Isaiah 55- A New Journey Begins?

Saturday, Jan. 23, 2016

Hello Dears,
It’s been awhile since I’ve posted.  I post more on the www.morethan100days.com website, but, decided to do one here as well.  I’ll probably post the same thing on the website, so, you can just read it here if you’d like and get the same information.

I think the last thing I posted was about the seizures and stroke Michael had at the end of September.  According to the Vanderbilt neurology team at our visit last week, he’s recovered fully from that which is a real blessing.  Last week, he went for a routine checkup and followup with all his different doctors theret.  The results were not what we expected and certainly not what we had hoped. However, it wasn’t all bad  news.  The ID doctor did finally take him off the  medications for the toxoplasmosis that he’s been on for a year-and-a-half or so about which he was elated, and he’s also been taken off the anti-seizure medication which he was also happy about.   That’s some nasty stuff.

So, on Wednesday, he ended up having another Lumbar Puncture.  That was due to his follow up visit with the Neurology department subsequent to an earlier morning brain MRI.  They reviewed with us the brain MRI from Sept. comparing it to the one he had that morning and. a mass or something was there that wasn’t there in Sept.  In Sept. there was a tiny about 1 cm spot but they weren’t sure exactly what it was.  However, in 3 months, it’s grown to 3-4 cm which is actually pretty fast growth.  So, the question of the day was what could it be?
We saw a Fellow, Dr. Schrag, whom we saw in Sept.  He said he thought he was ready to take Michael off the Warfarin blood thinning medication but wanted to go in and check with his ‘boss’.  So, he left the room for about 5 minutes and then came back with the boss who said, ” we want to admit you right now.”  He had been comparing the scans and they were very concerned about this new mass.  What they told us was that they wanted to get a jump on it right away rather than waiting and rescheduling whatever.  He said it was quite “miraculous” that Michael was actually seeing every one he was seeing that day from all the different teams involved in his care.  Well, we all know Who does miracles now, don’t we???
As time progressed on Wed. and even yesterday a.m., the neurology dept. turned us over to the Neurology Oncology dept.  They have a couple of suspicions of what it could be and I think they are leaning most heavily towards it being some kind of tumor.  That being the case, a brain biopsy is on the table, but NOT until they have all the results (of which they ordered a barage of tests) from the spinal fluid taken yesterday. Those results may tell them something conclusive, but, if not, then it’s on to brain biopsy.  If the general thought is that it is a tumor, then, it is possible they may remove it at the time of the biopsy or they may reschedule him to come back for removal.
The other theory is  that it could be a PTLD lymphoma similar to the one he had in his liver Oct. 2014.  If that is the case, they said those usually respond really well to treatment although it being in the brain, we’re not sure what kind of treatment would be recommended.
Whatever this is, it is on his visual cortex.  Michael has noticed that he has had a bit of difficulty reading close up in the past month or so.   When we saw where this thing is the doctors said that made sense.
While we don’t look forward to a brain biopsy because there are always risks, Michael told them that he wants to move forward as quickly as possible and that he is willing to undergo that if need be.  The Neurosurgeons at Vanderbilt from what the neurology team told us, are pretty conservative and a pretty good case for that has to be presented because if it isn’t warranted, then doing a brain biopsy could cause something that might not have been there to begin with.
So…that’s where we’re at.  There is also a chance this could be an infection of some sort.  Nothing in the brain is good. This has definitely been a setback for us, but, Michael has a really good attitude about it and we know that God is with us every step of the way.  So, we are praying for the Lord to put His healing touch on Michael  as well as giving wisdom and discernment to our Vanderbilt medical team as they evaluate the test results.  We won’t know until probably the middle or end of next week what they find, but, I’m sure they’ll call us as soon as they have reviewed everything and come up with a plan.

Update, Wed., January 27

So, here it is a week after our trip to Vanderbilt.  So far all but three tests have come back and all have been negative.  While you want to say this is all good news, I’m afraid it just moves us closer to the biopsy.  If they can’t explain it with any other test, that probably leaves no choice.  However, we will keep you posted.  Michael really wants to move forward on this as quickly as possible.

So, how are we doing?  Well, it’s been another adjustment.  Life is full of adjustments, isn’t it?  We were going forward believing that the Lord was moving us in a particular direction for our future and then ‘BAM’ !  What do we do when these things happen?  Run.  Run as fast as we can; not away from it but to the Lord, grab His hand and run back to face it.  What else can we do???  Well, I suppose we could sit around and feel sorry for ourselves, BUT…life goes on!  It has to!

The truth of the matter is that we (none of us) know what the future holds.  We can have hopes and dreams; we can make plans; we can move forward with faith that moves mountains.  All that is healthy.  But only God knows what His plans for us are just as Jeremiah 29:11-13 says, and we will learn of those plans if we “seek Him with all of our hearts” because Jeremiah tells us if we do that, we will “find Him”.  So, the message is seek….find.  Right now, we are seeking;  not so much to find God Himself, because we already belong to Him, but, to find His will for our lives even in this.

God, dear ones, doesn’t cause these problems in our lives.  However, Job is such a great example of how nothing is a surprise to Him even when it blindsides us.  So often it’s because we think we have something all figured out.  Why, oh why, do we continue to try to put God in our neat little boxes?

On an interesting note, as I have been praying lately, God gave me a verse yesterday.  I’m not sure yet how it applies, but, it’s just interesting.  While the entire passage applies to many aspects of our lives right now, I have highlighted the actual part of a  verse God gave me.

8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
12 You will go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”

We so appreciate your continued prayers for us.  When we were in the process of receiving all this news at Vanderbilt last week, Michael looked at me from his hospital bed and a different look on his face than I’ve seen recently and quietly said, “This is the beginning of another long journey, I think”.  He wasn’t exactly sad or determined when he said that.  It was just the statement from a man who has been through so much and has persevered and has overcome, preparing himself to begin fighting another battle.  How I love that man and what a blessing and privilege it is to be his wife and partner for life!  I wondered yesterday, not without a few sniffles…where will we be spending Valentines this year?  We’ve spent an anniversary and a birthday in the hospital at Vanderbilt.  I guess it really doesn’t matter.  Just as long as we can spend it together.

As always, you are in our hearts, ever near and ever dear,
Michael and Jan

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