Waiting for an Official Diagnosis for My Husband

Owen Hemsath may have cancerMany of my friends and family know that we have been going through a roller coaster ride of stress the last few months when it has come to my husband’s health. Over the last 2 months, he has had almost daily bouts of the following symptoms:

  • Chest Pains
  • Difficulty Breathing
  • Fast Heart Rate
  • Fevers
  • Chills
  • Night Sweats
  • Nausea
  • Weak Stomach
  • Light-Headedness
  • Foggy Thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Poor ability to taste
  • Weight Loss

We went to Urgent Care a few weeks ago and they noticed a fever and took an X-ray to look at his lungs, only to find something funky looking around his heart. So we were sent to the ER.

The ER doctors gave him an EKG, which turned out abnormal. Then did a series of tests to see if he was having heart problems. The blood tests came back fine. We were sent home.

Then the next day, they called us and said, “We never saw that you had an X-ray of your chest. Your heart does look strange. Please see a cardiologist.”

Due to insurance issues and paperwork, we didn’t get a chance to even see his primary physician until it was a week and half after the ER visit. During that week, his stomach was really bothering him, so he mainly explained those symptoms, but did explain that the week prior it was his chest. He did not mention his fevers because he didn’t make the connection. The doctor then diagnosed him with acid reflux and said that he’d schedule him with a CT-scan the following week to just rule out the heart and lung issue, but he was not concerned. He wanted to see how Owen felt after being on Zantac a few days.

Well the Zantac wasn’t working. In fact, Owen’s symptoms persisted and even got worse. Now his chest pains were back again in addition to his stomach. After another night of drenching night sweats and watching him writhe in pain on the couch with another spiked fever, I called the doctor and desperately asked for advice. He said to go to the ER and get a CT-scan of his chest, stat.

And so we did.

X-Rays can identify initially if a lymphoma Mass is in your chestThe ER doctors were concerned. The CT scan showed a 10 centimeter sized mass near his heart and what looked like increased fluid around the sac of his heart from what they saw in the X-ray. They sent Owen upstairs to stay the weekend and get an ultrasound and biopsy on the mass. They also gave him numerous blood tests to see if he had some sort of infection.

We prayed. Everyone prayed. Facebook prayer chains were flowing quickly.

The next morning he got the ultrasound. That was Sunday. Then finally, on Monday, he got his biopsy. That same day, and Oncologist came to Owen’s room, and said with a matter-of-fact tone, “You have lymphoma. We are going to kill it. And then you will live a long, healthy life.”

Owen looked up the disease. Textbook. All his symptoms. All textbook lymphoma. Then add the CT scan to find the mass in his chest. It seemed certain. He had lymphoma.

Hearing this news, gave us both a very strange emotion. Given that it was a highly curable cancer, we felt sort of relieved. They had an answer to his pain and suffering. And not only was the answer something that wouldn’t kill him if treated, it would actually stop his misery. Yes, it is devastating to hear you have cancer. But when it is a curable cancer, it is almost better than not knowing what is wrong with you, writhing in pain, and wondering if you will suffer this way your whole life.

So that was this Monday. Since then all the blood tests show no infection, otherwise. So it makes absolute sense. There’s no other explanation.

It is now Thursday night as I write this.

This week, we have been processing cancer. And we have been waiting on the official results of the biopsy, expecting to learn from it, not that he had it, but whether or not it was Hodgkin’s, the highly curable lymphoma, or Non-Hodgkins lymphoma, the still good, but not as highly curable lymphoma.

In the meantime, we have been flooded with love and encouragement from our family, friends, and extended friends on Facebook. I cannot believe how much support we have received. Truly a humbling experience. And since he was admitted into the hospital last Saturday, he has been covered in prayer by not only our family and close friends, but extended friends as well. We’ve heard that Owen’s name has been added to numerous prayer chains all over.

So today, while I was at work, Owen called and said the Oncologist called and wanted him to stop by his office in Temecula to go over the results. It couldn’t have been more perfect of timing because I was in Temecula and not in my classroom. I was able to step out of the meeting I was in and go meet him.

“Oh, you,” The Oncologist said to Owen with overwhelmed eyes and an exasperated voice, when he saw him in the waiting room. “I’ve been going over your case all weekend. Come in, Come in.”

Owen walked in now scared that its way worse than they thought.

“We don’t really know,” he said. “We need to do more tests.”

When I heard these words, I was filled with excitement and relief, and yet, strangely, disappointment. I know that sounds strange, but it goes back to seeing my husband suffering the last 2 months and knowing there is a mass in his chest. I want to know what my husband has, and I want it to be something that is curable.

tumors on the thymus could mean lymphoma or thymomaSo now Owen goes in for a PT-scan. Hopefully as soon as tomorrow. Maybe next Monday. It will see if there is malignancy in the mass outside of the area where the biopsy was taken. This will tell us if there is another type of cancer that is happening, or something benign. And what to do from there. Most likely take a larger biopsy from the area that lights up in the PT scan.

Whatever it is, we know he has been miserable with the symptoms we listed above. He has something in his chest and it is hurting him. This is something no one wants to live with. There are times the pain is so bad, it is debilitating. Whatever it is, I just want it to be cured. I want to see my husband live a long healthy life.

So we wait.

Again.

I hate waiting.

Do you know what I’m praying for now? I’m praying that mass is gone when they do the pet-scan. I’m praying God has cured my husband.

And if he chooses not to, that the doctors can figure out what he has, and help him get better.

Advertisements

Why I recommend Journal Writing

Here is my 5 minute journal

My journal takes 5 minutes!

My husband has been on this kick lately with doing things that successful people do. He’s done a lot of research on habits of successful people and it has been amazing watching him grow as he’s taken on some of these habits. A lot of them he recommends for me to do as well and I must say, I would not be half the woman I am today, if I didn’t have my husband pushing me. I thought I had drive. But with my husband, I have WAY more drive. He’s that second engine that keeps me going when I want to give up.

One of the things he has pushed me to do is journal write. I used think blogging was enough, but I just don’t blog daily, so in reality it isn’t.

He bought me a journal for Christmas and asked that we journal in the morning together and in the evening. It is not a blank journal. It is specifically structured to inspire, help me goal set, help me to be joyful and thankful, and to affirm that which God has promised and given me. I absolutely LOVE it!

The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day

Every morning, I read an inspiring quote and then write down 3 things that I am thankful for. Then I write three things I would like to have happen today that would be amazing. After that, I write an affirmation. Now as  a Christian, I’m a little leary of affirmations. I sort of seeing it as praying to myself….. or trying to gain strength from within myself, when the bible teaches me that I gain my strength through Christ. So I sort of modify my affirmation. I took some time to think about where I wanted to grow. And I looked at God’s word and what he asks of me and what he promises to me through his spirit. I then created a Christ centered affirmation that reminds me who I am in Christ. And this person is who I want to be. The thing is, I have a busy life. And I am easily overwhelmed. And when I am overwhelmed, I’m negative, I’m anxious, and I just am not loving. I become super selfish and become wrapped up in just getting what I need done without any joy and without concern for the joy of others around me. Its awful. I don’t like that side of me. But I have a busy life. So I need to change.

Journal Writing is for Successful People

Journal Writing is a key to success!

Here’s my affirmation:

I am loving, patient, and joyous in all circumstances without fear or anxiety because Christ lives in me!

Then at the end of the day before bed, I reflect on my day. I write down three awesome things that happen (some of them connect to what I hoped for that morning, and some are just pleasant surprises). And then I write three things I wish I had done differently. Not to wallow in despair. But to help me to reflect on my need to grow, so I can do better the next time.

One of the things I think is great about journal writing as well, is going back and seeing answers to prayer, as well as seeing growth. If you don’t journal, I highly recommend it! If you do journal, what are your journaling techniques? What do you recommend to journal for success? Please share in my comments.

Back and Ready as I can try to be

miami 4The last couple of weeks have been nonstop. No wonder I got sick. After slamming out interviews, giving finals, moving out of my classroom, packing for Miami, vacationing in Miami, driving up to Vegas for the weekend and then back down, it is no wonder I have been diagnosed with a double ear infection, bronchitis, and sinusitis. Phew! But I’m feeling okay and I’m ready to start this vacation. Especially knowing I have a job to show up to on August 13.

South Beach Miami was a great time aside from being ridiculously expensive. I allocated 100 bucks a day for spending and I blew through that (100 bucks) just the first night. How I was going to factor in the day took another day to figure out. And Lael and I were not evening living it large out there. The problem is that in South Beach— a Snapple costs 6 bucks, every restaurant automatically adds a 20% gratuity, and a cocktail costs 15 dollars. Shopping? All the choices in area near our hotels were high couture shops. So….we had to make some adjustments. Breakfast was the toast and coffee offered by our hotel. Lunch was beach-side made of cheese, yogurt, lunch meat, and crackers we bought at a local market. Dinner we splurged. Before nightlife, we had homemade cocktails in our room. And on the dance floor, we bought 6 dollar bottles of water instead. Although, I only danced one night. I hate dancing. The other nights I sat back and watched and chatted with other tourists or ran around taking photos. 🙂

We did take a tour of Miami one day, however. We got to see some beautiful neighborhoods in Coconut Groves, eat empenadas and buy cigars in Little Havana, and check out the celebrity homes on the islands there on a Ferry ride. Unfortunately, we couldn’t afford the snorkling trip we had planned or renting Vespas and cruising around town.

On Sunday, on our flight to Miami, I sat next to a nice guy named Carlos who grew up in Miami. He offered to give Lael and I some tips on where to go and where to eat while we were there. And he even met up with us a couple of times. We tasted some amazing Cuban food because of him and learned a lot about a crazy form of Brazilian martial arts that he was into although, I don’t remember the name.

SDC11648On Monday afternoon, as Lael and I were coming into our room after a splendid day at the beach, we were greeted by two beautiful young women from Minnesota. They had come in the day before as well and wanted to see if we wanted to get together that night for some dancing. What a great pair they were. We had an awesome time mimicking their Minnesota accents and dressing up, borrowing shoes, talking about girly stuff, and hitting South Beach as a four-pack instead of two. We enjoyed their company so much, we are now Face Book friends and plan to maybe take a trip to Minneapolis and come visit. We spent a lot of time with them over the week—beaches, shopping, lunch, and night life—and have some hilarious pictures to prove it–although I still need to get Lacey to post them.

Earlier Monday, Lael and I accidentally laid out in the gay part of the beach. We didn’t notice the two rainbow flags 300 yards apart and decided to set up shop right in the middle. An hour later, we pull our noses out of our books and figured it out when we notived a middle aged bleach blonde european step into the personal space of a flabby Native American. Too funny.

On the last night, I was exhausted and sunburned and ready to go to bed, but Lael dragged me out. We went to Clevelender with Carlos and this young man named Jonathan from New York who we met in the lobby earlier that day. Jonathan bought us a shot of Tequila and after that, I actually danced a little bit. But Lael topped it off. The tequila and the heat really got to her and she said she was too hot. I told her we had to leave anyway if we wanted to get a good nights rest before I early flight the next day. I told her she has been good her whole life and needed to do something crazy. If she jumped into the pool (outside bar and dance floor) we would surely get kicked out. But who cares, if we were going to leave anyway, right? So she did it. My sweet, good friend Lael, jumped into the pool. Jonathan followed. We got kicked out. And I never saw Lael with a bigger smile on her face, ever. Good times. 🙂

On my way back from Vegas on Sunday(another blog to come), I started to feel chest pressure and a cough. So now it is Thursday and I’ve got all the itises known to man. But I’ve got lots of plans through next week and as long as my son doesn’t get sick, we will be good. I missed Kanan sooooo much on the trip. I found that if I thought about him, I’d cry, so I tried to keep myself distracted. But it was great to hold him when I came back, smell him, and hear his sweet little voice. He has grown so much just in the week I was gone. This summer is going to be awesome. I can’t wait to spend quality time with my son, my friends, and family; and of course, to get some artistic me time in. My friend Kelley and I are working on a Christian Children’s book together and I need to do a page a day. I’d like to take a class at my church to further my knowledge of God, volunteer a bit at the Pregnancy Resource Center, and some how through it all, take another week long trip somewhere. We shall see. 🙂

Worry

I worry. It is my biggest sin. I worry about every thing. I worry so much, sometimes I can’t eat. I worry so much, and I always have. I was a worrier even as a child, getting so caught up in the what ifs of life that my own grandmother would push out my furrowed brows and say in her thick Colombian accent, “you are too young to be so serious my darling.” So when we are hanging out and having a good time, you might see this goofball friend who makes fun of herself and has a big smile. But afterward when I’m on my way home, I’ll reflect back on the conversation and if I remember saying anything that may have been taken the wrong way or perhaps may have offended someone or what ever, I’ll worry about it. I’ll eventually call you and apologize or clarify something I said, just so I can stop wondering. And most of the time when I do, the person I call has no idea what I’m talking about. Most of the time, my worrying is for nothing. Now, since I’ve become a Christian, much of my worries have dissapated. There are moments between the worrying that I am reminded of whose child I am, and I calm down because I know that no matter what happens, He loves me and has plans for me. If I didn’t have that comfort, I don’t know what I’d do. But right now, I admit that I am still not cured. It is something He will have to work on me for a while. Like my life for example. I worry about it. I worry about not finding a job. I worry about not having my own place. I worry I’ll have to work a bunch of low paying jobs to make ends meet and never get to see my son. I worry about not every falling in love again or ever having a man love me so much, he ‘d want to marry me.  I worry that because of this, I’ll never have children or enjoy making love again. I worry that my life won’t turn out the way I had hoped. And while other Christians remind me of that famous verse by Jesus which says that if the birds of the air are taken care of, how much more my father in heaven will take care of me, I realize that I’m not worried about that. I’m not worried I won’t be able to eat. I’m not worried I won’t have a place to live. I know God has me covered in that by blessing me with many loving friends and family who would take care of me if things got that bad. I know that I live in the United States and while in many ways it is crumbling to pieces, it is still better off than so many other countries. What I worry about is that God won’t bless me with the things I want, but don’t need.

I want to teach. I want to have my own place. I want to be married. I want more children. And I don’t need any one of these things, but I want them. And I worry that God has plans that are different than mine. Plans so different, none of the things on that list will happen. It has been over a year since I moved out of Mike’s house and four years since I started to grow tired and dissatisfied with the the meaninglessness of gluttony—the drinking, spending, eating, and having meaningless “friendships” with most of the people I associated with up until that point of my life just didn’t bring me the joy and satisfaction I wanted in life. I was ready for something quieter. Something with more purpose: independence in my own life: then marriage; a family; helping people in the community; a close relationship with God; and real friends. Well in 2007, things started to change.  It started with having a child, it led to me growing my relationship with Christ, and it moved into some real genuine friendships that I will cherish my entire life, and has pulled me into ministries that are helping others as well as reviving some of my creativity in the arts. But I lost my boyfriend of 6 years in the process. I’ve moved back in with my folks. I now am being laid off from my job. And while I am dating again, I’m just starting, and therefore don’t see any engagements happening anytime soon. So I’ve gained five, lost two, and have yet to have two others, ever.  

But then I think, well if indeed God didn’t want those things for me, what would be the reason? Perhaps they would draw me away from him. Perhaps I would get so wrapped up in my independence or my boyfriend or something, that I would pull away from Jesus. And I think, if I gained all the things I want from this world, but lost my relationship with God in the process, would it be worth it? And the answer is no. No way. Now, most likely I am wrong. Most likely God has plans for many of my wishes to come true, but just not right now. And with that, I know he is working on my patience.

But what frustrates me is that my patience is growing thin and I feel a growing rebellion in my heart. And it is a rebellion that I don’t want. But I can’t seem to shake it. A rebellion that says if he doesn’t give me what I want soon, I’ll start trying it my way again. Even though deep down, I know by doing so, He will just prove to me that my way won’t work anyway. Such a paradox one would think I could just surrender like I did a year and a half ago. So I prayed this prayer tonight. I prayed to God that if any of the choices I make or the things I take hold of in this phase of my relationship with Him are things that He knows will pull me away from Him, that he take them from me. That he take them away even if it makes me scream and cry. Even if it is painful and hurts me. Because I would rather have none of the things I want from this world and spend eternity with Him than gain everything and lose my soul. It’s a hardcore prayer I know. And I admit that I may be asking for some painful times ahead if I don’t change my desires. But I know His ways are better than mine and that ultimately, His way will lead me to more happiness than my way could ever gain. I know this because I’ve tried it my way. And my way didnt’ work. And God’s word said that would happen. And I made a choice to leave my way so that I could follow his way, and with that choice, God has blessed me so much in so many ways. But I think I expected too much from God in the process. I expected that because I chose to follow Him, that He would immediately reward me with every desire of my heart. And I find myself  now, a year and a half from the time I gave my life to the Lord,  without some of the things I want so much, it hurts. And instead of looking around at what I do have and saying thank you, I’m just whining and wanting more, and worried I won’t get it. Could my worry be the problem He needs to work out of me before He can bless me with the rest of my heart’s desires? It is grace through faith that saves me in the next life, but could it be works that earn God’s blessing in this one? And if that is so, I have a long way to go. Because I’m sure once God purifies me of my worry, He will show me the next sin I struggle with. A sin I don’t even realize I have because I am so blinded by the others.

I worry. I know it’s wrong because it shows a lack of trust in God. But is it different, if it’s a lack of trust that is enrooted in my fear that perhaps what I want is not what I need and the things I want, I want too much…..idolizing them almost, and therefore never going to get God to will them in my life. I worry I won’t stop worrying. Will I ever allow Him alone to be enough?

My New and Improved Salad

saladSalad, no dressing please. This is a request no one would ever hear come out of my mouth, but now I’m not so sure. My friend Kelly invited me over for dinner the other night and served a spring green salad with it. When I asked where was the dressing, she responded pleasantly that she didn’t use dressing. Well, I’m somewhat of a food adventurist and decided to dive in and give it a try. It had cheddar cheese on it, maybe that would suffice. Well, I was pleasantly surprised. It tasted great! And with my analtical nature, I sought to figure out why. The key is the type of greens. I was raised on romaine lettuce and homemade Italian dressing which I continue to make for my dinner side. I’ve perfected this salad. But, the salad needs the dressing. The dressing is the most important ingredient! The salad Kelly served was a mix of fresh baby spinach, baby romaine and baby leaf. The flavors of these plants are less bitter, and when topped with cheese, are quite flavorful.

So the last few nights I have changed my childhood salad recipe and swapped out my romaine for a new type of greens. I still love my dressing, so I’ve kept that, but make it much milder so as to not overpower the mild and flavorful taste of the greens. I also added a couple of other lettuces that taste good too. But, seriously…if I run out of vinegar, I won’t be running out the door as quickly and will not be afraid to just eat it as is.

Here is the recipe, so simple and so good

Mama Theresa’s Spring Salad

Serves enough for one large personal salad or two small side salads

In a medium sized bowl mix the following:

  • Two cups of mixed fresh fresh baby butter, tango, baby spinach, baby leaf, and baby romaine lettuces.
  • A few slices of dark red bell pepper
  • A few slices of cucumber
  • A quarter cup of thinly sliced red cabbage
  • One diced green onion including both bulb and chive
  • 2-3 oz of diced medium to sharp cheddar cheese

Now the dressing here is a lighter version of my normal dressing, but perfect. I’ll be honest, I’m estimating the amount below as I just pour and shake but this feels right. In the end, start light, and add more if you need more flavor.

  • 2 tablespoons of olive oil
  • 2 dashes of red wine vinager
  • 3 shakes of Lawry’s garlic salt
  • 2 shakes of pepper

Toss and enjoy!

What a Difference Between Acrylic and Pastel Paints!

pastel-moon-and-sun

Pastel Version #1

 So about 2 1/2 years ago, I decided to leave my world of graphite pencil drawings and dabble in paints. I was ready for color but afraid to go all the way. I figured I would not have a clue as to what to do with a brush, so I decided pastel paints would be a good happy medium. I could still use my fingers because the painter really draws on the paint and then smudges it with tools or finger (the oils in my skin seemed to mix with it well and spread it better). I had a great time with pastel. I painted a silhouette of a girl rocking out to music for my friend Brianne. I painted a self-portrait during the summer when I had no one but myself to paint some days, and I painted a tree and then a picture of Mike and I the summer I was pregnant with Kanan.
acrylic version #2

acrylic version #2

But things soon changed when I painted a picture of a moon and a sun inspired by a story written by someone dear to me. I painted it in one night and I was so proud of it. But then after a few days, the colors seemed to fade and I yearned for something bolder and more detailed. I was ready for acrylics. So I when off and did it. I headed to the supply shop and bought everything I needed including canvas. I set out to duplicate that sun and moon painting but make it bolder and more detailed. Well I did. It is my first acrylic painting so for you professionals out there, don’t laugh. But I’m happy with the changes and want to show everyone the difference between the two mediums. I can get so many more layers of detail with the acrylic paint.

 

 

Lucidity as Clear as Glass

How do I get it? I’m telling you right now, I have it right now. I am experiencing the cleanest, most natural high of my life right now.

How to Feel Amazing

1. Take a two hour nap, on the couch with the blinds open so the sun shines through slightly onto you.

2. Wake up slowly

3. Drink a tall glass of “Greens First” by Doctors for Nutrition.

4. Wait about 5 minutes

5. Feel Amazing!

I’m telling you right now, the combination is key. I drink “Greens First” a few times a week, and most of the time, I don’t have time to take it after a 2 hour nap. I take it running out the door, I take it while cooking my dinner. I feel really good and energized when I do, and on that alone, I recommend the product, but it is still not to this capacity. Not with this clarity. And I take a two hour nap every Saturday afternoon. It is a ritual I have been practicing since I’ve had Kanan. And sometimes I wake up feeling good. Sometimes I wake up feeling groggy, but wake up after a while and do feel good. But not to this capacity. Not with this clarity. 🙂

Colors are more vibrant. I breathe in deeper and less shallow. My thoughts come quickly and clearly not fidgety like after a cup of coffee. I feel strong. I feel happy. I feel ready for the rest of the day! After today, I am thinking this might be a perfect replacement for a morning coffee.

I’ve had many green supplemental drinks and nothing beats this one. It tastes really good (sweet and minty)! It has less calories. It is packed with fruits and vegetables, antioxidants, live flora, and fiber. I don’t sell it, but I totally would if I had the time and the resources. 🙂 Google it; research it; buy it; see for yourself.