Sunday, October 28, 2012

Update on Dr. Parker's health

For those of you who are following our blog and praying for Alan's health: thank you all SO much! Despite Alan carrying a full load of work this semester, since his anointing, he continues to have energy equivalent to what he had before the accident in March (when he was hit by a car while crossing the street--the painkillers he had to take after that accident apparently affected his liver pretty severely, and we were unaware at the time he had hepatitis C). This energy boost is a direct answer to prayer. Before the anointing, he was exhausted by lunchtime and had to have at least one nap nearly every day. Now, he only needs naps if he doesn't get enough sleep at night.

Last week we went to the (fourth) specialist. Dr. Pearlman is an expert hepatologist (not herpetologist) and a very friendly, warm man. His passion is helping hepatitis C patients, and it is clear he knows exactly what he is doing. He is hoping to be able to help with a drug trial starting in January/February of 2013, with a drug combination that will be considerably less damaging and miserable for Alan than any other treatment presently available. Every other option we have includes interferon, a substance the body produces when a person has the flu. Interferon treatments basically make a person feel like they have the flu throughout the treatment. Fevers, chills, exhaustion, nausea, headaches, low red or white blood cell count, and other draining side effects are the norm. Worst of all, if a person does not respond to interferon treatments, or the treatment has to be discontinued (which happens frequently because of the severe side effects), the patient is far less likely to ever respond to any treatment in the future. But it looks like it is possible we will be able to do a treatment without interferon. Please pray that this will work out, if it is best!

We have been told there is about a 60-70% chance that any treatment available, interferon-based or otherwise, will be able to conquer this particular strain of the hepatitis C virus (1b). However, Dr. Pearlman was very encouraging as he shared his enthusiasm about the latest developments in treatment for hep C. He feels confident that even if Alan does not qualify for this treatment (and we should know next month if he does), within the next year there will be several good options for other drug trial treatments.

For those who are enthusiastically encouraging us to try natural remedies, we are doing what we can in the midst of our busyness. We have started juicing with organic vegetables, and Alan has been walking to work whenever he can. He also has started going to the gym to work out (since it is getting cold now). We don't have the money (or the faith) to invest in a lot of the expensive therapy courses that have apparently done wonderful things for other people, though we are thankful that so many people care about us enough to share the information. (Thank you all!)

Some kind and generous friends of ours, Susanne and Bryan Vyhmeister, have started a fundraising campaign to help us raise money to help with our unexpected medical expenses. Whatever you donate will go toward the cost of organic food for juicing and eating, child care during doctor's appointments, etc. If we get enough, it will help us cover the cost of sending Alan to Eden Valley in Colorado for treatments (hopefully in January when he has a little more time). But please don't feel obligated to give. We know that God will provide for our needs, as He always has.

There is also a wonderful FB page that the Vyhmeisters have started for us, PrayforAlan. It is exciting to me to see how many people are praying for us (451 right now!), and that is also a way to get brief, regular updates on our progress.

This week we should get back results from Alan's blood work last week, and also from the MRI. The doctors are wanting to be sure he doesn't have any signs of liver cancer, but so far we haven't seen any, so we are optimistic on that front. We will let you know, here and in the PrayforAlan group.

Thank you all! Blessings!

Problem resolved

Last week as I read to the boys about Daniel being taken away to Babylon, I tried to make it more personal.  "Can you imagine how sad Daniel and his friends were when they had to leave their family and never see them again? What would you do if you were taken away from Mommy and Daddy and would never see us again? Would you believe that God wasn't loving, and listen to Satan's lies? Or would you always resolve to follow God?"

"I would resolve to follow God!" Seth assured me.

"I would wesolve to follow God, too," Skyler declared, "whatever wesolve is!"

Lesson learned

A chronic complaining habit has been plaguing our house lately, so during yet another paroxysm of "the blues," I decided a little parable was in order on the way home from church.

"Anaya," I began, "have you ever heard the story of the woman whose house was too small?" As the story unfolded and the woman's complaints to her husband escalated, the boys stopped their backseat chatter.

"So the woman went to her pastor and told him about her problem. And do you know what the pastor told her?"

"No, what?"

"He told her to bring the goat in the house for the week."

As the goat walked all over the woman's toes and interfered with her work all week, everyone in the back seat was quiet (oh miracle of miracles in itself!). Then when the woman returned to church a week later, she told the pastor what a terrible week it had been with the goat in the house. I asked, "And what do you think the pastor said?"

"To take the goat out?"

"Nope. The pastor said, 'Now bring the chickens in the house too!"

The kids giggled as the chickens spread feathers in the soup all week and pecked at the woman's hands as she chopped vegetables, while the goat stepped on her feet. "And when she went back to church the next week, she told the pastor what a terrible week it had been! And he said, 'How big is your bedroom?' And what do you think the pastor told her to do?"

Anaya was ready. "Bring in the cow!"

So another week passed rapidly in our story, with the cow lowing beside the bed all night, the chickens pecking all week and the goat eating out of the trash can.

At the end of the final week, of course, the pastor told the woman to take the animals back to the barnyard, and predictably, the woman was thrilled at the spaciousness of her house.

"Anaya," I queried, "did you learn anything from this story?"

"Well, Mommy..." she demurred, "I would rather just think about it and not say."

"No problem," I agreed. "Boys, did you learn anything?"

"I did!" Skyler blurted. "Don't tell the pastor anyfing!"

Sunday, October 14, 2012

In everything give thanks?

Last night was the final meeting in a three-day series of meetings with Doug Batchelor, and after three late nights, the kids were uber-hyper by bedtime. I couldn't stop the boys from giggling, and exasperated, I finally had to spank them to get them to quiet down. Finally I instructed them all to stay in their beds at all costs, and closed the bedroom door to muffle the howling.

Since we have a guest this week (So glad Randy Siebold could squeeze in a stop at our house!), Anaya was sleeping in the boys' room. Within a few minutes of putting them to bed, she crept out of the room to me.


"This better be good. What are you doing out of bed?"

"Mommy, I just wanted to encourage you. Remember, 'I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.'"

A few minutes later she was back. "Mommy, I just wanted to let you know something. I heard Skyler making noise in his bed, and I thought he was talking. But then I listened and he was singing, "Rejoice in the Lord always."

Well, at least something is sticking.

Weally sweet

I overheard the boys in casual conversation this morning and it warmed my heart.

Seth: "Skyler, do you wonder if God is real?"
Skyler: "No. I just know He is weal."
Seth: "Yeah. Me too."

Friday, October 12, 2012

Blessings and miracles

Two weeks ago today Alan was anointed by several close friends within his pastoral circle. We all prayed together for God's will, and if it be for the glory of God, for Alan's healing. Many of you joined us from afar, and we sensed the presence of the Lord with us powerfully.

I am delighted to report that while we have evidences that Alan is not completely healed, he does have significantly more energy than he had for some months prior to the anointing. We observed this immediately. Alan has not needed a nap every day when he came home for lunch, something that has been nearly indispensable for some time. And he has been able to get by on 8 hours of sleep or less per night. This was an immediate answer to prayer, and nothing short of miraculous.

I have total faith that God can heal my husband, and that if He does not, it is because He has something better in store through this situation. But it has been a great boost of faith even for me, to see that God has done something miraculous to intervene in our situation already.

Whether this is a temporary miracle to enable Alan to accomplish the many extra responsibilities heaped upon him right now, or a permanent blessing, we do not know. We are simply grateful for the blessings as they come.

We are also very grateful for the prayers that so many are sending up in our behalf. Thank you all, so much! We know that prayer does not change the heart of God, but it changes us. It enables Him to pour out blessings that will make a difference for good in our lives and the lives of others in our support network. If we do not pray, we are likely to take for granted whatever blessings are given to us.

Please pray for us specifically this week, that our appointment with the specialist on Wednesday the 17th will go well. If possible, we hope that Alan can qualify for a new drug combination that may have a trial in Atlanta starting in January. We are afraid to get our hopes up, but if he qualifies, it would make it possible for Alan to finish treatment in only 24 weeks, instead of 48. He also might escape some of the terrible side effects of other drugs, and have a higher likelihood of recovery.

Thank you all again. We are so, so grateful for all of you, and most of all, grateful to God for sustaining us through everything.