Wednesday, May 21

As of 10 pm CST on Wednesday, we are still waiting on the pathology reports from the biopsies taken yesterday. However we have learned a lot from the battery of tests. Here are the bullet points which may differ slightly from what some of you have heard if you called today because the chief surgeon came in and talked with us this evening. He was able to pull a lot of pieces together:

  • There are multiple tumors and/or masses which are all attributed to the large mass around the cecum. (The cecum is the junction where the small and large intestines meet and where the appendix is located.)
  • The mass at the cecum is both inside and outside the colon.
  • There is a collection of fluid in the pelvis which is most likely fluid from the mass. Or there is a possibility that its another mass. At first they referred to this as an abscess but they are reluctant to use that term now after further study of the CT Scan.
  • There are three tumors in Lois’ liver. One of those tumors is in the middle of the liver and has doubled the size of the liver. There are two other smaller tumors on either side of the larger one.
  • Surgery is scheduled for Thursday at 10:45 and is expected to last 4-5 hours plus one hour of prep and at least one hour in recovery.
  • For this surgery, they will deal only with the mass in and around the cecum and the fluid/mass in the pelvic area.
  • Although they expect to send Lois back to her same room, there is a good possibility that she will go to Surgical Intensive Care.
  • The surgeon is quite confident that he can reattach the small and large intestines but there is some possibility of a colostomy.
  • Post-operative care in the hospital is expected to last seven days.

By dealing with the mass at the colon and in the pelvis, the medical team feels Lois will be able to heal from this surgery and prepare to start Chemo in 6-8 weeks. They want to try to shrink the tumors in the liver to a size where surgery is an option. Right now the tumors are too large to even consider surgery at the liver.

The Beginning – Tuesday, May 20

I’m writing this from a hospital room at the University Hospital in Iowa City where my wife is a patient. We would appreciate prayer.

At midnight Sunday morning, Lois woke up very chilled and having cramps in her stomach. We thought it was the flu as several family members (including me) have had the 24 hour variety in the past week. Lois did have a high temp of 102 which we could get down to 99 with Tylenol every four hours. Monday afternoon she was no better and Joy called her good friend, Reagan, who is a Doctor and described the symptoms. Reagan advised us to go to the emergency room.

The local emergency room did some initial blood work and hit the panic button. Lois was severely anemic, her white count was quite high, her liver functions were poor and, the cause of the panic, her hemoglobin was at 5 (normal is 12 and they start giving transfusions if the number is lower than 8). The obvious conclusion was that she was losing blood from her G.I. tract but a stool sample showed nothing.

Giving a unit of blood is the best way to get the hemoglobin up but transfusions are a big deal in rural hospitals. After consultation, we decided University Hospital was the best choice.

We arrived in Iowa City by 8 pm. Monday night. The E.R did a lot of tests and agreed Lois needed blood and admitted her. They also decided on a course of action so during the night they not only gave her one unit of blood, they had her drink “Go Lightly,” the wonderful stuff to prep for upper and lower G.I. scopes.

Everyone is very concerned about where she is losing blood. Since 7:30 am there have been 5 different Dr’s in here asking mostly the same questions. Right now we are waiting for another set of x-rays and at any time they could come and get her for the upper and lower G.I. scopes.

They just took her temp and she continues to have a fever – 102 right now and they’re giving her Tylenol.

Tomorrow should be a day of making decisions.


Three consecutive phone calls, presumably all about the same subject, from three people with a different version of the same event. Each one claims to know the “truth.” How can that be? There are three varying recollections of “who said what” with the individuals involved calling the others “liars.”

If this were an episode of “The Office” or a wild experiment on “Mythbusters,” we would laugh and probably say, “That’s the way it is.” However, the scenario is not a TV show but a real-life situation in a church. How sad.

If we could make a 10% improvement in our communication between brothers and sisters in Christ, there would be a 50% reduction in conflict within the Church. Yes, I’m talking about YOUR CHURCH!

Here are some practical suggestions:

Tell the WHOLE truth. Leave out a few facts and any account becomes fiction. Somehow we’ve fallen into the media trap of “spinning” a story for our personal benefit. Give all the facts without leaving anything out. Taking part of the truth and then embellishing the story is just as wrong. Telling part of truth still makes a whole lie! “Change my heart, O God, make it ever true.”

Learn to listen. Listening is a lost art. Most of the time, if we are honest, when someone is talking to us, we are thinking about what we’re going to say next. Look at people when they talk to you. When I’m on the phone, I take notes to help me stay focused. (OK, sometimes when I’m driving there’s too much traffic to write . . . ) Pray that God will give ears to hear and a heart of understanding!

Think before speaking. Life moves at an unbelievably fast pace and trying to keep up leaves us with precious little time to think before we open our mouths. It’s “OK” to have some long pauses in a conversation because it takes time to really listen in order to formulate a response. Choose words carefully; once spoken they cannot be put back in the mouth! Pray that God will control our tongues.

Ask for instant replays. And volunteer them, too. One of the best communication tools is ignored most of the time. Simply asking someone to repeat back to you what they heard you say is powerful. If you’re in a conversation with someone, and items of importance and sensitivity are being shared, ask them if you can repeat the statement or question in order to make sure you have it right. This is not an exercise to test memory; rather it deepens understanding. My wife and I discovered this tool early in our marriage and, after almost 33 years, we still use this technique almost daily! God, help us to grasp what people are really saying, even they have a hard time expressing themselves.

Don’t wear your feelings on your sleeve. To quote Rick Warren, “It’s not about you!” What you and I feel is rarely important. Truth, facts, Biblical principles – that’s what is crucial. In emotionally charged conversations, emotions can’t be trusted. Ask for 3 minutes to “cool down.” Wait to respond to that phone message. Click out of the email be firing off a response. Moses didn’t feel like going back to Egypt; David didn’t feel like facing Goliath; Jesus didn’t feel like going to the cross.

Don’t trianglize. If person A has a problem with person B, the situation becomes even worse when A decides to talk to person C instead of practicing Matthew 18 principles. And its totally unacceptable to share all the details in a “prayer request.” Scripture labels that gossip. Unfortunately, many prayer meetings devolve into sin because we would rather talk about the person we should really be talking to. Forgive us, Lord.

Avoid emotional letters and emails. When words come out of our mouths they cannot be put back but when we write a letter or email that becomes positive proof. What is written is often the basis for charges of libel and slander. IF something needs to be written, ask someone who can be trusted, who is unrelated to the situation, to look over the text before it’s sent. Lord, I need self-control.

These are just a few suggestions which could change the way we communicate with each other. What a difference we could make in our churches and communities by improving our communication.