Saturday, June 3, 2017
While in New Mexico, to visit and speak with my home church, I got to go to Kasha-Katuwe (meaning = white cliffs) Tent Rocks National Monument. This is only an hour N of Albuquerque and very well worth it. The rock formations were quite beautiful, each corner revealing something new. It wasn't a long hike to get through the canyon, but definitely not a place you want to be in a rain storm. Thankfully, we had bright blue skies and so we never had to worry.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
I recently got to tour Louisiana, speaking at 8 different churches in 8 days. The churches in Louisiana were very interested in the work at Kudjip Nazarene Hospital and I enjoyed the opportunities to share with them. Having never been to Louisiana, I enjoyed getting to see different flora and fauna than I am used to in PA, especially in the bayou areas. The alligators were pretty good at camouflage, but I found a few hiding out. I was glad there was a pool at the house I was staying at, as the eyes above the water in the bayous were deterrents to getting anywhere near the water. There was an otter family that ran across the road one day, but they were too quick for my camera skills.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
For the past 13 years, I have been the one in the "white coat," the one who others are reluctant to come and see, who has to give out the bad news, the one who gets to make decisions on what is the best course of treatment for someone who is sick, who gets to help others negotiate their illnesses, who has gotten to use the scapel, needles, ultrasound and stethoscope as daily tools of my trade. That changed about a month ago, when an elevated blood test led to an MRI, which led to a phone call from my doctor.
As soon as I heard her say "there is a mass on your pituitary gland," my mind started racing. I went from trying to remember all my medical texts and what the pituitary did and what kind of growths occur there and what it would mean, to thinking about what this meant for me and continuing to serve in PNG, to what about my trip to Yellowstone with my family, etc. I had lots of questions with no immediate answers. Like most doctors, when I don't know something, I look it up on Up to Date. So after putting the phone down, I got on UTD and started reading all I could about what I was dealing with, reading about the kinds of growths, the various treatment options, etc. I started in my mind trying to navigate this and figure out how it wouldn't mess up the plans I had/have for my summer at home, for my return to PNG, etc.
In following weeks, I went from being the person going into the room to see the patients, to the one in the room, waiting for the doctor to come. Instead of just signing my name at the end of a patient's note, I now help the doctors write those notes with my medical information. I have signed my name to numerous HIPAA forms, have navigated patient portals, and have a calendar filled with various kinds of appointments in the weeks and months ahead. I went from being in control of my time and summer, to being at the mercy of all the openings at the doctors, labs, imaging places, etc.
Thankfully, I have been reassured in learning that most likely my growth (probably a prolactinoma) is benign - meaning noncancerous, that it won't spread, and that my days aren't numbered like you think of with others who have cancer. It is a tumor (medical term for any abnormal growth in the body, whether malignant or not) in a confined area, so continued growth of the mass can start to interfere with the other structures in that area of my brain, so it needs to shrink. The hope is that with medicine it will shrink and I can continue to serve God in PNG in August.
Obviously, my plans for my Home Assignment time have already been adjusted, and likely will continue to be so. Through this, I have had to be okay with letting go of my plans for tomorrow, next week, next month and possibly beyond. For someone like me, letting go doesn't come easily for me, especially when it includes the possibility of letting go of what I feel God continuing to call me to (continued service at Kudjip in August).
You can pray that the medicine will shrink the tumor and for me as I continue to wrestle with God about this change of plans, and about the unknown of tomorrow, trying to be okay with it being unknown, and trusting God for the next steps to be known, in their timing.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
2 years ago, I planned a trip to Yosemite National Park with Joe and Susie McCoy, and when I was in California this past week speaking, we went. We had great weather to enjoy God's amazing creation. We tried to see as much as we could in the 2 days we had. I sure would like to spend more time there, but for now I will take the 2 days I had.
For those who maybe concerned about my health, please know that I am okay. This is typically a slow growing mass and I am feeling absolutely fine - I mean I just hiked for 2 days through Yosemite and did so without any problems. I am continuing my traveling and speaking during my this Home Assignment time, and still hope to return to PNG in August, but there will be more scans and doctor's visits between then and now, to help determine that. Thanks for your prayers for shrinkage of the mass.
Friday, April 28, 2017
Kudjip Nazarene Hospital recently celebrated it's 50th year of service, and we had a big anniversary celebration. Leading up to the Anniversary celebration, we collected pictures from the past 50 years in the efforts to create a book and videos. We hoped to remind us of our history, to remember those who have gone before and how we started, and where we are now. We got over 1800 pictures, but despite that, I know we were missing pictures of different events or of different people - sorry. Working with what we had, we created these videos which we showed during our Anniversary Celebration.
You can see the videos on the Hospital's You Tube site: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLY8TMJMQDcwNuPI-QyBbQ2lUM8HHiih17, or I have embedded them here, for those who would like to see them.
The Beginning - A look at the first 20-30 years of the hospital
Old Hospital - Pictures from about 1980/90s through to 2008/9 right before we moved into the new hospital.
Hospital Transition - From the Old Hospital 2008, to the building of the new hospital, the move into and then using the new Hospital in Nov 2009.
New Hospital - A look at the New Hospital from 2009-2016
Today - A look at the people of today, the staff, the doctors, and the patients.
Hope you enjoyed them.
Saturday, April 22, 2017
When I am not busy speaking at churches or meeting with supporters to share about the work in PNG, I like to try and see what I can at our country's National Parks. Since I get to travel around the country speaking, I try and find what parks are close by and make the most of my time there.
This week I have been speaking in Indianapolis, so I ventured south to Kentucky with friends I first met in Kudjip. Rachel and Jordan Thompson are fellow missionaries with me in Kudjip, and Joyce (Rachel's mom) and Linda (Jordan's aunt) have been to Kudjip numerous times visiting their family. They live close to Indianapolis, and so we road tripped south to see Mammoth Cave NP. We hiked around outside the cave and then did cave tours to get to see the inside. On the way, we saw signs for the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln, so we stopped on our way back, learning a bit about where President Lincoln was born. Both were quite nice to see and I would recommend them to those who might be traveling in the area.
Thursday, April 13, 2017
I left PNG the end of March and traveled back to Pennsylvania for my Home Assignment. I spent the first week studying for my Family Practice Boards, and now am gearing up to start speaking and sharing with friends, family, supporters and churches over the next few months. Part of being home, means spending time and reconnecting with family and I am thankful for the support of my family both when I am away and home. My sister and brother-in-law open up their home to me for the next 4 months and I am thankful to be able to be a part of their family, and enjoy getting to reconnect with my nephews and niece and seeing them grow up.
I haven't been home in PA in the spring for over 10 years, so I am trying to get used to the variety of weather I have experienced over the past 10 days - with temps of 30 degrees with snow to 70 degrees and sun the next. Glad I have a wide variety of clothes and my sister's closet to steal from.
Up next is Easter and then a District Tour in Indianapolis and Mammoth Cave National Park.