Posts Tagged 'BIGGER Tom'

Struggling with Faith & the Unknown will of God

After our ordeal with Thomas’ collapsed lung over Christmas the thought still lingers in the back of our minds, “Will it happen again?”. It could, it might or it might not. Only God knows. But we have some friends who have over the last year faced a much more serious situation as their young daughter has battled cancer. Their blog has been a great encouragement to me over the past months. It has strengthen my faith and made me realize even more just how big a God we serve and that no matter what happens, our God is always big, always right, and always in control. From their last post:

Hi all. We spent the morning with Ashley’s doctor for him to check her over and review the scans with us. Everything looks really good – he even mentioned that he’s having a hard time identifying a residual mass. All good news!

He then spent some time talking us through next steps. Ashley will have quarterly scans thru this year, every four months next year, semi-annually after that, and so on until we get past five years. Technically we don’t even have to go back to him until next quarter, but Elaine needed some peace of mind between now and then so we’ll have a check-up in 6 weeks.

More immediately, she’ll have her port removed in an outpatient surgery next Tuesday. Ashley’s take on that is, “Can I go back to gymnastics?!?!” Yes sweet baby, you sure can!

So what does all of this mean? Is it gone? Will it come back? Would be great to have solid, definite answers on those, but its just not to be. She looks really good. We’re thankful for that and continue to monitor her. She’s in God’s hands and we entrust her to him.

In typical man fashion, I wasn’t going to get into emotions but Elaine’s holding a gun to my head and forcing me. So here goes: We feel great that things are clear. We take faith that she’s in God’s hands and are encouraged by clear scans, how well she’s responded to treatment, and high cure rates. We love her, are excited about how things look, and so appreciate all of your love and support thru this. At the same time, we are dealing with those nagging fears in the recesses of our minds – what if it comes back? We wish we could know she’s cured and that there won’t be any effects from the chemo and radiation. We’ll keep walking in faith and hurdle any obstacles if and when they arise.

And I’d like to share a lesson (under strong recommendation from my lovely wife) that God provided for me really early on in this battle. After Ashley was diagnosed we annointed her with oil, laid hands on her and prayed over her as the Bible instructs us. I struggled with having complete faith in her healing; wondering whether I should just be able to completely believe that God would completely heal her. If my faith were strong, shouldn’t I be able to believe that?

I was encouraged by the three Hebrew boys facing the fiery furnace. See, they refused to bow down before the king’s idol even in the face of the gruesome punishment of being burned alive. When the king asked them who could deliver them from the fire, they replied that they served the God who could deliver them from the flames. However, EVEN IF HE DIDN’T they still refused to bow.

Interesting they didn’t say they knew they would be delivered isn’t it? I believe that the outcome was beside the point. Their great faith – despite the outcome – was the point. And boy was that drilled into my heart. I don’t believe faith is about trusting in outcomes. It’s about being faithful within the trail, through the pain, despite the outcome.

In our world with Ashley’s cancer, we know we serve the God who can deliver us from the fire. But even if he doesn’t, we won’t succumb to anything less that serving him and living our faith. And we know that his desire is only the best for us – despite the circumstance or outcome.

And here’s the best part of the story of those Hebrew boys: The king threw those boys into the furnace and saw a fourth person in the flames that delivered them from the fire – WITHIN THE FIRE. The king’s words about that fourth person were that he was “like a son of the gods.”

Like those Hebrew boys, we have the Son of God in Jesus to deliver us WITHIN the fire. No matter the circumstance or outcome, we have the Son of God to deliver us WITHIN the fire.

I do hope that blesses you as much as it has blessed me.

We’ll update after her surgery to remove her port next Tuesday.

12.29.08

When last I left you, BIGGER Tom was waiting to get the chest tube out and Chris and Rachel were waiting to catch a plane out of KC back to ATL for a night of Christmas Party-ing with the family. Most of you probably already know how all that turned out as well as the rest of our eventful weekend. If not, read on and I’ll fill you in.

The chest tube, I don’t think, was as bad coming out as going in and not as bad as BIGGER Tom anticipated. It was quick he said and kind of took his breath away– they basically just jerk it out of you. It looked to be about 12-15″ long. I would post a pic of it here but it’s quite gross. Soon after the chest tube was out an x-ray was taken [one was taken before the chest tube came out as well] and we were released from the hospital about noon on Saturday. Tomorrow he goes back to the surgeon to be sure everything is healing properly, to get another x-ray, find out the results of the ecocardiogram and to see where we go from here.

Chris and Rachel did indeed make a flight out of KC on Saturday around noon I think it was. There were plenty of people praying they would and that’s really the only explanation for them getting on because it seemed that even paying passengers were left behind on the flight they got out on.

We had our family Christmas on Saturday night and that was nice.

Sunday was a special day. Every Sunday is a special day but this Sunday was especially special. It was my father and mother’s 50th wedding anniversary. They were actually married on a Sunday afternoon 50 years ago on yesterday. For a year now the family has been planning and working on a special surprise celebration for their 50th. We hired the best caterer we knew, the best florist and the Lord has just made so many things come together to make their special day so much more special than we ever could have. It was just a miracle!

First of all let me say this was supposed to be a surprise, but it turned out not to be. We mailed invitations the day after Thanksgiving and you probably won’t believe this but my mom has this friend [if you can call her that] that on the day she received the invitation called my mom and said, “I don’t like surprises, and I just wanted you to know that your family is having a surprise 50th wedding anniversary celebration for you and Tom on Sunday, December 28… and I’m just telling you this because you might want to get your hair done or buy a new outfit and be sure Tom doesn’t have a stain on his shirt…” Can you believe someone would do that!?! My mom just told me that yesterday during the reception when I asked if they were surprised. So, no they weren’t surprised at the event. However, they were surprised at how nice it was and how many people showed up. There were between 300-350 people. It was AMAZING to watch all these people that I haven’t seen in years and years and years just keep pouring in the door. It turned out great!

see the photos

And this actually even gets a little better. When my mom’s friend called her to tell her about the surprise, it upset my mom really bad that she would do that. It upset her so much that she couldn’t sleep for two nights! That’s the only part that really bothers me– not so much that the surprise was revealed but that it upset my mom so much. Anywho… so my mom called my aunt to tell her about it, because my aunt too knows this crazy lady. So yesterday, when the crazy lady arrived, she went over to my aunt and said, “Well, do you think they’ll be surprised?” Seriously, she did! It’s a good thing I didn’t know all this when I so warmly greeted her at the door yesterday and told her how glad I was that she came! BIGGER Tom says she’s evil 😮


12.27.08

Last night a bunch of friends came to visit BIGGER Tom again. He’s blessed to have so many good friends and fortunate that the staff here is so lenient to allow so many of them in the room at the same time. I think Thursday night we had 9 in here at one time. His friend Jon has spent every night up here and last night Matt stayed as well. I’ve been sleeping out in the waiting room on a comfy sofa… only a TM away.

I have to say, my Facebook friends have really been an encouragement to me during this ordeal. There is no WIFI in the room but I’ve been able to get on Facebook with my iPhone and that’s been a real help. Many of them have been praying for Thomas and we really appreciate that. We’re in the south tower and to get on the WIFI I have to take an extended journey to the north tower and down to Einstein Bagel’s Internet Café. Once a day or so I go down there to do some work but still even there I can’t get on Facebook—it’s blocked :-/ even the proxy sites wouldn’t work.

I’m hoping today turns out the way we think and we get to go home! We haven’t showered or washed our hair since Wednesday morning and we’re both looking forward to a nice hot shower. It’s beginning to smell like a boy’s locker room in here [I think I might have already said that in an earlier post] and all the body spray in the world couldn’t make me feel clean and fresh like a shower will.

Thomas will just be relieved to get the removal of the chest tube over. He’s afraid it’s going to hurt even though one of the nurses yesterday told us that patients say it doesn’t. Seriously, I’d think it would have to somewhat.

Chris and Rachel are now waiting for a flight out of KC. They have missed the first two this morning and they are both sick and just want to get home. We have a night of CHRISTmas party-ing planned but I doubt it will be a very “lively” party :-/ MeRrY ChRiStMaS!

I know of at least 2 other families that spent part of Christmas in a hospital and this hospital, as I am sure most are, is filled with sick, hurting and dying people spending Christmas in the hospital. For some, there will be no more Christmases. Some have family by their side some do not. I’ve watched one particular room across the way with a man that has just lay still in the bed since we’ve been here and I’ve never seen him move, never seen anyone in to visit or sit with him and it just makes me so sad. There’s a ministry to be had up here.

12.26.08

12Yesterday morning the x-ray technician came in to take yet another chest x-ray. Evidently they will do this every morning to check on the progress. He’ll probably go home a drug addict from the pain meds or with cancer from all these x-rays. :-/ This technician didn’t even step out of the room when he took the x-ray like most always they do. I am so glad though that they have the equipment to come to your room instead of having to move you to a gurney and roll you down to x-ray—movement seems to bring on more pain.

3

The results of the x-ray did not come back good so the surgeon was called. Evidently something is not quite as it should be. The surgeon seemed to think it would be ok though. He didn’t seem as alarmed at the nurses. They first came in and said that the suction wasn’t doing what it was supposed to and that really scared me because I got to thinking, “Well, what next?” However, the surgeon, as I said, seemed to think it would be ok. However, he did say Thomas would have to be connected to the suction a full three days, which means they will not take the chest tube out until Saturday at the earliest. I’m really was hoping to get out of here today :-/ and Thomas has had enough already.

4He has been in a lot of pain and the pain meds make him sick and throwing up, of course, is quite painful, he doesn’t want to eat because he feels sick—it’s a vicious circle.

Several of his friends came and visited yesterday as well as other people. We appreciate your prayers that this is the end of something and not the beginning.

This morning the Thoracic surgeon came in and talked with us a while. He was very encouraging. The first encouraging words we have received this week. He said the x-ray that was taken this morning shows the lung fully inflated, as it should be. There is a slight kink in the chest tube but that has not inhibited its performance. He’s ordered an echocardiogram and CT scan for today. For one of those they will use interventions fluids and Thomas has to have an empty stomach. So breakfast [the little that he ate] will be the last food he gets for a while. He’s eaten like hardly nothing since we got here and drank hardly nothing either. I find it hard to believe that they don’t have an IV in him pumping fluids and nourishment into his tall, thin, scrawny big body. The surgeon took Thomas off the suction and said he would take the chest tube out tomorrow and we could go home.  The echocardiogram, I believe, is to help determine whether Marfan syndrome could play a part in all this. I’ve Googled and read quite a bit about Marfan syndrome over the past 3 days and I doubt very seriously whether Thomas has this. He just doesn’t seem to fit al the criteria to me; but we’ll wait to see what the doctor says.

He actually got out of the bed this morning for the first time since Wednesday—on his own. The nurses were able to change the bed linen,s which was good because it was beginning to smell like a boy’s locker room in here!

5They were able to do the echocardiogram in the room, so that was convenient and painless and good and a blessing! Everyone should have the opportunity to see his or her heart in action like that. It’s SO AMAZING to see all those values opening and closing right at the precise moment. Totally makes you think that we were indeed fearfully and wonderfully made!

The CT scan had to be done somewhere else in the hospital but because of the chest tube still being attached they wheeled him down there in the bed. I wasn’t able to go back with him, just had to wait in a waiting room. He said when it was over that it was painful laying down but he managed. People were praying.

Back in the room he ate a little. They’ve already started him on an antibiotic—did that this morning and he just had some more pain meds. So hopefully we’re settling in for a nice quiet night and maybe he’ll be able to get some rest.

His neck is bothering him—has been since we got into the room on Wednesday. He thinks that maybe they hit some kind of nerve when they inserted the chest tube. Hopefully that will clear up soon and not be an issue.

12.25.08

OK, so before I begin telling you about our ordeal yesterday, I need to blog about one thing that I forgot to mention on Monday. While we were in the ER on Monday they had a fire drill. Can you imagine, a fire drill while you’re in the emergency room?!? How ridiculous! And what’s even more ridiculous… nobody paid it any attention at all—nobody moved! Seriously!

As far as yesterday, I fully expected to go in, get the x-rays done, and they’d say, “You’re healing just fine…” and we’d be on our way back home. I’d even planned to have a cookie-baking day with Sari Beri, which I totally missed sorry to say—I even had everything laid out and ready to go. BUMMER! She baked them all by herself and they turned out just dandy I’m sure! Actually, I’ve already taste tested two of them which she so kindly packed in an overnight bag with a whole bunch of stuff I requested + thoughtful things I didn’t request like the cookies, bottled waters and CLEMENTINES, thanks to my bff.

So yesterday morning, instead of hearing, “You’re healing just fine…” we found out that things had actually worsened :-/ more than 20% of his left lung had collapsed and they started talking to us about Marfan Syndrome.

Marfan syndrome is something that affects young guys that are tall and thin. Abe Lincoln had it. There’s even a Marfan syndrome foundation website. We will have to have some genetic testing to see if BIGGER Tom has it– we’ll follow up on that maybe next week. One of the symptoms or signs of Marfan syndrome is the collapsed lung thing that we’re dealing with today.

Now, back to what happened yesterday… Once the diagnosis of a worsening case of the collapsed lung thing was made, then came the decision to insert a chest tube and suction the lung back into place. Thomas was awake for the procedure, which is quite painful, and to hear him describe it, I’m glad I wasn’t in the room. He says he could actually hear it when it broke through the chest cavity wall. YIKES!

Shortly after the chest tube was inserted and the suction connected, a couple of x-rays were taken to determine if the lung was indeed in the correct place—which it was. Then they moved him to a real room up on the second floor—unfortunately, not in the new wing :-/ More Morphine was given before moving him.

He had several visitors over the course of the evening, which was nice. A lot of people are praying and that is super nice!

We will be here at least through Friday morning. Christmas Day in the hospital… what a memorable Christmas this will be! Much different than last Christmas in the beauty of the North Georgia Mountains as my mom commented earlier.

When they take the tube out on Friday morning [we hope] the plan is to take him to x-ray and confirm that the lung stays in place as it should. If it does, I think we get to come home; if not… there’s the possibility of more evasive surgery in which they actually go in and tack the lung back up 😮 YIKES! I hope we don’t have to go down that road!

The doctor says that 65% of the people who experience this never have to go through it again. Hopefully this will be our one and only time!

I do want to say how amazed and thankful I am for God’s timing. This really is a good time for this to happen—Thomas is out of school and I had already planned three days off from work. I’m so glad that he’s not stuck in some hospital in Greenville and that I didn’t have to scramble to find a replacement at work. Things could be worse. Of course he is like totally bummed because he had big plans of working a lot over the break and making $$ to pay for books for next semester but I know God has reasons for everything and will take care of that.

Oh, BTW, when we got to the ER yesterday morning, they asked if Jon and I were Thomas’ parents, then later, a doctor asked if I was his sister. How odd!

12.22.08

So I’m on the floor at Starbucks this morning at the near height of the rush and my phone [in my pocket] is ringing– on vibrate. I feel it, but don’t look to see who it is– it’s RUSH hour. It rings again, still I don’t look– too busy. THEN, the store phone rings– I think nothing of it. The shift answers– I’m with a customer. The shift comes over to me, interrupts my conversation with a customer, and says I have an emergency phone call– my knees go weak and I feel like I might pass out. I know that Rachel is in KC and it’s very, very cold out there, Philip is who knows where doing who knows what, Thomas [the adventurer] is up to who knows what, and Sari Beri is on her way to a group violin lesson– maybe she’s been in an accident is the first thing that goes through my mind. I take the phone and walk away from the customer. I don’t even remember if I said anything to the customer or how I left them. On the phone is Thomas’ friend Jon who proceeded to tell me that he’s in the ER with Thomas and Thomas was having chest pain. I speak with Thomas on the phone and he seems to be in a great deal of pain. I tell him I’m on my way. I hang up, try to finish my transaction with whatever customers are there and tell the shift I need to leave and ask if she can call someone to replace me. We are busy but there are several partners on the floor and she says to just go. I head to the ER and find Thomas seeming still to be in some pain but not as bad as it was. Soon they take us back. They’ve already done an EKG and ruled out any kind of heart problem. After some test [blood work and chest x-rays] they determine that he has had a spontaneous pneumothorax — collapsed lung. Not sure what caused it but it is evidently not uncommon for tall, thin guys of his age. WHEW! What a scare! He’s home now and has to take it easy for a couple of days– no lifting, etc., etc., etc…. right! We will go back on Wednesday morning to the ER for another chest x-ray to see if it is healing itself or getting worse. Hopefully, healing itself! If not, some evasive action may have to take place 😮

Funny thing:

  1. The lady doing the chest x-ray was humored because she said his lungs were so LONG she couldn’t get a picture of the whole lung in one shot– took two.
  2. While he was out of the room for the chest x-ray the nurse asked if I was his girlfriend! HA HA HA HA HA HA!!! THAT WAS funny!

Read the following post for a description of spontaneous pneumothorax.

AND, thank you for your prayers! I know at least one friend that came by the store this morning after I’d left and they told her that I had a child in the ER. I know she was praying. We’d appreciate all who would pray over the next couple of days that this heals on it’s own, that no further action needs to be taken and that it doesn’t happen again.

I’ll keep you posted…

9.17.08

Sari Beri and I went on our weekly breakfast outing to Starbucks this a.m. I shot a pic of the “breakfast table” I set up yesterday morning. Not nearly as impressive in the photo as in real life. Well, it’s actually not all that impressive in real life either. Oh well…

Sari Beri drove to Starbucks and from there to school and did pretty well. Much better than last week– we avoided all potholes today 🙂

I’m working at home today and it is oh so nice! The weather is cooling off, Fall must be just around the corner. I’m actually sitting in the sunroom with all the windows open sipping the last of my Gazebo [from breakfast in my insulated stainless Starbucks mug] and thoroughly delighted with the cooler temps outside. Without a doubt, this IS the life! Fall is my favorite time of the year followed by my second favorite time of the year — Christmas. I love all of the wonderful colors, flavors and smells of Fall– pumpkins, gourds, turning leaves, cinnamon and nutmeg just to name a few.

This is what breakfast at Starbucks looks like for me & Sari Beri.

I keep telling her that a Java Chip Frappacchino does not compliment a blueberry muffin but you just can’t tell teenagers anything these days :-/ As you can see, my Apple Bran muffin is long gone…

This is the cacti that BIGGER Tom brought me back from a missions trip out west several years ago– he wasn’t BIGGER Tom then, just Thomas. I’m so proud of myself for keeping it alive all this time! I’m horrible with houseplants. Ok… so you can’t really tell if they are alive or not, they may have just died and dried that way. And yes, I have replace a couple of them that died with plants from Wally World… Oh well, I’m doing the best I can here :-/ Anyway, it cost him A LOT of $$ and he’s so tight with his $$, and it was difficult to carry back on the plane I’m sure. That’s why it really means a lot to me and I think about that every time I look at it. It makes me smile 🙂 That’s also the trip that he lost his airplane ticket in the airport on the trip home 😮 and he amused the gate attendents with his ever-so-real looking fake snake– so I hear…


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"The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork...There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard."

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