Friday, December 31, 2010

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALS! (Part 2)

I have been taught that goals must be S.M.A.R.T - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. I don't know who to give credit to on this, as I have heard it many times in school and work. However, I have always added one more 'S' at the end to make it SMARTS. That stands for Share. The more people you have following up with you, the more likely you will be successful. So, share your goals and you become more accountable to those you share them with. They become your goal keeper. Or in soccer, a goalie.

Now, this is not a sticky point to me. If you want to make a goal that you feel does not fit this SMARTS method, do it. Life is, generally, all about improvement. Use whatever vehicle makes you better.

With that said, here are SOME of my goals for the year. They are written in more specific terms elsewhere. This just gets it out. Tiffany will be my goal keeper. Time to go score a few for the team.


1 - Add on to the house.

Before Tiffany's medical concerns, we were finishing up drawings and had contacted an engineer to finalize the plans. I will likely wait a couple of months before I continue this process to make sure nothing flares up with Tiffany. But we need the room, and I have always been excited to draw up my own plans. That and the fact we like our home, location, an most importantly, the people around us, that we want to stay - so adding on is the thing to do.

2 - Brush up on my photography skills - including adding necessary photography equipment and software and become a master at using them.

I have always been interested in photography. I did weddings while in college, which was more of a way to pay for my hobby. I don't know how I did it; I had film equipment then. I can't imagine doing it again without the digital equipment we have today.

3 - Weight Management. Because it seems we all do it. Even those who don't need it (I am unfortunately not in that category) seem to work on this. I told a departing missionary that I would lose 70 pounds before he got back. He left in August. I lost 18 pounds after he left, only to gain some (probably most) back this holiday season.

4 - Find a way to pay forward all the good people have given to us over the last month. I have thought a lot about this one and know it will be difficult to determine when this is completed. Because it will never be finished. Oh well, some goals don't always fit the mold.

5 - Finish my goals.

Because, in the end, why would I make goals if I don't ever attain them?

I hope you all have had a chance to review some resolutions and goals for the next year. I expect you to help hold me accountable to the ones above (and others if you are privy to them all).

Cheers,

Nathan

Thursday, December 30, 2010

GOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAALS! (Part 1)

Some men see things as they are and say, "Why?" I dream of things that never were and say, "Why not?"
~George Bernard Shaw



I am a creature of habit. Without fail, every January 1 I generally come up with some good goals that I want to accomplish the next year. Ones that will make me better, smarter, richer, and yes, even thinner (I'm always trying to lose that weight Tiffany continues to put on me. It's all her fault). But part of that habit entails starting strong and after about two weeks, my goals have gone by the wayside.

I have a coworker who is quite the rabid enthusiast when it comes to making and keeping goals. For the last six years I have been quite amazed at the attentiveness and ability she has had to keep to her goals. The one goal I think she missed over the last few years was one that she made with me. She wanted to learn some Chinese, (which some of you may recall I learned on a mission I served in Canada) and together we were going to brush up on our Chinese. Well, she missed that goal that year. I felt bad, because she is not one to miss her goals and because of me she did.

It has caused me to pause and consider my great ability to procrastinate and not accomplish what I set out to do. I get bored with things after just a few days, or possibly weeks. To be honest, I am amazed that I have continued this blog as long as I have. If it wasn't for people asking me how Tiffany is doing, I bet I would have moved on. With that said, I think this lack of accomplishing goals has done something else for me. I think that I learn a lot of different skill sets in a lot of different subject areas because I move on so often. It has made me a Jack of many trades, but master of very few. But I want to master some skills. And I am going to try again. Like the little green warrior said:

Do or do not, there is no try.
~Yoda


OK, so tomorrow, I will post a few of my (and possibly Tiffany's) goals for next year. Hoping that an open audience will hold me to them, acting, as it were, as my conscience. It's time to start saying to myself, "why not?"

I hope you will think of some yourself.

Cheers,

Nathan

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

And a Happy New Year

The three youngest are up at Grandma's house. Dallin is home with me and Tiffany. Tiffany is getting over her cold, mine continues to drag along, and sometimes seems to be getting worse. Snow is coming down fast. The temperature is falling. Christmas is over. As soon as New Year's is over, we get into the long drawn out part of winter. You know the kind. Where your fingers and toes never seem to warm up. It's dark when you get up for work, dark when you get home from work, and may even wonder if the sun ever actually got itself up and out of bed. Cabin fever sets in and unless you have a chance to hit the slopes, there really isn't much to look forward to. I was never really sure why people say, 'Happy New Year'. Really? I think that should be like May 1st, not January.

But isn't that the way it should be? Shouldn't we be happy even during the dreariness of life? Think, when it's snowing, I don't have to do yard work. I can sit and watch a football game (though, I admit, I rarely do) and not feel guilty that the lawn isn't mowed. I think that is why I enjoy the Winter Olympics more than the Summer; I generally don't have other activities that require my time in February. But the same is said about sickness and poor health. The over used saying of, it's '10% what happens and 90% of how you react to it' really is accurate. This scare with Tiffany's cancer was a blow, no doubt, but honestly, we have grown as we have tried to look at the goodness that has come from what should be a low point in life.

So, with that said, I hope that this coming Saturday that you will have A Happy New Year.

Cheers,

Nathan

Monday, December 27, 2010

The Sum Of All Acquaintences


Be courteous to all, but intimate with few, and let those few be well tried before you give them your confidence.
~George Washington

Sunday, a good man stopped me in the hall at church for a second, and asked how the family and the wife were doing. I gave a short answer and we started in our separate directions when he called out, 'Nate - your a good man'.

I hope so. I have to be. I've got a wife and four children counting on it, a boss and coworkers betting on it, and a mom who will set me straight if I'm not.

I heard a long time ago, that none of us are our own person. We are the sum of all the people we come in contact with.

I am grateful for good friends. The ones that have taken the time to get to know me well enough to give me direction, feedback, and encouragement. They are also the ones that slap me upside the head when needed, stop me in times of stupidity, and yet love me when the stupidity happens any ways.

So if (and that is a big if) I am a good man, it is because of all the good people that are in my life who have rubbed off on me as I continue this joyous journey of life. Mostly, I am grateful for my good wife who does most of the heavy lifting along the way.

Thanks, friend.

Cheers,

Nathan



PS. If you need a friend who can slap you upside the head, let me know, I will be there for you. ;)

It's About Time....

I've been following this blog from the beginning; granted, the early posts are a little hazy. Every day, I've looked forward to reading what Nathan has had to say, and to tell the truth, I have really been quite impressed by his ability to express the deeper meanings of all that has transpired over the past month. I've felt that I really couldn't say it better myself, so I have been happy to step back and enjoy reading. It really has been a blessing to us both, and we hope that by sharing our experiences, we will in some way bless others as well. That being said.....In response to the latest post entitled "Keys" I feel I must interject some items that need some clarification and in some ways, correction. (This is what wives do best. I have Nathan's permission. I tried to get him to change his post, but he said if I had something to say, I had to say it myself. He really asked for it. :0))
When we were at the Surgeon's office trying to decide when to set a surgery date, we went back and forth, whether to schedule it for the following Tuesday, or two Tuesdays from that date. We did talk about spending time with the kids and getting the house in order, but the clincher was really the fact that our 11th Anniversary was on Dec. 4th. Nathan had planned an overnight stay in Salt Lake, with dinner and tickets to the production of "Savior of the World." I decided that the surgery would have to wait. I must admit, I did question that decision afterwards. I thought, "Is this wise? If the doctors are that anxious to get me treated, should I really wait this long?" Hindsight really is 20/20. I am so grateful for that decision. During that extra week, I had the opportunity to not only spend time with my sweet children, but I got to celebrate the anniversary of the best, most important day of my life, with the best most important person in my life.
Don't believe him when he says that all he is, is the bread winner, and that all he does is bring in the cash and pick up after himself every once in a while. For the past 11 years he has been my "voice of reason", my closest confidante,and my best friend. He continues to surprise me with the wonderful gifts he has and continues to teach me, by example, the way to serve and to love. I look forward to spending an eternity with him, and I hope I can do more to pay him than with an occasional meal and a smile.
An eternity is made up of lots and lots of moments, days, and weeks. I'm excited for the time I have been given to show those I care about, that I love them. It really only takes a moment.

Do it now.....while you still have time.

Love

Tiffany

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Keys

I don't have Tiffany's permission at this time. So read the juicy text while you can.

Two days before Thanksgiving, the doctor told us that she wanted Tiffany to have surgery and start with chemo shortly thereafter. I asked the doc if we could wait until after Christmas, to which she torted a quick no. We had a window of opportunity to nip this in the bud, so to say; She was healthy, more viable when going through bouts of chemo.

She sent us right then to see the spleen surgeon, and with him and his nurses, set the time for the splenectomy - two weeks from that day. Not exactly what the doctor wanted us to do. We wavered with the time a bit. We wanted to follow the doctors orders, but we wanted something else. We were scared. We were scared for us - Tiffany in her situation, I in mine. What happened to her would directly impact how I would need to act and react. And what happened to Tiffany would also impact the children.

Mom is their life. I often work from home, and in many ways, I can be counted on being home more often than Mom when they get home from school. But every day they come in from being dropped off it is not me they are trying to find. Usually, within seconds of opening the door, someone yells out, "Mom!?, Where are you!?". If they can't find her, they will usually knock on my door after a quick search around the house and ask, "Do you know where Mom is?".

In the same vein, the corollary is true as well. Tiffany is very protective of her little ones. She is very concerned for their education, physical well being, emotional status, and most important to her (and to me), their spiritual stature. She will more often than naught be found helping them succeed, and to her credit, openly acknowledges that she hates to see them struggle to such a point, she gives them added guidance (which I take as meaning 'too much' guidance).

Me, I am here merely as some guy bringing in the cash and occasionally picks up after himself. She will pay me off from time to time with a smile or a meal or two. :)

So as we contemplated on the timing of the surgery, Tiffany quickly decided that she needed time to spend with each of her kids in a way that she could help them understand that she loved them, and, that no matter what happened down the road, that there was a plan already in place that would give them guidance and help throughout life. This required time, time which the doctors didn't want her to have; Too bad, her children always come before doctors. The surgery was scheduled a week later than the doctors had indicated they wanted.

The simple plan; Take one child and spend one night with them, taking them on the train to Salt Lake City and to Temple Square, where they had ample opportunity to eat, have a little fun, see the lights, and converse one with another. This allowed her to enjoy her children before what looked like a bleak future as far as time spent having fun with her children. It also gave her that chance to share her love and testimony for each of them before the surgery started.

The love came in the appearance of a small key. A keepsake that the children were given to wear around their necks as a reminder of the love their mother had for them. They were to keep them, because, around moms neck would be a lock. A lock that their key would figuratively unlock. As part of the presentation of the key, Tiffany would not only talk about her love for them, but help them understand the 'keys' to life - mainly, do what it takes to get to the temple (hence, the Temple Square visit).

She gave a quote of one of her forebears, Frederick William Jones, Sr, the Patriarch to a family of five who became deathly ill as he was crossing the plains of Wyoming in the Hodgett Wagon company, which was the wagon company accompanying the famed Martin Handcart Company (see here for more details on this inspiring story of the Westward expansion). Just before he passed on, he gathered his family around and offered this epitaph,


"I have pointed you Zionward and I want you never to turn back. God is in his heaven and all is right with us whether we are in this earth or out of it. God will be with you. If you stumble and fall back, pick yourselves up and go on again."


In essence, this was Tiffany's war cry, her motto through this and all trials. With the future unknown, though peace was spoken to our hearts, the children may not have understood. She hoped that this, if not now, will one day stand as their motto to live by. That they have been pointed in the right direction, and no matter what happens, they too can know that the God in the heavens is in charge and all is right because of this. And that no matter what, they can always get back up, no, that they should always get back up and go on again.

The keys became instant prized possessions. Emma proudly showed hers off to her friends at school the next day. Dallin and Logan did the same. Porter, well, we are happy that he understands it's a key.

We find one from time to time around the house, not really where it should be, but knowing it was being used by its owner to get to where it was found. Knowing also that they had the opportunity to spend time with mom in a crucial moment of both their lives.

We hope that you all have 'keys' in your life that help you through life's trials.

She never gave me a key. Well, not true. I got mine 11 years earlier when we were sealed for time and all eternity.

I just hope I can live equal to her amazing faith in spite of uncertainty found in life.

Cheers,

Nathan

Friday, December 24, 2010

Merry Christmas

A child was born. And life as we know it has changed forever.

That was a thought I had over ten years ago, just after Dallin was born. Life has forever changed in our household. With each new child brought additional change. There was greater joy, greater love, greater understanding. And, granted, there have been sibling rivalries created along the way (wink). :)

There has much been said about the Christ child, in whom we celebrate this wonderful season. With his birth, the world changed forever. Miraculous as his birth was, we don't celebrate Him because of his birth. We celebrate because of what he did. His eternal gift to each of us. We call it the Atonement. Few, including myself, fully comprehend what this Atonement means. Though, I think we can all feel it's all encompassing ability.

I have felt the atonement as I have made changes in my life to try to become a better person. Only through this power can I make up for things in which I lack. I have felt this Atonement as I have made eternal commitments to my wife and family. Only through this power are we able to have eternal companions. I have felt the atonement as we continue to go through life's troubled experiences. Only with this power will bring true peace and joy.

So I say to you all, Merry Christmas. May the Atonement of Christ be in your hearts and in your life. If you need peace, He is where you will find it.

A child was born. And life as we know it has changed forever.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Anticipation


I decided a few years ago that I like the anticipation of holidays, vacations, special events, than the actual events. Not that the events themselves are worthless or exciting or fun, rather, knowing that once the event is upon me, it will soon be over.

Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. I prefer Christmas Eve over Christmas for this very reason. The holiday is not over yet. The fun, family, and excitement are planned all day long as we strive to teach our children what Christmas is all about. I get to watch their excitement as they patiently, and impatiently, wait for the time to go to bed. Their inability to sleep as sugar-plum thoughts dance through their head, forcing them to try to close their eyes tighter in hopes that helps them sleep quicker. That, to me, is the fun. Then comes Christmas morning and all the anticipation is over, and the kids rip open gifts, and they find, in retrospect, that as fun as that was, it was never really as fun as they anticipated.

I find that the experience meets or exceeds expectations only when there is a greater purpose behind the event. A purpose greater than us. Selfishness is not happiness. Which I think is the reason parents often find greater happiness at Christmas than the kids do (watch this and see what you think - I think I am on to something here). They want to give their children everything. Because to give, truly is the excitement.

I anticipate a good Christmas.

I just wish it would never end.

Nathan

Poor, Poor, Tiffany

I have tried, short of kicking her out of the house... er... actually, I tried that as well, to keep her from getting what I and the kids have been fighting for the last week. Emma came down with a cold about a week ago, keeping her from going to school. Since then, the rest of the kids, including Porter and his trip to the ER for croup, and myself have been sick.

As Tiffany continues to recover from the surgery, she finds it still hurts if she coughs and sneezes. Watching her makes you want to both cry and laugh when she does. She tries hard not to let it come, which is funny to watch. It is almost impossible to slowly release a sneeze, and watching Tiffany try is hilarious. Then it comes, and then it hurts, and then I feel bad that I thought it was funny in the first place. So trying to keep her from getting sick was a good idea. She was forced on the couch one or two nights, another day she was kicked out of the house to stay with the Home Teachers (who have been the best home teachers one could ever have), and have tried all sorts of old wivery tricks at keeping colds at bay.

We just couldn't do it. She finally succumbed to the onslaught that was there in the home.

She doesn't complain though.

Something she hasn't done through the last few months.

Guess I don't know why she would start now.

We hope your holidays are illness free. But if not, cheers to you any ways.

Nathan

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

3000 words and counting

There are always two people in every picture: the photographer and the viewer.
~Ansel Adams








Thanks for the pics, Annie and all. We are very appreciative.

I will place more pics on future posts.

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Gratitude Debt

With Christmas around the corner, we feel like we are living in a state of never ending Thanksgiving. Even after the good news we have heard, well wishes and prayers continue to stream in. And we don't deserve it. Both Tiffany and I have had conversations, the most recent one just a few hours ago after another angelic angel arrived at our door, concerning the blessing of good friends, good neighbors, and a wonderful family.

We honestly don't deserve what people have done and continue to do for us. We feel indebted for what everybody has done for us.

I started a list tracking everything that everyone has done for us. This list has been expanding and bulging over the last month, and I fear I have lost count of some of the acts of kindness and service people have done on our behalf. Not because of ingratitude, but because I honestly don't have room to receive it. There have been many days, today being one of them, that there are so many people calling and stopping by that I can't keep up with everybody who stops by or calls. I can't. I have work to do.

We have tried the best we can to keep up with thank you cards and notes and given the proper gratitude we can. Please accept my apologies if you have not received a thank you. We are no doubt behind and will hopefully send one your way. We are thankful for everything and words cannot express our heart felt gratitude.

Today, we had a friend from our ward stop by bearing gifts equal to the best gifts anybody has ever received. She is a photographer and does marvelous work. We have seen some of her pictures before and are amazed at the beautiful prints she creates.

Two days before Tiffany was to have surgery, she came to our home with the intent to take pictures of the family as we went about doing family things. Well, bless her heart, we were in such a daze that day. Dallin woke up and Tiffany thought she found lice in his hair. So after church (we left him home - didn't want to give this to any one else at church) she and another good friend gave him the look over and couldn't tell if there was lice or not, but opted to treat him anyway (we now think it was just a scare, no lice was ever found and nothing ever came of it). Shortly thereafter, others came to the door, sharing with us their love and concern for Tiffany. Add to that the phone calls and the family clamouring for attention, we really weren't ready for pictures. She came by and we asked for some more time to prepare. She was so gracious as she left, after we had taken up some of her precious time, and said she would be back in an hour or so and we could do it then.

We rushed around and got ourselves ready. We did a pretty good job considering we have 6 people to try to get the right clothes on, hair done, shoes on, hair done again, and out the door. The day was was foggy and having an idea where she wanted to take the pictures, it was bound to be a sweet photo shoot.

She came, we went on location, she took some photos, we mused, she took more pictures, and then a few more. She brought props; a couple of chairs. One she had used in other pictures I had seen her take, and after discussing with her, one of her favorite finds. It was an older style Victorian padded chair - of which I may be off in my description, but hopefully that gives you an idea. We took a few pictures with it, and opted to move on down the path with her other prop, another chair, and old school desk chair - made for the size of young grade schoolers, and left this first chair behind.

As we came back, I was looking for the first chair to grab it and put it back in the car. But to all of our dismay, it was gone. Somebody had thieved it. To this day, I am peeved. Here she was, giving of her time and talents in blessing the life of someone else, and her chair was stolen. Money will not buy back that chair. It was a special and unique chair. I have vowed to keep my eyes open for one that might replace it. Please do the same for those that know what it looks like. I will gladly pay what we need to replace it as best as we can.

Well, perhaps one might say that sacrifice brings blessings. With the chair being sacrificed, the gift she was to give became that much greater. To which we are ever so grateful. Today, she came with her daughter holding at least a dozen pictures of various sizes and layouts.

All of them are favorites. She did a marvelous job. Then came the kicker, she pulled out a 16X20 of Tiffany and I, and all around the canvas were signatures and names of individuals and families who had donated and assisted in making this gift happen. (She did say some individuals who had helped were unable to sign - and we invite them to come and sign it when they get a chance.)

Emotions were high. Tears were shed. Some were held back. We don't feel like we deserve the goodness that has been given us. We don't.

She did give me release to print additional copies for personal use, but to ensure I don't over step her artistic rights and protect the gift she has given, I will ask her (have yet to do so) for permission to post some of them on this blog. They are as wonderful a gift we could ever receive.

Thank you to all who are soo kind. So giving, so generous. Please stop. We honestly don't have room to receive all the kindness that are being tossed our way. We look forward to paying off this debt as we find ways to give back that which we have received.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest
appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~John F. Kennedy (1917-1963)

Nathan

Monday, December 20, 2010

And Heaven and Nature Sing, And Heaven and Nature...

...In our continuing saga, Tiffany continues to mystify the doctors. In trying to piece the puzzle together, it would appear that the doctors (multiple at this stage, and in consultation one with another) still hold that the bone marrow biopsy that diagnosed Tiffany looks like hepatosplenic T-cell lymphoma. However, they did not find any in the spleen or the liver. The mystery comes as they are now thinking that Tiffany may have ITP, a condition that lowers the platelet levels, and in turn, has no apparent connection to what they found in the bone marrow. The fact that she is not showing any symptoms of what they would expect in someone who has hepatosplenic T-Cell lymphoma keeps the mystery continueing. For now, the decision has been to simply watch her. Initially (last week) the doctor was thinking once every six weeks or so. But because they still think the bone marrow looks like it contains cancer, they want to see her every couple of weeks or so to continue blood tests and watch for further symptoms, if any, to come.

I reserve the right to share some of my thoughts on this later, but suffice it to say, we are excited in that there is enough mystery here that still holds out hope that things will be OK. We believe a miracle has been created by the countless prayers and we are excited that, if at least for now, we get to celebrate Christmas and enjoy bringing in the New Year without spending it in the hospital.

It would have been a Christmas to remember. Indeed, it already is.

I was hoping this would end with the call from the doctors today, that they would say all was misdiagnosed and that there was nothing to worry about. Instead, we go forward, with an eye of faith, knowing that there is still no reason to worry. We still believe that the God of the heavens is in charge. Knowing that - is all the peace we need.

Joy to the world.

Nathan

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Daddy, hold my hand

Just to set the record straight, I love to play sports, all kinds. I was the defensive end (quarterback killer) in high school. I can hang with the boys that play basketball. I heat up my salsa with about any kind of sauce I can find (always in search for a better tasting hot sauce so send help if you know of any), enjoy throwing anything meat onto the BBQ, and can down a 2 liter faster than most, though I haven't tried since I was a teenager. I like long hikes, enjoy backpacking with Dad (when are we going next, Pops?), and savor simple manly things, like motorcycles (I loved those days, Jason), F22's (shout out, Rob), and anything remotely electronic.

So last night, if you recall the last post, I had Porter in our room while Tiffany was sent downstairs. One oversight from last nights post; it sounded like I was a ruthless wife something or other. Who would force his wife to go sleep on the couch while she was still recovering from surgery? You must know that for most of a good week, that is where she opted to sleep. According to Tiff, the couch was perfect mix of softness where it needed to be, firmness where it needed to be, and she was able to lay back at the correct angle, something many of us without abdominal surgery will probably never understand. That said, it's not as though I was banishing her to some miserable outer waste dump. She slept comfortably, and notably, better than I. - Just wanted to set the record straight on this.

OK, back to the story at hand. Porter was in our room, and as is often the case, forced himself onto the bed. How that happens it is beyond me, but there he was and there he stayed. His breathing was weak, and airy. Wispy at times, which caused him to stir all night long. He would wake up long enough to sit up, cough, groan, sometimes cry, and fall back down to the pillow. For the most part of two hours this had happened over and over again, taking any sleep that I was hoping for away from me. In many ways, it started to wear on me. Patience grew thin. And somehow he knew how to handle the situation.

Somewhere between 2 and 3 am, he called out to me, saying, 'Daddy, Hold my hand."

The part above about all the manly stuff I have done, held nothing to the emotions that hit me at that early hour. Any ill feeling I had, was gone. I held out my hand to where his was already outstretched and grabbed on to those little pudgy fingers. And then he fell into a silent, deep breathing sleep.

I have since pondered on that moment. I like to think that life experiences are a metaphor to the grander scheme of things. Trouble comes in our life. Sometimes we seek for it, sometimes it finds us, but either way, we get it. It is in those troubling hours, after we seek to comfort ourselves with deceit or trickery, that we find solace does not come. Only then do we call out, "Daddy, Hold my hand". And then He does. He carries us and comforts us, insomuch that we can then get the rest we need. Our troubles don't normally go away. Sometimes that is not what He is there to do. Often, it is just a comfort to know that he is there, and that is all we need, and that is all He gives us.

Porter is still sick. His breathing is still croupy (see blog post Me - 1, Tiffany - 0, for more info on this), and has since given the sickness to me. But he was comforted by the touch of his fathers hand. The same comfort that Tiffany and I have received as we sought the comfort we need...

"Father, hold our hands as we journey through this next trial."

Cheers,

And may we all have a restful night.

Nathan

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Me - 1, Tiffany - 0

So Tiffany is getting slowly better. Really it's like a roller coaster ride. She feels good one day, so she gets up and gets around. She does too much, body shuts down, and the next day she rests. So she rests all day and body re-energizes, and, voila!, she does too much the next. A wicked cycle that the tough know about. Me, I don't. I would be the one to sit on my throne and wait out until I am fully recovered. But not Tiffany. She has a household to run, kids that need/want her attention. A husband that needs continuing tutoring in how to run a tight ship. As far as she is concerned, she doesn't have time to recover, her duties never stop.

Add to this that Porter now has a fever (poor guy), which she wants to help, but the last thing she needs is to get sick. But isn't that a mom's job? Aren't they the ones that step in, sacrificing their own well-being for that of their children? She has tried. But alas, I win in this first battle. She has to sleep on the couch tonight! (note - never in our marriage have one of us been forced by the other to sleep on the couch - true story!)

That is because Porter has a croupy cough (note that most mothers probably know how to spell that, know of the Greek origin of the name, understand the symptoms, and have five different treatments, each one with different side effects and outcomes based on the time and place the illness was diagnosed. I am just happy that I think I know how to say it.) The method of treatment Tiffany decided on was sleep, Motrin, humidifier, and a careful eye on his breathing. We have had one too many bouts with this and we don't want another scary trip to the hospital late in the night.

So out comes the humidifier, but that works best in smaller rooms. To have a careful eye would mean he needs to sleep near us. So the Port gets a makeshift bed in our room, while I, who is watching out for Tiffany's health, kicks her out of our room down to the couch. She understands and is a willing participant, but never the less, I win.

Emma turned 8 Today

Happy Birthday to my little girl.

I know I shouldn't say this, but I feel sad for the Dads that don't have a little girl. Either they are ruthless and shouldn't have a little girl to watch grow up, or they are soft enough that they don't need one.

I need one. And am grateful for my Emma.









Friday, December 17, 2010

No news is....

We have ensured the phone was next to us all day long. Nothing came. The doctor did not call. We are not ones to force bad news to come, so we thought we would wait, hoping that good news comes to those who wait.

From our standpoint, we are going to wait until Monday, and if nothing by mid-day Monday, we are calling the doctor. Patience is a virtue, but only for so long. :)

Cheers, and good night.

Nathan

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Mischief

The robbed that smiles, steals something from the thief. ~William Shakespeare, Othello


Smile, and the whole world thinks you are up to something. ~Author Unknown


The world always looks brighter from behind a smile. ~Author Unknown

Life is like a mirror, we get the best results when we smile at it. ~Author Unknown

Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing. ~Mother Teresa



Wonder what they are up to?



Maybe I will tell you sometime.

Keep Smilin'!

Nathan

PS The last ones face is dirty. I thought that truly showed the mischief he was up to. Probably just stole some chocolate chip cookies!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Ode to the women of our lives

For the last month or so, I have tried to prep myself for what life was to become. Not knowing how the splenectomy would affect Tiffany. Not knowing how chemo would affect my wife's energy. Not knowing how long this would last, I figured that it would be best if I just took the stance that she would be able to do very little and considered the following:

All this would mean taking over family responsibilities Tiffany has been doing, for, well, forever. Getting the kids up, getting them dressed, fed, prepped for the day and out the door. It meant trying to pick up the house, make dinner, do dishes, clean and fold laundry. It meant doing the finances (some people may think it funny, that I, being an accountant, have left the finances to my wife to do. But number crunching when I get home from work just isn't my thing - that, and Tiffany has said she loves to count the money, so it works out great for both of us), paying the bills, clipping the coupons. It meant becoming the chauffeur, the chef, the maid, the gardener. It meant wiping faces, breaking up fights, reading stories, and finding lost shoes. It meant helping with homework, helping with school projects, ensuring hair is combed, and that baths are taken. It meant to be available for choir ensembles, ukulele concerts, sporting games, and chess tournaments. It meant playing hide-and-go-seek, watching Barney, drawing stick figures, and playing with balloons. It meant to give hugs in times of sorrow, to encourage in times of defeat, and congratulate in times of success. It meant to lead in prayers, scripture study, and to teach this by example. It meant all these things, and more. Not that I never helped out, but I have to admit that I leave a lot of these responsibilities to Tiffany. She is the one that directs all this. All I do is take responsibility to go to work (which, for what is worth, is work). Then come home and do what Tiffany needed done.

But you see, over the past month I started prepping myself to become that great nurturer. And to do it while trying to take care of my wife's new needs. At first, it seemed overwhelming and daunting. It forced me on my knees. But as time went on, and seeing the help I would get as I learned these responsibilities from friends and loved ones, I started to understand the divine nature that women, or at least my wife (though I have seen it in many other women, especially mothers), instinctively have. I won't speak for all men, but I think generally, we men don't understand this divine gift our women have. I have always said Tiffany was amazing. Now it is beyond amazement.

I have that understanding opened to me over the last few weeks as I wanted to give my family the best without the benefit of having both a mother and a father caring for them. It has had me ache for one parent households and all they have to accomplish. But it also excited me, as I had some understanding placed before my eyes. I know now, more than I ever did, how much my wife has done for our family (and for that matter, how much my mom did while I was growing up). I also understand the needs that my little family has.

Not knowing what the future currently holds, we hope to find out more tomorrow, I have come to the conclusion that if nothing else, this experience has given me this wonderful gift which will strengthen me forever more. It's just to bad that I am so bullheaded. Life would be easier if I could learn these lessons without having to go through these tough trials.

The future is exciting. It matters not the difficulties that lay ahead. God is in charge; if we simply put faith in Him we will all learn the lessons we need to in this life and prepared for the next. There is definitely Joy of this, our Journey.

I hope you see your journey in the same light.

Nathan

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

The Joy of Miracles

Miracles happen every day, change your perception of what a miracle is and you'll see them all around you.
~Jon Bon Jovi


Hepatosplenic T-Cell Lymphoma is supposed to be an aggressive form of cancer. It should quickly spread to the liver and spleen. So when we went to the doctor today and found that both the spleen and the liver were clean, simply put, we were elated! Well, elated may not be the best word, but it is about as good as I can think right now. There are no words to tell the happiness and excitement we got from hearing that news!

I should stop there. But the rest must be said.

There is still one test the doctor is waiting for on the spleen. She even told us that she could recant the words she said today if that comes back with a positive hit. But even if it doesn't, she is pulling a panel of oncologists, pathologists, and hemotologists on Friday to have a pow-wow over Tiffany's findings. When we asked about the bone marrow test, she didn't have a good answer. The doctors words were that this was a 'mystery'. From my understanding, together the panel will discuss the original findings as well as the additional tests and biopsies and come to a consensus as to how to proceed. So we are cautiously optimistic, as they say, going forward. After having been to two doctors confirming the original results, it would appear that all the prayers, fasting, faith, and friendship have done something like unto a modern day miracle.

I don't want to get ahead of myself, don't want to get too much hope up yet, but I cannot help but feel excited for what I thought was going to be a difficult next few months.

With that said, we ask for continued prayers as we look forward to the results from Friday's little pow-wow. Don't stop now. Things are just getting good. :)

Nathan

Monday, December 13, 2010

Hopes and Fears of...

First.

I figured out where Porter gets it. He gets it from his mom. Tiffany is the great fooler. People come to visit and she sounds and acts as though she is doing great. And she is, but she is in more pain than she lets on. Don't let that stop you from coming over if you were thinking of it, just don't let her get away with telling you that she is OK when she continues to feel the pain.

She woke up this morning feeling a little queasy. She ended up taking a long nap this morning which took care of most of that. As far as the physical pain goes, she is fighting it and she wins most battles, though loses a few here and there. So goes the healing process.

Second.

Hope and fear are mutually exclusive. You can not have both at the same time. We have benefited from hope of late. Tiffany and I read last night in the Old Testament concerning Nebuchadnezzar and his dream. Nebuchadnezzar searched the wise men of the day for an answer to his dream. None could do it. Daniel, however, came forward, and requested the answer from the Lord - and received it. We discussed for some time and off to bed we went. I found out in the morning, that Tiffany, bless her heart, had stayed up to read a blog that concerned somebody else who is struggling with cancer. To her dismay, the blog left her with some despair as she contemplates her own situation. She quickly admitted a belated understanding of the scripture we read the night before. She searched for peace in the wrong place. She decided that to continue to have the peace that she needs, she needs to focus on the One that can give her that peace. It is amazing how hope vanishes quickly when we turn to the worlds views on situations. Prognosis and statistics don't help with peace. If somebody were to tell me I have a 90% chance or a 10% chance, I still don't know where I personally stand. Generally, statistics are a voice of fear. Which is why I liked it when the doctor didn't give us statistics. She simply said, 'we are here to beat this'. And that is our plan.

Third

Tiffany made an appointment to meet with Dr. Glen tomorrow concerning the results from the biopsies of the liver and spleen. I feel some apprehension. I am hoping that we go in tomorrow and the Dr. says that it ‘is all cleared up. Nothing was found!’. And I hope that for many reasons. There have been many prayers offered on our behalf. Some pray that she will be healed. Some pray to give her comfort. Some pray to give her peace. I hope that all those prayers will be answered. But if the first one does not happen tomorrow, we hope the other two are.

Fourth

A word about Mother-in-laws.

Adam was the luckiest man alive. He did not have a Mother-in-law.
~Mark Twain

Mark Twain did not live long enough to know my mother-in-law. Since day one I have had a great relationship with my wifes mother. After stealing her daughter away from her, it would normally have taken years of good works on my part to make up for that which I took away. Luckily for me Tiffany and I gave her four darling grand children which love her dearly, causing her to forgive me of my offenses against her. So much so, that she has so graciously quit her work, left her responsibilities for some time, and came down to stay with us, leaving her husband to battle the cats at home, and help us through this difficult time. I will ever be greatful for the love and service she has offered us. Few people would make the sacrifice she has made. Thank you, Diann, for your help. We appreciate every minute...

... But just remember you will make life difficult for us when you leave. To de-grandmafy the kids is a three day experience for every week they are with you. They expect us to give them the same time and attention and love that you show them and we find that we have not yet perfected that which only grandmothers can give. We have a lot more time and experience to go through to get that good. However, we will gladly take the de-grandmafying experience in exchange of your time and love.

Nathan

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Kids on Sunday

There was never a child so lovely but his mother was glad to get him to sleep.
~Ralph Waldo Emerson


We went to church today. Well, not all of us. Tiffany stayed home as she continues to recuperate while her Mom stayed with her, nursing her ailments.

For those that don't know how things work, I sit on the stand (I am in the bishopric), while my family sits in the congregation. Normally, Tiffany sits in one of the front rows so that I can watch them and, in turn, they can watch me. They know that Dad is watching them and that they better treat Mom with respect and listen to her, because if not, Dad may get up off the stand and come down there and take them out of the meeting. This is more of a threat than anything, as I have yet to do this. With Dallin now 10, Emma a week away from 8, and Logan half way through 5, they generally do great sitting in church by themselves. Not sure if they always listen, but, hey, at least they don't disturb others. I can't say the same for Porter, our terrible two year old. Don't let the cuteness fool you. He is as terrible as they come.


Don't think that he is simply playing ball here. He is really calibrating his arm strength with release accuracy in an effort to send projectiles in the general direction of a sibling. He won't cough up details, but we think he has been practicing for years.


Everybody thinks he is so cute. Yes, his smile is disarming, which is what he wants you to believe. He also wants you to believe that because he is two, he can't do anything wrong. And people buy into it. Amazing!

My question, I now pose to you, is how is it that two adult mothers (Tiffany and her mom) who have expert knowledge in the combat of children decide to send four kids to church with little ole' me? Don't mind that one of which has a deadly accurate baseball throw?

I will tell you how. Knowing that I cannot watch a two year old from the stand, and knowing that I would use my excuse of being on the stand any ways, Tiffany called up another couple in the ward to watch all the kids, specifically the youngest. Mission accomplished! Now comes the most amazing thing about our two year old. This would be assassin we call Porter, not only sits quietly being coddled by good Brother Shingleton while his wife looks on, but I honestly think I caught Porter take a glance at me out of the corner of his eye, and, I swear, I saw an upturned smirk on his face. Kind of saying, "See, Dad, I know how to get what I want." And as proof he gets what he wants, the good Brother Shingleton came later in the day bearing gifts, in the form of rice crispy treats, for the kids for acting so good. I think that was Porters idea all along.

I don't know how he does it, but he seems to get what he wants. But in all gratitude, we thank the Shingletons watching the children today while Dad sat on the stand. As well as the rice crispy treats which didn't make it to the kitchen before a hand was already taking one.

I would like to go into how each one of the kids are dealing with the situation at hand. I have decided that perhaps in other posts I will describe how each one is dealing with this in more detail, but suffice it to say, they are all aware of the situation and each have their own interpretation of what it means to have mom gone. Porter loved the attention he got from Grandma, not even knowing mom was gone. Emma did what she was supposed to do, seeming not to have any change to her daily routine. Logan was the one that seemed to miss mom the most, while Dallin thought it meant more Wii time - but quickly found out that homework and housework must still be done first.


I finish this post, again, with gratitude to our Savior who makes all things bearable, and to his angelic help that each of you are.

To that I end this night,

Cheers,

Nathan

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Joy through this weeks journey

I can't believe that Saturday is already here. I get to be released from the hospital today and needless to say, I'm really excited to be home with Nathan and the little ones. My stay here at University Hospital has been an enjoyable one. On top of everything going so well with my surgery, I have been amazed at how quickly our bodies are able to heal, and how my medical team has really tried to push me along to get me out of here. If it were up to me, I would have been happy to stay in my nice hospital bed...and sleep the week away. The GAS prevented that for sure! (I had terrible gas build up from the surgery itself, and it made any incisional pain or locational pain obsolete. I felt for the first three days, that whenever I stood up that I was having a heart attack..pain would radiate through my shoulders and my chest. The nurses and doctors told me that the only thing I could do to feel better would be to walk..so I walked.....and walked. I was told that 14 times around the nurses station was a mile. I wish I would have kept track how many times I walked around the nurses station....Me, my IV pole and a loved one. I don't like to make gas a topic, but if I could pin point any one thing that has made my ordeal a challenge, it has been the gas.)
My sisters, Andrea and Ashley and my Mom, Diann each took a turn to stay with me one full day and overnight during my recovery. They are all mothers and you can tell that even though they haven't had formal training in nursing, they are all nurturers, and they assisted me like pros. I really reverted back to a toddler in my ability to take care of my most basic needs, and my sweet sisters and mother really stepped up. Those hours just with my sisters and mother were special to me and we had fun talking, joking, and of course walking the hall.(With Andrea, it was more like a shuffle about 10 feet, but by the time my Mom had me, it was multiple times around...I even passed another patient. He said he would catch me around the corner):0)
My babies came to visit me on Wendeday night. I loved their careful kisses and to watch them play with the cute little hospital kit, that was given to us by our neighbors, the DeMilles. The kit included tons of coloring supplies, silly putty, and other fun things to keep busy kids happy in a small hospital room. I noticed the two youngest kiddos would walk carefully over to me and stare at the IV tubes and other equipment surrounding my bed. They looked curious and concerned all at the same time. They would snap out of it though and smile at me and get excited to show me things just like normal. Emma and Dallin spent the time drawing pictures for me: Emma made me a picture of her hand and a cat. Dallin made a "Get well" card and Nathan drew a picture of a helicopter for Porter, who pretended that there was a real helicopter flying around the room. (Just outside my hospital window was the life flight heli-pad and we got to see the helicopters take off and land multiple times during my stay. Way cool!) I can't wait to give my babies a squeeze.
I know that may stay wouldn't have been bearable without knowing that the fort was being held down at home. Thank all of you for supporting Nathan in getting kids to school, babysitting, bringing meals, and for your continued thoughts and prayers. Every offering in our behalf has not gone unnoticed. Thank you all again and again. I know we will miss someone if we try to thank you all individually and we will still try to do our best to show our gratitude in that way, but please forgive us if we fail to do so. I want to say that for me, your prayers and the prayers that that have been offered in the temple in our behalf, have done more for me personally than anything else. I have felt them. I have so much gratitude for my Savior through whom this is possible, and I'm grateful to all of you who have put this power into practice. I know I will never look at prayers the same. I shared this with many individuals before my surgery, that no matter what happens, as long as I am able to have the hope and peace I feel now, accompany me always, I'm going to be okay. Along with the prayers, I have received comfort in knowing that my sweet husband and my sweet babies are being taken care of. This allows me to go forward on my journey-and to go joyfully! I know this isn't easy with everyone being busy with your own families, but know when we get out of this, we are the first to pay it back and to pay it forward!
Please forgive the book, I haven't been able to speak for myself these past few days, so I have alot to say. Most of all, I want to say that so far through my journey this week, I have learned so much about compassion, gratitude, humility, pain, patience, family, the plan, prayer, the priesthood, service, our Savior and joy. These are things we all have to learn about for ourselves. We all learn in different ways. I feel I am getting kind of a crash course, and that's okay....I hardly feel the pain for the Joy. I wish you all a wonderful weekend!

Love,

Tiffany

Laughing Hurts

To truly laugh, you must be able to take your pain, and play with it! - Charlie Chaplin

Friday night was date night. Andrea (Tiffany's sister) took the kids so I could go stay with Tiffany for what we hoped was the last night at the hospital. I opted to take a card game and spruce myself up, as though we were out on the town, becuase we were - we were in Salt Lake City, just the two of us. No kids to bug us, the work week done, it was just Tiffany and I.

We ate dinner, kind of together, she ate some sort of mess the hospital gave her - the olive artichoke tomato surprise didn't sound appetizing to me so I went to the cafeteria and grabbed a personal pizza - much more appetizing. Then we opened a game of trivial pursuit, a hospital past time we started when Dallin was born 10 years ago.

I don't recall exactly when, but somewhere in the game I made her laugh, which caused me to bust out laughing, which then the ignited further belly laughs in Tiffany. At this point, she was grabbing her belly, trying not to laugh. I could tell she was in pain, but by this time we both had the giggles - you know the kind, the ones that just can't stop and whatever you do makes you laugh harder. Well, by this time she was telling me to leave. And she was serious. She said that just looking at me made her laugh. So I left. I went out the door and waited for a few moments, and poked my head back in. That action alone split her sides and she got after me to get out and stay out.

Of course, I was laughing too, and the nurse who was taking care of Tiffany walked by right then and wondered if everything was alright. I smiled and told her what was happening. It gave her a smile and she said she needed to give Tiffany a shot and maybe that would sober her up quickly. I laughed even more when the nurse knocked on the door to go into the room, saying, 'It's just me, Amber, don't throw anything'. :)

Well, it was decided that we should play no more games after that. She said that was the worst pain she has been in all week. Her belly muscles just are killing her and laughing, which I thought was supposed to be the best medicine, ended up being the most painful.

Any ways, she is doing much better today. She finally hit her goal:





So she continues to improve!

Again, and I don't tire saying this, but thank you for all the prayers and good wishes from each of you. You are all a blessing to us all. We honestly feel so blessed to be surrounded by so many good people. Tiffany's good friend, Heather, has been collecting frozen dinners so we will have them when we need them. This is above and beyond what people need to do. We (well, at least I) don't feel worthy of people treating us like this. Heather already takes Emma and Logan to school and back each day, that already is too much. I am one that likes to pull my own weight, and right now I feel like dead weight. But... I do feel like I can focus on other things with the help we are recieving. Thank you all so very much.

I hope you all are laughing as well. As painful as it sometimes is.

Cheers,

Nathan

Friday, December 10, 2010

Thursday Update

This is Tiffany's sister Ashley posting an update. Nathan had asked if I would give an update from the day that I was with Tiff at the hospital this week. Tiff made a lot of progress while I was with her on Thursday! When I first arrived at the hospital, she was needing help with her oxygen when she slept. Otherwise her oxygen levels would drop too low and set off her alarm. By Thursday afternoon she was sleeping fine without the extra oxygen.

She was able to get cleaned up and have her hair washed yesterday. She seemed to start feeling a lot better after that. A burst of energy followed and she was walking the halls and in very good spirits. Tiff was determined to walk as much as possible to get the extra gas from the surgery out. She went above and beyond trying to walk it out but it is stuck and causing her quite a bit of pain.

Tiffany had been on a clear liquid diet but the doctor approved her to have some broth and not more than an hour or so later a full course dinner arrived. Tiff and I thought it was a mistake at first (because usually if you're unable to pass the gas they don't let you eat) but they assured us the doctor had ordered it. Being her first meal since Monday, she took it easy and was able to keep down what she ate.

Thursday night she developed a low grade fever. She had it for a couple hours. It concerned Tiff and she asked Nathan to give her a blessing. Not too long after her blessing the nurse came in to check on her. Nathan asked them to check her temperature and the fever was gone!

As you can tell, there was a lot going on yesterday. Tiffany did so well and was so positive through it all. When she was overwhelmed and concerned she did not hesitate to turn to Heavenly Father for a blessing. For her example I am grateful.

Thank you for your continued thoughts and prayers,

Ashley

Thursday, December 9, 2010

O Night of Joyous Pain

Tiffany had a hard night last night and this morning.

She had a couple of nurses she couldn't communicate with. They had some broken english that was hard for her to understand and they had a hard time understanding her. They didn't understand her when she was describing some of the pain. Eventually, they figured it out.

She also was going to take a shower this morning and the nurse disconnected Tiffany from the different tubes including the pain medication. She then went to go get some plastic wrap to cover the wounds from the surgery, but never came back. Suffice it to say, Tiffany was hurting and didn't have the help she needed. She called the nurse who felt awful about it and explained that she had sent somebody else to do it. In any case, they hooked her up to the pain medication, took care of that, and her blessed sister, Ashley, helped her get a bath. Nice.

Tiffany is generally doing good. Her vitals are good. She jokes around with people. She is in good spirits.

She does doze quite a bit, off for 20 minutes and awake for 10. It seems to cycle pretty consistently. She is a champion, she made it up and walked around the nurses station today. She did similar yesterday. One comment she made after her first 50 foot tiring walk, was "You'd never guess I could run 6 miles". :)



Because of the surgery that was performed her bowels are taking some time off. Hence, she can't eat any foods yet, though doesn't feel hungry. It wasn't until this morning that she felt like drinking something other than ice chips.

However, she is burping quite a bit, which shows progress happening in her mid-section. Wake her up and try to talk to her and you may be in for a rude surprise as she talks to you :)

Her next goal is as follows:



Let's make it happen!!

Her platelet count is up to 109 - up from 84 when they tested the day before. This is a good sign and hope to see it continue to go up. We would like it much higher, but we are happy with 109 for now.

Many have asked about the biopsy; the whole reason for this surgery. We don't know yet and as we understand it, we won't know until as early as Friday (tomorrow) or early next week. Once we find out, we will let you know.

Until then, we thank all those who are sending their well wishes. Our sweet Guatemalan neighbor continues to be one of the dearest people alive. There hasn't been a day that has gone by that she hasn't called or stopped by, usually bringing some sort of gift to us. She doesn't speak great english and so she often brings one of her children to come and be her translator. One time, she had her daughter call us from New York, just to confirm some of the details. She made a special trip down to Salt Lake to see Tiffany yesterday.

This is just one example of the kindness and generosity we see and feel. There are many others who have shown just as much or more than this. We hope to say thank you to each of you, as each of you have blessed our life with gratitude and hope.

Thank you, each of you, for your prayers and well wishes. Until next time.

Nathan

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Splenectomy

Yesterday, December 7th, 2010, Tiffany went in for a splenectomy. The purpose of the splenectomy is really three fold.

One, so that they can confirm diagnosis. Because of the rare nature of the cancer that we are looking at, the doctors want a firm handle on what they are looking at. If this is truly what they think it is, they expect to find cancer in her spleen. In some ways we are hoping they find nothing. Doing so may create more questions than answers, though. If she has cancer in the bone marrow (which has already been confirmed) why does it not show up in the spleen? And if it is not in the spleen, why is her platelet count so low?

Two, so they can have that much less cancer to treat. As this is cancer that affects the spleen, taking it out leaves that much less cancer to treat.

Three, so that her platelet count goes up. The whole reason we are were we are was because of her low platelet count. The risk of bleeding is great when your body does not make enough platelets that clot and stop bleeding. This causes concern with surgery and other procedures as it becomes necessary for your own body to clot certain wounds.

OK, back to the splenectomy. Tiffany, myself, her Mom and Dad went up to University Hospital in Salt Lake City early in the morning of December 7th. She went right into pre-op and was again a pin cushion. Tiffany's veins are small and like to roll around which makes it hard to get a good stick when trying to take blood samples or being stuck with an IV. Having been a phlebotomist, she has great understanding and patience with people who struggle to get a good stick. (Case in point, it took them so long to finally get a vein during labor with Emma that by the time she got the IV in, it was too late, baby Emma was ready to come!)

They wheeled her back and were told it would take about two and a half hours. However, just under two hours later, the doctor came out to the waiting area and informed me that everything went great, that she needed no blood, and they were able to get the spleen out in one piece with as little an incision as possible.

It is now the morning after and she has been in the hospital for about 24 hours and she continues to be in good spirits. She is sleepy, as her body is trying to recover from taking out a sizable organ. She has been in and out of sleep all day and night. She will sleep for about 15 minutes and wake up long enough to say hi, then will fall asleep for another 10 to 20 minutes.




We will be watching her for the next day or two or three as she continues to recover. The doctors want her to be walking around as soon as she can today. Just to walk outside to the nurses and back. More tomorrow, and then more the next day. Doing so will quicken the healing, reduce threat for blood clots (with her spleen out, blood clots are now something that will need to be considered), and release endorphins which will help with pain relief.

Again, we thank every one for the prayers and support. Tiffany's sister (Andrea) and brother-in-law (Travis) took the kids the night before the surgery and most of the day of the surgery. We know the difficulties of taking care of our four children, let alone on top of their own four children, one of which is an infant. We are thankful for her Mom and Dad who went to our home last night and helped the kids to get off for school this morning. We are grateful for the carpools to get the kids to and from school. We know that this is a burden to all, and to you all (and all the others I haven't specifically thanked) we are grateful. We couldn't do this without you.

Cheers,

Nathan

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Good Tidings of Great Joy


Winston Churchill in some of the hardest days of World War II said...

'To every man there comes in his lifetime that special moment when he is figuratively tapped on the shoulder to do a special thing unique to him and fitted to his talents.

What a tragedy if that moment finds him unprepared or unqualified for the work which would be his finest hour.'


I am not sure, but I do believe that there are many fine hours we all have opportunity to go through. And perhaps only at the end of life will we say which one was the finest. Indeed, only after much analyzing and personal insight will we correctly identify if that moment found us prepared or not.

Right now, Tiffany is going through one of those special moments. It is unique to her and is fitted to her wonderful abilities. What a blessing it appears that she is not only qualified but is worthy for the blessings she is about to receive.

Tiffany has been diagnosed with Hepatosplenic Gamma Delta T-Cell Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma. This is a rare cancer of the white blood cells found in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver. There have only been about 60 (though we found one source that said 100) documented cases which have been medically journalled about.

This all came about about six months ago (Approx March 2010) when Tiffany went in for an annual checkup (which we should all do). During that checkup, the blood sample came back with a low platelet count, low enough for the doctor to suggest to Tiffany to go see a blood specialist. So in June 2010, she went to a Doctor Stinnet at Utah Cancer Specialists (because many Oncologists are specialists in blood disorders) and he started watching Tiffany. She met with him a few times while he tested her blood and found that her spleen was enlarged. Though a great doctor, he was struggling to understand the symptoms which were appearing. A dive into genetics seemed to reveal nothing. Tiffany's father had very similar symptoms 14 years earlier, though no genetic similarity should exist based on the symptoms present (as far as we know at this time). In all cases, the doctor came back stumped. After a few months he made the decision to test for Hairy Cell Leukemia. A scary thought, but one that in many ways would be a blessing as it was easily treatable with a very high rate of long-term remission.

This called for a bone marrow biopsy. On a visit to the doctor in early November 2010, he did his initial biopsy and was able to get a piece of her bone (required for the biopsy) and was only able to pull only a small amount of bone marrow. There was enough to create a couple of slides and those were sent off to the lab for tests.

Having been worried for the bone marrow biopsy, Tiffany was relieved when that ordeal was over. The peace stayed for only a moment as the relief of having the procedure over turned to a waiting game for the results.

Results were expected the following week. A few hours prior to the appointment, the doctor called and asked Tiffany to come in and requested her to prepare for another bone marrow biopsy as the results were not conclusive and he needed another sample. So, poor Tiffany had to go back and get stabbed, poked, and went through excruciating pain one more time. Before the doctor performed the biopsy, he explained that the pathologists had suspicion for this T-cell lymphoma, but did not want to diagnose with just the two slides and needed enough to put it through a flow cytometer, enabling a better analysis and better diagnosis. To put it bluntly, the doctor was not happy with the diagnosis, mostly due to Tiffany's relatively good health, and wanted to ensure we got enough in the next sample to ensure accurate results.

The doctor took another test and the results came back confirmed the original diagnosis, and specified it as hepatosplenic T-cell Lymphoma. The doctor called around to Cornell and a few other hospitals to try to help confirm the diagnosis. Because Doctor Stinnet still did not like the diagnosis, he asked us to get a second opinion with the head of the lymphoma department up at Huntsman Cancer Institute in Salt Lake City, Dr. Martha Glenn.

So two days before Thanksgiving we headed up to HCI to have Dr. Glenn take a second look at things. Dr Glenn confirmed the diagnosis with us again, and explained that though rare and statistically unknown as to how the best way to treat it, that there was no option than to beat it. It gave both Tiffany and I some relief that the doctor was looking very optimistically at the situation. She ordered a PET Scan and a splenectomy to again, confirm diagnosis. It makes sense to be right about this before one proceeds with very intensive chemotherapy treatments, especially with one that is rare.



We went home and told family and friends of the results and many prayers have been offered on our behalf. Our family, along with our ward (church congregation), and many friends offered a fast on her behalf on Sunday, December 5th. We have been overcome by the kindness, generosity, and charitable acts that have been offered. We honestly feel that we don't deserve the well wishes and goodness people have been offering. So much that we honestly understand the scriptures meaning of receiving so many blessings that we don't have room to receive them all.

To all who have offered prayers, gifts, well wishes, etc, to you we say thank you. It's too bad that we don't realize the many good friends we have until we have to go through something like this. To know one is loved is one of the most exquisite blessings known to man. But the blessings have been more than tangible. We honestly feel the prayers and the warmth of the love from so many.

Some may ask, why me. Some may ask, why now. Some may say, this is hard. And to this, Tiffany balks and is grateful for the gospel of our Savior Jesus Christ. Because in him there is peace. In him there is trust. In him, there is joy. To say that Tiffany has had a difficult time, would be an understatement. There was a period of turmoil as she tried to understand this disease. But when she caught a passing thought that the Savior is in control, that he is in charge, that he knows what we all go through, all anguish, all pain, and all heartache stopped, and healing, happiness, and enthusiasm replaced them.

She couldn't feel this way if she wasn't prepared. Through faith and testimony, and an understanding of the plan of our God, she has prepared herself for these opportunities that arise that may become her finest hour.

That I get to be a witness to this process, I am grateful, while prayerful. To which I want to share with all of you of what is happening; I, therefore, start this blog.

Asking for your prayers, faith, and courage,

Nathan