Friday, February 27, 2009

Knee Surgery Tomorrow- Friday

Dear friends,

Surgery tomorrow

It is another surgery eve. I think these evenings, like those before upcoming trips, get me feeling like there are a lot of things I need to get done that just can't wait. I scramble to get as much done as I can. This time I am getting the house ready for our Partners Intl. guests- Eng Hoe, John Decker and Anita. I have gotten groceries and some meals planed for when they come on March 6th. I have done my dentist, eye doctor, nephrologist, chiropractor and gyno. appointments this week. The bedrooms are ready and the towels washed. Thanks to Barb Moody, I learned how to do hospitality when we lived together at Marengo House back in Pasadena.

Since I won't be able to do steps much for a week or two, I have to do all the things that involve the basement and steps before we leave at 11:00 for the surgery center. So, since after midnight tonight I am not allowed anything to eat or drink until I get there, I have a tradition to stay up until midnight and drink a lot of water and eat a little meal just before midnight to be ready for the next 12 hours. Of course I feel very thirsty at 12:15 already! It is human nature to want what you can't have, right?

Here is my prayer request for tomorrow's knee surgery...

Dr. VanderWilde told me clearly that there is a very good chance that this surgery will fix the problem in my knee. There is also a smaller chance that it won't work. I think that if we all pray, the Lord, in His goodness, will hear our prayers and answer them, and the surgery will work. I was told at pre-op that I might be able to tell right away. I described the cyst problem I have going on in my last entry, so I won't do it here. This week has been like the last stages of pregnancy in comparison to my knee. You are so ready to be done being pregnant, that you are willing to go through the birth process partly just to not be pregnant anymore! My knee has been so sore this week, that surgery couldn't come soon enough. I am so grateful for this chance to have it repaired since the alternative is living with it the way it is, for the rest of my life.

*So pray that Dr. V. and his team will be able to get in there and see all that they need to see, and will be able to make the corrections that need to be made. He expects it to take about 35 minutes. I will be out. Pray that he sees everything he needs to see as he will be working with a scope in a small area. I think he will video it for me. I will let you know how it goes as soon as I can. I will be up and walking some every day and have exercizes to do. I had to get surgical compression stockings to wear to prevent clots in my legs, but I didn't have to do the Lovenox shots in my stomach like I did last summer. I am so very grateful! I also picked up my pain meds today. He told me I would really need them. Well, I am ready and may the Lord go before me.

The Kidney Doctor...

Basically he said that as long as there is not protein in my urine, he isn't concerned about the blood in my urine, since it is not that severe. He asked for an additional urinalisis to look more carefully for a few things, and told me he would call me if he saw anything wrong. He hasn't called in 2 days, so I am in the clear on the kidney issue. That means I can pursue the trip to Ghana with our church this summer to do some awesome Christian education training for the leaders there. I prayed that the Lord would open or shut the doors according to His will, and so far it looks like going is His plan for me!

Allison and Jesse

We got to skype with these 2 separately on Sunday afternoon for over an hour each. I can't go into a lot of detail now, but they are both doing fine. Jesse is about to turn 18 on March 8th and is homesick for American food. He had escargo and rice the day before we talked. Allison laughed and said she also has had that recently. I will tell you more about that later. I need to get to bed and finish up my list of "must do's" in the morning before we leave.

Thank you for your prayers for me and for us and for our family and Partners. We treasure that in a huge way!
Blessings- Nancy Fritz (509)990-8465

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Back in Spokane and interesting health issues

Dear friends,

Last Weekend in Denver
Home and relaxed on a Saturday, catching up with email and my blog, breakfast with our adopted exchange daughter Lindsay and her friend Annie, Greg putting in a water softener in the basement. I am very happy about how my weekend in Denver went. I saw Shelby (Greg's sister) and Paul, I visited with several friends and had a few missions meetings with folks. We had about 80 or so kids the first hour at church, and about 50ish the second hour. The lesson on Saint Patrick was very fun, but I also tried to connect it with their own lives now. I tried to help them know how to listen for God's voice, and to learn to pray for children at risk because of poverty, AIDS, natural disasters, war, slavery, etc. I used some of my Kidzana training. I will be doing this program again on March 4th at our church here in Spokane, and then we are going to have a Saint Patrick's Day lunch at the office and have fun with the curriculum then also. Thank you for praying for my trip! My one big sadness is not seeing more friends. Since I taught both hours of the main service, I missed getting to church myself to connect with friends.

Amazing Chiropractor in South Denver
Now my two doctor appointments in Denver... I saw Dr. Craig Lewis (County Line Chiropractic) by Broadway and County Line where Albertsons used to be. He is a very gifted guy. He is humble but has several degrees- bio chemistry, acupuncture, anatomy, chiropractic, physical therapy, and just did training in how to help chemotherapy and radiation patients, etc. He is very informed on supplements and wants to get a Naturapathy degree also. He has saved lives by recognizing symptoms- sometimes life-threatening, like an abdominal aortic aneurysm in a woman recently. She had no idea it could have exploded and killed her at any moment. He also realized that another patient was actually having a stroke but didn't know it. Anyway, Craig is a sharp guy. He adjusted me and checked out the 2"diameter sore spot on my right hip next to my back bone. It feels black and blue all the time and I have to sit with a pillow if sitting for long. My Spokane doctors can feel a muscle bunch there, and we did the bone scan and earlier a CT scan of my right kidney and bladder to check for cancer. No cancer is in my bladder which we have checked with a camera. We have tried massage, adjusting, the bone scan (which came back clear for bone cancer metastasis last Friday- Praise GOD! I am so grateful for this news!), and nothing helps it stop hurting. By the way, Craig said he will see anyone from my CHCC Breast Cancer Support Group- Friends for Life- free the first time. And anyone who says I sent them, he will only charge $25 for appointments.

So Craig (Dr. Lewis) carefully checked out all the angles and did some diagnostic things, and feels pretty confident that there is something inside that is inflamed (kidney or something like that) and that the pain I have is radiating out from there. He did one slight twisting move on me that especially hurt and made me yelp. He told me later that there is no way that should have hurt, and doesn't on any of his other patients. The only cause he knows is something inflamed internally. Well, I am set to go to a nephrologist (kidney doctor) on Tuesday afternoon at 2:00 this week already because of the blood in my urine. It would be a relief if that would be the answer to these symptoms along with the occasional huge pain I get just under my right ribs when I twist a certain way. We checked my ribs for bone cancer last year because of that pain. I know nothing about kidneys and probably should check out Kidneys for Dummies at the library.

Bio Meridian Feedback
From Craig I went to see Connie Wright at Dr. Susanna Choi's office- Connie did a session of Biomeridian Feedback on me. Men and women go to her for this testing. She uses a computer that has a large library of frequencies on it for all sorts of things- body systems, supplements, prescriptions, foods, etc. Everything has it's own measurement in frequency- like a fingerprint. I hold a copper cylindar with a little wet cloth in my left hand. She systematically uses a little sensor to touch places on my right hand and foot to check my body systems. Each time a little marker travels across the computer screen and lands in "stressed (red)," "healthy (green)," or "weakened (yellow)." Guess what showed up red/stressed? My liver, joints (knee messed up, and it knew!), my stomach, and kidneys (we shall see this week). My small intestine was yellow. It showed that I am not absorbing nutrition through my intestine and Connie said it indicated "leaky gut syndrome." My pancreas is good but it is not processing protein or fat- especially protein. So Connie checked all my supplements. She also does this with the same computer. It showed which ones work for me, and which ones don't, and dosing, etc. It is fascinating. And all of it is talor made for my body. We aren't just guessing, we know. We changed many that I have been taking to new ones, changed doses and added a protein powder I am now doing 2 times a day. It absorbs quickly and will help my intestine heal.

She also thinks that I may have a sensitivity to gluten. I already know I am allergic to the protein in dairy products and even ffound in many non-dairy products- casein. She said the molecules for casein, soy and gluten are almost identical. So after my knee surgery and a few weeks of recovery, when I can get around again, I will begin a diet that eleminates all three of these things- soy, casein and gluten. It will be hard work, but she gave me some great tools. Many people are on diets like this so there are lots of resources. Maybe after my intestines recover, she thinks from the damage caused by chemo two times, I can go back to gluten. Soy feeds the type of cancer I had, so I try not to do that anyway. She thinks these things can affect my joints, weight and make me feel tired all the time. I slept two days this week until after noon and slept the whole nights after also.

I got a look at my bone scan at my knee surgery pre-op on Thursday. What DID show up was antritis on my 6th neck vertebra on the left, my hands, my knees, some in my ankles and in my hips near the siatic nerves. That was interesting to see. And no cancer! Yipee!!

Knee Surgery 2/27 at 1:00 p.m. for 35 minutes
As far as surgery next Friday, Dr. VanderWilde will be shaving the edge off the arthritis on the back of my knee cap (which looks like hair rather than a smooth and slippery surface currently) checking the whole joint for any other problems, and trimming my torn meniscus to remove the flap which is letting fluid out into the Baker's cyst on the back of my knee. The flap prevents the fluid from being able to go back into my knee and the cyst can never go away without this repair. Dr. V said there isn't a guarantee that this will work. Sometimes it doesn't, but there is a very good chance that it will. Without trying this, I can expect a whole life of the pain and achyness I have had for the last 5 months. With the surgery I can probably go back to just the arthritis- which is livable. I can expect 2 weeks of a lot of pain, and then with a month of PT, I will be back to my normal in 6 weeks from surgery. I could run 7 miles a day if that was normal for me- which it isn't! But it does mean I could handle Ghana this summer if the Lord opens it up for me to go with our Spokane church. We have to purchase tickets soon, so I still need the answer to the kidney question before committing. Please pray that I get some answers soon from the kidney doctor. I will let you know after I see him what he thinks.

March Madness Week Approaching at Partners
I hope you are having a nice day. It is actually sunny today and the 80 inches of snow we had is slowly melting. There are places you can see the ground and others with several feet still. About 2 weeks from today, after surgery, our international leader friends are arriving from 10 regions around the 10/40 Window. We call that "March Madness Week." The North Africa area director and the man who spearheads our natural disaster response and preparedness ministry will be staying with us. After one of them leaves, we have an Indian lady coming who does work in Bangalore (I think) to free young women from sex slavery abductions. Wow! I am very blessed to have these folks in our home. I will cook meals ahead of time so that when I can't walk much, we can still get by. I know from last time that I have to have WHITE rice for them! Brown rice just doesn't cut it!

Our Family
Jesse is doing well in Senegal. He is learning French, teaching English, helping the Partners ministry there in any way asked of him. He and Taylor are helping to teach computers and are learning to play the djembe drum from a guy named Parfait. Jesse is very glad that he is there longer term so he has a chance to make and build relationships. He LOVES it there! Thank you for praying for him. He is working on thank you's to those who are supporting his trip. He didn't receive the list of names before he left, so he is working on it from there. You should be hearing from him sometime soon.

The girls are fine. Laura is at work in Baltimore, Jenni at Grove City and Allison in South Korea. Greg just turned the water back on after installing the water softener, and so far so good! He is a very talented guy! He had to do electricty, plumbing and installation. He isn't sure I appreciate just how valuable and talented he is! (I do!) He was asked to be an adjunct professor in the fall at Whitworth University teaching "Inter-Cultural Communication and Ministry." He is excited and has already been working on his curriculum. He just had his 51st birthday this week. And he is still the cutest guy ever! It is time to finish this so you and I can both get to the other things we have to do today. Blessings to you all! Nancy Fritz and 509-990-8465

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Teaching hearts here and St. Patrick in Denver

Dear friends,

I am scheduled to go to Denver on Thursday afternoon and return on Monday morning. The main reason for the trip is to teach 200ish children a missions lesson about the life of St. Patrick and what that has to do with them. I will be networking with several friends regarding missions issues, 2 doctors who are so unique no one in Spokane can do what they do, and maybe seeing some family if there is some time.

Before I go, tomorrow will be a full day. I have a bone scan injection at 9:30, have some x-rays taken of my low back where there is a spot we need to check. Then I hope to go to Partners for Chapel and then back for the bone scan. Tomorrow night I am doing my monthly lesson at our church with the K-5th graders on the topic of Having a Heart for missions. They investigate ways they can be involved in missions. It is a fun time and hopefully will get them thinking proactively about their future.

I saw the oncologist Monday who ordered the bone scan, and my doctors are talking to each other about whether I should go to a nephrologist (spelling?) to see if there is anything that needs to be checked to find the reason for the blood in my urine. My internist called me yesterday to let me know that the problem hasn't gone away. I also learned that I may need to do Lovenox shots after my knee surgery to prevent new clots. Those are the stomach shots I had to last summer- not my favorite!

We are doing well. besides my health issues, we are continuing to work on organizing the basement. Partners is falling further behind financially and Greg is very concerned. Greg and I hope to increase our ministry team support to unburden the ministry from having to supplement our support. It is just so painful to decide which partner's budget to cut when they are doing such phenominal ministry. May the Lord help the economy to bounce back soon- in His perfect timing, and may He meet the needs of those who really do depend on Him for sustenance and basic ministry supplies.

I am thinking about what I have to get done before my knee surgery happens on the 27th. There are a lot of ducks to line up in a row. I would very much appreciate your prayers for that, for healing so they don't have to fix my knee at all if He wills it, and that the day after day achy pain would go far, far away one way or the other.

I need to get to bed. I would love prayer for my weekend in Denver and Greg's here. For Jenni trying to apply for summer internships while also trying to keep up with her studies. For Jesse teaching English in Senegal. For Allison teaching English in South Korea, and for Laura working in Baltimore. She is very burdened for a friend who is struggling hard in his new faith in Christ. God continues to be so very, very good.

Blessings to you all-
Nancy Fritz

Thursday, February 05, 2009

A Torn What?!

Dear friends,

I saw the surgeon today who fixed my shoulder shortly after we moved here. He is a very excellent surgeon, and takes time to explain things well. This time the issue was my left knee. I bent my leg to sit down on it on a soft, cushy, low chair at the townhouses at the end of September. My leg exploded with pain when I came down on it and hasn't been the same since. Lots of pain on the back of my knee. Eventually I saw a physician's assistant at my orthopedic surgeon's office last November with the suspicion that I had ruptured my plantaris muscle in the back of my knee.

She ordered an MRI and the conclusion from that was that I had a small Baker's cyst on the back of my knee and arthritis begining under my knee caps. None of that made much sense to me. She sent me to the physical therapist who had done my shoulder. He is also excellent. After 6 PT sessions with Marc, the slight progress in my knee leveled out. He sent me back to Dr. VanderWilde- the wonderful surgeon. I saw him today.

He looked at my MRI and showed me a pretty large Baker's cyst and also the probable cause of that cyst and my knee pain. There is a torn miniscus on the right side of my left knee. (Not mentioned in the MRI report.) Fluid is leaking out of my knee "sac" there, and is unable to flow back in because of torn miniscus tissue flapping around and working as a one-way valve. The fluid gets out and stays out. The water in the leaking fluid absorbs into my body and the thicker parts of the fluid gather into a sack of jello-like material. The pressure of the cyst on the back of my knee is causing inflamation and pain. The torn miniscus is also sore. He looked at the MRI, came over to me and pushed right on that spot on the right side of my knee and said, "I bet this hurts." It did. That is where his years of experience could see things on the MRI that the others hadn't.

So the solution is to repair it with arthroscopic surgery. I am scheduled for February 27th at 1:00. It takes about 35 minutes. He said 2 weeks of a lot of pain, and then a month of PT. In 3 months I will probably be back to just the arthritis issues and will be able to handle Ghana as far as my knee goes. So the good news is that it can be repaired, the bad news is that it has to get worse before it will get better. I will continue my knee excercizes at home in the meantime.

I turned in a urine sample today to see if there is still blood showing up there. If there is, I am supposed to see a kidney doctor. I am trying to get to the bottom of these issues so I can move forward in planning our Ghana trip. I would be leading part of the training, so if I am not going we would need to adjust our goals or get another leader to go who knows how to do what I was going to do.

Jesse has put a little on since he got the Senegal. He is also putting pictures on facebook if that is a venue you are used to.

I will let you know how it goes with the oncologist on Monday. Tests or not? I guess I learned about the inside of the knee today! I really don't want to be known as the person with all of the medical problems all of the time. It takes so much time. But today I got to talk to Dr. V's nurse who will be in the north of Ghana the same time we will be there. It is all about connections for me I think sometimes. God sets it up and I pay attention.

Tomorrow morning my basement cleaning friend is coming early to help me, so I need to get to bed. Blessings! Nancy Fritz

Tuesday, February 03, 2009

Our boy is in Africa and I'm coming up for air!

Dear friends,

Have you ever dived into a pool and tried to swim as far as you could under water while holding your breath? I feel like I made that dive in mid-November and just came up for air. Gasp! and Whew! I made it to the end of the pool, and now I can get out for a rest.

Of course this is a figurative illustration. My pool has been a series of things: a 3 week trip to the east coast in late November and early December. I had a cystocele surgery a week before Christmas which included not being able to drive for several weeks and one week until all the family was home for Christmas. The snow started the day I had surgery and continued for weeks. We ended up with 72 inches here- I think just until the end of December and then we had more adding up to 80 inches. This meant shoveling tons of snow both at our home and at the townhouses including a 10 car parking lot. No snowblowers were left to buy in the whole region!

Our girls all came home and we had a very nice Christmas. We had 16 here for Christmas dinner. Then I helped promote the Kidzana conference that was set to be held at our church here. While doing that I was helping Jesse get all the things he needed together for his trip and to finish high school which he did on the 23rd of January. Jenni was here until mid January and I helped her search for an engineering internship this summer. I did 6 sessions of PT on my left knee and all the accompanying home exercizes. A friend has come over several times to help me sort and set up our basement- a BIG job! Then last week the Kidzana training took place at our church with 19 participants, which I hosted logistically. We enjoyed hosting the speaker in our home. She is a kindred spirit! Jesse left with the speaker Saturday at 5:45 p.m. for the drive to the Seattle airport. Friday night I made some gifts for him to take to the leaders in Africa he will be staying with. On Sunday, I went to church and then SLEPT! That was the breath catching day!

Greg and I are now really, truely, empty nesters- at least for the next 5 1/2 months. I am planning a trip to Denver Feb. 13th-15th, returning early on the 16th. I will be with Cherry Hills Community Church doing a program for about 170 kids about missions. Leadership meetings of all Partners International's international regional staff will be held here in Spokane the second week of March, and I have been working on setting up one of our guys to speak at Whitworth University while he is here. He is from Malaysia and his topics include poverty and community development. I am also on a committee that is preparing for a regional "Inland Northwest Mission Connection Conference" to take place in about 20 months. (I am feeling tired just reading what I have written here- Yikes!)

And a big prayer request is that I can discern whether or not I should go to Ghana this summer with a team from our Spokane church for 2 weeks to train Ghanaian children's workers in how to do effective Christian education- i.e., training the trainers and disciplers of children. My main concern is that I need to be healthy enough to go. My knee hurts and I see my orthopedic surgeon on Thursday to discuss what to expect from my knees in the next several months. Now that the PT is done, what next? Just time? If particularly my left knee gets worse, I don't know if I should go. There is still the issue of blood in my urine that we have figured out must originate in my kidneys. My bladder has been carefully checked. So the kidney specialist is the next step with that. There is a very sore place in my low back which my chiropractor is working on. When I see the oncologist, should I bring up the idea of having a bone scan? or a PET scan? It has been 3 years since my last cancer. I'm not worried, just wary. I just want to commit to the trip with as much confidence as possible that I will be able to do it. I very much want to go and have myself and two others from my church trained last week do this training. I think the 3 of us would be an amazing team. So pray for the Lord to show me clearly what to do about Ghana. Thanks!

I need to get some other things done today, but wanted to be in touch with you all. Jesse is in Dakar. I haven't heard much more but expect he will be putting an entry on his blog you can check if you want: Greg still has his job at Partners. Several were laid off last week and hours cut for some others. There will be no more layoffs at least until the end of June. We are $3000 behind on our support for last year. Thank you for praying for us. If you are interested in being on our ministry team, get in touch with me and I will let you know how to do that. Have a great day! Blessings- Nancy Fritz 509-990-8465