Sunday, December 7, 2014

Non-Emergency Prayer Request

A looming possibility for which my Salina doctor was continually watching initially (but eventually relaxed his watchfulness) was shingles. Well shingles manifested themselves on me this past Wednesday. My family insisted that I blog about it. I was reluctant which is why the post is 4 days past the onset of the attack. Shingles are caused by the same virus as the chicken pox. They can be very painful causing severe burning and itching. On a scale of 1-10, I would my set my discomfort lever has been about 2 at the max and much of the day I don't realize that I have the shingles. So why the push to post? Location. Because of the possibility of underage readers I will describe placement my using the digestive process. We will call the mouth as the front end of the digestive process. My shingles have appeared on the back end of the selfsame process. So even though the discomfort is incredibly low, the discomfort is at the most inopportune times. This is not life threatening nor an emergency. So if you want to remember me in prayer over this I will gladly accept it. You guys have a great track record as far as prayer. If you need a reminder simply fold your hands and bow your head during a corresponding bodily function and remember me. If you feel the need to chuckle or laugh over this, I don't mind. If this were a sitcom or comedy movie it would hilarious. Unfortunately for me it is real life. I did rejoice over this just like the initial announcement of my cancer to be obedient and to release God's power and strength in my life either for healing or to endure to the (dare I say it?) end. Thanks for everything.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Joshua's leaving for Great Bend!

Joshua has been hired as a firefighter/EMT with the Great Bend Fire Department. This is the culmination of 21 years of work/prayer/spankings/encouragement/warnings/teaching/etc. Great Bend obviously saw all that we put into him. He starts July 21 with approximately 3 weeks of training. He has a 6 month probationary period and if all goes as planned he will be fully instated as a part of the force. He is required to live either in Great Bend or no farther than 7 miles outside the city limits. He has a 6 month grace period before the location requirement is enforced. He will probably stay with some friends in Ellsworth (45 minutes from Great Bend) until the relocation is complete. His first interview was Liberal (over 4 hours from Salina), Cherryvale (about 3.5 hours), Dodge City (about 3 hours) and then Great Bend (about 1.5 hours). His first preference was to work in Salina and then maybe up to an hour away but nothing opened up within that range. 90 minutes away is quite doable. He can easily come to Salina on days off and holidays. Notice that Joshua is an EMT not a paramedic. A huge perk is that the department will pay for Joshua's paramedic training if he stays 2 years after completing it. The classes are offered at Barton County Community College which is in Great Bend. That is a double bonus. That's because they are not only paying about $10,000 for the training but he will also get a pay raise when done. Sounds like a great place to work. Emotion: Much Elation.

Wait. I am feeling something else inside. Joshua is moving to Great Bend. He will no longer be a Salina resident nor stay in his room on a regular basis. He won't be a regular attendee/contributor at family devotions. I won't see him praying and reading his Bible in the mornings. He won't be able to update me on what is the latest workout he is doing at the Y. We won't able to kid each other on the frequent faux pas's that are a regular part of each of our lives. Velda's biggest rule is that everyone must be home for supper. Joshua is now exempt. In case you didn't know we home schooled our children so Joshua has spent a majority of his time growing up in educational activities that centered around the family. So until he went to Texas to school we rarely experienced long separations. (2 weeks max at summer camps) Going to Texas for school was a dress rehearsal but he still put his home address as our house in Salina. All these things are coming to an end for the foreseeable future. Besides, none of us can think of a single person in Great Bend that we know for which he could make a connection. Emotion: A noticeable amount of melancholy.

Wait. There is another emotion lurking in the shadows. Shall we ferret it out? Velda runs the house in a very organized way. Everyone has chores. Early on we were all trained that if chores weren't done in a timely fashion; heads would roll. Joshua, as well as his siblings, has been very faithful in performing his duties. He even will do those impromptu jobs that come up without (much) extraneous commenting. Who is going to take up the slack?!?! Emotion: PANIC!

All said and done. Pray for Joshua and his family as we make this transition.

P.S. Joshua will probably never see this entry in the near future. He very rarely reads the family blog and even though he has a Facebook account, he is on Facebook about as often as he is on this blog. His only hope is if someone says to him something like "Your dad put an interesting entry about your leaving on your blog/Facebook" at which point the probability will go up slightly that he might navigate to this entry and read it.

Monday, July 7, 2014

What's Up Doc

Today at my monthly checkup in Salina my doctor said "You are amazing". To which Velda replied "It's not him". It is God. Remission is when indicators are within a certain range. One of my indicators improved since last month. So I am in a better complete remission! To go along with this news, my kidney indicators improved since last month as well. My appointments have been quite short lately which is a good thing. Respectively this blog is short for the same reason.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Scwewy Squirrel

This year looks like a good year for our pear tree. We planted the tree in the spring before Michaela was born so it is 23. We have had other good years but have not had the chance to enjoy them because of squirrels. Their modus operandi is to climb the tree months before the pears are ripe. They take a bite out of the pear and realize that it is not ready and drop it to the ground. By the time the pears are ready, what started as over a hundred have been reduced to single digits. Add in the fact that when they are close to ripe the birds peck holes in them which causes the remaining ones to rot prematurely. Several years ago we used a humane trap to catch the squirrels alive and caught twelve in one summer and enjoyed our pears. The squirrels were given a one-way ride to Lakewood Park located on the outskirts of town. That was then, this is now. Again we borrowed a humane trap (compliments David Newcomer). So far we have trapped a few sparrows, cardinals grackles, five squirrels and two opossums and several sprung traps with no bait. About the opossums. One morning I found the trap overturned and the bait gone. It was a small Godzilla had picked up the trap, shook the bait out and then tossed the trap aside leaving the yard with a little snack. At that point it was determined that was to take in the trap at night. Opossums are nocturnal and were trapped when I neglected my responsibilities.
When it scurried away it went into a brush pile in our yard that had a convenient opening in the bottom of it the same size as the opossum. Velda suggested burning the pile but we thought that would simply attract a crowd of former Arkansans wanting to know who was barbecuing. I can say say this because my fathers heritage is from Arkansas, I lived there for 6 1/2 years, and I have eaten "possum" at my Poppoe's (PAH-poe, nickname for my maternal grandfather) farm in southern Arkansas when I was young. Now onto the empty traps. While sitting on my back porch I saw both a grackle and a squirrel go the following scenario. The perpetrator would enter the trap. Then it would extend its neck and grab the bait from off the platform with out touching the platform which is needed to spring the trap. Next the miscreant would would BACK OUT OF THE TRAP! If it would have gone forward it would have been toast. On one occasion as I saw a squirrel in the trap going through the aforementioned procedure, so I snuck (sneaked? spellcheck doesn't like snuck, twice) up behind it and ran clapping my hands thinking it would run forward to escape me. It backed out of the trap free as a bird (dare I say grackle) and scurried away a few peanuts heavier. Am I starting to look like Elmer Fudd to anyone? In my defense I would like to say that I don't have a lisp and Bugs was not a ninja which is what I am dealing with. I was patient and continued to feed these vermin via the trap. We caught grackles because they got cocky (another bird joke?) and careless. We didn't give them the ride because when let go them see to continue flying until out of sight. Our yard has been fairly grackel-less (spellcheck) lately. The squirrels are a different matter. We would see 3 playing in the yard fairly regularly and caught them in short order. Next we saw two more regularly. We think that one of these to was the ninja. When we finally caught the fifth squirrel I saw one sitting on our swing set (#6) chatting away. We surmise that the one on the swing set is the ninja master and there must me a training or initiation going on. The master recruits novices and trains them by showing them the technique. There is practice from a distance and finally that test. The master watches the novice from the swing set and coaches them. Inevitable one will slip and the master gives final comments and returns to the ninja lodging and starts over. Now we have notice 2 squirrels again regularly in the yard. Curse you ninja master, I will get you some day! Oops I swtiched cartoons/comics. I like being referenced as Snoopy much better. He is way cooler and it was a childhood nickname of mine.
P.S. Spellcheck also doesn't like spellcheck.
P.P.S There could be a few more blogs this summer. I have more time on my hands than usual.

Time Marches On

The thought occurred to me recently that the students who were seniors my first year teaching in Cushing, OK are now 51.

Latest Checkup

Two weeks ago I had my monthly checkup with the Salina oncologist. There were not a lot of the exclamations that accompanied the last two monthly checks. The results seem to have leveled in the complete remission stage for which we are offering abundant praise to God. He is also interested in any anomalies in my general health so I shared a couple with him. I have had a cough since early March that would nearly go away, get worse and then repeat the cycle on a monthly basis. To this he said let him know if there is a fever. I also have a ache in my right side and back that also waxes and wanes in intensity. To this he first gives me a look that seem to imply A-G-E. Then he said call if I go up a flight of stairs and am out of breath. I have had neither. It has been hard to get a grasp on this age thing. Two years ago Joshua and I were working two jobs that added up to over 50 hours a week of manual labor. We also rode our bikes to work nearly everyday which was 6 miles one way. When it comes to bike riding it is about the only area that I was still superior to Joshua. I would let him lead so that I wouldn't leave him too far behind. Last summer was the bone marrow transplant. I made an acquaintance with a man who had a BMT about 8 years ago. He said that he didn't feel completely normal until one or two years later. I, of course, thought I would beat that schedule. Well I'm approaching a year later in August and I feel 60%-90% normal depending on the day. The quandary is that I am aging and I wonder is what would be normal from two years ago. I siding with the notion that the change is still to precipitous and that I have still some more strength to gain. Now Joshua lets me lead on the bike so that he doesn't leave me behind. I am only working a 15 hours a week and I sometimes am wiped out after one shift. Velda has declared that this summer will be as low an activity summer as possible so that I can focus on recovering and being ready for the next school year. Last year I started teaching on December 9th and hardly missed a day until the end of the year. After my last day I nearly slept the entire Memorial Day weekend and was barely able to move. I must have been teaching on fumes and adrenalin. I have slowly worked back to my present energy level and have recently added mowing the lawn to my activities. We are not gardening this year giving the ground its sabbatical rest. This helps keep me idle. We are working on flowers and simple landscaping around the house (plans developed for us by Dan Fiorillo) but that really is mostly done by the girls. Joshua is not motivated on working on things that cannot be eaten. I am doing a lot reading and also working on the next school year. We are giving all high school students and teachers chomebooks so I am working on making my class as paperless as possible. My kidneys are still not in the normal range so I appreciate prayer for those two little guys. Thank you.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

New Policy

In my last blog I said that no news meant no change. I have reconsidered that and have decided a change of policy is in order. Even though there is no change I think I will post to you after periodic checkups how things are going. My last appointment at KU was March 21 about which was the subject of my last blog. About a week later I had a checkup and review of the KU data with my Salina oncologist. When viewing the results he said "Wow" three times very emotionally. At first Velda asked if that was a good "Wow" or a bad "Wow". He assured us that it was good. After discussing with us what all the information meant he said "I never thought you would get to this point". God is certainly at work in my life. In the April meeting in Salina he again gave a few enthusiastic "Wow"s and again said "I never thought you would get to this point". I am getting biweekly blood tests in Salina and monthly visits with the doctor. He said if the results stay steady, the tests will become less frequent and less complex. I will visit KU in August for my yearly checkup and then they will just see me every year after that. Much of the maintenance is being turned over to the Salina staff. Thanks for all the prayer support and encouragement. It is because of all that you have done that I decided to give all the news. (good, bad or indifferent)

Saturday, March 22, 2014

6th Month Check

Complete remission!  I had a different doctor this time at KU than the two I have had before. This is his report. He said that I had a complete remission again. That is not the same thing the last doctor said about the last report. (see here) Well here is how he broke it down. He pointed out three indicators. The first is a ratio of cells in my blood. He said that my ratio of some specific cells indicate that the activity of myeloma was in the normal range (i.e. the ratio of my cells in the blood is as it should be for a person without cancer). Next, when a person has myeloma, the body expels aberrant cells in the urine and there were no cells present in my urine sample. Lastly a biopsy of my bone marrow was taken and there were no cancer cells in the sample of my marrow. Before Velda and I  left for this checkup my family prayed that the doctor would say that it looked like that I never  had cancer and God answered. The Creer home was fairly jubilant yesterday at the news. I also am happy to say that I am taking 18 fewer pills per week. I received 7 immunizations that a baby would normally get. (I didn't cry). There is still room for prayer though. First, this treatment is a not a cure. There are no cases of this cancer not returning. Please pray that it doesn't return. (I would like to be one of the first cases) Second, a side effect is my myeloma effected my kidneys. My kidneys are not functioning normally but are in the "OK" range. Yesterday the doctor said that the kidneys are on the verge of the "Not OK" range. (my interpretation of what he said, not his exact words) Please pray that my kidneys will go back to functioning normally. Praise God with us for this incredible news. I will be having monthly checks. I don't plan on posting each time unless there is a change in my status, so no news means "no change". Thank you for a being a part of my recovery.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Report of Mexico trip

Hola Family and Friends,
Here is my report from Mexico.
Our team of seven was divided into three classes. Each class was two hours a day Monday – Thursday. The hardest part for me was just learning Spanish. After the second week, my prayer request was simply the diligence to keep studying, even when tired. My motivation to keep learning came every Friday when we would go to the orphanage. The first time we drove to one about two hours away and stayed the weekend. The next two times, we went to one much closer and just stayed the afternoon. It was such a relief to leave the classroom, talk and play with kids, and practice Spanish. The kids didn't speak English so it helped me see very quickly the value of homework. We also attended church activities four nights a week and that soon became a sweet time of fellowship.

My biggest highlight was working the last week in the village. With only 300 people, our team was the most interesting thing for the whole week. Mornings we checked, installed, and picked up payments on water filters, afternoons we taught a children's program for 50 kids, and evenings we showed a kid's and an adult's movie on the basketball court. I enjoyed that time the most because we got to see the same people daily and start relationships. The last night though was really neat because I missed the movie time talking to these 3 guys around my age... in Spanish! They were asking all these questions about the US and we even got to talk about what they believed. It was the most I'd spoken in Spanish the whole trip. It truly was an answer to prayer for God to use my broken Spanish to be able to communicate.
At home God has already given me connections at a Hispanic church, that I've begun attending. My goals for continuing Spanish are: to attend the church at least once a week, keep in touch with friends from Chiapas on facebook, and continue my Spanish lessons with my tutor.
Thanks to you God has already opened another door. About two weeks before my trip, Global Encounters emailed me and said my support level was double what I needed for the trip including flights! So, they said I could go on another mission trip this summer and it would be completely paid for. After praying and talking with their director, I've decided to go to Ecuador with GE July 12 – August 3 this summer!
It is only through the grace of God and your generosity that this happened, so thank you very much. I won't be raising money for this trip since God has already taken care of that. But I will most likely send out prayer updates while I'm there and for sure when I get back. If you have any questions about my past or upcoming trip, please email or call me!

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Michaela is in Chiapas

Michaela and Velda left for Wichita at 4:30AM to catch a 7AM flight with connections to Mexico on Saturday morning. It had snowed 3 inches in the night and the roads had not been cleared yet. They made it in time even though could only drive 40-60mph most of the way. After boarding the plan it sat being de-iced and checked until departing at 9:30AM. This delay caused her to miss her connecting flight from Atlanta to Mexico City. She was booked on the next available flight leaving 2 hours later. This caused her to miss her connecting flight from Mexico City to Chiapas. She was booked on the next available flight leaving 4 hours later. Michaela, while waiting in Atlanta for her flight to Mexico City, noticed that she was the only non-hispanic that she could see in the waiting area. Even more surprising was while navigating the Mexico City airport she found just one employee who could manage some english and that person only said 2 words to her in english. Possibly a foreshadowing of her 5 weeks to come. Anyway she made it. She is in San Cristobal de la Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. Population about 186,000. Elevation abut 7,000 feet above sea level. The city is surrounded by densely forested (jungle?) mountains. The weather will  have highs in the 70's-80's with the lows in the 40's. She is the only person on the team who has not been in a spanish speaking country in the past. She feels like she is in last place as far as how much spanish she can speak prior to coming but she knows how to work hard and we are confident that God will accomplish His purposes in her and her contribution to the team while there. She has more internet access than she originally thought so she said she is going to post pictures of where she is on facebook. Global Encounters has already posted a prayer page which you can see here.

Monday, January 6, 2014


Many of you know that my oldest Michaela is going on a mission trip to Chiapas Mexico. She contacted many of you for support. We are happy to announce that she has received all that she needs. In fact Global Encounters informed her today that she has enough for her expenses as well as her flight and possibly some discretionary money. Michaela has so much that we are wanting those of you who are still considering supporting her financially to know that she has all that she needs. Any extra now that she raises will go to support the general expenses of the trip. This would benefit her indirectly in that it would benefit all who are going on the mission trip. Please consider this as you seek God's leading. Having said this I will also state that none of you are "off the hook". We are expecting all of you to pray for her as prepares and goes to disciple the nations. I attached a prayer card you  can print off and put in a prominent place to remind you to pray. Thank you.

More Normalness

We got about 3-4 inches of snow according to the Creer gauge last Saturday night. Sunday morning I went out and shoveled snow for an hour before leaving for Church. I experienced a slight back spasm mid way through but as I continued shoveling it went away. I finished strong and we drove away to church with a clear driveway. Some of you may be wondering "Why didn't you use your snowblower?" Well I am glad you asked that question. Our snowblower (Joshua) was still asleep and I wanted to see if my energy was really close to normal. Well the verdict is that it all went about the same way as before my bone marrow transplant (BMT) including the back spasm. I don't even feel sore today after the little workout. I still would appreciate your prayers as I am now in the post BMT/remission stage. I am taking ant-viral pills through March. I am taking a weekly IV treatment for the next 2 years that helps in preventing the cancer from returning. I am taking calcium to replenish what the cancer removed from my bones. I also am supposed to take a daily pill for the rest of my life that is a mild dose of chemotherapy which is also for the purpose of preventing the cancer from recurring. I have learned through this adventure that with all the advances in the medical field it is still not an exact science. I hear a lot of "usually", "most of the time" and even "hopefully". Through all of this uncertainty I am anchored by the knowledge that God is in control, nothing caught Him by surprise and He has provided me with His promises on which to rely. I still need your  prayers as we rejoice in passing into the maintenance phase. Thank you.