This was the text message I received from brother-in-law, Stu, yesterday. It was after I sent a text to family members with the results of The Outdoors Guy’s latest CT scan and labs as Dr. Paula Gill continues followup care since Bob’s pancreatic cancer battle began 38+ months ago. Seriously, this is much more like a grand slam!! 1) A clean CT scan. 2) Tumor marker dropped from 7 to 6. 3) Labs within normal range. 4) All liver tests within normal range. Of course, our family is ecstatic on all four counts!!! Dr. Gill’s plan going forward is to extend Bob’s time frame for the next CT scan to six months rather than the three-month cycle he has been following. She suggested having a tumor marker test done in three months if Bob has concerns with waiting six months for the next scan. He agreed to Dr. Gill’s plan. With his next tumor marker due in late October, the timing will be right for The Outdoors Guy to hit another one out of the park in his very own personal World Series challenge against cancer. Son, Jon, sent a text in response to our news with one word: “WOOHOO!!!” Yup. That about sums it up!!! Our family continues to be blessed almost beyond belief!!! Yet…
The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3:22-23
Slip, sliding away
There are some things we simply shouldn’t do once we’ve reached the golden years, 65-80+. But, first I’ve gotta ask, “What is so goldenabout the golden years anyway?!!” Checklists of safety considerations can be found on the internet, at senior living facilities or at any doctor’s office. Some of the concerns include not climbing most anything from ladders to standing on furniture while trying to reach further than we should. It is suggested to remove or tack down scatter rugs. Also, keep floors clean and uncluttered to prevent tripping and falls. Skid-proofing the tub/shower is another biggie. One warning I have never seen or heard mentioned, but should be is: “Don’t try to juggle too many things at one time.” In our household, we have first-hand knowledge of what can happen, thanks to The Outdoors Guy. Thursday, he was out and about. Really…when isn’t he? lol On his way home, it was sweet and considerate of him to stop and pick up a coffee for me at my favorite eatery. When he returned home, I didn’t hear the door open. What I did hear was loud wailing that scared me half to death!! I didn’t know who or WHAT it was. Then, I thought some crazy person was breaking in! I didn’t recognize his voice as he shrieked AAAAAAAA!!!!AAAAAAAAAA!!!!!AAAAAAAAAAAA!!! Running to the door, I witnessed Bob attempting a balancing act with several items, including the hot coffee. It had slipped and spilled on him, burning his hand and chest. Grabbing the coffee and other items from him, we ripped off his shirt. Quickly, I pulled ice packs from the freezer. They began to lessen his pain right away. Yet, his biggest regret was seemingly more painful than his burns. “I won’t be able to golf or fish for awhile,” he wistfully and mournfully commented. Applying Solarcaine Cool Aloe Burn Relief to the area helped even more. Within a short time, The Outdoors Guy’s pain lessened and he was doing much better. “Something tells me you’re going to be able to golf and fish sooner than you thought!” But then, The Outdoors Guy got mad at himself because he recalled a couple of months earlier, he tried to pull off a different balancing act. He had grilled salmon for dinner. I was almost finished prepping the rest of the meal when he came through the same door trying to manage plates, seasonings and grilling utensils in one trip. That less-than-graceful entrance didn’t end well either. One plate of salmon slipped from his hand and landed on the back door mat… and everywhere else, too!! “Wouldn’t you think I would have learned after I dropped the salmon?!!” he said. “Usually, bad things happen in threes,” I reminded him. “So, make a mental note: two juggling acts failed. You don’t want a 3-peat. Just remember, we’re never to old to learn.” The upshot is, right here and now I’m suggesting this addition to the safety check list: Don’t try to hold, carry or juggle more items than you can safely handle at one time. It could cause you to become unbalanced and/or prevent you from seeing where you are going, resulting in a tripping/falling hazard. Hmmm…I remember the time I tripped UP the stairs. But, that’s another story!!!!Hahahaha!!!
‘On Eagles’ Wings’
This spring, The Outdoors Guy is avidly viewing the Decorah eagles (www.raptorresource.org/birdcams/decorah-eagles) and their young from the comfort of his “nest” in the study. The spring began with the mates preparing their nest, mom eagle laying three eggs and then the pair co-parenting their three fledglings. Sadly, about three weeks ago, the male eagle left the nest one day and hasn’t returned. He was an older bird, with this being his second mate. We may never know his fate. Bob marvels at the resilience and toughness mom eagle has displayed while continuing to raise their three eaglets on her own. She endured the hardship of this spring’s especially nasty weather conditions, while bearing full responsibility to hunt for food and feed it to her young. As she continues to do so, mom eagle also does her best to protect her young from the elements and predators. Although Bob isn’t living in a tree (I’d lay odds he’d like to, though), and hasn’t had to withstand severe weather conditions like the eagles, he has been tough and resilient withstanding a different condition… pancreatic cancer. Today, May 8, marks the three-year anniversary of his diagnosis. Three years of ups and downs, struggles and triumphs. And, three years of never giving up!!! Early last week, he had his scheduled three-month CT scan, labs and visit with oncologist Dr. Paula Gill. Bob’s scan and labs were a near-mirror image of his results in January. His CT scan remains clean!! Not only that, his tumor marker dropped even lower, going from 9 to 7, well within the desired range of 35 or less for cancer patients. Logic tells us it is a true miracle The Outdoors Guy is still with us when, at the time of his diagnosis, his survival changes were less than 20%, and his chances for reaching surgery were less than 50%. Add to these odds came the disappointing news in January 2016 that the completion of planned surgery was not an option for Bob. The turn of events occurred after an unanticipated discovery of a large amount of scar tissue in his abdominal cavity from a previous surgery. When Bob’s pancreatic surgeon specialist, Dr. Mark Truty of Mayo Clinic, Rochester, touched the scar tissue, he said it fell apart like wet tissue paper. As he labored to get through the scar tissue, it caused bleeding, which he and two other surgeons worked for hours to stop. As a result of the bleeding complication, Dr. Truty wasn’t able to complete his plan to remove the tumor. Yet, Dr. Truty’s news was encouraging when he told our family he felt in all likelihood the tumor was dead or nearly dead. He said, “I could not feel the tumor, only the impression of where it had been.” With all this jubilant news, it is with great joy we wish a HAPPY 3RD ANNIVERSARY-OF-LIFE TO OUR OUTDOORS GUY!!!! Not only has he survived, he has soared with the eagles!!!
“In a desert land He found him, in a barren and howling waste. He shielded him and cared for him; he guarded him as the apple of his eye. Like an eagle that stirs up its nest and hovers over its young, that spreads its wings to catch them and carries them aloft.” Deuteronomy 32:10-11
The logic of an 8-year-old
Another Memorial Day Weekend is in the books. The Outdoors Guy and I had a memorable one with our son and daughter-in-law, Jon and Sara, and our grandsons Jackson, 10, and Bryson, 8. We gathered at their cabin Friday for a happy reunion. Of course, the boys looked like they’d grown another inch since we last saw them a few weeks ago. They were excited for the weekend and to only have 2½ days of school left until summer vacation kicks in. Jackson (left in photo) and Bryson were also looking forward to getting new kayaks on Sunday. The cabin was hot… really hot!! The Hayward area was experiencing record temps much like ours in La Crosse. With help from fans, it cooled off dramatically as it often does in the country once the sun goes down. Saturday morning, the boys were wired!! The plan was for them to golf with Grampa and their dad while Sara and I got in some girl time. Finally, in an attempt to burn off some of their energy, Grampa told Jackson and Bryon to run down to the lake, touch the boat and run back to him. They took off like a shot. It wasn’t long before he could hear pounding footsteps signaling their return. It took no time at all for Jackson to squeal on his little bro. “Bryson didn’t touch the boat,” he announced. “Yes, I did,” came Bryson’s adamant response. “No, you didn’t!” They continued back and forth with the “No, you didn’t!” vs. the “Yes, I did!” Grampa asked Bryson how he could have touched the boat when Jackson insisted he didn’t. Bryson’s quick reply was, “My foot was touching the ground and the boat was touching the ground, so I was touching the boat,” he insisted… with a straight face. Needless to say, Bryson’s brilliant deduction didn’t cut it in Grampa’s book of rules. He demanded Bryson go back and touch the boat and told Jackson to go with him. “Why do I have to go again when I already touched the boat?” Jackson grumbled. “Because you have to make sure Bryson actually touches it!” Grampa replied. Away they went again. This time Bryson actually did what he was told to do. But, seriously!!! What 8-year-old deducts that because his feet and the boat are touching the ground, he and the boat are touching? I think I’m going to use that logic the next time I have to be somewhere I don’t want to go… that place is touching the ground and I’m touching the ground, so I’m there!!! Ya… right!!! I wonder what Bryson’s next pearl of wisdom will be!! Meanwhile, we thought many times about Bob’s Uncle Bobby (who was killed on Saipan in WWII) and all the fallen heroes who gave their lives so we can have the freedoms we enjoy every day in our great country. Using Bryson’s logic, this would include the freedom to claim he is touching the boat by touching the ground the boat is touching!!! YOWZA!!!! That’s our Bryson!!!
Famous last words
How was your Easter Weekend? I hope it was wonderful, and you had the opportunity to spend precious time together with your loved ones. Both of our “boys,” Jon and Evan, were with us along with daughter-in-law Sara, grandsons, Jackson and Bryson, and Evan’s fiance, Annie. Our two granddogs, Guinness and Bibi, joined us, as well. Despite the weather not cooperating, we had a grand time. The guys went fishing at Ol' Tom's boathouse Friday afternoon, while Sara and I got in some “girl time” shopping. Saturday the weather was just plain nasty. With winds gusting up to 45 mph, fishing was out of the question. So, the guys decided to check out JumpStart. Jackson and Bryson both had a fun time! Meanwhile, Sara and I skipped our regular haunts, went to a furniture store and poked around in a second-hand shop. We had Easter dinner Saturday evening and then the guys went out to play baseball (with tennis balls) in the backyard. Grampa wasn’t allowed to play because the kids can get pretty rough. The young whipper snappers were afraid he’d get hurt. The rest of us watched from the window for awhile. Then we settled in for a good gab session. When the guys came inside, Jon looked like he was in some pain. We didn’t even have to ask what happened. Evan offered. He had hit the ball. Jon and 8-year-old Bryson both went for it in tandem and collided. Jon, attempting to protect Bryson from getting hurt, became the “fall” guy. He did a complete somersault, landing on the frozen tundra and injuring his rib. Mind you, this is the THIRD time Jon has injured the SAME rib!!! AARRGGHH!!! We all were feeling his pain when Grampa chimed in with the same age-old sage advice he had given the boys so many times when they were growing up. It’s the exact promise his dad, Ray, used to dish out to him so many years ago. “It’ll feel better when it quits hurting!!!” Grampa said. Everyone, except Jon, groaned, rolled our eyes and laughed. Jon didn’t think it was all that funny. It took me back to when Bob broke a rib and bruised a lung while rabbit hunting in 2013. In fact, I wrote a blog about it at the time. Bob was standing on a log while he waited for his hunting buddies to flush some rabbits toward him so he could take photos. When the rabbits came running toward him, Bob lifted his camera. As he did, he slipped on the snow and ice-covered log he was standing on. On his way down, he raised his shotgun in the air with the barrel pointing skyward to keep it from discharging when he landed. His concern was potentially shooting his buddies or himself. Because his arms were in air, there was no way he could protect himself to ease the fall. He landed squarely on another log. He said at first he couldn't move or breathe. Later, Bob remembered we had an ice storm a while before the snow storm. What he didn’t realize was there was still ice under the snow-covered log and was the slick reason why he fell. He said, “Both feet went out from under me and I slid off that log like a greased pig." If you’ve ever injured one or more ribs, you know it is a long, drawn-out healing process. You also know the pain is so intense, it's enough to make a grown man cry. One thing is certain. When Bob was injured, if I had bestowed upon him his age-old advice, “It’ll feel better when it quits hurting,” there is no doubt, they would have been MY famous last words!!!