Archive for August, 2009

Prayer is Powerful

Prayer is powerful and we are so thankful for all of your prayers.  When we come together to pray, wonderful things take place.

“Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven. For where two or three come together in my name, there am I with them.”

Matthew 18:19-20

Ricky’s appointment yesterday was great!  The remaining 10% of the tumor seems almost nonexistent.  Dr. Yung was very confident that he will end his chemo with the 12th round in November!  That means only 3 rounds of chemo left!  We were both thrilled because we thought that they were going to encourage him to continue on past the 12 rounds.  However, after reviewing the MRI, Dr. Yung felt no need to continue after that!

Let me explain the tumor part a little more clearly.  After his craniotomy, we found out that there was 10% of the tumor remaining.  After a couple of MRI’s, Dr. Yung wasn’t sure if what he was seeing was remaining tumor or necrosis from radiation.  So, he just made sure that there was no regrowth.  However, the past two MRI’s have shown a steady decrease in size of the little spot that he had been observing.  This last MRI showed such a decrease, that it is pretty much gone!  GONE!!!  How stinking exciting is that?!? 

While we waited two and a half hours for our appointment, ahem, we were really blessed by the people we met in the waiting room.  First, we were listening to two couples discuss their own situations. 

One gentleman was a 7 and a half year survivor of a Grade III Anaplastic Astrocytoma.  That is the same grade tumor as Ricky’s but a different type.  The lady is a  5 year survivor of a Grade IV GBM, which is the worst malignant type of tumor.  Her smile was contagious and her spirit was amazing.  She was talking about the Almighty Healer and how He has been known to just make those tumors disappear. ( I smiled as I typed this knowing that He snatched the remaining portion right up out of Ricky’s head!)

 It was such a blessing to hear her give all the glory to God and just lift Him up in this room full of people who need to hear His name during their trials.  It is hard to sit in the waiting room and look around.  You see all types of people and situations.  Young.  Old.  Female.  Male.   Scars. Wheelchairs.   Worry.  Fear.  Sadness.  But you also see Hope. Faith. Understanding.  Kindness.  Joy.  Love.  However, the start of our wait was blessed by those two couples.

Then, as we were entering our second hour of waiting time, I looked over and saw a young woman sitting at a table working on a puzzle.  I nudged Ricky and told him she looked familiar.  He said she didn’t to him, but I struck up a conversation anyway.  She was  a fiery little thing and her mom was with her.  Then it hit me, I had been on her carepage.  Her mom updates it for her.  I asked and sure enough it was her. 

She is going blind due to a very unruly Grade I tumor.  The doctors are baffled and her mom came with her for a biopsy.  We had such a good time with them.  Another blessing for us that day.  We prayed and continue to pray for her complete healing.  I hope that they leave a message on here so you two can read her story from their standpoint.  They are Christians who believe in the power of prayer as well!

So, the Lord blessed us with a two and a half hour waiting time, ahem, filled with fellowship.  Then He topped it off with a great report of healing and an answer to prayer!  I would say that’s a pretty good day!

Round 9 is over and the countdown is on for the last 3!  Keep praying…

 

One Year Ago…

One year ago…

   I woke up like any other normal day.  I headed out to talk with The Potter’s House about an upcoming  job opportunity and accepted the position.  The new job was going to offer the insurance my family needed since we had just returned home from Taiwan.  I headed back home happy and upbeat…things were good!

One year ago…

   Ricky met me at the door excited about the next step in our lives.  He had started teaching pitching lessons and enjoyed it tremendously.  The first boy he taught had called that morning to schedule an appointment for the next day.  He headed down to the Reds stadium to see all of his friends.  The Astros were in town and Roy was pitching.  He said he would be back in time for me to go the grocery store.

One year ago…

   Ricky returned home and I headed off to the grocery store with my older sister.  We spent a couple of hours getting groceries for both houses.  I dropped her off at home and was then greeted at our  door by Ricky.  He helped me carry in the groceries and put them away.  We snuggled up on the couch to watch  some cartoons.

One year ago…

   The kids were tired but I told them they could finish the show they were watching.  It was 8:20.  Ricky got up and sat down at the table to read his bible.  At 8:30 I turned off the tv and went to kiss Ricky on the cheek.  I peeked over his shoulder to see him reading Genesis and writing the ages of people in the bible.  Weird I thought, but I turned around and took the kids up for a bath.

One year ago…

   I got out jammies and took elastics out of Lily’s hair.  I started running the bathwater and plopped the kids in the tub.  As I leaned back Lily to wash her hair in the running water, I heard “Say his name.”  It took me a second, but I immediately shut off the water and ran to the corner of the stairs.  I shouted down “RICKY” and all I heard was a silent gasp for air.  I yelled to the kids to stay in the tub and leaped over all the stairs in one jump. (Okay, not really, but it felt like it)

One year ago…

   I made it around the corner to see the baseball game on tv and Ricky tensed up in a sitting position on the couch.  His body was jerking and his eyes were rolled back in his head.  His right arm was firmly grasped on his left.  I called 911.

One year ago…

   I thought Ricky was going to die on my living room floor.

One year ago…

   I got him on the floor and on his side.  His breathing was labored and his chest and face were speckled with broken blood vessels.  His body was still tense and his eyes were rolled back in his head.  He started foaming at the mouth.

One year ago…

   My naked kids ran down the stairs to find their daddy laying on the floor with their mommy praying over him.  I was trying to clean all of the dip out of his mouth (he has since quit dipping).  They ran to his left side and held his hand.  He was still seizing, but Lily still thinks to this day that he was intentionally holding her hand.

One year ago…

   I thought Ricky was having a heart attack, not a seizure.  Foolish, I know.  But I was so shaken up!  The 911 operator kept asking me if he was breathing.  He was, but barely.

One year ago…

   The kids and I prayed over Ricky’s jerking non responsive body.  Not knowing if Daddy would ever be with us again.

One year ago…

   Ricky’s body became motionless and he rolled onto his back.  His eyes came forward and there was a complete blank stare.  Everything stopped, even his breathing.

One year ago…

   The 911 operator told me to perform CPR on my husband with my kids at his side.  After two sets of rescue breaths, he was breathing again.  However, it was more labored than before.  But praise God that he was breathing.

One year ago…

   911 told me to go open  the door and get ready for the ambulance.

One year ago…

   The EMT’s told me, “You’ve done your job, now let us do ours.  Please do NOT come back into this room.  You can see him in the ambulance.”  I honestly didn’t know if I would see him again.  I took my naked children out on the back deck to look for help.

One year ago…

   We are in the ambulance headed to the hospital.  Ricky is still unresponsive.  I am praying out loud in the front and wondering why people arent’ moving faster or getting out of our way.  Don’t they know what is going on inside this ambulance roaring down the by pass?  I keep asking if he is responsive, and nothing.

One year ago…

   I asked for the millionth time if he is responsive.  I look back to see him lifting off his oxygen mask.  I ask him if he can hear me and he raises his arm. I praise God that my husband is alive and can respond.

One year ago…

    The doctor at the ER performed a CT scan on Ricky.  He told us that Ricky had an old fracture and he needed to be put on anti seizure medicine.  He tried to send us home.

One year ago…

   I thought that doctor was a nutcase.  I was not taking him home.  He needed a night in the hospital after all that had transpired.  We argued.  I won.  Ricky spent the night.

One year ago…

   I spent the night in a chair in his room.  It was cold.  I was alone.  I had peace knowing that it was just a fracture.  I quick fix with just some medicine.  He was going to be just fine.

One year ago…

   They wheeled him off for his MRI.  I called everyone I could think of to let them  know the good news.  Just a fracture with an easy fix.  They were doing an MRI just to confirm the fracture.

One year ago…

   My world stopped.  The MRI results showed a large tumor.  He needed brain surgery to remove it.  It appeared to be benign, but we would have to wait for pathology results.

One year ago…

   It hit me that we had no insurance. 

One year ago…

   Our amazing friends set up an account to cover all medical expenses and household through Helping Hands Ministries.  Baseball Assistance Team (BAT) also agreed to help us out financially.  Other friends set up an online auction.  Major League Baseball came together and donated so many awesome items for the auction.  God provided for our family in our time in need.  He is good.

One year ago…

   We scheduled a craniotomy for August 22.  Never thought I would be saying that =)

 

I could spend forever writing about the entire year, but I welcome you to look through the archives.  I’ll save that for another post!

 

Today…

   I thought would be a hard day for me.  It is the day that changed our world forever.  It is not a hard day though.  It is a day of celebration.

Today…

   We celebrate that Ricky does not appear to have any remaining tumor in his brain.  The MRI’s continue to be clean and show no regrowth.

Today…

   We celebrate 8 rounds of chemo down with round 9 to start on Monday.  The side effects have been minimal compared to others.

Today…

   We celebrate that although Ricky is fatigued and must nap everyday, he is able to do most activities with our family.  We have been able to go on vacation and go to Kings Island.  We took a mini trip to Louisville for his first bull pen in a year. 

Today…

  I have realized that it is okay to mourn the loss of our old life.  I miss many of the things that we used to be able to do but can’t now that cancer is a factor in our household.  There are days when I wake up praying it has all been a bad dream.  But, it’s not.  And I move on. 

Today…

   We celebrate the new normal in house.  Ricky is able to help out more, which gives me some time by myself.  I can go to the grocery store or run an errand while the kids stay with him.  He is able to get out and go visit his dad or go on a visit with some friends from church.  There were days like this one when it was hard for me to even think about life in a year.  However, we have slowly become our new normal.

Today…

  We celebrate God’s goodness.  He continues to amaze me with all that He has done for our family.  There are have been so many God things that have happened over the past year. 

Today…

   My faith is stronger than it has ever been.  I wrote this last year and it holds true today.  Our future is still unknown.  Ricky’s cancer is still an uncertainty.  We never know what tomorrow will bring.  But I do have faith that whatever happens, it will be in will with the one and only God.  I have faith that He will not put more on me than I can handle. 

Today…

   I am going to spend the day with my family and celebrate today!  We never know what tomorrow may bring, so celebrate today!

 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything

James 1:2-4

Weekend In Louisville

We had an opportunity to go down to Louisville for the weekend and we thought it would be  a great little getaway.  So we packed up and headed down on Friday night.  We started off the evening going for a walk around downtown.  We saw all kinds of neat artwork, sculptures, and fountains.  Here are the kids with a lion in front of Ruth Chris Steakhouse.  Riley’s eyes are closed because of the sun and Lily is roaring.  They are a mess =)

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There were so many neat fountains around the area.  Riley tried to dive head first into this one.  Notice the tight grip Ricky has on him!

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We ended up at Old Spaghetti Factory for dinner!

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After dinner we had to walk a couple blocks back to the hotel.  I saw this and thought it was just a neat picture.

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We found some interesting sculptures around the city.  The kids (and Ricky) wanted to touch and climb on them all.

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I just loved this picture…

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After a little rest at the hotel…

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we headed out for a horse drawn carriage ride through the city.

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Our horse Jessie

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What Lily and Riley thought of Jessie…

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The next day I took the kids swimming while Ricky napped.  The pool was on top of the roof and it was a beautiful view of the river.  The water was cold, but that didn’t stop them!

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They smile the entire time they are swimming.  Especially Riley…

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Spiky hair that Riley can’t stand!  He let Lily put it in a mohawk once and then smoothed it all down.

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After swimming and a little rest, we were headed off to the Louisville Bats game.  We were headed out at 2 even though the game didn’t start until 6.  Ricky was excited to see everyone and throw BP.  What better way to get to the field than take a trolley ride through the city.  Right?  Don’t you agree?  Let’s just say that the Lord had a lesson in store for me =)

We missed the first trolley that runs every 12-15 minutes right by the hotel.  I forgot my phone in the room and had to run back up and get it.  So Ricky wanted to just walk the 6 blocks.  Nope!  We were taking the trolley and that was final.  It was going to be fun and I was determined.  So, 15 minutes later we get on the trolley.  All was well, fun was being had by all!  Until…

We get to the Louisville Slugger Museum Stop, which was about 6 blocks from where we started and now 12 blocks from the field.  Our lovely and kind trolley driver ( snicker, snicker) informs us that he is going on a 30 minute break.  Come on!  I just want to take a nice family trolley ride to the field.

Ricky is silent.  He gets off the trolley with our transfer tickets and goes to the shade to wait for the next trolley.  I smile and decide that it is a great opportunity to take our picture with the huge bat.  Make lemonade out of lemons, right?

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I even convinced Ricky to come and take a picture.  Still silent though…

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So, we take pictures and then stand at the trolley stop.  Then we watch the trolley drive right by us.  Yes, that’s right, it passes us.  We are now about 30 minutes into our trolley trip, 5 of which was actually spent on the trolley.  Ricky looks at me and walks back into the shade.  Not a word.  Silent. 

I take the kids to the bat again.  Walk around a bit.  Now it’s getting hot.  The kids are whining.  Ricky is still staring at me silently from his shady spot.  I just want the darn trolley to stop so we can get on and have our fun family trolley ride to the ball park.  Is that too much to ask?

After another 15 minutes in the hot sun with two whiny kids and a silent, staring husband…the trolley arrives.  It actually stops this time!  We all climb on and hand the new trolley driver our tickets. 

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Now we are on our way.  We turn the corner to head back down towards Market Street and the 12 blocks to the field.  Until the new trolley driver pulls over.  She said she needs to take a 5 minute break to stretch her legs.  WHAT?!?!  You’ve got to be kidding me?  Where is the hidden camera?  Ricky looks back at me with his all knowing stare and turns back around.  Still no words… 

Soooo…over an hour after our journey began, we made it to Louisville Slugger Field.  What lesson did the Lord teach me?  That sometimes, and only sometimes, Ricky is right!  I said it! 

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We were only there a few minutes when the Gortner’s arrived.  Bill, Becky, Christian, and Anna drove down for the game!  The kids loved running around the stadium since it was empty!  I loved watching Ricky get out there and throw for the first time since his seizure.  He threw a bull pen and it went great!  He had such a good time!

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Lily and Riley now think of the Gortners as family!  Lily and Riley were all over them!  Every time I looked down from our seats one of them was climbing a Gortner =) 

Lily and Anna

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We got to go down into the clubhouse to visit.  This was on the wall when we walked in!  I thought it was pretty neat!

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Then we found the stash of costumes.  Here is Christian the Tomato and Lily Bat!

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Anna, Riley, and Lily chillin in the big mitt

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Christian and Riley.  Riley would not leave him alone! 

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Lily and the Gortner clan.

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Sweet Anna!  We LOVE her =)

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Riley with Buddy Bat.  He stalked him all night.  Christian finally ran him down there to meet him!

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First, Riley spied Christian’s ice cream. 

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Riley then stared down the ice cream hoping it would leap from the cone to his mouth.  Christian tried so hard not to look into those puppy dog eyes.

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Pleasssseee…..ice cream….come to me!!!  Notice the smirk on Christian’s face in this pic. 

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I then took him up to get him his own ice cream.  Unfortunately, they were out of mint chocolate chip.  He did settle for chocolate though =)

July 2009

July was a month filled with lazy summer days at the pool and cool nights playing until dark.  The weather was mild so the pools were cold, but that didn’t stop the kids.  Here are some cute pictures of Riley being Riley.  He cracks me up!

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He has become good buddies with the little boy next door.  They run up and down the sidewalk playing superheroes!

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They enjoyed playing street hockey with the nieghbors.

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Is it fair that I make my kids play street hockey from the grass?  Maybe not, but they didn’t care! 

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Ricky was invited to play in a Celebrity Softball Game and thought it would be fun!  The proceeds went to a local park for special needs children.  They are trying to get the ground rubberized.  The park was built by Joe Nuxhall and the  game was the night of what would have been his 81st birthday.  Here is Ricky playing 2nd base.

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The kids enjoyed the food.  Imagine that =)

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The kids with Daddy after the game.  The game only lasted a few innings because there was  a huge storm heading our way!  Yes, Lily has cupcake all over her face and Riley has a mouth full of gatorade!  They are all about the snacks…what can I say?

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Riley being silly!

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July was a great month and I will post pictures from our weekend in Louisville in a separate post.  August, however, will be one full of changes for our family…

I have been praying about a job opportunity and whether now is the time to return to work.  I have been offered a Pre K class at The Potter’s House starting  on August 31.  It will be three mornings a week and Riley will attend preschool while I am teaching.  That will leave my Tuesdays and Thursdays open for doctors appointments andvolunteering in Lily’s classroom.  They are also so sweet to allow me off every two months to travel with Ricky to MD Anderson.  So….I am taking the job!!  I am excited and nervous!

I also will be going back to school this fall as well.  I’m not exactly sure what classes and where yet.  I am still waiting on a call from Miami University.  I need to take six credit hours this school year to renew my teaching certificate in June of 2010. Going back to school has me more nervous than teaching!  However, Ricky is on board 100% and is excited to support me!  It’s going to be a HUGE change in our household, but one that I know will be a good one!  We have prayed extensively about these two decisions all summer!  I’m just seeing where the Lord is leading me to take classes. 

As far as medical updates, Ricky starts round 9 of chemo on Monday the 1oth.  Then we leave on August 16th for the next MD Anderson appointment.  The MRI is scheduled for Friday the 14th and his appointment is on Tuesday the 18th.  Please continue to pray for clean scans with no regrowth. 

Ricky is looking great and feeling pretty good!   We feel so blessed to be able to share our journey with all of you!  We truly appreciate every single prayer!