Keeping Ya’ll Up To Date

Thursday (2.20.14) I had an appointment with an Orthopedist. He spent less than 10 minutes with me basically saying that this required a very specialized specialist. He put in a referral to see a Orthopedic Oncologist at UCLA Medical Center (in Santa Monica) who should be able to finally give us a differential diagnosis between the three options.

Today (2.24.14), we went to see him. He asked a lot of the same questions I’ve answer roughly 17 gazillion times, looked at the imaging that everyone and their mother in the medical world has looked at and then gave us the same answer that everyone else has. “Not sure what it is.”

Then he did something unexpected.

He sent me in for a biopsy and said that his pathologists are world class and that is why the hard cases get sent there. He told me that unless there was a problem with the biopsy, by the end of the week I should have a diagnosis.

So while I would have loved to avoid the biopsy (turns out they are not very fun), I am excited to know that the diagnosis chapter of the journey is coming to a close.

Your continued prayers and assistance are very much valued and appreciated. Info on specifics for that here. Also, that the biopsy was successful. 80% of cases yield results. In the 20%, they have to do another one, but instead of a needle they actually would remove a piece. It is a much more invasive procedure and I do not want to do it (obviously)

A huge thanks to the Martinez family for picking up Micah from school today while we were on the road back from Santa Monica.

In which I share what has been going on in my life

Sharing is not really my jam.

That said, with a lot going on Shannon and I have been feeling it is time to bring more folks in. I sure would appreciate your prayers, positive vibes, warm thoughts, etc. Below you will find the short version, the long version and some next steps with regards to staying updated, sharing or praying for us.

The Short Version

I have a 24 cm mass in my left thigh. It has been causing a lot of pain. We do not know what it is. I am going through a bunch of testing and seeing different specialists trying to figure it out. The likely culprits are a tumor (malignant or benign) or myositis ossification. Regardless of which it is I will likely be dealing with pain and doctors for the next several months.

The Long Version

Week 1

So most of you probably know back at the beginning of November of 2013 my left thigh started to feel a little sore. Within the next few days I was in pretty extreme pain and walking with a cane. Given that the week it all started, I had gone on a long bike ride I assumed I had strained my quadricep. I went to the doctor and she agreed. She told me I would probably be better in a few weeks.

Week 2

Over the weekend I started to experience some major swelling and discoloration and had to hit the urgent care. They did an XRAY and didn’t find anything (more on that later).

Week 3

Week 4

Tension at home is starting to raise as I am looking lazy and like I am milking the injury. A pulled muscle shouldn’t keep me bed ridden for a month, right? I want to help around the house and hang out with my kids and work but the pain is distracting and at times debilitating. I schedule another doctors visit

Week 5

With no signs of any improvement it is now thought that I had actually tore my quadricep. Physical therapy is recommended.

Week 6

I start doing it. It is hard but my range of motion is improving. Any day I do physical therapy I spend the rest of that day and sometimes the next day in bed.

Week 7

Keep doing physical therapy.

Week 8

Keep doing physical therapy. Celebrate Christmas in Oregon with Shannon’s family and New Years in Florida with mine. Travel is painful. Activity level was high and struggled to keep up with everyone.

Week 9

Keep doing physical therapy

Week 10

Pain is still bad. Doctor is concerned about my pain medication and recommends I see a pain management specialist. A month wait to get in without pain meds. Time in bed increases substantially.

Week 11

Week 12

Because much of my improvement seems to have plateaued physical therapist recommends I see an orthopedist and get an MRI.

I get the first available appointment at my doctor’s office with any doctor since all I need is an order. This doctor puts in the MRI order and also gives me a prescription for a small amount of pain pills to hold me over until I can get into to see the pain management doctor.

I go in for my MRI. It is relatively quick and simple. I head home. I get a call to come back in for more MRI pictures. They spend longer than the first set on regular ones and then do an even longer set with contrast. I hate needles and was not happy about this.

Obviously, all of this makes me a little nervous. I get a call around 6p (abnormally late in my experience for a doctor’s office) from the doctor who ordered the MRI saying that the radiologist felt that my issue was not a muscle injury but a very large mass and recommended an XRAY and CT Scan. The next day I get my xray done and talk to a friend who is a radiologist as well as another radiologist who the first one connected us with. Among these 3 radiologists there seems to be consensus that I need the CT scan. There is a big of disagreement on what is the more likely diagnosis but with the scans we have at this point it seems the two likely candidates are a tumor (malignant or benign) or myositis ossification. Unfortunately, the urgent care doctor who did my XRAYs 10 weeks ago ordered knee XRAYs so they have no way of knowing how much things have changed over the last couple months.

Week 13

The doctor puts in for the CT scan but also consults with another radiologist (#4 for those keeping track at home, perhaps we should have a drinking game). I schedule the CT but then receive a call from the doctor that the radiologist advised that I should skip the CT and go straight in for biopsy. This basically means this particular radiologist feels STRONGLY that it is a tumor. So the doctor puts in a referral for an Interventional Radiologist (#5). This ends up being a week long paper work nightmare finally culminating in the Radiology department calling me on a Friday Night at 730p to let me know that the Interventional Radiologist has recommended against doing the biopsy. This was left on my voicemail with no explanation as to why and no way to figure out what was going on for a few days since it was after hours leading into the weekend. I call into radiology over the weekend and am able to find out that he wants to see another MRI and XRAY in 6 weeks, but no rationale.

Week 14

On Monday I have my appointment with Pain management Doctor. I finally get back on a regular schedule with pain meds and feel 1000% better. Between pain killers, muscle relaxers and anti inflammatory meds I am taking 15-19 pills a day. Energy and concentration levels are much higher. Tuesday I see my doctor (for the first time since finding out that I had a large mass) and find out that the Radiologist (#5) felt so strongly that it is myositis ossification  that he did not want to attempt a biopsy. So she recommended I see an orthopedist to get another opinion and hopefully an actual diagnosis. I have that scheduled for next week.

Week 15

Saw an orthopedist and he referred me to an Orthopedic Oncologist should be able to determine whether it is a tumor or myositis ossification. This is a specialty. The nearest one appears to be up in LA so next week we will likely be heading up there to see him (or her).

So what now?

So there you have it. That is a rundown of the last 3 months. I will continue keeping folks updated here. I’ve created a new blog category for health updates so if you are interested or want to share this info with someone simply point them to and this post and any future posts will pop up.

We would sure appreciate your prayers in a few specific areas:

  • Answers: having no idea what is actually going on sucks. certainly some of the potential diagnoses are not great, but at this point we cannot begin moving on with our lives until we get a diagnosis so I would really like to get that part of this ordeal done with
  • Finances: we have great insurance through Shannon’s work and we put a pretty good sum into our flexible health spending account that we can draw from, but still lots of doctors visits and lots of medications and lots of tests mean lots of copays. Additionally, the pain and stress and time involved has limited my ability to win new business. So we have more money than normal going out and far less than normal coming in. This is not sustainable and I am currently exploring options.
  • Kids: obviously, mom and dad being stressed out is hard on kids. pray that we remain patient and fair with them, they get the time and attention they need and that we have the wisdom to help them deal with and discuss things in a way that is developmentally appropriate.
  • Us: stress and uncertainty impact people in a variety of ways. Pray that our relationship remains strong (I don’t doubt this, but have seen it play out poorly in others lives) and that we deal with things in emotionally healthy and responsible ways (not my strong suit).


Easter Breakfast in Downtown Santa Ana

My very small historic downtown Santa Ana Church, as part of the County/Mercy House Winter Shelter Program, has been sheltering 15 families this month. This breaks down like this: 29 adults, 16 kids 5 and under and 24 kids 6-17. On Easter the program will come to an end and these families experiencing homelessness will be back looking for shelter day to day. But we have the opportunity to make Easter a special day. We are hosting a pancake breakfast for the congregation, community and our friends experiencing homelessness to come together as one, share a meal and talk with one another.

But we need some help. Whether you attend our church or not, we would love for you to consider helping us with the logistics of the breakfast. To cook and serve enough food we need about 20 people (which is close to 25% of our congregation) to sign up to volunteer.

If you are unable to help with this event but still want to spend time with the families, consider signing up to swing by FPC Santa Ana (600 N. Main St., Santa Ana, CA 92701) after 5p when the families begin arriving and bringing some books, games, activities or just a warm friendly smile. Until 730p (when dinner is served) visitors are a welcome sight.

And if you are able to help with the Easter Breakfast you can sign up here.

The greatest purveyor of violence today… a speech by MLK

“I knew that I could never again raise my voice against the violence of the oppressed in the ghettos without having first spoken clearly to the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today — my own government. For the sake of those boys, for the sake of this government, for the sake of the hundreds of thousands trembling under our violence, I cannot be silent.”

“This business of burning human beings with napalm, of filling our nation’s homes with orphans and widows, of injecting poisonous drugs of hate into the veins of peoples normally humane, of sending men home from dark and bloody battlefields physically handicapped and psychologically deranged, cannot be reconciled with wisdom, justice, and love. A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

JC Tball

He is playing T Ball. If you’d like to come out to a game they are on Saturdays at Riverview Neighborhood Park in Santa Ana. They are a ton of fun.

  • Oct 13th @ 12pm – 1pm
  • Oct 20th @ 9am – 10am
  • Oct 27th @ 10:30am – 11:30am
  • Nov 3rd @ 12pm – 1pm
  • Nov 10th @ 9am – 10am
  • Nov 17th @ 12pm – 1pm

Athletes and politicians…

There should be a 365 day conference for politicians and pro athletes. No media, no tweeting. Just let them hang out and talk. The rest of us can just carry on while they talk about how important and special they are in a room. forever. Almost overnight billions of dollars can be reinvested in things that matter and people will have little reason to argue or fight. Everybody kicks a goal.