Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Back home again...

Anita and I got home late this afternoon from our trip to Wisconsin (we left Tennessee on Tuesday, Nov. 20), where we visited with my mother (as best we could ) and Anita's father. Mom has developed a blood clot in her leg, in addition to the one that caused the stroke, and that has become an ongoing concern. Blood thinners will take time to reduce it, and so she must remain in bed. We spoke late this afternoon with her faithful daughter, my sister Rita, who lives nearby and has been such a help to her over the years. Mom is set to go from the hospital to a nursing home tomorrow (Wednesday). There she will get the ongoing care she needs as the long recovery (God willing) continues. On Sunday we went to her church (where Anita and I were married 39 years ago) and all her friends expressed their concern. It was wonderful to be with them again.
On the way to church, I got a picture of these geese (Chinese Geese, according to their owner) walking on the ice-covered pond at the former Tom Tobola farm. My Dad did a lot of business with Mr. Tobola over the years; he owned the local Ford dealership. The new owner has a lot of exotic livestock, and intends to get a camel this summer.
Over the next several days Anita and I will be preparing for our eight-week sojourn in Jacksonville, Florida, where I will undergo treatment for my prostate cancer. We'll drive down on December 4 and begin treatment the following day. Thank you all for your prayers, both for me and for my mother.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Another Prayer Request

My sister in Wisconsin called this evening to tell me that our mother had suffered a stroke. She was given a CT scan that was inconclusive, and will undergo further tests on Monday. Presently she appears to be resting comfortably, and the doctors say she is stable. But she can't communicate and has weakness in her right side.

She had just celebrated her 88th birthday on November 10; a birthday that she shared with Martin Luther. Please pray that, if it be His will, God would lay his healing hand upon her and give her many more years with her family.
In 2003 my wife organized a surprise birthday party for me, and Mom, my siblings and their families came to help celebrate. Above is my Mom and her children. From the left, baby sister Roxanne, myself, sister Rita LaNou, Mom, and brother Rod.
This is our extended family. From the left, my son Jeff and Amy Kohlin, John and Roxanne Sule, myself, Rita and Jim LaNou, our mother Harriet Kohlin, Rod and Jill Kohlin.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Home away from Home

We completed our preparations for the course of treatment on Wednesday and Thursday. Because the samples taken in my September biopsy had not been mapped, I had to undergo another on Wednesday morning. I was mightily impressed with the young doctor who conducted the procedure, and with his nurse. They made what could have been an ordeal almost pleasant. He also implanted the three target markers that will be used to guide the proton beam to the correct location. Wednesday afternoon I underwent a diagnostic MRI scan. Those things sure are noisy.

Thursday morning was spent at the Proton Center going through CT and MRI simulations. This involved going through the same steps that we'll take during actual treatment, so that the patient knows and understands what is involved. We were done well before noon, and given an appointment for our first treatment: Wednesday, December 5, at 1:20 PM. Between now and then our doctors will complete plans for the course of treatment, review them, and construct the specialized focusing lenses that allows the proton beam to treat only the cancer.

With our prep work completed, we continued our search for a place to stay for the two month period of treatment. After looking at several more places, we finally decided to take the place on the Ortega River. Actually, it's on a canal just off the river, and is quite close to the Naval Air station (which is on the St. John's River). It had a lot of attractions, not the least of which was being in a gated community with off-street parking. There is plenty of shopping not far away, it's not too far from the Proton Center, and it has a spare bedroom and bath should we have overnight company. Here's a picture of the canal-side of the place - our unit will be the one just left of center, on the first floor, with the lawn furniture.

Once we had a place to stay lined up, we were able to relax a bit. Every Thursday evening the folks at the Proton Center lead a restaurant excursion for patients and spouses. We joined them at a wonderful little Italian place in the downtown area and got to know some of them - lots of fun. Folks on proton therapy sure enjoy themselves. No loss of energy or hair, unlike some of the people I've known who opt for surgery and/or radiation.

Friday morning, both Anita and I were awake early so we decided to head for Chattanooga. We were on the road by 7:00 AM, heading west on Interstate 10 then north on I-75. We got home about 3:30 PM after 490 miles of boredom (only a few seconds of sheer terror ;-). Now we're back in the "wait state" and making a list of all the things we can't do without for two months.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Prep Work

Anita and I drove from Tennessee to Jacksonville yesterday, and today I began the preparation for my up-coming treatment for prostate cancer. I had a bone scan and a chest x-ray today; tomorrow morning I will have a biopsy taken, and they will implant target seeds for the proton beam. In the afternoon I will have an MRI scan.

Thursday morning will be spent in "CT and MRI simulations." I'm not sure what all that entails, but I do know that when we get done, I'll know when my course of treatment will begin and how long it will last.

Today we had lunch with some of the folks in the program, guys being treated and their wives. They come here from all parts of the country, each with a different story. It was a pleasure to meet them, and we look forward to getting to know more of them as we go through the program.

Anita has been looking for a place for us to stay for the estimated eight-weeks required for treatment. We looked at a pretty nice place this afternoon, near the Naval Air Station and just off the Ortega River. We'll see what happens. Our current plan is to return home Friday. Praying for travel mercies.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Workin' on the Railroad...

I spent today working on the railroad. Well, part of the day, anyway. Got up early and headed east to Etowah, TN to help out with the morning train on the Hiwassee River Rail Adventure. After my tour of duty was over, I headed to Reliance, TN and got this picture of the afternoon train coming across the river. See http://tvrail.com/ for more information.

I got home in time to gather up the wife and head to the home of friends for dinner. One of the great joys of life is good friends, and time spent together with them. Thanks, Mark and Mary, Steve and Mary, and Linda for your prayers and the Christian love we share.


Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Onto the Schedule...

At 6:10 PM EST this evening, we received the long-expected phone call from the University of Florida Proton Therapy Institute. We are now scheduled to have the prep work on Tuesday-Thursday, November 13-15. This is an answer to prayer, perhaps to specific prayer, since today was for us a day of prayer and fasting for the ministry of the PCA Foundation. God is good!

Once this prep work is done, we can expect another wait before treatment can begin. We don't know how long it will be, but hope it won't be another month. Once started, the course of treatment will take about eight weeks, five days per week, about 30 minutes each day. Where's that time machine when you need it?

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Times of Transitions...

Our church, First Presbyterian Church of Chattanooga, is doing a new pictorial directory. Our picture will be included; we joined the congregation on November 12, 2006. This morning our Senior Pastor, Dr. Mike Milton, announced that he will be answering a new call from God. He leaves us to become President and professor of Practical Theology at the Charlotte campus of Reformed Theological Seminary. An announcement at http://www.rts.edu/. We pray for God's continued blessings on his ministry, in and through his life.

Last Tuesday, I spent time with friends pursuing Railroad History. I've put up some pictures at http://kohlin.com/20071030/ for those who might be interested in seeing locomotives and passenger cars dating back to the 1950's. Like these, crossing the railroad bridge over the Tennessee River at Chattanooga...

Anita and I are still waiting to be contacted by University of Florida regarding my upcoming treatment for prostate cancer. I've put up a web page with links to various resources, at http://kohlin.com/Proton.htm. May I suggest that any men reading this consider the simple PSA test that will tell you whether or not you might be at risk. It is one of the most common of cancers, but also one of the most treatable.

Best wishes...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

The Wait State...

Whenever you're working on a computer, and writing a program for a computer, you deal with and have to account for periods of time in between actions taken by the Central Processing Unit (CPU). Those time periods are known as "Wait States." Usually the computer is waiting for an response from the human user. Other times one program (or part of a program) is waiting for an action to be completed by another program (or part of a program). More rarely, the user is waiting for the program to complete an action, or series of actions. In any case, someone is waiting for someone else to do something, and provide some sort of response so that the party of the first part can go on with their part of the job.

Right now I'm in the situation of the user above. I've done what I need to do in preparation for the next step in treating my cancer. Now I'm in a "Wait State," waiting on the University of Florida Proton Therapy Center to work me into their schedule. When they get down to my number, I will be scheduled for a three-day period of preparation for the eight-week course of treatment. Originally they said "a week to ten days" after our initial visit, but apparently a lot of men are finding the option of Proton Therapy attractive, and when we last talked to them they said, "within a month." It's been two-and-a-half weeks now; I think Anita is more antsy than I am ;-)

At any rate, friends and family have been asking, and now I'll be directing them here. As of today, we're still in a "Wait State." As an old hand at computer programming, I'm aware that they'll get to me whenever they get to me; as Jesus reminds us in Matthew 6, worrying about it won't be of any use. So I've committed everything to His hands, and am trusting that, as Paul tells us in Romans 8, "..all things work to the good of him who loves the Lord." Thanks for your prayers, and thanks (Rita and others) for reminding me to provide the updates. I love each of you who has expressed your concern and offered your prayers. May God bless us, every one...