Sunday, August 29, 2010

Righty's last ride (pts. 1 & 2) and all the beautiful people

Like i mentioned in another post, the day after T-dub got home from Europe we met with Doc Jones and decided to go ahead with the amputation of my right foot a mere two days later on friday. My brother the suburban cowboy kept referring to a song by Tim McGraw, "Live Like you Were Dying," about all the things we should do with my foot before it went off to the big cancer lab in the sky. Because of the two previous surgeries i hadn't been able to ride my bike a whole lot since the end of June, so one thing i knew i wanted to do was ride again with both legs. I put the word out to a few friends that thursday morning i'd be meeting at Revolution at 7:00 am for "Righty's Last Ride." The artist put the word out to quite a few more people, unbeknownst to me. So thursday morning T-dub and i got up, rolled over to Revolution, and were surprised to find 30-40 people there for Righty's last ride.

We had a good ride out through Draper and back, with more folks joining along the way, and i appreciate the opportunity to ride next to so many great people from the cycling community, both those i know and have ridden with for years, and those i barely know. I appreciate everyone who pulled up by my side to offer encouragement, give references or offer help, or even share their own experiences. It was impressive to see everyone, from some of the fastest guys in the state to my high school humanities teacher, show up to bolster me with their spirits and strength on such short notice. Thanks as well to all of you who didn't hear about the ride till afterwords (i know, one day wasn't a lot of time) or had other commitments, but expressed your desire to be there. Thank you!!

Yes, he was a state champion, and the CX old guy series points leader, but that was all back before he started brewing beer.

A big shout out to Melissa and the whole crew at Revolution who have been incredibly supportive. I've been buying bikes and bike stuff from Melissa for well over ten years now because she knows how to take care of people. Thanks!!

But to all you who came out for Righty's Last Ride, i have a small confession to make. It wasn't actually Righty's last ride. It was, in actuality Righty's second to last ride, see, when i got my surgery schedule and found out i didn't have to be at the Huntsman Center until 2:00 in the afternoon on friday, the artist asked me if i was going to ride my bike up to Huntsman. It hadn't occurred to me before that, but since he mentioned it, yea, i decided i would ride to the hospital. So this time i invited my family to join me for Righty's real last ride. I got up friday morning and shaved Righty one last time (old habits die hard i guess), then ran a few last errands.

At noon Luke showed up to offer his support, then T-dub (who was taking the picture), the artist, the fashionista, and José and I all set out for Righty's real last ride. It was a pretty surreal experience. Here was this leg, that by all accounts, was doing what it was supposed to be doing. It looked healthy! It pedaled and powered the bike forward! and yet, this cancer was growing inside it that had the potential to destroy me!

Righty's last pedal strokes!

The closer we got to Hunstman, the more surreal it became. Our pace was easy, and we were laughing and joking, but right there in my mind i kept thinking, "this is so natural, so normal, so much a part of my daily life, but this is it: the last time i will pedal my bike with both legs, something i have taken for granted my whole life." I am grateful i had my brothers and Ms. Cheetah with me to share Righty's last ride (for real).

When we got to the Huntsman, the artist, the fashionista, T-dub, and José "dropped me off."

Then we found a valet (yes, they have free valet at the Huntsman for patients) to take a group picture. He asked us where we had ridden from, thinking that if the ride merited a group photo, it must have been quite a ways. We told him Sandy. He pretended not to be unimpressed, then the artist, with all his usual tack, pointed to me and said, "he's going in to get his leg cut off now," at which point the valet's expression turned to part horror, part shock. He clearly didn't know what to say to that, muttered "i'm sorry" a number of times and we rode down to the parking lot to find my dad.

After my dad got there, the rest of the group rode home, T-dub and I went in and changed, and then headed up to wait for the surgery. Even though i was scheduled to arrive at 2:00, and they got us into the patient waiting room rather quickly, the surgery rooms were backed up and it wasn't until almost 8:00 that they finally got me in for the surgery. That gave me a lot of time to hang out with my Dad, T-dub, and my leg.

Finally a little after 8:00 they rolled me back to the surgery room and the next thing i remember was waking up at around midnight. I was in the post-op recovery room where the nurses were telling me they were going to "boost" the epidural, which would take about ten minutes, and then once i was feeling ok, take me up to my room. I was feeling a good bit of pain, but waited and waited, hoping the epidural would kick in. It didn't. Finally, after about fifteen minutes i told the nurse (between deep breaths), that i didn't think the epidural was working. I knew this for two reasons: 1) it hurt like hell and 2) i could scratch and pinch both legs and feel it just fine, i had total sensation in both legs (or at least what was left of both legs). The nurses worked quickly to get an IV drip painkiller going, but all in all, i spent about 45-50 minutes between when i came to and the painkiller kicked in. Finally the pain started to subside and they took me up to my room where my Dad, the artist, and T-dub were waiting for me. T-dub almost fainted when they told her it had taken so long because the epidural didn't work and i was in a bit of pain. The artist almost fainted when he saw the pic of my foot in a bowl.
Then the worst part of the whole experience happened. I had to pee real bad, i mean real bad. So after a little discussion with the nurse it was determined that T-dub would hold me while everyone else waited outside and i peed into a small plastic urinal, so T-dub propped me up and held me at the bedside, i held a urinal up to my junk, and the nurse, the artist, and my dad waited behind a curtain ten feet away. Talk about stage fright. It didn't help that every 45 seconds my dad was asking me if i had gone yet. Although i had to pee so bad my teeth hurt, with such an audience, it took me a good six or seven minutes and a bit of coaxing before i was able to relieve myself. Finally, the job done, i was put back in bed, my dad and the artist said good night, and T-dub pulled a reclining chair up to my bed as close as she could and held my hand throughout the night.

The next morning the "pain management team," including the resident who had administered my epidural the night before came to see how i was doing. I told the resident that he was lucky he hadn't stopped by last night when i was in the post-op recovery room because had he done so, regardless of whether i had only one leg or not, i would have punched him hard in the face. He didn't see the humor, but that's ok, cuz i hadn't been laughing the night before either.

Other than that, however, i can't say enough for the hospital staff, Doc Jones and his staff, and all my good family, friends, unirvesity colleagues, students, and the cycling community who have shown me so much support. I had a number of great visitors at the hospital, who certainly made the time pass. In fact, i had to remind Cait, who was having so much fun, that it wasn't a birthday party, i had, in fact, just had my leg amputated.

My nieces signing my cast.

My mom sporting her "Livestrong" hat, just for the occassion. She came to visit twice, though her own health is deteriorating rapidly. Thanks Mom!!

The artist, the fashionista, and DC all stopped by after riding the four canyons. Don't worry DC, i won't tell anyone, you only met them for Emigration and didn't really ride the other three.

All the kids wanted to see the pics of the surgery. It probably didn't help that Ernie couldn't help but gasp, "holy cow!!" with each new picture as she scrolled through them.

Willy made me a new prosthetic foot out of play-doh.

Cait asking if she could eat the chocolate she had brought me as a get-well gift.

But that's ok, because Cait also made me these "guardian monsters" out of the play-doh she brought.

Early sunday morning visitors, i like that Cait wore her jersey, even though she drove to the hospital.

After a few laps around the fifth floor on Sunday with my new crutches, and some stair exercises, they figured i was strong enough to go home and i was discharged before noon.

It was nice to go home, to sleep in my bed, to not have a nurse's aid waking me every hour to check my vitals, and to have so much care and support from so many. I don't know how to begin to express my gratitude. I have felt such an incredible and strong sense of community and love over the past few months, first since Bunny was killed, and more recently after my own surgery. I don't know that i can thank everyone and i'm afraid i'll leave someone out, please forgive me if i do, but i want to try.

Thanks especially to T-dub for being there every step and taking such unbelievable care of me. I can't imagine what Luke is going through because i would be devastated without you. I am so grateful and lucky to have you in my life.

Thanks Dad for doing everything you can to help me through this in every way: financially, and in terms of my overall well being and comfort, and for being there for every surgery to pick me up, take me home, and make sure i'm taken care of. And thanks mom, even though your mind is not what it used to be, i face my challenges with the attitude i do because that's what you and dad taught me to do.

Thanks to the rest of my family, who all help in their different ways, so many of which i'm sure i'm not even aware. Niki for coordinating and communicating; Seth for being a jackass, i mean for his sense of humor (really though, i appreciate Seth for all he has done to support me through this); Luke for stepping up and supporting me, even when he is going through his own challenges that overshadow mine immensely; Miah for wanting to take my big toe skydiving before i lost it; Zach for helping with so many little things including a great meal (actually it was Brenda who made it), but most especially providing me with a photo that brings me to tears of laughter everytime i see it; and Trigger for checking in and keeping up from southern Colorado. Thanks as well to my amazing sisters-in-law and José who have fed me, chauferred me, helped clean my house, and yard, and supported T-dub.
Thanks to my nieces and nephews who decorated my cast something wonderful, came to visit me often, and continue to support me even if it means a get well kiss or good luck rub to the stinky end of my stubbly stump.

Thanks to all my extended family who have sent get well messages, dropped off music, visited me in the hospital and at home, sent food, and even provided or offered medical advice and services. To Bob and Lonnie for the music and visits, to Jim and Shauna for coming by for a pre-surgery visit, to the Parrys for the visits, the food, and the help in the yard, and Grandpa for the steaks. Thanks likewise to Lindsey for enough tasty and healthy food to keep me and Tay well fed for a month, and all of T-dub's family for the visits and help.

Thanks to Leti and Cait who made sure my hospital stay was comfortable as well as my transition home. You two have been wonderful, and although i tease you both (sometimes, just a little) i love you both and am grateful for you in my life. And thanks Leti for braving the insects and biodiversity to help T-dub in the garden. Thanks Lu and Vero for the incredible mole, and everyone who showed up for my 40th with plenty of Virgils root beer. Thank you Ms. Soos for your small and simple, but incredibly meaningful pictures and messages. Thanks all my other friends, even those from afar, who kept up with me and sent me messages of strength and support. Thanks TaLaisa, Eli, and Caleb for the visits, the incredible cookies, and all the other goodies.

Thanks to all my colleagues at the university for all of your support and offers for assistance, from the LEAP program, to the Honors College, UNP, ECS, the Bennion Center, and AMES. I appreciate the concern and support you all have shown, the cards, messages, phone calls, meals, treats, visits, and offers to cover my classes that so many of you have sent my way. Most especially thanks to Marti who, despite her own health trials, has been there every step of the way to offer her support.

Thanks likewise to all of my students who have sent messages, visited, made extra trips just to get me that mango-raspberry boboli smoothie i was craving, and provided a great system of support and love. Thanks to the good folks at Free Minds/Free People for the great care package that kept T-dub and i entertained while i was recovering. And thanks to the Mestizo community for your support and stepping up to take care of things when i was at the hospital or getting scans or tests of some sort or another.

Thanks to the cycling community for all your support and messages. Thanks Gardie for declaring a "matt bradley day" up in PC. Thanks Bryson for looking to hook me up with sponsors and other connections so i can keep cycling. Thanks DC for being an all-around good guy, a great teammate, and an amazing support. Thanks to the Glenn brothers, smartasses they may be, for their support. Thanks Bruce for looking for ways to keep me motivated and involved with cycling, Bart G. for some pre-surgery advice, and Shane for the crutches. Thanks to everyone who came out to "righty's last ride," and offered your support in so many ways, as i mentioned previously in this post. Your presence and companionship carried my spirit and gave me an incredible amount of encouragement to get back on the bike as soon as i can.

Thanks to Doc Backman who initially found the tumor, Doc Jones, Nancy, and all the other incredible staff at the Huntsman who got rid of them, and everyone else who took care of me during my stay.

And finally, thank you to everyone who has offered prayers, fasted, lit a candle, and put my name in prayer circles in the variety of congregations you attend from LDS temples to the Buddhist monastaries.

Though i certainly wouldn't have chosen to lose my foot, i am grateful for the ways in which it has deepened my relationship with so many of you, both those with whom i was already close and those with whom i had more casual relationships. I have seen new sides of my own family members, developed an incredibly deep respect for T-dub, strengthened my relationship with many family and friends, and opened doors to new relationships with many others that i look forward to developing.
I hope i can even begin to repay all the kindness that you all have extended to me. God Bless!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Twenty five reasons one leg is better than two (from the Pughs)

Here is a list of the "top 25 reasons for having one leg instead of two" compiled by Kev, Jadi, and Kaya Pugh (with a few additions of my own at the end):

25. Great weight loss plan
24. one less stinky shoe
23. you can't trip over your own feet
22. save money on sunscreen
21. great excuse to not go dancing (T-dub probably appreciates this better than me since i love to dance, but she's mortified to shake it in front of anyone).
20. no one can tie your shoes together
19. five less toes to get stepped on
18. putting your best foot forward is a given
17. can only put one fo0t in your mouth
16. you can only get one cold foot, not cold feet
15. scaling back is in.
14. sympathy from the chicks
13. we can rebuild it, stronger, faster . . . (cue 6 million dollar man music)
12. get to watch people stare at you without trying to stare
11. First in line at Dinsneyland
10. you're one step closer to looking like Mad-Eye Moody
9. get a parrot and an eye patch and you're a pirate (yes, they even sent me these fine accessories in the mail. the parrot is absolutely brilliant).

8. half-price pedicures
7. built in ice-breaker
6. you will never be forced to bunny hop again
5. one less leg to shave (applies to girls and cyclists)
4. with a prosthetic leg, you can kick butt without stubbing your toe
3. with crutches, you're sure to win three-legged races
2. no more matching socks (and i've just double the number of socks i have)!
1. Chicks dig a man made of steel.

And a few of my own:

I get to ride around in the jazzy when i go to the grocery store.

i don't have to get mad at my puppy when he chews up my shoes (as long as he sticks with the right shoe).

Rock Star parking

Friday, August 20, 2010

A Tale of Two Tumors . . .

. . . and how i lost my right foot, but gained so much.

I provided a little bit of background in one of my earlier posts about my diagnosis with epithelioid sarcoma (or something very closely resembling it), and my surgery to amputate my right foot, but wanted to also share a little bit more about the whole process of becoming a "cancer survivor," as well as the incredible amount of good that has come from this whole experience. As i mentioned in my previous post, i first learned i had a tumor after experiencing pain in my right big toe for a couple of months, and finally going to my Dr. to get it checked on. I'm grateful that Dr. Backman did an x-ray and found the pathological fracture, because i have a good friend who was also experiencing similar pains in his toe and his doc just told him it was probably gout and he ought to get some shoe inserts.

X-ray showing the pathological fracture in the second bone of the big toe.

MRI showing not much where there should be a bone.

Dr. Backman, however, found the fracture, and immediately scheduled a series of other tests, x-rays, MRIs. etc. to check for other signs of tumors in my lungs or other areas. He also immediately referred me to an orthopedic specialist at the UofU orthopedic center. I never did meet with this specialist, however, because after he saw my MRIs he immediately scheduled an appointment for me with Doc Jones at the Hunstsman Cancer Center. I must preface the next statement by saying that the doctors, staff, and nurses, with a few exceptions, in the university system have been incredible. I have an incredible amount of gratitude and respect for their experience, professionalism, and interest in the patient. I also appreciate the speed with which they have attended to me, but in this one case, both the speed and the way in which i first heard the word "cancer" were a bit jarring.
Like i mentioned, Dr. Backman had ordered a number of MRIs and had referred me to the orthopedic specialist. They did a set of MRIs one evening, and then had me come back first thing in the morning for another set with the contrast. After the MRIs i was supposed to meet with the orthopedic specialist to go over what he and the radiologists had seen. I finished the MRI, changed clothes, and was directed upstairs to wait in the lobby for my meeting with with orthopedic specialist. While sitting there, my phone rang and i answered it. On the other end a young man informed me that he was the scheduling assistant for Dr. Kevin Jones at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, and wanted to schedule an appointment for the next morning. This was the first time i had actually heard the word "cancer" used in relation to my condition. The second came about two minutes later when the orthopedic specialist sent his assistant out with a yellow post it and a phone number for Dr. Jones' scheduler at Huntsman. She again told me that the orthopedic specialist was referring me to Dr. Jones at the Huntsman Cancer Institute, told me to call the number to set up an appointment, handed me the yellow post-it, and sent me on my way: the second time I heard the word cancer mentioned in relation to my condition.

I was a little bit stunned. I walked out to my car alone, sat there in the front seat for awhile, then started to drive. T-dub was in Boise because she had stayed there with an aunt and uncle after the Elkhorn Classic to meet with her coach before heading to Bend for Nationals. I knew her biggest race of the year was coming up, so i didn't want to call her and tell her that i might have cancer. But i did call my dad, who was on a cruise somewhere in the mediterranean with two of my brothers for work. I got his answering machine and started to leave him a message about all that had transpired in the last 60 minutes, but before i could even get a sentence out, i just started to cry, i should say balled, cuz it was more than just a teary-eyed cry. I finally calmed down enough to talk coherently and let him know what was up. He called me back an hour or so later and then shared the news with the rest of my family.
The next morning i went and met with Dr. Jones. He explained best case and worst case scenarios (best case: infection; worst case: cancer and amputation) and stuck a big fat needle into my toe to try to get enough of a sample from the tumor to do a biopsy. Unfortunately this didn't work so we scheduled a surgery for the next friday. He also told me that all my other x-rays and scans weren't showing any other tumors or growths in my lungs or other parts of my body, but that there was a 2nd little something in the soft tissue in the ball of my foot that the MRI had picked up. He wasn't too worried about this, however, until we knew what had caused the pathological fracture in my toe.
In the meantime i got to go to Bend to watch T-dub race at nationals and put in an incredible race, placing 9th overall and 2nd in the U23 group. I'm so grateful for this opportunity to spend the weekend in Bend with her.

Next friday rolled around and my dad and T-dub accompanied me to Huntsman for the surgery. Going in i thought they were just going to cut in, get a sample of the tumor for the biopsy, and then sew me back up, but i guess once they got in, got a little sample, and put it under the microscope they were confident enough that it was benign that they just went ahead and scraped it all out and gave me a bone graft to replace the bone were the tumor had decayed it. After the surgery Doc Jones met with my Dad and T-dub, explained the surgery—he compared it to filling in a cavity where the tumor had decayed the bone, so they drilled and scraped it out, and then filled in the missing bone with a bone graft from a cadaver. Here's T-dub's rendition. He also told them that he was 95% sure the tumor was "big cell tumor," that it was benign, and that for the time being he wasn't too worried about the other growth that had shown up in the MRI. He told me to stay off my foot for a couple of weeks, and that he'd call me as soon as he got the biopsy results back.
In the meantime, T-dub was invited to race with the U.S. Women's National Team in Europe and the morning she was leaving for Italy, Bunny was struck by the truck and died. Thoughts of the tumor were relegated to the back of my mind. I was still limping from the first surgery at the funeral, especially because i was wearing nice, sunday shoes that weren't all that comfortable, but that was an irrelevant discomfort in the face of what my brother was facing.
A few days after the funeral Dr. Jones finally called. It had been almost two weeks and he apologized a great deal for taking so long to get back to me, but explained that there was some significant disagreement about what the tumor was.
He explained that two of the pathologists at the Univ. of Utah thought the tumor was a "big cell tumor," basically a benign tumor, but that it had some weird inconsistencies with that diagnosis, so they had sent it off for some second opinions just in case. The second and third opinions came back from some really famous, big name guys (whose names i can't remember) in other states that the tumor was a sarcoma. One called it ephithelioid sarcoma, but since it didn't fit the profile of this either (it didn't knock out the INI1 gene like epithelioid sarcoma usually does) he just gave it a new name (he's that big in the field, he can just make up names for stuff). The other soft-tissue tumor big wig pathologist agreed that it was a sarcoma, but disagreed that it was as aggressive or bad as epithelioid sarcoma. So, as Dr. Jones explained, "this is really frustrating and i wish i had a better answer for you, but you may have cancer, and you may not have cancer, we don't know yet."
We determined that the best course of action was to get some more MRIs, bone scans, and CT scans of the rest of my body, and to get a biopsy of the 2nd thing floating around in the middle of my foot. If the 2nd little growth was the same as the first, then regardless of what we called it, we would know that it was metastisizing and growing, and thus a dangerous cancer. So he scheduled more tests and scans and a second MRI of my foot to get another look at the other growth.
I spent a good amount of time during the next couple weeks in the hospital drinking nasty fluids, getting IVs with contrast and even radioactivity, and sitting and lying in lots of spinning, whirring big machines. I even got to sit on one machine as it took pictures of the radiation as it moved around my ass, kind of like sitting on a xerox machine with your pants down, just a lot more advanced and technical.
At the end of the week after all the tests were done i went back to meet with Dr. Jones. He told me the good news and the bad news: the good news, the rest of my body was clean. No tumors were showing up in my lungs, lymphatic system, or anywhere else. The bad news: the 2nd growth in my foot had increased in size, almost 8x in total mass, since the first MRI at the end of June.

MRI images of the 2nd tumor (S.D.B). First MRI from June is on the left, 2nd MRI from beginning of August in on the right. You can see the tumor has increased in size over those few weeks.

This, he said, most likely meant it was also a tumor, and that the fast growth rate was alarming. We began to talk about different options, including amputation of the right foot to keep the cancer from spreading up the lymphatic system to the lungs. T-dub was still in Europe so i requested that we remove the 2nd tumor, do a biopsy to make sure, and then i could make a decision about the best course of action after we knew for sure and T-dub was home and she and i could talk about it. So we scheduled surgery for the coming friday to remove the 2nd tumor in order to get a biopsy.

The surgery was pretty straight forward, and i was at dinner with some friends later that evening. The most annoying bit was that the incision was on the bottom of my foot, which made walking rather uncomfortable.

This last surgery had been friday morning and T-dub got home from Europe the following tuesday night, so Dr. Jones said he'd try to get the biopsy done by tuesday so that T-dub and i could come and meet with him on wednesday and decide a course of action.
Just an hour or two before T-dub's flight landed Dr. Jones called to tell me he had good news and bad news (it's always good news and bad news with this guy). The bad news was that the biopsy had shown that the tumor number two was in fact the same as tumor number one. I should interject here to clarify that i have since named them D.B. (dirty bitch or dirty bastard, whichever you prefer) and S.D.B. (son of a dirty bitch/bastard). We don't really know which one came first, but i have taken to refer to the big tumor in the toe as D.B. since we found him first, and tumor no. 2 as S.D.B. Anyway, the biopsy confirmed that S.D.B was the same as D.B., and hence the good news: this made our decision making a lot easier. By that he meant to say, it's a lot easier to decide to cut your foot off when you have a more solid understanding that a) the cancer has the ability to metastasize and has in fact done so, and b) it is growing at a rather fast rate. As Dr. Jones explained, regardless of what we call it, and even if we can't totally agree on a specific name, we know it is capable of fast growth and replication, and thus poses a pretty serious danger to the rest of the body unless it is stopped. And the only option for stopping it: remove it from the body. Unfortunately these types of sarcoma don't respond well to either radiation or chemotherapy. I thanked him for the call and confirmed our meeting tomorrow after T-dub was home.
When T-dub and i went to meet with him the next day he caught her up to speed on all of the recent findings (last she had heard from him, he was still 95% sure it was a benign tumor). Although i had given her some information while she was in Europe, i didn't lay it all out there. I wanted to wait until she got home for that. We talked about a lot of the options, again including radiation therapy, but ultimately decided that given the aggressive nature of what was most likely some type of epithelioid sarcoma (or something very similar to it) amputation was the best option. And so, just like that, we scheduled the surgery for friday, a mere three days later. Now a week and a half later, i'm back to teaching at the U., putting some short efforts in on the bike trainer, and mostly being rather impatient with the healing process.

It's odd now to think of myself as a "cancer survivor" (and i say "survivor" with all the hope and optimism in the world that in fact D.B. and S.D.B didn't leave any other little offspring running around in my blood stream to pop up somewhere else). I almost feel like a poser. I haven't had to struggle with chemotherapy or radiation. Every time i went to the Huntsman Cancer center and could walk on my own, without IVs attched to my arms or oxygen tanks following behind me i coudn't help but think that my condition doesn't even begin to compare with what so many others go through. My sister gave me a yellow "Livestrong" bracelot, and i wear it proudly now, but have yet to feel like i've earned it. Like i've earned the moniker "cancer survivor." I had my right leg amputated, but my suffering has been minimal (unless you count the phantom pain and the 45 minutes before the meds kicked in after the surgery when the epidural didn't work).
I lost my right foot, but with the advances of prosthetic technology, i'll be able to live my life with some slight inconveniences, but not much different from how i lived it before i was diagnosed with cancer. But so many aren't as lucky, and i intend to honor those whose struggles eclipse mine (including my brother Luke who lost his beautiful wife this summer), with how i approach this small handicap and how i move forward to live with as much beauty and strength as i can.

Thank you everyone who has sent love and support in anyway over the past few weeks. I intend to write more about the incredible community that i have around me in the future, for you all must be honored for all you have done, but in the meantime, this post has gone on far too long, so hopefully a mere "Thank you!!" will suffice for the time being.

Thank You!

Disclaimer note: although i'm a Dr., as any one of my brother's will be happy to remind you, i'm not a medical doctor and certainly not a radiologist, so i may have drastically misinterpreted the x-rays and MRIs that i posted here. As far as i could tell, those little white dots are D.B. and S.D.B, but i could be totally wrong, so if someone who knows better sees i've made a mistake, feel free to correct me.