Thursday, February 26, 2009

What the doctor told me Tuesday

More of my test results are back now and here’s what the doctor told me yesterday:

1. My lower body scan was clean showing no signs of cancer or tumors.

2. The clean scan lowers my chances of having lung cancer to about “10 percent or less,” to quote him. “Cancer may still come back to bite you in your ass, but I think it’s very unlikely,” he said.

3. The scan revealed inflammations on my major organs.

4. The inflammations lead him to believe I am suffering from an autoimmune disease (such as lupus) that is attacking the major organs of my body.

5. He consulted with a rheumatologist who looked over my results and told my doctor that what was happening to me was “very serious” and could kill me in “six months to a year if I didn’t get it taken care as soon as possible.” (Like I would ignore the coughing of blood. Doctors are weird sometimes.)

6. I see a rheumatologist next Friday morning in Oklahoma City. And we will go from there. Probably more tests, but I’m hopeful we finally start treating whatever this is.

Overall this is encouraging news. I’m pleased that cancer is mostly off the table and wish someone would remove it completely. I’m not so pleased that I have some sort of serious autoimmune disorder, but I knew the doctors would find something. After all, I’m coughing blood each morning. That’s not normal.

Many autoimmune disorders are very treatable. I’m believing and praying mine will turn out to be so. I will let you know more when I know more.

I feel okay. I’m tired a lot, but that’s more of a sleep problem than anything else, I think. My appetite is good -- too good. Still battling the black dog, but I think that goes with everything else that’s going on.

And that’s the news such as it is. Please keep me in your prayers and thoughts, and I will do the same for you. Talk to you later.
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Tuesday, February 24, 2009


      A friend asked about the Jesus Loves... section on Oakleaf Harbor. The basic thrust of the questioning was that I was being disrespectful by putting Jesus's name on merchandise to sell. Let me tell you the story behind the section and see what you think.
      When my current health crisis started, I decided to get out a Bible that my parents gave me. I keep it in a box to protect it. It has my name printed on the cover, and it's quite nice. (I have a "regular" everyday Bible.) Anyway, that Bible makes me feel close to my parents, and I decided to get it out. When I did, a small blue plaque fell out of the box. I don't know where it came from -- I think maybe one of my nieces gave it to me, but no one remembers it so I don't really know. The little blue plaque says: Jesus loves Stephen. It gave my spirits a lift, and so now I have it where I can see it each morning when I get up and each evening when I go to bed. It's a small thing, but it has given me comfort.
      Well, I got to thinking about how nice that was for me so I decided to create the same as best as I could on Oakleaf Harbor, particularly for my friends and family who have unusual or uncommon names (Bethia, Weston, Ria, Woody, Jolene, etc.) and might not be able to find personalized items anywhere. So that's why I created the "Jesus loves..." section.
      For what it's worth, no one has purchased a single item for the section. And that's okay. I like going to it and seeing all the names of my family and friends with the reminder that Jesus loves them. I'm slowly adding more names each day. It takes me a while to create the artwork for each name and then I upload it and place it on the particular items, but I'm trying to add five names each day. If your name isn't there yet, it will be. And if you have any names you'd like added, email me, and I'll add them.
      I certainly didn't mean any disrespect and don't feel like I'm "cashing" in on Jesus. I'm fine with people just looking at the section or downloading the picture of their items or whatever they like. But maybe it's being crass. What do you think?

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

Oakleaf Merchandise

      Thought I would show you some of the items at Oakleaf Harbor. I'm very proud of how they turned out, particularly the rose items. I've just added the Humor section and will have more items in this week.
     Not much else to tell you. I should be talking to the OKC doctor sometime this week. I'll let you know what's going on when I know.
     Catch you after the items.

Roses Keepsake Box

Murder by the Acre Tote Bag

Yellow Mums Large Mug

Murder by Dewey Decimal Women's T-Shirt

EndlesS Long Sleeve T-Shirt

     I'm hoping to get going on Murder by the Mile this week. I'm going to be working on the outline. I need to set the story firmly in my mind. If you don't know where you're going, you won't get anywhere.
     Going to call it a night now. Have a great week. Talk to you soon.

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cup on display!

Adam, who won the Murder by the Acre coffee cup giveaway a few days back, has the cup on display at his work. He sent me a photo of it. Very cool!

Not much else to tell you. I'm spending a lot of time on Oakleaf Harbor. I'm adding six new items daily. I'd appreciate your input if you'd like to stop by.

Have a great day!

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Q&A and Oakleaf Harbor

Well, we have a lot to cover so I thought we'd use the Q&A format to catch everyone up.

Q: What did you find out Friday when you went to the Holdenville Hospital for your CT scan?

A: Not much yet. The doctor will look at the scan this coming week or the next, and I'll have an appointment with him and get the results and go from there. I suspect we'll have the lung biopsy after that -- probably in March -- but I'm still hopeful the scan or the blood tests will show that I don't have to have one. We'll see. The Holdenville Hospital, by the way, is first class. Very nice facility, first rate equipment, and friendly personnel. I would recommend it to everyone in our area who needs a CT scan.

Q: How are you feeling?

A: Pretty good. In a strange quirk, I've felt better the past couple of months than I have for a long time. If I didn't cough blood in the mornings, I'd think I was the picture of health. I've continued to exercise at the fitness center, and I'm gaining strength and endurance weekly. I've also been working on controlling my blood sugar, and I've been doing much better on that. (I've mostly stopped drinking soft drinks and given up sweets. It's amazing how hard that is, but I'm doing it.)

Q: Do you think you have cancer?

A: No. I have no symptoms of lung cancer other than the coughing blood. No shortness of breath, no unexplained and rapid weight loss, no overwhelming fatigue. The first CT scan showed my lungs filled with whatever it was. If it's cancer, I should not be feeling as well as I do. Or at least, according to the research I've been doing. I also have never smoked or been around anyone who did smoke. I also didn't work at any job where I would was exposed to hazardous chemicals or dust. I'm also young for lung cancer to develop. However, there are people who get lung cancer and are outside the normal parameters. Let us hope and pray that this time I DON'T beat the odds and have it.

Q: How are you feeling emotionally?

A: I won't lie. It's hard. I'm on a roller-coaster. I'd like to get off, but I have to ride this one until the end. Hopefully that end will be a good report on my health.

Q: You haven't been blogging.

A: Sorry about that. I do check on everyone's blogs, and of course, I'm on Facebook daily, but no blogging. Haven't felt much like doing so. I'll try to do better.

Q: So what have you been doing?

A: Praying, reading, walking, talking and praying with friends, housework, etc. Nothing that exciting other than the next thing I'm going to tell you.

Q: So tell us already!

A: I've opened a new Cafepress store! It's called Oakleaf Harbor, and it combines all the Murder by Dewey Decimal and Murder by the Acre merchandise as well as new items for EndlesS. I don't have much in the EndlesS section yet, but there will be more. And there will be an Inspirational section and a Humor section. I have big plans for the store and hope to implement them over the next couple of weeks. Here's the link: Oakleaf Harbor.

Q: What all are you going to be offering there?

A: T-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, mugs, bags, clocks, cards, calendars, magnets, buttons, journals, boxes, etc. Quite a lot of different merchandise. I'm particularly excited by the plans I have for the Humor and Inspirational sections. I'm be updating you as I offer more and more merchandise over the next few weeks.

Q: How goes the writing?

A: Not well. All this emotional turmoil has stalled Murder by the Mile. I'm hoping I will get writing again soon. I do think about the book a lot. I haven't given up on it and will get it written eventually, I hope this year.

Q: Anything else?

A: Just that I greatly appreciate the support, friendship, prayers, and concern I've been shown over the past couple of weeks. You have lifted me up. I thank you, thank you, thank you. Please continue to remember me in your prayers as I remember you. Have a great week and God bless you.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Walking, reading & thinking

My next CT scan will be this Friday morning at the Holdenville hospital at a substantial savings and with a new, more powerful scanner to boot! Thank you, Adam, who put me in touch with his cousin who helped arrange this with my doctor. It truly is an answer to prayer, and I appreciate Adam for showing his concern for me in this manner.

Otherwise, not much to tell you. I’ve been trying to walk at the fitness center as much as I can. I haven’t been updating the Walking to Jericho blog, but I intend to soon. I’m having a lot of trouble dealing with the stress and depression caused by this health crisis, and that’s keeping me from being as productive as I’d like to me. The walking helps with that. If I could get some good sleep instead of the tossing and turning I’m experiencing now, I’d be doing much better.

I’ve also been doing a lot of reading about cancer and how’s treated and how we can prevent it. There’s a lot of confusing material out there, but slowly I’ve started to put together a view of what cancer is and how to fight it. I figure it’s good info to know, although, of course, I hope and pray I don’t have to use it personally.

So far, what I can share is this: Broccoli and green tea are amazing cancer fighters. (Note: not herbal teas. Green tea. The real stuff.) Study after study have linked those two to cancer prevention and even cancer treatment. And sugar -- in any form, including honey -- is bad for you and helps cancer grow faster. No study that I can find says sugar causes cancer; instead it helps cancer because cancer cells operate at a high metabolic rate and need energy to divide. One study says cancer cells need three to four times the glucose that regular cells do. That’s why so many people lose weight rapidly and feel so tired when they have cancer; the cancer cells are grabbing all the available glucose in the blood. Too much glucose in your blood gives cancer cells plenty of energy to grow. Why help them out?

So I’ve been walking and slowly giving up sweets. I haven’t had a soft drink in several days. I haven’t officially started the Soft Drink Drought, but it’s coming. Whatever the doctors eventually find, I have finally decided to live a healthy life. Step by step I’m moving away from a lifestyle that gave me diabetes, reduced my resistance to disease, and sapped my vitality.

Walking (30 minutes a day), green tea (four cups a day), broccoli (a cup or so a day). And one more thing: turmeric. Yes, that Indian spice. A bunch of current studies are pointing to it as a major cancer fighter. So have those curried veggies. They’re good for you and tasty, too. I’ve been sprinkling turmeric on chicken, hamburger patties, lasagna, salad dressings, etc. One warning: the spice releases its “heat” when cooked. So add it gradually to a dish until you get used to it. Or have lots of water available.

Anyway, that’s what’s going on in my world. What’s happening in yours?

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Friday, February 06, 2009

A Winner & a Meme

Adam won the drawing for the Murder by the Acre coffee cup! (Thought I forgot, didn't you?) There will be another drawing soon. Watch here for details.

Here's a Facebook meme that Jean tagged me with. And it makes a fine post here.

Here are the rules - post this list on your profile replacing my answers with yours. If you feel like tagging people, go ahead, but I'm going to suggest you play if you like and either comment that you have or tag me so I can see what you have to say.

1. WERE YOU NAMED AFTER ANYONE? Yes, Stephen, the first Christian martyr mentioned in the Bible.

2. WHEN WAS THE LAST TIME YOU CRIED? Lately, I’ve been tearing up a bit. I guess yesterday.

3. DO YOU LIKE YOUR HANDWRITING? No, I wish it was neater.

4. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE LUNCH MEAT? Ham if I can't get shark.


6. IF YOU WERE ANOTHER PERSON WOULD YOU BE FRIENDS WITH YOU? I would if I knew what was good for me.

7. DO YOU USE SARCASM? Almost as much as I breathe.

8. DO YOU STILL HAVE YOUR TONSILS? As far as I know. Would you like to look?


10. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE CEREAL? Well, I like cinnamon oatmeal with blueberries and eat it each morning.

11. DO YOU UNTIE YOUR SHOES WHEN YOU TAKE EM OFF? No. The servants do that.

12. WHO DO YOU MISS THE MOST? My mother and father who have both passed on. They were wonderful people.

13. WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE ICE CREAM? Cherry praline vanilla.

14. WHAT IS THE FIRST THING YOU NOTICE ABOUT PEOPLE? The expression on their face, particularly if they've caught me with their daughters.

15. RED OR PINK? Red.



18. WHAT COLOR PANTS AND SHOES ARE YOU WEARING? Blue pants and brown shoes.

19. WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO RIGHT NOW? The fan on my electric heater.


21. FAVORITE SMELLS? Cinnamon.


23. DO YOU LIKE THE PERSON WHO SENT THIS TO YOU? Absolutely. Jean’s smart, funny, and caring, despite living in Texas … :)

24. FAVORITE SPORTS TO WATCH? College football.

25. HAIR COLOR? Reddish-brown

26. EYE COLOR? Midnight blue.


28. FAVORITE FOOD? Mexican.


30. LAST MOVIE YOU WATCHED? Ghost-Breakers. An old Bob Hope movie that stands up very well.

31. WHAT COLOR SHIRT ARE YOU WEARING? What shirt? We were supposed to be wearing clothes?


33. HUGS OR KISSES? Depends on the person giving them, of course.

34. FAVORITE DESSERT? Chocolate cheesecake.

35. MOST LIKELY TO RESPOND? Since I’m not tagging anyone, this doesn’t apply.

36. LEAST LIKELY TO RESPOND? See above answer.

37. WHAT BOOK ARE YOU READING NOW? Last Argument of Kings.

38. WHAT IS ON YOUR MOUSE PAD? At home I use a track ball. At work, it’s an Oklahoma State University logo mouse pad.

39. WHAT DID YOU WATCH ON TV LAST NIGHT? PBS program on brain fitness.

40. FAVORITE SOUND? I haven’t heard this yet, but I think my favorite sound will be my doctor saying that I’m okay.



43. DO YOU HAVE A SPECIAL TALENT? Hmm. Maybe writing. Well, telekinesis, of course, but who doesn’t have that? And the whole changing form thing. Nothing that exciting really.

44. WHERE WERE YOU BORN? Oklahoma. Most of the best people are, you know.

45. WHOSE ANSWERS ARE YOU LOOKING FORWARD TO GETTING BACK? I like reading these so I hope many people do it.

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Thursday, February 05, 2009


I had something awesome happen last night. Totally unexpected and a confirmation that God hears our prayers and wants to take care of us.

As you know, I have no health insurance. I’ve worried about paying for the bills during this current health crisis of mine, but have managed to scrape things together -- credit card, etc. -- so far.

Yesterday evening, a friend called and said he was going to drop by and see me. Since he’s a prayer buddy, that wasn’t unexpected. I figured we’d have prayer together, and that was a good thing.

But when he came by, he brought me $1,000! He had inherited the money from his grandmother’s estate, and he said that, when his father handed the money to him Monday afternoon, he knew God intended me to have it. I tried to refuse the money, but he said he wasn’t going to take it back. It was never his money, he said. God intended me to have it.

I was overwhelmed. This blessing renewed me, and I needed it because I was floundering. Unknown to him, I had found out that afternoon that my next CT scan was going to cost $2,500 instead of the $1,200 I had budgeted for it. I wasn’t sure where the money was going to come from. My roomie had assured me that he would help me -- and he would because he’s a wonderful friend, too -- and things would work out, but still it was $1,300 more than I had. I felt like I couldn’t win. How could I beat whatever this is when I couldn’t even afford the tests?

And then out of nowhere, I receive this unexpected gift. Never had I asked my friend for money; not that he isn’t a friend, of course, but that’s just not something I do or would expect him to do. Money is tight for everyone these days.

To receive this incredible gift made me cry. Yeah, I don’t do that a lot. But I did. I have a God who loves me, I have friends who love me, I have family who love me. Despite everything that’s going on, I am deeply blessed.

This is a public thank you to my friend Kelley and to my Heavenly Father. I am grateful beyond words for you both.

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Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Hand washing

I got the blood tests done yesterday afternoon. Cost $460 for them all. As my friend Kent put it, they stuck me in two ways. The results should be back in three or four days. They will forward the results to the doctor in OKC. Haven’t got my CT scan scheduled yet. Will work on that today.

Otherwise, not much to tell you. I’ve been reading, watching funny stuff on TV, and playing World of Warcraft. Mostly reading, though. Always my first and best escape. I’ve just started Last Argument of Kings, the third book in Joe Abercrombie's The First Law trilogy. I like the first two books (The Blade Itself and Before They Are Hanged) but the reviews of the third book weren’t that good. I hope he can pull off a satisfying conclusion.

I’ve also been researching the American medical establishment. Or rather its sins. I’ve been horrified to read about how doctors, doctors’ organizations, and drug companies have hounded people who have defied them. Many of these people were, of course, quacks, sometimes dangerous quacks, but a significant percentage of them were simply ahead of their time and paid the cost for it.

Here’s a good example from Wikipedia:

Ignaz Philipp Semmelweis (July 1, 1818 - August 13, 1865) was the Hungarian physician who demonstrated that puerperal fever (also known as "childbed fever") was contagious and that its incidence could be drastically reduced by enforcing appropriate hand-washing behavior by medical care-givers. He made this discovery in 1847 while working in the Maternity Department of the Vienna Lying-in Hospital.

Semmelweis realized that the number of cases of puerperal fever was much larger at one of his wards than at the other. After testing a few hypotheses, he found that the number of cases was drastically reduced if the doctors washed their hands carefully before dealing with a pregnant woman. Risk was especially high if they had been in contact with corpses before they treated the women. The germ theory of disease had not yet been developed at the time. Thus, Semelweiss concluded that some unknown "cadaveric material" caused childbed fever.

He lectured publicly about his results in 1850, however, the reception by the medical community was cold, if not hostile. His observations went against the current scientific opinion of the time, which blamed diseases on an imbalance of the basical "humours" in the body. It was also argued that even if his findings were correct, washing one's hands each time before treating a pregnant woman, as Semmelweis advised, would be too much work. Nor were doctors eager to admit that they had caused so many deaths. Semmelweis spent 14 years developing his ideas and lobbying for their acceptance, culminating in a book he wrote in 1861. The book received poor reviews, and he responded with polemic. In 1865, he suffered a nervous breakdown and was committed to an insane asylum where he soon died from blood poisoning.

Only after Dr. Semmelweis's death was the germ theory of disease developed, and he is now recognized as a pioneer of antiseptic policy and prevention of nosocomial disease.

You would think hand washing would be a no-brainer, but even today, many doctors doing their rounds at hospitals do NOT wash their hands between seeing patients, even those with transmittable diseases. A good friend of mine who is an RN has personally seen many doctors forget to wash their hands between patients, despite many programs instituted to remind them to do so. (Note: She has also seen nurses and other health care workers not wash hands.) You have to wonder why they don't.

Not that we regular folks are doing much better at this simple way to prevent illness. According to the American Society of Microbiology:
Although illnesses as deadly as SARS and as troublesome as the common cold or gastric distress can be spread hand-to-hand, the survey sponsored by the American Society of Microbiology (ASM), found that many people passing through major U.S. airports don’t wash their hands after using public facilities. More than 30 percent of people using restrooms in New York airports, 19 percent of those in Miami’s airport, and 27 percent of air travelers in Chicago aren’t stopping to wash their hands. The survey, conducted by Wirthlin Worldwide in August 2003, observed 7,541 people in public washrooms in New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas, Miami and Toronto.

U.S. airport observations contrast sharply with an August 2003 Wirthlin telephone survey of 1,000 Americans, in which 95 percent said that they wash their hands in public restrooms. The same phone survey – which found only 58 percent of people say they wash their hands after sneezing or coughing and only 77 percent say they wash their hands after changing a diaper – highlights the seriousness of the problem.
Here’s a link to a brochure on hand washing. Download it. Read it. It may save your life. Seriously.

And on that note, I'll close and get ready for work. Have a wonderful day. Remember me in your prayers; I'm remembering you!

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Tuesday, February 03, 2009


I've hibernated the past few days. The news from the doctor sort of shut me down. I needed quiet time to process the information and recover my equilibrium. Today I'll go by the doctor's office, and they'll draw blood for six different blood tests (CBC, SED, CMP, ANA, ANCA, and AntiGBM Antibody). And sometime this week or next, I'll have another CT scan (pelvis and abdomen with contrast). We'll get the results back from those, I'll go to the OKC doctor again, and we'll go from there, either a lung biopsy or treatment (if the blood tests reveal a recognizable disease). I have it mapped out in my mind so I'm good to go again.

I have been touched by the support shown by both my online and offline friends more than I can adequately express. You have gathered around me and lifted me up. I appreciate your words, your prayers, your concern, and your love. I'm not sure what's ahead, but I am not alone as long as I have God and all of you. Thank you for holding my hand figuratively and literally.

In good health news, yesterday I got my blood sugar below 100 for the first time in months. It was 97. I did it by limiting food, having only one soft drink, and walking. I'm trying for two days in a row now.

Time for work. I hope you have a great day. Talk to you soon.

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