“And the Lord said unto Moses, I will do this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in my sight, and I know thee by name.” Exodus 33:17
“And I have a work for thee, Moses, my son; and thou art in the similitude of mine Only Begotten; and mine Only Begotten is and shall be the Savior, for he is full of grace and truth; but there is no God beside me, and all things are present with me, for I know them all.” Moses 1:6
As per usual, I’ll give a health update and then a few other thoughts, this time on the concept of God knowing each of us and working together all things for our benefit.
It has been over 30 days since my last heavy dose of chemo and I can tell. I feel like a human being and not like a zombie (although I still look like one). The weekly Erbitux infusions have gone well. I experience some fatigue for 24-48 after the infusion, but beyond that and a moderate skin rash, I have no side effects. I felt well enough last week to play a few rounds of golf with some buddies in Arizona. My drive still slices and my fairway irons still hook. Must be the cancer because I remember everything I used to strike being dead straight. Weird.
I’m in a good place right now. We are happy. I’ve enjoyed the heck out of life the past month. We just got back from a week in Arizona. Something about that place just lights me up. It is the family and the friends and the sunshine and the memories of simpler times. And Camilla has really embraced Arizona as well so it is special to be able to share it with her.
I’ve been battling osteoradionecrosis for about 7 months and treatment requires a partial jaw reconstruction surgery. March 8th is the scheduled surgery date. And yes, I strategically scheduled it so that during my 4 week recovery I’ll be able to binge watch NCAA March Madness. I’m no dummy.
The radiation therapy I did in 2017 killed the right side of my mandible (jaw bone). The soft tissue and skin slowly dies and peels back which exposes the bone underneath my teeth on the inside part of the jaw bone. It has been the source of chronic pain for months and continues to get worse. So with the good news from our last scan, we feel like this is the right course of action and should be a long-term fix.
The surgical procedure is called a mandibulectomy (don’t google it) and will be performed by the two surgeons that did my hemiglossectomy in January of 2017. I’m not sure if it is a good thing or a bad thing, but the surgery is similar to the hemiglossectomy. They will be cutting out the bad part of the bone and tissue, pulling tissue / bone / blood vessels from my arm and leg, and then reconstructing the right side of my jaw with my own tissue and a metal plate. Like last time, I’m planning on about ten days in the hospital post-surgery and a total of about four weeks recovery. My doctors have told me that they can usually put things back together in a way that has minimal aesthetic impact (doctor speak for ‘you won’t look like too much of a freak but you will look different’). They’ve also said that in the long run they don’t anticipate my speech to be much different than it is today (I’ve got a slight lisp and speak a little bit out of the left side of my mouth).
I’m not afraid to say that I’m afraid of this surgery. While I enjoyed a speedy and complete recovery from the last major surgery, aspects of it were almost unbearable. Plus, I went into that surgery last January a much younger, stronger man than the old bag of bones that I am today. I was a full forty pounds heavier and my body hadn’t spent the previous year being blasted with about every imaginable poison and fire-torture known to oncologists. I just can’t imagine that the incredibly quick recovery I had from the hemiglossectomy is going to be my experience this go round.
But despite the anxiety of thinking about what is staring me down on March 8th, I’m mostly peaceful about things and know it is the right next steps. So what else is there to do except square up my shoulders and walk into this thing head first. In fact, I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to have the surgery because if I wasn’t doing this it would only be because I didn’t think I had enough time left for it to be worth it. Camilla and I are thinking longer term now. That is invigorating and motivating.
So I’ll try to update the blog a little more often during my recovery from surgery and I’ll put lots of gross pictures up for those of you that like the gore. Plus, sharing some of the war photos makes me feel tough. [I am so tough that I will have a note card with “more morphine” printed on it that I flash every time I see a nurse while in the hospital].
To Be Known
If you are like me, you regularly long for the assurance (and reassurance) that God knows you. But, it is more than just that He knows me or is generally aware of my existence.
As my Creator, Father in Heaven, and God that I worship, does He know things about me that I don’t yet know about myself? Can that level of personal closeness coupled with complete omniscience coexist? And if it does, does that Intelligence have power over the events of this life, working them together for my benefit?
How can I come to know the answers to these questions?
“Turn to the scriptures. Kneel in prayer. Ask in faith. Listen to the Holy Ghost. Learn that your name and needs are known by our Heavenly Father. Live the gospel with patience and persistence. And in the name of Jesus Christ, I promise, ‘If ye will … ask [Heavenly Father] in faith, believing that ye shall receive, with diligence in keeping [the Lord’s] commandments, surely these things shall be made known unto you.'”
There really isn’t a lot more to say on the subject of how to know the answers. Have a desire. Go to the Source of the answers. Believe that the answers will come and that they will be true. Listen. Act.
I’ve related quite a few experiences on this blog of times when I felt that the God of the Universe, the Savior of the World, and the Holy Ghost were hanging around an operating table or hospital bed or chemo stall or bedroom recliner, letting me know they were there for me, to comfort me. Those experiences are a huge part of my relationship with and faith in God.
But some of the greatest faith building experiences I’ve ever had are the times when I feel that perfect nexus of God’s omniscience, our close personal relationship, and His orchestration of events in my life. The dots all connect for a moment and this deep sense of awe covers every inch of me and a big smile breaks over my face as I whisper to myself “Wow, He really is in every detail.”
And I guess the reason why I cherish those types of experiences so much is because they seem to solve so many issues and answer so many questions all at once.
- When I know that God knows all things including who the “eternal me” really is (present, past, and future) I can more easily communicate with Him through prayer and seek guidance through the Holy Ghost.
- When I know that God has a deep vested interest in the “best me” that can be developed I can more easily trust Him with my deepest concerns and desires, and I can more completely follow His commandments with confidence that they are worth living.
- When I know that God truly has the power to direct things and that life is not just a random sequence of events I can more easily hope in and patiently wait for God’s promised blessings in my individual circumstance.
Can’t you just see God sitting on the side of the room with a huge smile on His face as you unwrap the gift He’s been crafting and preparing for you? He delights in those moments.
As a family, and personally, we had one of these ‘unwrappings’ yesterday. I won’t go into the details on the circumstances, but it was a clear and unmistakable reminder that God cares about everything we care about. No detail is lost on him. He spares no effort and withholds nothing in His carrying out of His divine plan for us. For me. For you.
If it has been awhile since you’ve had that assurance (reassurance), maybe now is the time to seek it out. I know it had been too long for me, and so I’m grateful for yesterday.
And to my brother Reed, thanks for letting us be a witness to one of what will be many ‘unwrappings’ in your life. To see what God has in store for your life is exciting enough to want to stick around for. Placentero nos es trabajar, en la vina del gran Rey Jesus. Pa’lante, papa, pa’ Puerto Rico.