Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Downright joy

Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat. But Jesus was sleeping. The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Lord, save us! We're going to drown!" He replied, "You of little faith, why are you so afraid?" Then, he got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm. The men were amazed and asked, "What kind of man is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!" Matthew 8:23-27

Imagine the sting of Jesus pointing out your lack of faith face to face? How many times have we read this passage and thought the disciples were dull for not trusting they would be okay with Jesus at their side? I know it has crossed my mind. I am often lacking in faith myself, though. How about you?

I've been absent from you for a week now. From your emails, texts, and posts, I know you were all overjoyed that my treatment had come to a close. Indeed, it was and is cause for much joy, and I greatly appreciate your celebration on my behalf. I will not miss chemotherapy infusions. Infinitely more, I will not miss having my head bolted, for lack of a better descriptor, underneath a wicked looking mask to a radiation table. Here, I should pause and praise the Father for being on that table with me every day. I'm not sure I've done that yet, but He deserves it. At first, it was quite overwhelming to lie down on that table, but He quickly revealed that He would be there every day. He was. One of my greatest fears was having a vomiting episode during a treatment as mucus collected in my mouth. I prayed for protection from that - He never allowed it to happen. He was always there just as He had promised He would be. May we never forget His promise in the first chapter of Joshua.

If you count today, it has been 5 days since I had a radiation treatment. Am I elated about that? Absolutely! Praise the Father in Heaven it has come to an end! You might have expected to hear this from me sooner, so let me try to explain where I am now and how it relates to the disciples and their boating incident. I have been warned from the start that the side effects of this treatment regimen would be grizzly. I have shared many of the possibilities with you - severely sore throat, mouth ulcerations, neck burn, neck stiffness, tooth decay, and thick, copious mucus among many other possibilities. So far, my neck has held up really well. I have mildly burned skin, which is looking better every day and never reached the painful point that many patients must endure. My neck is not overly stiff. I do have a severely sore throat when I attempt to swallow. I do have multiple ulcerations in my mouth. I have medication to numb those, and I am tolerating them. My teeth seem to have weathered the storm, as well. The constant mucus production has been my most challenging side effect by far. It is so hard to explain and not a very pleasant topic to read about I'm sure. The best I can do to help you understand is to imagine your mouth producing thick, odorous mucus 24/7. I imagine you must think, "Big deal - it's just a little mucus!" That's exactly the thing, though - it's not a little mucus at all. It is mucus, mucus, mucus everywhere in your mouth all day long. The thickness, the threat of vomiting, and the pain of the mouth sores make it hard to expectorate.

The mucus also delays my resumption of real food, so I remain on a feeding tube. Thankfully, I am maintaining my weight with the tube, so I just have to remind myself that this challenge will pass, as well. My hope is that by the time the mucus has subsided enough to try eating, my throat soreness will have diminished some, as well. I have high hopes of eating at least broths and soft foods by another week or so. Also, since the mucus is so thick and it is still hard to take in enough fluids, I am getting IV fluids every day for the next couple of weeks. We have gotten this set up at home, and it is going well.

Every transition in my treatment process brings major psychological adjustment. Yes, it was great to be home, great to be done with radiation, great that in just a few weeks I could be eating again ... BUT, it was so daunting to think about starting IV fluids at home every day (more tubes!), so daunting to think about never ending mucus that could last as much as 6 weeks, and so daunting to think that though I had made it through treatment a waiting period had begun. I quickly realized that I would have to wait weeks to see when the mucus would clear, when I could eat, when I could get rid of my feeding tube, when I could get rid of my anti-nausea pump, and when I might or might not have to have surgery on the nodes in my neck! Do you sense the anxiety? It was just overwhelming for a day or two, and I must admit, I did not do well. I have sent many of you pleas for fervent prayer over the last few days. I still covet those prayers.

When I opened my devotion today, however, I realized that I had not been exercising much faith over the last few days. Oh me of little faith! Yes, this mucus is the most mind-numbing thing I think I have ever had to endure, but have I forgotten that He is here? Have I forgotten the pain he endured? Have I forgotten that there are others suffering more than I could ever imagine? Have I forgotten that He calms storms?

As it turns out, I'm quite a bit like those frightened disciples. Perhaps I wasn't absolutely confident that He would be the God of this mucus. Oswald Chambers says, "What a pang will go through us when we suddenly realize that we might have produced downright joy in the heart of Jesus by remaining absolutely confident in Him, no matter what was ahead."

Let us believe Him from the beginning of our crisis so as to create downright joy in Him. I would so much rather offer Him downright joy than a lackluster faith. Father, forgive me for where I have had the slightest doubt that you would deliver from the beginning to the end!

With all that said, I do have several important requests for you:

1. Pray for rapid resolution of these side effects. Obviously, the mucus is at the top of my list. I am anxious to get back to eating, working, and seeing all of you.
2. My third grade teacher, a wonderful woman named Faye Franklin, passed away yesterday after battling cancer for many years. Please remember her family (husband Nick and daughters Lora and Holli) in your prayers. She was a very gifted teacher, and she will be remembered so fondly having touched countless lives.
3. Continue to pray for Mr. Carroll. His doctors have found that the cancer involves his chest, as well. He has an appointment tomorrow for next steps. Please remember him, his wife, and his son and family - my friends Brian and Elizabeth Carroll. They have two young daughters, Hannah and Emma. Navigating their questions during this time can be difficult.

Let us not forget to offer praise, as well.

1. Praise Him that radiation is over!
2. Praise Him that He is God of the side effects that remain!
3. Praise Him that He has promised to walk with us through any fire that is to come - from the beginning!
4. Praise Him because He is worthy of never ending gratitude!
5. My friend Bryan Larson continues to make progress. Check out his link if you have time.


XieXie said...

DanMan, Shanle and I are still praying each day. Thanks for continuing to provide specifics for us to take to our Father. We were singing "Healer" from Hillsong the other day at church, and God brought you to my mind as He often does.

I BELIEVE YOU are all I Need
I BELIEVE YOU’re my portion
I BELIEVE YOU’re more than enough for me

I've certainly had my share of health trials over the past 18 months but they pale in comparison to yours. He is our Healer. He is Faithful. He is our loving Father. Unspeakably amazing. Praise Him. shay

jenpinkner said...

Thank you for your heartfelt honesty. We who read your blogs and are praying cannot even imagine the reality of walking in the moment where you walk. Sometimes the volume of circumstance can overtake us in an instant. I am thankful for God's grace to us...that Christ is our righteousness...that his strength is perfected in our weakness...That there is grace given even in our lack of faith. Waiting is one of the hardest places because we see we have no control in "doing" something or "having something done." I continue to pray--and I will pray for the discipline in you (that he remind you) of thankfulness. Love.

robertm1 said...

Hi Daniel, my name is Robert Marascalco and I live in Madison Mississippi. I was diagnosed this past week with the same thing. Your blog has been an inspiration to me. I know God will use my situation as He did yours to bring glory to His kingdom. I will have to have surgery in the next couple of weeks followed by radiation and/or chemo therapy. I too want to start a blog for my family to read and be witnessed too if you have time to teach me or give me some insight. I am 34 years old. My email address is marascalcor@bellsouth.net and my cell number where you can text or call is 601-842-4115. I will continue praying for you and ask for your prayers also as my journey just now begins. I have felt the up and downs already. I am scared for my kids and wife but then I know someone had just said a prayer for me and I feel the Holy Spirit come over me and tell me that everything is going to be ok. I did start a semi-blog at work and hid it on the network drive for my family to try understand how I feel about them. Thanks for the help your blog has done me already and thank you for any help that you can give me. Robert

Leah said...

Hi Daniel, So glad to know you've officially cleared the treatment hurdle. I continue to pray for you and will remember your requests. I know the Lord will continue to give you relief and remind you how amazing He is.

I can't help but laugh as I read "mucous, mucous, mucous everywhere". Are you writing a musical based on your experiences? Just kidding. Know you are loved. We've got to visit sometime and catch up.


Amy said...

I hear you that waiting is a beast. I find it easier to trust when gearing up for a battle, but sitting quietly waiting and trusting the Lord is an art I have not perfected.
But I know he's there every day, every moment that we wait. That's my prayer for both of us.

becarroll123 said...

Oh Daniel, how we have increased the prayers since getting your text. The girls pray for you and "Papaw" in the same breath at night. Thank you for continuing to think of Brian's dad. He begins his chemo treatments on Tuesday. And to "robertm1"... what a joy and an honor it is to be able to pray for you and your family. And Praise God for using Daniel's blog to touch lives everywhere! God is so mighty and we so small.

mypassionisjesus said...

You see yourself as having little faith.....?? Wow, I am awed by your humility. I have seen you as a pillar of faith in a life-shaking trial. You have totally breathed Jesus on people you have touched. I know we all see ourselves as lacking in faith at time though. I am so thankful that God has placed you for such a time as this. You have given me a deeper hunger to reach out and touch the hem of His garment. Every bit of pain that we go to can give Him glory. Oh how thankful I am for that. Take care Daniel.


Anonymous said...

Hang in there, Daniel! I look forward to seeing you healthy, up and about, and meeting with you in Nashville. I am thankful that the radiation treatment has ended and the road to recovery is shortening.

Jay W.

lizzy said...

Danny boy, we love you!!! You're "lacking faith" is a faith strengthener to me... You are truely exuding Jesus in this trial... keep up your good fight...
Connor and Davis are fervent in their prayers for you each night...they miss you too!