Archive for January, 2012

Hope for the Exercise Intolerant(?)
January 23, 2012

From James:

This is our 100th post! Woo hoo!

We had another follow-up MRI today. We are having them every three months now, so we get a quarterly dose of drama. And of course when I say “we” I mean So Young, but I say that because it feels like we are both going through it. Here is So Young right before the MRI, illustrating how un-nervous/peaceful she was.

SY "Sleeping"

She’s a pro at this now, but I have to tell you, it is stressful every time. You wait for the doctor afterwards, and no matter how optimistic you started, you have this vague feeling that she has bad news.

That was not to be the case this time. The MRI “looks great,” according to our radiation oncologist, Dr. Kristin Redmond. Last time, as you may recall, there was a dramatic reduction in size, estimated to be roughly 30% or so. This time was less dramatic, perhaps to be measured in millimeters rather than centimeters, but nevertheless it continues to get smaller. So Young asked her to show us before and after images, and we agree that today’s tumor looks rather beat up compared to the plump, thriving version of July, just six months ago.

Dr. Redmond confirmed that So Young’s newly diagnosed hypothyroidism might be caused by the radiation, although she said that the timing is rather soon after radiation ended, so the tumor might be causing it. Either way, I don’t think it is a surprise, but it is a good thing that our family practice doctor, Peter Mendel, checked for it. So Young had a bunch of symptoms that would have been written off by a less attentive physician.

Dr. Redmond also said that “exercise intolerance” is a common symptom of hypothyroidism, which would explain So Young’s recent lack of desire to run. That is the funniest turn of phrase I’ve heard in a while. I might start using it myself!

The good news about hypothyroidism, if that is in fact an issue (it hasn’t been definitively diagnosed yet), is that to counteract it, you simply take a pill. Your energy level magically goes up, along with the other symptoms that were plaguing you, supposedly.

As I write, So Young is taking a “victory lap” (as she calls it) on the treadmill. She said she wants to try the Historic Half again this May. She’s going to “take it on faith,” she says. This is her first time running in a long while, and now I have to revise the FAQs again, since I corrected them last night to say she doesn’t run anymore.

So Young has really been enjoying some hymns as performed by Sufjan Stevens recently, and although he isn’t for everybody, she wanted me to post the lyrics from one here. It captures well how we felt on the drive home and have been feeling recently.

Come, Thou Fount of Every Blessing
by Robert Robinson

Come, Thou Fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace;
Streams of mercy, never ceasing,
Call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
Sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I’m fixed upon it,
Mount of Thy redeeming love.

Sorrowing I shall be in spirit,
Till released from flesh and sin,
Yet from what I do inherit,
Here Thy praises I’ll begin;
Here I raise my Ebenezer;
Here by Thy great help I’ve come;
And I hope, by Thy good pleasure,
Safely to arrive at home.

Jesus sought me when a stranger,
Wandering from the fold of God;
He, to rescue me from danger,
Interposed His precious blood;
How His kindness yet pursues me
Mortal tongue can never tell,
Clothed in flesh, till death shall loose me
I cannot proclaim it well.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.

O that day when freed from sinning,
I shall see Thy lovely face;
Clothed then in blood washed linen
How I’ll sing Thy sovereign grace;
Come, my Lord, no longer tarry,
Take my ransomed soul away;
Send thine angels now to carry
Me to realms of endless day.

On a more somber note, we ask your prayers at the passing of my step-grandmother Marie Gage. Pray especially for my grandfather, Bill Gage, now in his mid-eighties.

Many thanks to all of you for your countless prayers.

MRI Tomorrow: 1-23
January 22, 2012

From James:

Tomorrow (1-23) is going to be another three-month follow-up MRI at Johns Hopkins. The MRI will be at 8:30 a.m., with a follow-up appointment at 12:30. Before the previous three-month MRI, the tumor had shrunk 30%. We are praying that it has gotten another 30% smaller at least.

In other health news, a few days ago, So Young was diagnosed preliminarily with hypothyroidism. My theory is that the radiation itself or the tumor caused this, or both. Radiation to the head and brain tumors are known to be causes in other patients. The good news is that we now have a probable explanation for her tiredness, muscle weakness, stiff joints, and (more worrisome) tingling extremities of late. We’re having a follow-up and accompanying blood tests to confirm that diagnosis on Tuesday.

Thanks everybody for your continued prayer and support! We couldn’t make it without you.

Christmas Walk
January 2, 2012

From James:

We took a walk on Christmas. So Young was as happy during that walk as I have ever seen her. Here it is in pictures.

James and SY

Christmas Walk

Audrey by the Water

Shanny with Camera

Lindsay and Her Monkey

The Girls by the Water

James and So Young by Water

To our friends and family all over the world: Happy new year!

The newness of each year wears off in time, as does our enthusiasm to change, but God’s newness never does. “Behold I make all things new” (Rev. 21:5). So Young and I have seen God’s renewal again in again: in our hearts when He found us and every day since, when we first met, when we married, with each new baby, in our relationship with each other, and now as we pray for So Young’s healing and slowly — sometimes literally — see glimpses of light.

The next MRI is on 1/23. Throughout her story, that sequence of numbers (1-2-3) has been a reminder to So Young of new beginnings and that God is with her. We are hoping for more good news on that day and won’t be surprised when we get it.