I am home from the hospital. Yeah! The last two weeks have been strange. Ever since I began my last round of chemotherapy two weeks ago my health went into a a steady decline. As I try to remember the events these last two weeks it all seems fuzzy like a dream. Eventually I ended up in the hospital with a serious condition called "Tiphlitus". It pushed me closer to the veil than I wanted. I shouldn't complain. It is those times when I am pushed to the very edge that I have had the most sweet spiritual experiences in my life, and I am grateful for those. However, as a general rule, I would like to live my life just a little further from that edge. Thanks to the prayers and faith of family and friends, the skills of doctors and nurses and the intervention of God, my body has begun to mend. I have a ways to go still but yesterday they felt I was well enough to finish my healing at home and I was discharged.
Santa Claus or Eric...hmm
One of the effects of tiphlitus is extensive abdominal swelling. I have been blessed in my life to never really struggle too much with my weight. I really take no credit, just the hand I was dealt. What a strange experience to be transformed nearly overnight from a size 34 waist to a size 44 waist! And to go from 175 pounds to 215 pounds. Very weird! Maybe I'm turning into Santa Claus? It has gone down quite a bit now but I still wonder who I am seeing in the mirror. It's like looking at myself in a funhouse mirror.
View from my hospital room
While in the hospital at least I was blessed to have a room with a beautiful view. That was nice. However I think that I prefer my current window view even though somewhat less spectacular.
A view I prefer
Years ago, when I was in dental school, I had a patient who had traveled nearly everywhere in the world with his job. I was very untraveled at the time and so I asked him one day, "What is the most beautiful thing you have ever seen in all your travels?" He thought for a moment and then said, "The most beautiful thing I have ever seen is what I see at the end of a long trip when I walk through my front door". I have never forgotten that and that is how I felt when I walked through our door yesterday.
As many of you already know and to update those of you who do not, Eric was admitted to the hospital this last weekend with a serious bowel infection following his last round of chemotherapy. His bowels were highly inflamed and he is on high dose antibiotics as the doctors try to get the swelling down before his bowels become necrotic and die.
We held a family fast for him Sunday and he seems to be improving. His white blood cell counts came up from 0 to 4.1 (normal is 4.5) which is the most critical part of overcoming this problem. His blood pressures are back up into normal ranges and the inflammation is starting to go down. We are so grateful to all of you who fasted and prayed with us on Sunday as we definitely felt the strength that comes from your faith. He will remain in the hospital for a few more days as the doctors monitor his progress. We know God is with him at this time and is aware of him. We are confident that he will return to health soon. -The Vogels
Friday was my last day of chemotherapy. Seven rounds and twenty one dose later I am so ready to be done. This last regimen started out somewhat easier but each progressive round has been more difficult. This last round has pretty well knocked me off my feet. With a few interruptions, I have slept almost 72 hours. I could fall asleep again now but I am so sick of sleeping! At the completion of chemotherapy they have a bell for you to ring signifying that you have finished your treatment. Ringing that bell caused JoLynne and I to shed a few tears. Everyone in the room cheered and clapped. I wish that they could be done as well. Someday somebody is going to figure out a way to treat cancer without chemotherapy. That will be a wonderful day.
So, the other day at work a friend dropped by to visit. We served together in Bolivia as missionaries. Honestly, I haven't seen him for nearly 30 years. I'm not very good at keeping track of people. At the time I was busy with patients so the receptionist didn't even tell me that he had come. He did leave his business card which the receptionist gave to me at the end of the day. I looked at the front side and saw his name then I flipped over the card and began to laugh. I'm sure he didn't know the challenges that I am facing but it did make me laugh. As a matter of fact, I chuckled about it on and off most of the day.
I am doing well. Lately mostly I have just been tired. I think I have brought tired to a whole new level for me. The other night I was getting ready for bed, brushing my teeth, flossing and all that. I was really tired so I laid down on the bed to finish flossing. The next thing I knew I woke up with floss dangling from my mouth. I had fallen asleep while flossing. I think that may have been a first.
I know, I need a new toothbrush
I think we can see the "light at the end of the tunnel". This coming Wednesday I will begin my last round of chemotherapy. I don't look forward to being sick again but at least this is the last journey down this dark road. Thank Heavens! In three weeks we will have another MRI taken and hopefully the tumor will show additional reduction in size. They are going to give me a little time to recover from the chemo then off to surgery. Right now I am scheduled for a surgery consult on December 10th and surgery either December 11th or 13th. Unless something changes it will be a same day surgery. It will be done at Mayo as a laproscopic surgery. One tumor will come out through my nose and the second one through my mouth. A few days after surgery JoLynne and I are going to meet our children in Florida and go on a Disney cruise. We have never been a on a cruise before. This will be the first. All of our children are in the area and we decided to "splurge". It will be good to be together, making happy memories. In mid January JoLynne and I will move to Minnesota for 7 weeks while I undergo radiation therapy. Nothing like Minnesota in February. JoLynne asked what we are going to do during all day when I am not receiving radiation treatment. I told her "We'll just chill out".