Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Unraveling of the American Republic

I very seldom (like never) make political posts, yet it greatly saddens me to watch the unraveling of the American republic. Our republican democracy is not designed or intended to be a system where one party or another dominates to the exclusion of all others. It is supposed to be people working together to achieve something for the overall good. The Democrats shouldn’t get everything they want, the Republicans shouldn’t get everything they want. People should work together to get something that works and is reasonably satisfactory to all.

Two ongoing current events really bring this home. The first is the presidential election primaries. I hear next to nothing about a candidate who can work across party lines to get things done, just ranting and rhetoric about what the individual candidates glibly believe they can accomplish (get rammed through congress by strong arm tactics) if elected. I am one of the few who are troubled by having a “strong man/woman” in the White House. From the time of the ancient Romans through the fascist regimes of the twentieth century, republics have given way to empires because people wanted efficiency over freedoms.  Idle Romans wanted conquest and increased dole, European countries wanted strong economies and trains that ran on time, American congresses have failed to impeach presidents who blatantly trounce the Constitution. Uncaring populaces allow freedoms to diminish and republics to die in favor of one expediency or another.

The second troubling event is the current debate over replacement of the Supreme Court justice. All that is discussed on the news is the president declaring he will get his appointment pressed through onto the bench, and the opposing party saying they will block it, without even hearing who the appointment will be. There has not been ONE WORD on the news of “hey, can we work together to find one honest, fair and objective jurist in the entire United States of America that both parties can find acceptable, who will make decisions based on fair interpretation of the law, rather than on political bias?” That is the way the system is supposed to work.

I would be extremely disheartened if I did not believe that the One who controlled the affairs of nations in Daniel 5 is still the One controlling the affairs of nations today. It is my ongoing and earnest prayer at this time that God will in His mercy work to grant to us better leaders than we deserve in all levels of the Federal government.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

February 2016 News

The December blood sample showed the cancer up significantly, and the late January sample showed it up a little more. The last few weeks have been a whirlwind of medical appointments, working, some feeling bad, and waiting for "the next doctor appointment" in just a few days to have something more definitive to write about. But here are highlights of what has happened, and where we plan to be going.
The CT Scan: On Tuesday, 2/9, I had a CT Scan at my cancer doc here in Bedford. The scan discovered a soft tissue tumor on my right rear end, where the pelvis connects to the lower spine (sacrum). According to the cancer doc, this tumor is what is pressing on the nerve and causing all of the pain and difficulty walking. Within the week, I should begin radiation treatments, also here in Bedford, aimed at breaking up the tumor. The radiation will not be as intense as most cancer patients have, and I should not have any burns to show for it. The CT scan showed the pelvic bone is intact, with no damage from the disease, but the tumor has eroded away much of the bone connecting the right pelvis to the lower spine. Both the cancer doc and the radiation doc believe this bone should grow back once the tumor is removed.
The bone marrow sampling:  On Wednesday, 2/10, I had a sample taken of my left pelvic bone marrow, also here in Bedford. This sampling also showed the pelvic bone to be intact, as it bent the needle he was using to get the sample. I was mostly out of it for the procedure. I saw the cancer doc yesterday and discussed results of that sampling. The cancer cells compromised 70% of the bone marrow extracted in the sample. No wonder I have been so tired of late.The highest it has been before is 64%, and 100 days after the stem cell transplant of 2013 it hit a low of 5%. This does not mean it is 70% all across the bone marrow throughout the body. Bone marrow is not a homogeneous material. The cancer is probably lower in most other bones outside the pelvis, and likely near 100% at the site of the tumor.
Resuming chemotherapy: The plan for attacking the high myeloma counts will be to resume "major league" chemo treatments, probably towards the end of the radiation treatment, so as to not have the two overlapping.  I have already begun some "minor league" chemotherapy of a steroid on Tuesday, 2/16 of this week. The steroid's main job is  to ease the nerve pain, but it has the added benefit of attacking the cancer that is causing the tumor.
The neurologist: In the midst of all this, a wonderful God-instance occurred. At our church's elder meeting on Thursday evening, 2/1, I was seated next to a fellow elder who happens to be a leading neurologist, with national prominence in research, treatment and education. He chatted with me following the meeting and asked if I would be willing to see a pain/neurology doctor who had been tremendously helpful to his dad. Of course, I said I would. That was at 9:30 PM Thursday. At 7:28 AM Friday, I was sitting in my living room, reading my Bible before going to work when my phone rang. It was the pain/neurology doctor's office calling to see when I could get down there. Carol and I spent the rest of Friday at UTSW getting examined and tested. We do not yet have those results back, but some meds she prescribed were immediately helpful, and one of the diagnostic tests where she shot an electric current through the nerve was amazing at stopping the pain (once the pain of the electric shock wore off) and getting the leg working again.
Whew! Sorry for the lengthy update!  Be sure to pray for Carol (almost) as much as me. I think this is in some ways harder on the patient-in-law than on the actual patient himself. In other ways, harder on the patient wins. Thank you all for your ongoing love, prayers, encouragement and support.