100 lb. Club - Howie's back

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08-23-2005, 09:36 PM
No, he didn't go anywhere...This is about his back. ;) For those who have wondered how he's doing, I thought I'd start a thread.

A little background for those who don't know: he fell and broke three vertebrae and eight ribs back in 1994. After PT, he got back to work, but reinjured his back at work and had fusion surgery on L3-L4 in 1996. Before his injury, he'd gotten down to 299, but after surgery he regained some of his weight, going back up to 420 by 2003. He's lost again, now down to 270 (yayyyyy!), but is having back troubles again.

A July 19th MRI showed areas of concern and today we finally got in to see the neurologist. The doctor we saw today, Dr. M, is a neurosurgeon who no longer does surgeries due to a double knee replacement two years ago. He serves as a neurological consultant at the practice now, acting as a triage doctor, screening patients and reviewing test results. He also helps fill in and do follow-up visits for patients.

Dr. M said the thing of most concern is the stenosis (narrowing of the spinal canal) at L4-L5. Howie's curvature has the nerves compressing, too. There's nothing to be done about the missing/degenerating discs, he said. The curvature in Howie's spine contributes to the disc problems and also makes the nerves get bunched together; if the stenosis is severe enough, it might require a fusion surgery to open up the area and take pressure off of the nerves.

The MRI doesn't show enough detail for the rest, though, especially with Howie's spinal curvature disrupting the view. We've no truly solid answers after today's appointment except that Dr. M doesn't think Howie has a tethered spinal cord. Thank God for that!

So, better pictures are needed. Howie's scheduled for a mylegram, CT and X-rays this Thursday at 12:30pm. Doctor's orders are for him to take Thursday and Friday off. Then, to our relief, Dr. M's secretary squeezed us in for an appointment on Monday at 1:00pm, so at least it's not another month-long wait after the tests.

It was a bit frustrating to wait over a month between the MRI and today's appointment. Dr. M apologized for the delay in getting Howie in and explained there's been a sharp decline in the number of neurosurgeons practicing in the U.S., from 5000+ a few years ago to 3000 now.

I'd imagine it's because of the lawsuits and malpractice insurance making it so very expensive to practice medicine. I've read stories about general practitioners having to close up shop because of the high costs of practicing medicine. I'd imagine neurosurgeons really pay the piper. It's a shame, though, because in the end it's the patient who suffers from high costs and delays in care.

Off my soapbox now. we're just thankful we have medical insurance and that we've got an appointment set for less than a week away!

That's the scoop. :)

08-23-2005, 09:49 PM
Thanks for the update.

I will keep both of you in my prayers. I am taking my best friend to the hospital on Thursday for surgery. Her husband has had fused disks and multiple surgeries. I know from watching her go through her experiences the frustration with how it is just not an exact science. Best wishes,

08-23-2005, 10:01 PM
All of that sounds horribly uncomfortable to say the least. I wish you both the best and hope you are able to get all of the answers that you are looking for. It sounds like you have an incredible doctor on your case and that will make all of the difference in the world - even if you have to wait a while for appointments!

08-23-2005, 10:13 PM
OMGoodness. Back pain is just awful. I am sorry you are having to dela wiht this. I must say, however, that you are amazing to be losing weight through all of this! Healing vibes...

08-23-2005, 10:24 PM
Great news that its unlikely to be a tethered spinal cord (I know that was the worst fear)! Obviously fusion surgery isn't anything to look forward to, but if it comes to that and the pressure can be reduced and the pain drastically reduced, then I suppose the benefits will far outweigh the discomforts (easier coming from someone who doesn't have to go through it...) I'm glad that the next appointment is less than a week away so you can get some definitive answers. Naturally I wish for you both the best results and the easiest treatment to bear. You've both shown this forum so much strength, not only in your collective weight-loss, but in dealing with this on-going problem. Best of luck, always! :)

08-24-2005, 12:29 AM
Thanks for the the update. You'll be in my prayers!!

08-24-2005, 12:49 AM
I will keep Howberley (ie, both of you) in my thoughts & prayers.

08-24-2005, 01:14 AM
Sending vibes your way for good news and a happy back. Hang in there, you guys. Keep us posted!

08-24-2005, 01:25 AM
Aw, you guys -- I'm so sorry you have all of this on your plate. Poor Howie! It's got to be so frightening for both of you -- but I'm VERY glad to hear the good news about the not tethered thing. Whew! I'm glad also that you got an appt. for Monday -- I know very well the misery of having really important tests, and then having to wait interminably to talk to your doc about them. It's really adding insult to injury, isn't it?

Kimberley, what you said about the decline in number of neurosurgeons is very interesting. Thank you for sharing that with us. It makes a lot of sense.

Big, loving, tender hugs for both of you -- and thank you for updating us, Kimberley, you sweetheart. I love you, Howie!! :grouphug:

08-24-2005, 08:26 AM
Looks like things will be happening more quickly for you now. You're both in my thoughts.


08-24-2005, 08:45 AM
Thanks for the update Kimberley. I'm happy to hear it's most likely not a tethered spinal cord, whew, what a relief! I hope the next round of tests will be able to give you a better view of just what the problems are and what needs to be done about them. I'm keeping you both in my thoughts, good luck!


08-24-2005, 09:05 AM
Good luck and all the best!

08-24-2005, 09:55 AM
I can't imagine the pain he is in! How frustrating! How wonderful, however, that you are in his life!

All the best!

08-24-2005, 11:29 AM
Glad to hear you finally got in to see the doc, even if it was not a whole lot of news. At least the Doc is getting the ball rolling now and you should hopefully have some answers by next Monday.

GL howie with all the tests tomorrow.

08-24-2005, 12:18 PM
Your both in my thoughts and prayers.

08-24-2005, 02:17 PM
Thanks for the update, Kimberley. Very frustrating that you've got more tests to suffer through, but at least there's still hope that it will look better than they think.

You both are in our thoughts. We're here for you!!!

08-24-2005, 02:27 PM
Thanks, you guys! My mom sent me the following joke...Considering everything, it's oddly appropriate. ;)

The Devoted Wife

A devoted wife had spent her lifetime taking care of her husband. He had been slipping in and out of a coma for several months, yet she stayed by his bedside every single day. When he came to his senses, he motioned for her to come near him.

As she sat by him, he said, ''You know what? You have been with me all through the bad times. When I got fired, you were there to support me. When my business failed, you were there. When I got shot, you were by my side. When we lost the house, you gave me support. When my health started failing, you were still by my side. You know what?''

''What, my dear?'' she asked gently.

''I think you bring me bad luck!''

08-24-2005, 02:53 PM
So are you saying your bad luck. I always knew there had to be a reason for all this. Your the best babe I don't know about luck but it must have been my lucky day when I met you.

Thanks for all the kind words everyone. I'm at the point where I don't want them to say you need surgery but then what if they say you don't need surgery. Kind of a catch 22. I would like them to fix it but I don't want to have to go through surgery again. Such a mixed batch of feelings.

08-24-2005, 05:13 PM
Howie - so sorry to hear that you are having such back problems again. Good luck on Monday.

08-25-2005, 06:45 PM
Back trouble is just awful. :crossed: for you.

08-25-2005, 08:26 PM
Well, the mylegram was no walk in the park, but everyone at the hospital was beyond courteous - just wonderful folks there. The doctor had a tough time finding a spot to inject the dye and at one point hit a nerve. Howie said he felt like an electric jolt went clear down both legs to his toes. It's one miserable test to have done and he's glad it's over. He tried reclining in his chair for a while, but needed to lie down in bed after all.

Howie's mylegram, CT and X-rays went okay today. He had a very painful jolt down his legs when the radiologist hit a nerve when injecting the dye at first, but he's doing okay now.

Our van was damaged by the parking garage's entrance, though. The hanging guard tubes said the height limit was 6'8" and though our van's front end had adequate clearance, once we started in, the back of the van started scraping the ceiling as the drive sloped down! We couldn't risk getting really stuck in the garage somewhere, so I had to back it out - that ended up pushing down some roof and breaking the third brake light.

Howie mentioned it to the registration clerk just in passing, not expecting them to do anything. She called security, though, and the man took a look at the van and got our contact info. Looks like they'll cover it since the tubes didn't accurately show the minimum clearance. You could see nothing had scraped the van's roof except for the last 18" of it.

Now we just hope the parking garage company will take care of it directly with their insurance and that State Farm won't have to subrogate; if they do, we'll have to pony up $250 until they get payment from the other insurance company and we won't see our money back for 12-15 weeks.

But in the grand scheme, it's small potatoes, you know? We weren't injured and it's only a vehicle.

He's snoozing and I think I'll join him...been a long day and a nap sounds good!

08-26-2005, 01:41 PM
thanks for giving the update. That's great they are going to handle the van problems. Hopefully these next few days will fly by until Monday.

08-26-2005, 01:51 PM
I am ready to hear what he says Monday but I never ever ever want the weekend to go quick. LOL It's Friday and I have the day off and I'm looking forward to a long weekend of nothing. Thanks for all your concerns you guys are great.

08-26-2005, 02:06 PM
I'm so sorry that the two of you have to face this.
I'm sending you my strongest healthy back...good news Monday..healing, loving vibes ;)

I hope everything goes as well as it possibly can.


08-26-2005, 03:03 PM
:crossed: for Monday, Howie. Hoping you hear some good news!


08-26-2005, 03:28 PM

Weren't you quite a bit heavier the first time you had surgery? I wonder, if surgery is what they tell you, if it would be a different story this time around? I wonder if they could do it less invasively this time around? Did they mentionanything like this?

08-26-2005, 04:03 PM
He's been really sore today so is lying down for a while. I'll fill in what I can.

He had lost weight before his initial injury, getting down to 299. By the time he had surgery, he had gained some back, but I'm not sure how much. He definitely weighs less now than he did back then.

His surgery was a laminectomy (fusion of two vertebrae together) and they came in through his back. Sounds like this surgery would be another laminectomy, just another set of vertebrae. We'll know more Monday.

08-26-2005, 07:18 PM
Howie, I'm so sorry you're having to go through all this pain. I got the shivers when I read about the mylegram--not a procedure you want to have ever again, I'm sure.

I'm crossing my fingers for good news on Monday, and wishing you a relaxing weekend of doing absolutely nothing. :)

08-26-2005, 09:45 PM
Try to relax and enjoy your weekend the best you can, Howie :beach: Best of luck with the visit to the doctor on Monday. :crossed:

08-27-2005, 09:26 AM
Wow this is all crazy Howie, I hope you at least force your self to disconect from everything this weekend and relax. It's also crazy about the fan, I would imagine even the sound of it scratching against the roof was un-nerving. Any help we can give you on the boards, we're here! (sans-surgery of course. Though if you really wanted i'm sure i could figure it out with a couple text books :lol: )

08-27-2005, 01:00 PM
Thanks everyone it's good to have your support. I might take you up on that Nash.

08-27-2005, 04:36 PM
I could be way off base here, I work for a health insurer in the UK. There is a new treatment that we cover called x-stop, which is used for spinal stenosis. It's little device, that looks a bit like an oversized wing nut. I'll find a link that explains more. Anyways, it's a day case procedure under local anaesthetic, and often used in this country instead of a revision fusion op. It would be worth asking the question to see if its an option.


08-27-2005, 05:33 PM
Thanks for the link I will ask about that. It looks really cool. That would be nice instead of another fusion.

08-27-2005, 07:29 PM
you really are having a hard time of it aint you. and i thought i had problems with injuries! mind you with a wife like yours anything would be bareable. you are now the same weight as me which is something isn't it. any surgeory will be so much easier now and not only that any rehab after will be so much easier due to less stress on you spine when you stand.

p.s got your message earlier but was watching the cricket highlights missed it due to the rugby

08-28-2005, 05:49 PM
Doh! You had to go and mention the cricket. Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr.

Good luck with it all Howie, I tried to find some patient reports about x-stop, but couldn't see any. I now work on a specialist back pain team for my health insurer, if I find out anything else interesting, I'll let you know!

08-28-2005, 09:49 PM
I do have a good wife. I don't know how I would go through this with out her. She's a keeper for sure.

08-29-2005, 12:28 AM
The feeling's mutual, H. :love:

08-29-2005, 12:49 AM
Awwwwwwww. I just LOVE you guys!

:crossed: Fingers crossed for Monday. :goodluck:

08-29-2005, 01:58 AM
Best of luck tomorrow Howie. I am sorry you are having to go through this again. We are here for you...

08-30-2005, 02:11 PM

What's the news Howie??

08-30-2005, 05:00 PM

08-30-2005, 05:33 PM
I'm so sorry I didn't update you all sooner! We were so tuckered out last night I missed this thread altogether.

We know more now, but just don't know what's happening, where, and when. Howie definitely needs surgery for the stenosis. The doctor said it wouldn't be good to wait until he started exhibiting more symptoms because they might not be reversible. Good thing is, he said the procedure would not be as involved as what Howie had done the first time.

Howie's fatigue, additional pain and nausea is likely from the myleogram, doc said. He needs to take it easy for three or four days, doctor's orders. Gee, twist Howie's arm and make him take time off from work. He's so glad the doctor told him that, because he's really hurting from the drive and sitting in up straight in chairs today. He's off work through Tuesday, and it's a good thing even if it does slurp up all those vacation days.

The doctor was great about our wanting a second opinion from Johns Hopkins and said we shouldn't ever worry about hurting anyones' feelings, that it's important for patients to go where they feel the most comfortable. What an awesome guy he is, so good at explaining things.

He had his secretary call the referral line and, five people later, she got the contact info for a doctor there. Dr. Khaled Kebaish is a scoliosis specialist, an orthopedic spine surgeon, I think. The doctor's faxing him all the reports about Howie for review, along with his demographic info. That doctor will go over everything and make a decision as to whether they'll take his case.

In the meantime, in case JH does want to set up an appointment for consultation, we picked up Howie's remaining films from the hospital so we have everything ready to go with us.

Guess we'll just take it as a door closing for JH if they don't ask him to come for a consult. We'll just have to wait and see. The hospital and neurologists here are very good, too, so either way we feel Howie will be in good hands.

:) Kimberley

08-30-2005, 06:18 PM
Thanks for the update Kimberley. I'm relieved to hear that the procedure shouldn't be as bad as the first time, that's some good news as least! Now, you tell that man of yours to take full advantage of his doctor's orders and get some much needed and deserved R&R!


08-31-2005, 11:15 AM
thanks for the update. Glad to hear he's getting more answers and the procedure won't be as evasive this time.

08-31-2005, 01:02 PM
Sorry it means more surgery, but glad to hear it won't be as nasty an experience as last time and that you'll finally have some relief from the pain. :)

08-31-2005, 02:12 PM
Love your avatar, Jill! Is that you as a sprout?

08-31-2005, 02:22 PM
Thanks, Kimberley. As I explained in another thread, my mum and I were looking at family albums and I noticed she'd written my age AND weight on the back of that one. In that pic I weigh the same amount I need to lose to get to goal. So I'm now intent on losing myself. ;)

Hope you're enjoying your time with Howie during his R&R. :)

09-01-2005, 12:31 AM
Jill! :lol:

I'm so sorry that it does mean more surgery but I'm hoping this will have you back to new again and without pain!! You won't know what to do with your pain-free self! :D

Good Luck and keep us posted!

09-01-2005, 09:58 AM
What an ordeal you two are going through. Back pain is no fun! You both are so full of sunshine through it all. It is inspiring.

09-08-2005, 02:29 PM
Johns Hopkins accepted him!!

He has an appoinment for a consultation with the surgeon at 11:00am on Thursday, September 15 -- just a week from today. :D Baltimore, here we come!

09-08-2005, 02:35 PM
SWEEEEET! Good luck to ya, Howberly (or GardenHo!)

09-08-2005, 03:49 PM
Here is his surgeon, Dr. Khaled M. Kebaish (http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/orthopedicsurgery/kebaish.html). Nice to see a face and to read about him beforehand. :)

09-08-2005, 03:55 PM
That's great Kimberly - a little familiarity can certainly help. Keep us posted.


09-08-2005, 06:23 PM
That is so awesome Howberlie. :D

09-08-2005, 09:03 PM
Good luck guys! I'll keep you both in my thoughts and prayers!

09-08-2005, 09:12 PM
Wow, can't add much except all the best and stay strong

09-08-2005, 10:44 PM

Not that he needs the surgery of course, but that he gets to go to JH. I think it must offer a sense of reassurance, that at least he'll be in the best hands around.

You know you have my love and best wishes....keep us posted on the progress, OK?


09-08-2005, 10:56 PM
Thanks, you guys! Ya'll have been so supportive of us in our weight loss efforts, how could y'all be anything but gems when it comes to this? We really appreciate you so much!

Remember how we said a person told us she was going to cover our expenses if he came to Johns Hopkins? It's happening -- she's wiring us some money for us to use for airfare, hotel and other expenses. She and her husband said they'd help with the shortage we're going to have with his pay being cut on short-term disability, too.

We are so humbled and so blessed. It's a God Thing.

Well, back to cleaning. Still got the party coming up! ;)

Stepping Out
09-09-2005, 12:41 AM
God is GOOD! :D

I'm so glad that Howie will be able to go where he can get the best possible care. I've been through back surgery (emergency laminectomy), and I didn't really have a choice of what doctor or what procedure.

Enjoy your trip to Baltimore! :)

09-09-2005, 12:02 PM
OMG Kimberlie that is awesome.

09-09-2005, 01:39 PM
How wonderful that Howie's going to such a prestigious facility to be seen by the best of the best! How about those anonymous benefactors...there's some truly lovely people in this world. :)

Okay, I just looked at the Dr's credentials and seeing all those references to Canada, I know he's gotta be good!! :D

"Residency: University of Toronto
Board Certification:
MCCEE (Canada)
FRCSC (Canada)
Fellow of the Royal College of Surgeons (Canada)"

09-09-2005, 03:42 PM
Oh Kimberley, that's fantastic!! There really are some truly special and amazing people in this world. Here's to Howie's speedy recovery thanks to the best care possible!


09-10-2005, 04:16 AM
That is fantastic, I have been doing some reading on this bloke, he is one of the leading exponents of minimally invasive surgical techniques, like the one I mentioned a few posts ago! He looks nice and approachable too.

I am sure you'll get the resolution you are looking for, prayers are with you Howberley!

K x

09-10-2005, 04:05 PM
I've read some about this guy, too (Hey, Kylie - I'm in health care, too!). He is supposed to be *good*. I am so psyched that Howie's going to be in such great hands, in such a great facility. And that's amazing about those people who are helping you guys out!

Congrats, and keep us posted.

09-11-2005, 11:35 AM
This is terrific news! I can't wait to hear all about the first appointment! Have a safe trip. :grouphug:

09-11-2005, 02:01 PM
God bless you both-I'll be praying for you.

Sorry I didn't see your post earlier.

Will put you on our prayer chain.

09-11-2005, 07:03 PM
Good luck & vibes to Howie also. :cheers:

09-11-2005, 07:29 PM
Thoughts and prayers for you Howie and Kimberly ~ for a safe trip and good appointment with the dr. It is wonderful about the people who have offered to help you. What a blessing!!

09-12-2005, 12:58 AM
What GREAT news. I guess if you gotta have the surgery, being at the best place, seen by the best doctors and having someone help out with the bills would be the way to go!! You guys are the best. I'll be saying a prayer that things go well on Thursday!!!

09-12-2005, 04:17 AM
Thanks, you guys! :) We have the hotel reservations made and are still hammering out the flight plans so we can buy tickets. We'll be in Baltimore late Wednesday night and fly home Friday evening. We decided to go ahead and stay Thursday night since Thursday is going to be a long day spent sitting up in the waiting room and exam room, then tackling the airport, flights and layover would have been too much for Howie in one day.

09-13-2005, 04:51 PM
I had the blood patch this morning and boy am I sore. It does seem to be helping the headache and I'm sure the soreness will cease. We are excited about the up coming trip and getting the ball rolling. My buddy that I worked with here contacted me last night and they want to take us out to dinner Thursday night. They live in the Baltimore area. We are going to go to Berthas. We have seen it on the Best Of on Food TV and it looked really good.

09-13-2005, 10:34 PM
Have a safe trip tomorrow! You'll both be in my thoughts and prayers.

09-14-2005, 01:22 PM
Off we go, into the wild blue yonder...
Off we go, but not over the sea (hey, Lake Michigan doesn't count, right?).

We're leaving soon. Probably will check in again from an airport while we're waiting. And waiting. LOL

Stepping Out
09-14-2005, 04:25 PM
Have a wonderful, safe trip...I'll be praying for Howie...and lurking to read all the details when you get home ;)

09-14-2005, 05:48 PM
Have a safe trip, Howberley! Will be thinking of you! :goodvibes

09-14-2005, 06:12 PM
Big hugs to y'all!!!

09-15-2005, 12:54 AM
Hey ya's. We're relaxing at the hotel. It's been a long day, but went pretty smoothly. We learned that you can't trust taxi cab rates to be consistent or for their meters to run at the same rates. :mad: Guy who drove us to a restaurant charged $6. Different guy drove us back to the hotel, basically the same route, and we watched in horror as the meter kept flying upwards. His charge was $9. Grrrr. We could have grabbed a free shuttle to a different restaurant, but declined since their prices were so high -- with $15 in cab fare, we'd have come out ahead! Ah well...Live and learn. :^:

09-15-2005, 12:59 AM
Kimberley, glad you guys are finding your room relaxing. A big OUCH on those Taxi fees!

09-15-2005, 06:49 PM
We switched to a non-smoking room this morning. Soo much better. I updated my blog with today's doctor's visit results (http://www.gardenwife.com/mt/archives/2005/09/we_can_rebuild.php).

09-15-2005, 08:07 PM
we'll keep praying.
stay safe.

09-15-2005, 08:35 PM
Thanks for the update Kimberley. I completely understand why Howie wouldn't be looking forward to having his spine reconstructed, but in the end it sounds like it will be well worth it.


09-16-2005, 02:40 AM
Sounds like a glimmer of hope! Will keep you guys in my thoughts & prayers.

09-17-2005, 11:11 PM
Definitely a glimmer of hope! :) We've heard from friends who've offered to let us stay with them at their home. They live about 45 minutes from Johns Hopkins. They have two bedrooms in an end of their house they never use, plus they eat the same healthy diet we do and even have exercise equipment. And high-speed internet. But the best thing? They want us to bring the dogs with us! They have a 1/4-acre portion of their yard fenced-in and puppy-proofed for their "granddogs" that visit sometimes.

God is GOOD. He's into details. :)

09-19-2005, 08:46 AM
That's great news (all around). You have concrete, long-term medical answers and the generosity you're receiving is amazing! Good things to good people!


09-19-2005, 10:11 AM
WOW! What a great offer from your friend. SOunds like this is meanth to be.

09-20-2005, 08:37 PM
Definitely a glimmer of hope! :) We've heard from friends who've offered to let us stay with them at their home. They live about 45 minutes from Johns Hopkins. They have two bedrooms in an end of their house they never use, plus they eat the same healthy diet we do and even have exercise equipment. And high-speed internet. But the best thing? They want us to bring the dogs with us! They have a 1/4-acre portion of their yard fenced-in and puppy-proofed for their "granddogs" that visit sometimes.

God is GOOD. He's into details. :)

What wonder friends!! I will be thinking of you. Hope things go well.

09-21-2005, 12:01 AM
That is such great news!!! So glad to hear that there is a resolution to be had!!

:angel: You are definately being watched over. :angel: Or maybe you guys are just getting back some of wht you give!

09-29-2005, 08:48 PM
Will keep you in our prayers. :)

09-30-2005, 12:14 AM
Thanks for your prayers, guys. :) Howie definitely needs them. He feels pretty good at the beginning of the week, but as it goes on, he feels worse. He just feels yuck most of the time toward the end of the week. It's hard waiting for the surgery, but wait we must. Thanks for the encouraging words, everyone.

09-30-2005, 11:56 AM
It's really hard hearing that our friend Howie is ahving such a hard go of it right now. (((HUGS)))

When is the surgery?? Should I already know this answer?

09-30-2005, 12:42 PM
I call Monday to get the exact date. It will be in January. Thanks for all your kind words and thoughts and prayers everyone.

10-02-2005, 08:53 PM
(((HUGS)))) Hang in there Howie!

10-02-2005, 11:12 PM
You guys are in my thoughts!!! I hope you're hangin' in there. :grouphug:

10-03-2005, 04:49 PM
Howie tried calling to schedule today and they *still* don't have January's schedule loaded in their system. The first time he called today, she said there were many people wanting to schedule in January, and they were already booked through the end of December.

He called back to see if she could take his name, since he has been trying for two weeks to get on the schedule. She said she'd be sure he was on there. She said to try again at the beginning of next week. :?: Don't know how that's supposed to work if he's the one who has to keep calling them.

I told him we should call them daily until they get him on there with a definite date. He told her it doesn't matter when - any time the first week of January on is fine with us.

In the meantime, our friends who offered us a place to stay with them are so sweet. The lady wrote and said they've been picking up little things to make our stay with them comfy. They keep stressing they want us to feel like part of the family, to consider anything in the kitchen all four of ours, etc.

When I start feeling stressed, I recount all the means in which God's paved the way for this. Surgery sucks, but there's so much happening it's all obviously for a greater reason.