Monday, May 25, 2015

thoughts today

He calls me many names....through the years of our lives together, he has had many names for me...."lou" is the most common.....and it's special to me because of it's familiarity - "momma" is another one....and that came about with the boys - and at the same time he was given the name "daddy" - and as the boys grew to be men, Chase shortened that to "D" - i think the most precious name to me is the name he gave me when we were first married.....he called me his "woman child" - Gosh, i love that.  I think because it fits's what i FEEL inside....part woman - but still so much  a child.  I love being your "woman child" Michael Lane Corley.....

Friday, May 15, 2015

emails during and after surgery

i found a bunch of emails i sent during and after Michael's surgery....wanted to remember them.

I've been in with Michael since 6:15.....he's more pain, but they are working on it.  When I saw him, I told him the good news....I said "God was so precious to us Michael.....Dr Truelson got all the cancer"....tears rolled down his cheeks...."and no trach, no opening of the will be able to breathe, talk and eat on your own....." More tears.....then he whispered "tell me again!"......although he is in pain, blood sugar is up because of steroids and they are giving him insulin temporarily for that.....he is GREAT!  Please continue to pray for healing.....this resection needs good blood flow to heal correctly.  Love you guys and can't thank you enough for all the prayers!  Love you to the moon and back!!!!!!

Michael is doing really good this evening.....with one thing tho that we are asking prayer for.....his heart rate is elevated.  They think it can be taken care of by raising one of his meds.....but sure would appreciate prayers.....asking The Lord to guide them as they figure it out.  It's at times really high and they are working on getting it down.

Thank you guys so much!  Need his heart in tip top shape!!!!!!

Today is rough.....heart rate is up, blood pressure is up.....he feels awful......just sleepy and no energy.  He's not cracking any jokes so I know he feels awful.  He has tubes down his throat with tons of drainage and they told him not to cough....puts a strain on the surgery....but sometimes he said it feels like he's drowning.....and he coughs huge.  Scares me so bad.  Hate seeing him like this :(. Say prayers.....huge ones.  God gave us such a miracle with his surgery.  Praying now He leads us thru recovery!  Love u ❤️

I'm so sorry I haven't been better about's crazy here.....we have so many docs involved and they are in all the time....nurses doing stuff....then helping Michael with stuff....and nights are crazy!  All that said, there's not a lot of down time.  But right this minute I have a couple of minutes (I think).  

We have our ups and downs.....he's doing better each day tho.  Problems seem to arise tho....heart rate and BP have been a problem....they are adjusting meds to try and correct that.  He's vowed to sit up most of the day.....he doesn't cough as much when sitting up.  He's already walked a lap this morning and will be walking a few more today.  We have quite a bit of swelling...but thinking walking will help that too.  There was a thing they found on his lung....a small collapse but doc said not should correct itself with time and exercise.  They usually use those things you blow in, but Michael can't do we have to depend on exercise.  So much he can't do because of the kind of operation he had.  

Prayer requests are that his congestion and cough would get so much better....nights are a bear.  When he's in bed....coughing is bad....and the told him not to cough!  Pray that his body, his heart rate, BP will get to normal....swelling will go down.  Pray for his spirit to soar......that he will be encouraged each day with little steps forward.  

So many of you have asked about visiting...he's just not up to visitors right now.  He's got drains and tubes everywhere.....he can't talk....they've told him not to as much as he can keep from it....his voice is only a whisper because of the loss of the vocal nerve.  It will get better with a speech therapist, but right now he's suppose to keep quiet and when people are here, he feels awkward not b ing able to visit.....and give you a hard time! Our kids have been SO awesome.....they bring snacks, hairdryers, and such.....they come each day......just for short be sure we are ok.

Love you all so much.  Thank you for loving us....for covering us in prayer.  God has this!  So glad He put sweet friends and family on the journey beside pray, to encourage, to walk with us.  Can't tell you how much we love you!  You are precious gifts in our lives!!!!!!!!

Love, Michael and Cindy

 Soooooo, last night was awful.  Could really only see discouragement on his sad.  Today, Chase came to stay with him and I went home....showered....checked the house and outside in this beautiful day....Chase walked "the loop" with Michael twice....they did an ex ray to check for fluid on his lungs.....he's really SO congested....coughing a lot and they don't want him to cough but he just can't help it....we don't know results yet.....but he's been sitting in the chair all day long.....hasn't been in bed once.  I gave him a "bath", a " shampoo " .....clean jammies and he's a new man!  He told me today, for the very first time, he can see that light at the end of this tunnel.  I know tonight will probably be hard....he coughs bad when he's in bed......they give him steroids and he's wired....eyes wide open....can't sleep,,,,but tomorrow will be just a bit better than today!  Thank you so so much for prayers. Pray it's not fluid in his lung.  He does have one lung that's collapsed a bit but they said it will heal the body heals.  Pray his heart rate and blood pressure stay down (they checked it a minute ago and both were awesome! ).....pray for the recovery and the plan that's coming up to be the one that totally for sure without a doubt gets rid of any bad cells in his body!  Love you and so blessed to have our cheerleaders encouraging us, sending texts, phone calls, keeping our dog, getting mail, watching the house, and for the precious prayers you continue to lift for us!  So many have asked to bring run errands.  We are blown away!!!!! This horrible storm has brought us closer to our Lord and Savior.....our sweet and precious kids have just gathered round and showered us with encouragement and love.....they have cancelled plans and just concentrated on nothing but us.....we are so blessed to have those 3 looking after us!  (And the grands are the icing on the cake :). We found out what a little bulldog Angie is.....she's not one you want to mess with if u r dealing with her family!  And our family of friends.....oh my goodness.....we are overwhelmed.  All the prayers.....can't imagine the number of prayers and from some people that don't even know us!  The prayer warriors at home praying the day of his surgery.....the prayer warriors that took off work, gave up their entire day to stand with us that day and night....we are just can't thank each of you enough.....I can only say that if any of you ever have a need, we will be there for you!  Yes, I am long and drawn out in my writing.....I'm an emotional wreck.....but I'm just basking in the sweetness God has given us...precious gifts.  We thank Him for each one!  ❤️ you!  

So's our prayer request.....that tomorrow he can swallow.....that the surgery Dr T did will not fall apart....sometimes it can....he said after day 7, rarely does it happen....pray it all holds together.  Pray for fluids to settle down.  He's getting tube feedings but they r pumping fluids like crazy.  He's 10 pounds heavier today :(. Not in the lungs tho thank the Lord!  But he's so tired (plus we got no sleep last night....they were in the room SO many times) and carrying around 10 extra pounds is hard period.....but after major surgery, it's awful.  Pray also that coughing will subside.  Feeding tube will come out tomorrow if he can swallow.  Oh my, how he would love that thing out of his nose!!!!!  Because of the damaged nerve, swallowing could be a problem.  We are praying so hard it's not!  Lots of requests....but we know God will be glorified thru it all and we know our sweet family and friends are keeping us lifted up to The Great Physician!  Love you BIG ❤️❤️

Oh my goodness....what a difference a day makes!!!!!  What a difference prayer makes!  We got awesome sleep last night.....Michael was up at 4 though in anticipation of doc taking something out....the feeding tube thru the nose being the main thing!  He has fought that thing and fought that when doc T came in he said I'm ready to get this thing outta here......doc T said let me get some scissors.....he came back, as he was clipping the stitches in his nose, he's saying "this is kind of uncomfortable coming out.....just no way around it....I'm fighting to get out of the bed (papa was sitting in the chair) so I wouldn't have to see it and he ripped that sucker out quicker than quick.  THEN he got him water and explained how to turn his head....water went down wrong way.  Doc T said just practice....once he heals better he thinks he will be ok....he's going to have speech work with him, do a test.....if he still can't, they will do a barium test? Anyway, the tube in the nose is gone!!!!!!  Today is SO much better😝. We just walked a lap....we are adding a lap today so we will do six!  Pray now that as his throat adjusts to that yucky tube being gone....that he will be able to swallow.  We knew it would be difficult because of the nerve damage.....but we are praying that he will soon be able to do it.  Also praying that he can get rid of the's causing shortness of breath when we walk.  Love u so.....we just can't imagine walking this road without you....prayer warriors we can't thank enough!!!!!  Love you BIG!!!!!  ❤️😘

Here I am with another prayer request......Michael is doing better but we still have bumps in the he didn't pass the swallowing test given in radiology.  They think after all the swelling goes down, after congestion has cleared....the speech team believes he will be speaking and will be swallowing....but they won't clear us to leave without some way to get nutrition and his meds to him.  So in the morning he will have a g tube placed in his stomach.  Please pray all goes well with this surgery.....that his congestion will not cause problems.....and that soon Michael will be able to swallow.  Lots going on you guys. Thank you for prayers!!! We love you and miss you!  

Surgery went well this morning. He's doing good.....wants to sit in the chair but Linet suggested resting a while before trying that.  He's in no pain at all....just got some pain meds so he can rest,...but he's wide awake!  Been joking with everyone since they brought him in here!  He's doing just this button on his stomach with a small tube coming out.  But they won't start using it until tomorrow.  Thank u guys for prayers. Just praying he only has to have it a short time.  They will train me on it probably Saturday.  Not sure when we are going home.....hopefully soon.  Love you BIG!!!!!

P.s,  Michael is my hero.....thru every part of this....from diagnosis to all the doc being poked and prodded from every direction, to the scary things we heard COULD happen.....he's never complained.....never not once.  So proud of him.  

Here’s the latest:

We met with the speech therapist today.  She gave Michael new exercises to do, ordered another swallowing test and gave us lots of GREAT information.  I will say this - i can’t say enough about UT Southwestern.  Everyone is connected and all know before our appointments about Michael, his surgery, treatment plans - everything!   VERY organized and so thorough.  The speech therapist said that voice and swallow recovery can sometimes takes months - not that it has to….but that it’s very common.  Michael is doing everything he has been asked to do - He’s VERY motivated to get that voice and swallow back.  We would continue to ask for prayer regarding this.

Another prayer request is that we will KNOW what plan of action to take moving forward.  All the Doctors met on Friday and it seems all are in agreement that in about 5 weeks they will give Michael radioactive iodine and then do a scan afterwards to see what lights up.  (he has to be off his thyroid meds for three weeks prior and we have been told it’s not going to be fun….that he will be overwhelmingly tired, moody and depressed - please pray for this time to pass quickly and for Michael to do well)  We are HOPING and PRAYING that ALL remaining thyroid cancer lights up big time and soaks up all that iodine and is COMPLETELY GONE from his body.  But this is where the doctors are not in agreement.  The surgeon wants radiation and the endocrine doctor doesn’t.  We were told today by the speech therapist that radiation can actually make the swallowing harder - it can cause great harm.  It can harm those muscles and could make it even harder to get that swallow back.  The surgeon is afraid not to do radiation.  The endocrine thinks the radioactive iodine will take care of it.  Please pray for us….that we will KNOW the right plan for Michael moving forward.

You guys are so precious to us.  Thank you for your prayers, the cards, the emails, the texts and the sweet things you have all done for us during this ordeal.  We couldn’t make this journey without you!

Love you BIG,
cindy and Michael

This one right after we talked to the doctor:

Excellent report.  Got all the tumor. No tracheostomy.  It is aggressive so they will do radiation.  Did not take lymph nodes or parathyroid because they looked fine. 

Does have a feeding tube for a while.  May have a little problem with swallowing and speech may be a little different.  We will take that!

We are giving God all the glory.  Thank you so much for praying.  Please pray him through recovery!!!

These are just a few of the updates i sent during Michael's surgery and recovery.......

Giving God ALL the glory - praying his complete recovery will be soon!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Things i have learned....

In the last few weeks, i have experience things i never thought i would experience.....doing things i never thought i would do.....I have learned things....

1.  Life can turn on a dime.....

2.  I am stronger than i think...

3.  Michael's faith is much stronger than mine.

4.   i can stand next to my Michael at 2 in the morning, holding wires and drains and a hospital gown while he holds the urinal, and he can still make light of it.  "Honey, we are making NEW memories"

5.  Speaking and eating is a gift.....a dear gift that God created and gave us - something we take it for granted every single moment of every single day.....

6.  Our social life revolves around speaking and eating.  Every single time we get together, that's what we do!

7. We have friends that love us dearly.....they pray for us relentlessly.....they really LOVE us.

8.  Our daughter-in-law gives up HER desires and her life for ours. She would do anything - ANYthing for us.

9.  God uses horrible, awful things in our lives and makes good from them.  He will always be glorified.

10.  Our oldest son's heart is soft and tender.  He will help take care of us when we can't.

11.  We totally and utterly have no control.  There's nothing at all in our lives that WE can control.  It's ALL in God's hands.

12.  Storms come into our lives to draw us closer to mold our hearts and lives to be more like Him.

13.  Prayers can lift us from a scary situation.....they can lift fear from us....they can fill us with a security - a sureness -  that only comes from HIM.

14.  I can live on WAY less calories than what i normally consume.

15.  Michael can make light of horrible circumstances - he is my hero.

16.  Did i say i am stronger than i think?  Well, in reality, it's GOD'S strength inside me.  I am weak....but HE makes me strong.

17.  God ALWAYS answers prayers.  Sometimes though His timing is not OUR timing.  His answers are not OUR answers.  But we must TRUST Him.

18.  I hate cancer

19.  Did i say life can turn on a dime?  Yes.....and it did.

20.  I love each and every day.....i love each and every breath.....i love my husband more and more every single moment of every day....friends are is the sweetest gift....storms are not all bad....patience is not my strong suite.....but i am learning..... love is the most important thing on this earth and that true love casts out all fear.....and Christ is true love.  He fills us with TRUE love.  I could not live without HIS love in my life.  My future.....OUR future - it's all in HIS hands.

Monday, May 11, 2015


when i said "i do" 42+ years ago, i never thought one of the things i would be doing was sitting across from my Michael and putting food into a tube that is inserted in his stomach.  i look back at the picture of the two young kids - nothing but love in their eyes - the world by the tail - truly not a worry in the world and i can't help but smile.  Oh had you known then what you know now!  Then i move forward and see the roads we have traveled since then.  Oh my goodness, love seems so shallow back then - at least to me now.  Back then though, i couldn't have loved him more.  How that love has grown and grown - deepened into something entirely different.  I see how God's hand guided us through those younger years - the birth of Shawn and Chase - babies raising babies.....mistakes made...Joys received.....Fears, dreams, stress, love, family, parents, friends, trips, work, holidays.....all the things that make up "life".  I also see God's tugging on our hearts to draw closer to Him all the way through.  Our parents deaths were the biggest storms we faced thus far.  Oh my goodness, the emotional roller coaster we were on with momma and daddy those last few years of their lives.  And then memaw and pepaw Corley - those were tough times.  For sure God carried us through those way could we have made it on our own.  Then the lull.....and yes, we became complacent i think.  Complacent in our our finances, in our lives.  Then the storm of all storms.  Never did we see this coming.  March 18th, 2015.  The diagnosis that knocked us off our feet.  And so the storm rages....and so the questions about the future continue to plague our thoughts.  This storm.  It's awful.  It rages.  It stinks.  But i must say this....through this storm, God has made good.  First of all, He's drawn us SO close to Him.  Both of our hearts  have just grown and grown in our trust, in our faith, in our relationship with Him.  Also, we have become SO much closer to each other.  Our love has grown leaps and bounds through this ordeal....and it continues to grow.  In the hospital, there were things i did that i never thought i would have to do.....but when you love someone with all your heart, it's not even hard.  You WANT to do everything you can to help.  And then there's our family....oh my gosh, how we have all drawn together.  We were tight anyway, but now.....SO close.  And then there's Shawn.....we have been praying so hard for Shawn to grow in the Lord.....for his faith to grow.  His heart, since weathering this storm with us, is SO tender.  We are seeing huge changes in his life.  Thank you Lord.  Oh and our friends.....we KNEW we had awesome friends.....but PRECIOUS friends have become literally family.....we are SO close.  They met and prayed every single Thursday night for Michael after we got the diagnosis.  SO many friends we haven't talked to in ages have come to walk this journey with us.  God, even in the raging storm - You made good things come from it.  It's's really hard to say but we are thankful for the storm.  Thankful You didn't leave us where we were....complacent.....stagnant.....You wanted us to GROW....You wanted to draw us closer to Yourself and we HAVE.  We continue to trust You Lord.....we continue to leave the desires of our hearts at your feet.  We pray so hard for Michael's voice and his swallow.....we pray so hard for the cancer to be GONE completely.  These are the desires of our heart.....we trust You Lord to do what's best for Michael.....what's best for US.....what glorifies YOU Lord Jesus.  We love You more and more each day.  Thank You for loving us, for giving up YOUR life so that we might have eternal life.  All the glory to YOU our Lord and Savior.  We love YOU.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Not sure i can convey the words right much has gone on since March 18, 2015.  Yes, that's my birthday.  Not a happy birthday though.

 "Dad, what is that knot on your neck?" Chase asked one day when they were at lunch.  Even then he didn't mention to me his concern until the day before his doctor appointment.  "When did you notice this Michael?"  "Oh, sometime around the first of the year.  I thought i was just a bump and would go away, but when Chase noticed it, I thought i better go get it seen about".

And so the storm begins.  Off to see that horrible awful horrendous Dr. Fitzharris - The one that doesn't check for squat and give you what ever drugs you want.  Had he been the doctor he SHOULD have been, we wouldn't have had this huge storm.  He sees Michael and sends him for a cat's inconclusive - so they do a need biopsy.  On my birthday we are sitting here, planning what to do for the day - you see it's up to me because it's MY day.  The phone rings....the news is heard.  It's cancer.  Those words are so horrible.  It's hard to hear anything after that - but you grab on to ANY positive you can.  Doc F says it papillary thyroid cancer - a very treatable cancer.  We hang up the phone and we just stare at one another.  We both search for words, but they just aren't there.  We pray.  I get on the phone and call Kim - she tells me if you have to have cancer, this is the best cancer to have.  It's totally curable.....not to worry.  She comes over and checks his neck - "i think it's a goiter.....just a big ole goiter".  The clouds are gathering....the storm is starting.  Little did we know just how big this storm would be!

We go to the ENT we have trusted with Michael's nose surgery - he does some testing....yes, you will have to have surgery.  He explains the pros and the cons and the risks - it's all pretty scary but he's SO positive....we feel so comfortable in his hands.  Friends and relatives are praying - the surgery date is set.  We are good to go.  I am shaken to the core.....Michael is not in the best health - Oh God, please help my Michael be okay!  We ready ourselves for surgery.  We are getting physically and emotionally ready.  I can tell the kids are quite apprehensive too but this family is ready for the onslaught!  Surgery is scheduled for Monday - and then another bomb drops.  On Friday, Dr. B calls and tells us he just has seen the scan of Michael's neck....the cancer has invaded the windpipe and this surgery it totally over his head.  There will need to be a resection of the windpipe after part is cut out and that is a very delicate surgery.  We are both dumbfounded.  And somewhere in all this testing, we also find out there are spots of this pesky cancer on Michael's lungs.  I think that news was the ONLY time during this entire storm that i saw Michael get down.  That day was awful.....his spirit was zapped.  Mine too.  But i will say, of ALL the days we had - from the diagnosis to this day....2 weeks AFTER his Michael never ONCE complained....never ONCE lost his fact, his sense of humor stayed all the days.....he was cracking jokes.  EVEN on the day we found out he would have to have a feeding tube in his stomach.....his faith was strong....he didn't complain.....he even cracked jokes.  The day the doctor called about the spots on the lungs.....that was his only down day.

Dr. B recommends a Dr. Oxford.  Our precious daughter Angie - well, she just took over when we got the c word diagnosis.  We were knocked off our feet - but SHE took the reigns and made appointments, went to every single one with us - set up emails and charts on our computer.....she did it all.  I really don't know what i would have done without her.  She is truly our angel.....and oh she loves us so.  SO, this Doctor was easy to see as we sat through the visit that we were going to be a number.....that's all Michael was to him.  As we left his office that day, Angie and i looked at each other and both shook our heads.....i had asked God for writing on the wall as to the right doctor.....for sure i didn't see it that day!  Angie was on the phone calling Haydens ENT to see if he could rec someone.....Dr. Truelson at UT Southwestern.  Angie called immediately and got us an appointment right away.  The three of us enter that office and boy, what a difference!  The asst comes in and introduces herself.  I am looking around the office for writing on the wall.....literally.  No joke. I am looking searching high and low for a sign.  God help us.  This is so scary.  Please give us a sign. So many are praying.....and then this little girl says "Papa, i hate to have to do this to you....." - Angie leans toward me - both of us tearing up at her calling him Papa - and she says "mimi, i think maybe that's the writing on the wall!".  She has him sniff this stuff that numbs him.....then she sticks this long rubber hose down his nose - it has a camera on the end.  She tells him not to cough.  Angie and i duck our heads.  Papa did so good.  She's recording all she's seeing.  Then comes Dr. Truelson.  He walks in with kind eyes....kind of looks like Father Knows Best - i'll be he's an awesome daddy.....he introduces himself and begins to examine Michael....looking at the video Kay has taken of his throat. You can tell he's very concerned.  He just keeps looking.....feeling of it.......and then he has to do another rubber hose down Michael's nose.  This time he goes further - Michael gags and so do we.  Dr. T goes over and over the footage.....he explains every single thing to us.....showing us the different parts of the vocal box, chords....he goes into GREAT detail and uses a model to help us understand.  He says it's going to be very delicate surgery.  He is not sure until he gets in there if he can save his voice - the tumor is very very close to all that stuff - my words, not his.  He does find some positives and i cling to them like they are life.  The esophagus is not involved at all.  One vocal chord looks like it can be saved.  But he's not sure about the rest.  He explains the worst....after surgery Michael could have a trachestomy - he could lose his voice, he could lose his ability to swallow.....and then he tells us sometimes if the blood flow isn't right, the entire surgery can fall apart.  This news hits us like a ton of bricks, yet i never saw Michael waver.  Not once.  He's still even cracking jokes.  We leave that appointment and it leads to others.  An oncologist radiologist....a oncologist endocrinologist - who by the way, we fell in love with.  Angie's friend told her don't expect to find an endocrine doctor that you like....that they only deal in numbers and are boring and bland.  In walks Dr. Tesnow.....he blows that theory right out of the water!  Well into the appt i lean over and tell Angie i think her friend's theory has been blown - she agrees but doesn't want to say anything to him because he might be offended.  He's concerned about a lymph node....and what does he do?  He does a biopsy right there in the office.  He calls for "path to come down" - and here come two young people with microscope in hand.....he biopsys it and they test it RIGHT THERE.  Clinging on to good news.....and this is.  The biopsy's are clear!  I think we may have been in that appointment for over 2 hours.  EVERY single person in that office is SO kind.  Close to the end of our visit, i say "Dr. Tesnow, i just have to tell you how very impressed i am with your office, with your staff, with YOU.  I would highly recommend you to ANYone.  You have been so very kind and thorough" - he smiles and thanks me.  Then Angie tells him the theory of her friend.  He laughs and says "no bedside manor, right?" i tell him i want to have him over for dinner and Angie says "i have to tell you i am having a really hard time not coming over there and giving you a hug!" - oh my.....what a precious doctor....and we feel VERY comfortable putting Papa's recovery and cure in this man's hands.  We have more testings, pet scans, biospy's - poor Papa is prodded and picked on and seriously, we have never had so many appointments.  One day we had 2 LONG appointments.  They lasted all day.  We also have to meet with a thoracic surgeon because they may have to open up Michael's chest during surgery if the cancer has gone down to far in the windpipe.....he's the one that would do that.  Looking back, the ONLY way we could get through all this is one, Angie.  She did everything.  Made every appointment, every phone call, went to every appointment and took notes.  Two - friends and family praying like crazy.....God carried us through all this scary darkness with so many unknowns.

We have about 2 weeks until the surgery.  Michael and i cram everything we can into our days.  Friends sitting on patio's listening to music - glasses of wine - fun Saturday lunches and rooftop experiences.....we stay busy.  One - to keep our minds off the upcoming surgery and two, to just spend all the time we can together with friends, with family....enjoying what we take for granted every single day of the year.

Can i just say - we have SO many people praying for Michael.  Oh my goodness, churches are praying that we don't even know the people there.....people i haven't talked to in YEARS are reaching out on Facebook and praying with me, giving me scriptures, encouragement.....some days i would have this overwhelming feeling of nausea.....just want to vomit.....and then all of a sudden, this PEACE.....this "it's going to be okay - don't fear....i am with you" came over me.  I KNOW that was the answer to SO many prayers.  This is huge....this surgery is devastating.  This is SO scary.

The night before the surgery, i pray all night....i know Michael did too.  We get up at the break of dawn....well, it wasn't even dawn.  It was dark.  We are suppose to be there at 10 for a noon surgery.  But then the surgery is pushed back and back and back.....oh my goodness, we have so many friends there....and family.  We have so many people that we can't stay in the waiting room upstairs.....we take over the entire lobby of the hospital!  People took off WORK to be with us.  And they all stay till the very end.....til SO late at night.  All i can say is how blessed we are with precious friends that love us so much.  Oh and i completely forgot to entire group of our friends got together EVERY Thursday night from when he was diagnosed - they met at the Hawkins house and prayed....Tom, who never cries....wept as he prayed.  Tears were poured out for Michael.....SO many prayers.  Oh and then we get FROG.....FROG comes in the mail from Joan and Ray Daniels - it's a stuffed frog and we thought strange at first....but then we read the note with FROG.....Fully Rely On God.....that's what it stands for.  And the note tells us that FROG came to their home when Ray had his prostate surgery.....and before that, he has been with about 10 other families as they fought rough times....mostly cancer.  Every person's name was listed and the type of trial they went through.  After Michael has been healed, we are to send FROG to someone else fighting the good fight.  I mean how COOL is that?

The surgery started late.....but they were good to call every hour and 1/2.  I grab my bracelets (3 of them - one from Michael, one from Angie's friend Chris and one from Angie and Chase) and i pray.....i pray and i pray.  I am sick at my stomach.....i am scared.  I lay him at God's feet and then i go and take him right back.  Doc T tells us the surgery will probably last about 5 hours....5 hours comes and goes....6 hours comes and stomach is doing flips....i want to throw up.  People are pacing with me giving me encouragement, but i know they too are getting antsy.  The surgery nurse hasn't called in over 2 1/2 hours.  She promised every 1 1/2.  It's 8 at night....Angie goes up to the second floor and goes through the "staff only" door and tells them we need to hear's been too long.  FINALLY she comes and says let's go upstairs.  Dr. T is on his way out to talk to us.  I am sick inside.....does Michael have a voice?  Can he breathe on his own?  Did it take so long because there were problems???  We all sit and wait.  Here comes Doc T - boy is he wiped out.  You can see how tired he is on his face, his hair all messed up.....but a big smile on his face.  Everything went great he tells us.  He can breathe on his own.....he got clear margins.....on it all.  He didn't take the lymph nodes because they were fine.  He should be able to talk and to eat and to breathe just fine.  Oh my gosh.....the relief.  Oh my gosh, how thankful we are.  We are all smiles as we go back down to tell everyone the good news.  Everyone is elated....SO relieved.  It's nearly 10.....they all head home except for Becky and Suzanne.....we sit up and play cards all night.  We get to see Michael for just a minute.  Shawn and i go in first.  Only two at a time.  Everyone prepared me for the worst....saying how horrible he was going to look....but hey....he looked awesome.  He didn't look bad at ALL.  And as we leave, Shawn says "papa, we love you" and Michael gives us a thumbs up.  How precious is that?  Chase and Angie go and see him....they are overwhelmed too at how good he looks.  All night long, we play cards (well, we slept maybe a couple of hours - from 2-4) but then more cards.

11 days and nights we spent in the hospital.  I can tell you this.....we had some DARK HORRIBLE nights.....there were days and nights - not that he complained because he never did - but i could see his spirit waining.....i could see his frustration - his fear that he would never get better - he was so weak.....i had to do everything for him - and i mean everything.  That was hard for him at first....but truly it just brought us closer together.  At one point i was holding all the wires and tubes while he held the urinal - standing so close he whispers to me "we are making new memories" =)  And another time he told me....and it came from the bottom of his heart i know - he said "i don't know what i did to deserve you" - melted my heart.  Now there were other times of eye rolling and being totally hacked off at me - i don't know how many times i told him to keep his head ducked down.  He had a stitch from his chin to his chest to hold his head from going back - but he couldn't feel it.  Many times it bled. So i was always telling him "head down" - that and i was always on him to go and walk the halls......a few times he did get a little frustrated with my encouragement!

We had the sweetest nurses.....some we wanted to bring home with us.  They took such good care of us and relieved our fears when we first arrived.  He had so many drains and tubes and wires and meds and it was awful!  His voice was just a whisper....and to this day, it still is.  We are praying that his voice and his swallowing will come back.  Right now he has a feeding tube....and i hate it.  I am glad it's there so that he can have nutrition, but i HATE that he can't eat.  It's made me realize how much our lives revolve around food.  My passion, or one of them is cooking - and since we have been home, i don't cook.  I don't eat really either.  It's so hard to eat in front of him.  I find myself slapping meat on bread and hiding in a back room eating just to keep up my strength.  He's lost 18 pounds, i have lost 20.....and that's not a bad thing.  I am praying so hard thought that God will grant us the desire of our hearts and bring back Michael's voice and his swallowing ability.  SO much of our social life revolves around food.  Even with family.  Mother's day is this weekend, and what do you do?  You go out to eat or you fix a huge meal and enjoy family....breaking bread together.....what do you do with friends?  After church?  On Friday nights?  You share a meal.  I realize now what a HUGE part of our lives revolves around food.  I am wondering if that's what God is teaching us now.....maybe that's wrong.  But in the past i am thinking early in the day about what i want to fix for is my love language.  It's how i love on others.  Are you sick?  Let me bring you dinner, a key lime's the way i love on people.  It's the way i love on my family.  Enjoying a glass of wine in the evening.....tasting the food at Costco - it's everywhere.  I pray so hard that's not taken away from us.  It's the desire of our hearts and we lay it at Your feet Lord Jesus.  We praise You no matter what.  We love you for this storm because it brought us closer to YOU Lord....closer to our family and friends....closer to one another.  Oh and sweet his heart has become so tender with all of this.  He was so precious to take care of us in the hospital.  I pray HIS heart and Vicki and Gary and others see YOU in our struggles.....see YOU Lord as we make our way to the other side of this storm.  We praise You in sunshine and in rain.....Your love is everlasting....never changing....and i have not ONE doubt that You walked that storm with us.  There were times You carried us - when we couldn't put one foot in front of the other.....YOU carried us Lord.  Thank you for my Michael Lord....for our family, for our friends....for the sweet gifts of relationships.  I pray to you Lord Jesus that Your healing hands will touch Michael's throat, his vocal chords, his ability to swallow.....i pray all will return.  It's the desire of our hearts and we lay it at your feet.  You alone are worthy of all praise Lord.....and we DO praise You.  Thank You for the wonderful outcome of this surgery....that the cancer was removed.....that Michael is healing.  Thank you Lord Jesus.  We love You and pray that YOUR Holy Spirit fills us up and spills over into those we meet.  Thank You Lord.....Thank You SO very much.