Thursday, May 28, 2009

Approved for oxygen supply

I was relieved to finally get notice today that we have been approved for another 9 months of funding for my oxygen and equipment. Praise the Lord!  It really has become a necessity, especially as the air gets more humid in the summer here. I am already finding it harder to breath the last few days. Had to go through a few tests today to show that I really did need it he technician who came to the house today really had no issues with that. She was really very pleasant, as a matter of fact.

Today is also Denita’s and my 26th anniversary.  I can hardly believe she has put up with me that long!! We are celebrating here at home with a special BBQ (cedar grilled salmon).  Also stuffed mushrooms, rice, and green beans and cheesecake (my absolute favorite dessert). The salmon smells great (my office is just off of our patio where the barbeque is).  Of course, it might also be the mushrooms.  Would have been nice to eat outdoors, but it’s been a wet, drizzly day.

There’s no place like home… really, there isn’t

Like most people, there are things about one's hometown that you both love and cringe about; little quirks and idiosyncrasies that make home, home. My home town is Didsbury, Alberta, a town of about 5,000 located 40 miles north of Calgary.  It’s a rather pleasant town with mostly pleasant people.  Both Denita’s and my parents live there.  But it does do some strange things from time to time….

Things like having the road sign directing people to the Didsbury cemetery having another sign underneath that reads "No Exit."  At least this is an improvement over the old sign that read... "Dead End."

And then there is Didsbury's quirky Bylaw 2007-10 that seeks to control cats in town (an impossible task if I ever heard of one). The bylaw sets out the offences and responsibility of the cat owner and the various acts that are forbidden to cats in Didsbury. Cats may not run at large, defecate on public or private property, bite or attack people, or wander about without a collar and tag. But then there is Part 3,2,f which makes me absolutely love my hometown. Hereby let it be known that the town council has officially forbidden cats in Didsbury, Alberta from stalking or killing birds on public or private property. How they intended to enforce it or if any cats or their owners have yet been prosecuted under this enlightened bylaw is still up in the air. With the birds.

And then, the fait accompli.  Just this morning, my brother Jim sent me the latest sign that he had seen on the road in my beloved hometown.

whatdayOkay… so the point is… what other options are there?? 

There’s no place like home… really there isn’t!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Good news

While I am pretty tired today, I was really happy to hear that my haemoglobin levels were up significantly today (up to 81( and so I won’t need a transfusion until later in the week.  We haven’t seen this kind of an increase for quite a while.  Thanks for your prayers! Wouldn’t it be great if the levels went up even more after the next one?

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Real men do read instructions

joelIt is hard for me to express just how proud I am of my children.  Today Joel helped us get and assemble a new barbeque.  The old one was at least 10 years old and rusted out to the point that I was afraid that it was going to blow up one of these days.

As you can see, real men do read instructions from time to time. 

joel denita


Thanks Joel!  We could not have done this without you.

Took a fall

This morning I was reminded just how fragile I can be at this stage in my life as I tripped over my air tubing on the way up a stet of stairs and tumbled onto the kitchen floor.  At 6’5”, I do not fall gently but eventfully.  And this was an “eventful” fall.  Almost instantly, my right knee bruised up and my left big toe still hurts some.  With a low platelet level, I’m not surprised.  Just glad that nothing really significant happened, especially since I was home alone.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Update from the “haemoglobinally” challenged

Just had to invent a new word today and "“haemoglobinally” seemed as good as any.

Anyway, here’s the latest on my health.  I have been having a tough couple of days, feeling really tired and worn out.  While part of it might be the fact that my haemoglobin levels were back to where they were last week at this time (77) despite the transfusion, it is also probably partly due to the increased heat and humidity that we are having here weather-wise.  I remember now how I had a harder time breathing last summer but had forgotten how humidity, in particular, affects me this way.  So, I’ll just have to slow down and turn on the AC to dry the air out.

Tomorrow I go and get another couple of units of blood and then we’ll see on Monday if I should get another transfusion earlier next week.  It is a bit concerning if the transfusions start to be ineffective.  We have been noticed my platelet levels drifting downwards as well.  This could be a sign that my bone marrow is increasingly failing to produce what I need.  So, your prayers would be appreciated.  It has been nice having a bit of a reprise over the last 2-3 months health-wise.  I would really like to last a little longer, of course.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Sayings that I would love to see on an inspirational poster

Digging through some of my old files today, I came across this stuff. Having a bit of a weak spot for inspirational posters, it was a good reminder of just how silly and cliché some of them really are when you think of it.  Hope you enjoy these imaginary ones as much as I did.

  • Rome did not create a great empire by having meetings. They did it by killing all those who opposed them.
  • If you can stay calm, while all around you is chaos...then you probably haven't completely understood the seriousness of the situation.
  • Doing a job RIGHT the first time gets the job done. Doing the job WRONG fourteen times gives you job security.
  • Eagles may soar, but weasels don't get sucked into jet engines.
  • Artificial Intelligence is no match for Natural Stupidity.
  • Plagiarism saves time.
  • Never put off until tomorrow what you can avoid altogether.
  • TEAMWORK...means never having to take all the blame yourself.
  • The beatings will continue until morale improves.
  • Never underestimate the power of very stupid people in large groups.
  • Hang in there, retirement is only thirty years away!
  • When the going gets tough, the tough take a coffee break.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Friends and failure

It’s been a tough year on the friendship front for me. Due to the all-encompassing nature of my ministry (and my own personality), a lot of my friends are also colleagues, including a number who live in other countries and are of other nationalities.  It has been enriching, as you can imagine. 

In the last year, however, I have had four friendships fall on hard times as the mission has either had to cut ties with them for ethical/moral reasons or they left us under less than ideal circumstances.  Each time, I have felt a keen sense of having lost something significant.  These were men I trusted, confided in, and had hopes for. I have grieved for each and still do.  I find myself whispering a prayer for each of them, usually in the morning as I prepare for the day. How a year changes things. I feel diminished, our work as a mission diminished and my ability to trust strained.  On the other hand, it has also caused me to be even more grateful to God for those friends and colleagues whom I can still count on. I think I understand Paul’s statement a bit better in 2 Timothy 4:10-18

For Demas, in love with this present world, has deserted me and gone to Thessalonica. Crescens has gone to Galatia, Titus to Dalmatia.  Luke alone is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is very useful to me for ministry.  Tychicus I have sent to Ephesus. When you come, bring the cloak that I left with Carpus at Troas, also the books, and above all the parchments.  Alexander the coppersmith did me great harm; the Lord will repay him according to his deeds.  Beware of him yourself, for he strongly opposed our message.  At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them!  But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth.  The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Latest from Denita

Every now and then Denita sends out an email to some of our friends, updating our situation. Here is what she sent out today:

Hi.  Just thought I'd send a quick note to let you know where things are at with us.  We have settled into a routine again.  Every Thursday we go to the hospital to have Glenn's blood tested, see the doctor, and find out if he needs a transfusion.  For 2 or 3 months now Glenn has been having transfusions every week with the exception of one.  He has been feeling quite good and is putting in most of a full week of work.  I thought you might like to read his latest blog so I've pasted it below.

Hope you have a good long weekend.  I'm hoping the sun will shine some so I can get some gardening done.



Friday, May 15, 2009

The ringing of the bell

Ding, ding, ding.

From off in the distance I hear the ringing of a small silver bell, rung by yet another cancer patient at Credit Valley Hospital who has successfully completed his/her chemotherapy program. I can’t see them from where I sit, but I can hear the bell and the cheer of the staff who have gathered to celebrate with the survivor.  The journey through chemotherapy is almost always a tough one.  The successful completion is an event worth celebrating.

For patients like me, however, each time I hear the pealing of the bell, that ring is a little painful.  It’s ever so slight but a part of me grieves at the sound of the bell. 

It’s because that bell will never ring for me.  No amount of chemo or any other treatment – medical, homeopathic or otherwise – will cure me of the type of cancer I have.  Only a touch from my Saviour will do that and for now His words to me are, “My grace is sufficient.”

Most days I am okay with that.  I know that God’s sustaining grace is truly as much a miraculous work as healing.  Maybe even more so.  Both are His workmanship and I do not presume to claim sovereignty above His by telling Him how He needs to do it.

But then the bell chimes again off in the distance as I receive my weekly blood transfusion. And I am a little sad.

But I am also reminded of that day when, I would like to think, I’ll hear another bell ring announcing that my treatment is completed at the hands of the Great Physician and I will walk out and into the real world of eternity.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

No good deed goes unpunished

One of the legacies of my family is the fact that we are not quitters.  This includes (and maybe especially includes) health challenges (and my family has had its share over the years).  But like my father, mother, and brothers, I am determined to live as normal of a life as I can for as long as I can.

That is, if the medical profession will let me. 

Like others have found, many medical professionals seem to assume that once you have a serious illness, it is incumbent upon you to retreat to your home, stay in bed or lay on the couch, watch television and wait for death to come or for them to call you at any time during the day should they want to arrange an appointment of have a question for you.  Even if they have your cell phone number (and I always give it to them), they will never call it but will, instead, leave a time-sensitive message on your voicemail. It’s like they can’t be bothered to try the other number that they have on file.  And then, because they can’t get a hold of you, some get irritated because you were unable to respond promptly (meaning during office hours of the same day, of course) or be at home when they want to drop by or drop off supplies.

Add to this my continuing problem of trying to insure funding for my oxygen.  Again, this equipment and oxygen supply this allows me to have a fairly normal life -- to go to work, to stay a tax-paying active contributor to society. But having this kind of life endangers my ability to afford the very thing that allows me to have it.  The ability to function means possibly getting cut off from the very thing that allows me to function. So it would be better if I got worse and did nothing all day.  What a dilemma!!

What I don’t understand is why so many in the medical profession seem so determined to make it so hard for someone to live an independent, normal life. I thought that was what they were supposed to do.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Off for an assessment tomorrow

Got a phone call this afternoon telling me that an opening had come up so that I can get my assessment for my oxygen needs done tomorrow rather than waiting until June 4.  Not sure how I should ask people to pray. Pray that I will short of breath (and so keep the funding for my oxygen condenser and tanks) or pray that God would make it so I don’t need the silly things at all. Hmmm.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Happy Mothers Day!

Just a message to my mom back in Didsbury, Alberta….


Hope you have a wonderful day with Jim and the gang.  It was great talking to you this morning! 

Love you lots,


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Confusion at Credit Valley

Two weeks ago we received notification from the company that supplies the oxygen condenser and the oxygen tanks here at our home that, as of the end of May, the three-month government funding would be over unless it could be proven that I still needed it.  For that, we needed to have our medical providers perform some tests and send them off for approval. 

So, a week ago we spoke to our doctor about this and he assured us that there would be no problem and that they would arrange for us to meet the respiratory technicians the following week for the necessary tests.  Don’t worry about it, he said.

We arrive this Thursday, confident that everything would be ready.  It soon become obvious that that nothing had been arranged.  Indeed, it appeared that they had completely forgotten about what we had talked about.  But since I had to come back to the hospital the following day for a blood transfusion (my haemoglobin levels had fallen to a level where it was needed), that they would arrange for me to meet the technicians for the test then.  Don’t worry about it. we were told.  “we’ll take care of it.  We’ll come up and talk to you during your transfusion and we’ll take care it tomorrow.”

Uh huh.  I show up for and get my transfusion and despite repeated requests for the the doctor's assistant to come and see me to tell me what was going on (which she assured me she would do the day before), she never shows up.  She doesn’t answer anyone’s messages on her voicemail.  No one knows where she is.  And no else seems to know anything.  Again, it appears that no one did anything! 

Finally, just as I am wrapping up my transfusion after being in the hospital for four hours, a nurse shows up to tell me that I have been booked for an appointment with the respiratory technicians on June 4, five days after the funding ends! 

Don’t worry, the nurse says.  It’s all under control.  That was when I said, “I am not that confident of that.” I reminded her that the doctor had known of this for two weeks and he and his staff had done virtually nothing despite their repeated assurances that everything was under control. She looked embarrassed. 

Later that day, I received a call from the doctor’s office, admitting that they had dropped the ball and that this kind of request was actually a rather new thing for them (which is odd for a palliative care department, I thought).  They assured me that they would meet with the technicians this coming week and see what they could do to get it straightened out before I lose my access to the oxygen equipment before the end of the month.  I really do need it and we aren’t exactly independently wealthy enough to cover the expense of this equipment (which I am told is quite pricey).

What annoys me is the tendency of professionals to fake competence. How I wished that they had admitted up-front that this was new to them instead of repeatedly telling me not to worry and pretending to know what they were doing.  I could have handled a little uncertainty if I knew that they were seeking to answer my questions.  But to pretend to be in control and then drop the ball not once, or twice but three times before finally coming clean…well, that undermines trust at a serious level.  And trust is something that is very much needed for folks in situations like ours. 

Give me honest ignorance any day over faked competence.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009


Is there anything more stereotypical of North American Christianity’s ability to take the most sacred things and make them convenient and, therefore, common (which, by definition, is the opposite of sacred )? As described, this communion cup and wafer set offers a convenient alternative for communion. It requires no special preparation, requires no refrigeration and are good for up to 6 months from date of manufacture. I don’t know about you, but these remind me more of coffee creamers than symbols of the Body and Blood of Christ

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Finishing the course well

When I first discovered that I had cancer, I remember being very touched by Paul’s words in Acts 20:24 and determined that, with God’s help, I was going to exhibit the same attitude.  This became “my” verse (so to speak) for this period of my life.

But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. 

Six years later, this is still the cry of my heart - to finish well.  Earlier this week, I read a devotional by John Maxwell in which he referred to this passage as well.  I thought it was pretty good.

Who you are precedes what you do. As Paul spoke to the Ephesians, he described the ingredients of an effective leader. Paul made tough calls, yet shed tears in front of his people. One thing is sure: Leadership begins with the heart. Paul had a heart that was ...

Consistent--he lived steadily while moving among them.

Contrite--he acted humbly and willingly showed his weakness.

Courageous--he didn't shrink from doing the right thing.

Convictional--he communicated his convictions boldly.

Committed--he left for Jerusalem, willing to die for Jesus.

Captivated--he showed that a surrendered man doesn't have to survive.

No Carry-ons

The other day I received a letter of encouragement from one of our mission’s supporters. She mentioned how, as she grew older, she found herself thinking more about heaven.  I understand that, given my situation, although, to be honest, I would rather spend more time here yet.

Anyway, I saw this cartoon in the paper today and (having travelled a lot too in my life) thought I would share it with you.


A complete financial plan in 140 characters

I have become a bit of a fan of Twitter lately through my work at the mission. We have integrated it into our communications strategy.  So, I found a small article in today’s National Post particularly interesting as the financial editor struggled to come up with a financial plan that he could post on Twitter, which only allows messages of 140 characters.  This is what he came up:

Eliminate debt. Cut up plastic. Join pension. Buy home. Pay it off. Spend little. Save tons. Invest wisely. Be tax smart. Marry for life.

Not bad, eh?

Friday, May 1, 2009

Sound financial advise from Twitter

People say that Twitter is a huge waste of time.  Perhaps; I like it though.  But here is a great piece of financial advise I got in 140 characters or less…

Borrow money from pessimists--they don't expect it back.