op (Friday and Saturday) went better than expected.  Because the tumors were located in places that made removal relatively routine for the surgeons, the surgery took less time than expected. Unfortunately, things took a nosedive when the anesthesia wore off and Sunday/Monday were extremely difficult (but I won't go into detail).  I spent as much time and energy as possible on Monday trying to walk the halls, jump start my system and get my appetite back.  I'm back on solid food now, taking one day at a time (no sushi anytime soon  :(

I did not realize the mental impact of a lengthy major surgery.  The physical battle was mirrored by an emotional battle.  It was nice to get wheeled out this morning and come home to take a nap.  I needed sunshine, music and stimulation, so we got in Blaine's new car and went for a long ride to nowhere.  Feeling better now, and I'm so grateful for your continued prayers for me.

When I have the energy for a longer post, I'm going to write about what an absolute angel my wife is.