If you have been following my blog, you know that in January of this year, I started working on my PhD. I left my job to move back to Lubbock (What was I thinking?!?!) and began studying, teaching and conducting research.
Around that time, my posting decreased dramatically. I expected to slow my posting because I knew that school would require a lot of me, in terms of both time and money.
But that isn't the only reason I stopped writing as much.
The night I moved to Lubbock, my father called to say that he was taking himself to the emergency room because he had tremendous, unbearable pains in his legs (he was taking himself because my mother decided to ride along with me to Lubbock).
The doctors could never determine why his legs were in such pain, but they did find three tumors on his spine. These were evidently unrelated to the leg pain, but they didn't know much else. They sent him to see a specialist, who couldn't determine what caused the tumors. That specialist sent him to another specialist, who knew nothing.
After seeing numerous specialists, my dad was finally able to schedule an appointment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. After a week of testing, the doctors were finally able to diagnose the tumors as a symptom of POEMS Syndrome, a very rare form of cancer that affects multiple different body functions.
There is no cure for the disease, but with treatment, it can be held in check. My father opted for a plan that called for a rigorous drug therapy regimen followed by a peripheral blood stem cell transplant.
From the day of his first pain to the diagnosis, more than four months had elapsed. The doctors decided to get him going on the treatment immediately. He began the drug therapy regimen by taking an oral chemotherapy pill, a strong steroid and a host of other pills designed to boost his immune system. This lasted for about a month.
Two weeks ago, I had just returned to Lubbock when my mother called to let me know she was taking my father to the hospital because his foot was black. The next morning, she called to say that the doctors found a blood clot that was causing the discoloration and they felt like they could remove it via surgery, so they were taking him back at that moment.
Then I got a text at 3 am the next morning saying that I should come home.
I assure you, it was the worst moment of my life.
Through the night, his condition had deteriorated. Though they were able to remove the largest blood clot, smaller clots had made their way into veins in the toes and heel. They couldn't get these because of the microscopic size.
I got back home and met my parents at the hospital, just as they were bringing my dad from a second surgery. They told us that all they could do was give him a blood thinner and monitor the clot. If there was no change, they would need to take his leg from the knee down.
Sadly, there was no change.
The doctors amputated my father's leg Monday morning.
When he came out of surgery, my father was as upbeat as I have ever seen him. It was a life-changing event that made him understand what was important in his life. It also made him thankful for everyone that visited and prayed for him.
I write this today not for sympathy, but rather to say "Thank You" to everyone who has a blog. I know that I haven't been posting much, but I read your blogs every day. They offer me time to forget about the stress from my father's condition. They allow me to clear my head and think about something that brings me true, unadulterated happiness. I don't know that I could have made it through all of this without all of you. I know some of you may feel that statement is a bit much or cliche, but I truly mean every word of it.
So thank you. And never forget to tell your loved ones that you love them.