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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Guinea Hens and Hot Little Balls

After college and before marriage I worked for a cutting horse trainer in Patison, Texas.  I got to ride a lot of good horses and learned quite a bit.  But I was just the hired hand and that job description is an all encompassing one.  It ranged from riding two year olds and loping the older horses down for the head trainer, to fixing plumbing and doing some welding.  Now my skill level when it came to the last two was pretty limited, but I was passable.  My preferred title was the colt breaker and being young, ten feet tall and might near bullet proof…I did my dangest to make sure I was riding colts when the jobs that were beneath my skill level came up.  But, until we hired Newt, I was the guy that did the plumbing/welding jobs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

These Are My People

It has been a while since I posted, but I have a good excuse....I know, I know....excuses are like armpits, everybody has a couple and they all stink.  But I know mine must be a good one!  So here it is, our mundane little trip to Vegas!

Felicia and I  left for Vegas, on December the 4th, in the wee hours of the morning!  This was kind of a celebration for the year Felicia has had.  Cancer, chemo and radiation...all whupped by the grace of God!  I couldn't have been prouder of my bride with the way she handled all of this!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Fireball in the Kitchen

In the tradition of rednecks everywhere, here is a guest post/story from my nephew Clay.   (he of Redneck Bobsled fame).  It seems all boys get into alot of trouble when left to thier own devices.  Kinda levels the world out, knowing that this is something that probably will never change.

It all started off as a normal summer day.  Tom, Will, Clint and I were looking for something to do.  We searched up and down for something to do… we even thought of ideas, but never went with them of course they all took too much effort.  So as we sat around in the heat.  We kind of had a past with fire and had been discipline prior to this but there was just one idea we couldn’t resist.

Friday, November 11, 2011

One Dark Prairie Night

I wrote about Dennis and our adventures riding the long yearlings in Remembering a Friend – She Bucked a Half Mile.  That was a lot of fun to do, think about again and write down.  Sometimes the best times are the some of the biggest wrecks.  During that same time frame when we had the two mares that Mr. Cramer wanted to turn into a stagecoach team (I wrote about them in the Honestly She Never Bucks with Me story too) was the incident of one dark prairie night.

As these two mares got to handling better, Dennis and I made longer and longer rides on them, sometimes getting in just before dark.  We covered a lot of ground and chased a few corriente steers around.  Just generally whooped it up, a couple of college cowboys getting paid to do something they would have done for free!  Just glad know one told Mr. Cramer that back then!  It was a good time, but if you push the limit to much…sometimes it will bite you!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

MD Anderson – Radiation Update

It has been some time since my last MD update, so I thought I had better get one out there.  As of today, Felicia has only two more radiation treatments left.  Praise the Lord!  We have been looking forward to this, but will still have probably three weeks or so for all of the skin peeling and such to heal up.  But, no more treatments after Friday!
The treatments themselves weren’t too bad, except for the last couple of weeks (easy for me to say!).   Her skin started peeling under her arm, which made a lot of things harder.  Even skin rubbing on skin can break open a raw spot, so you can guess that under your arm would be bad.  It appears she will have several other places that are going to break open, but my trooper of a wife has hung in there. 
She had one of the radiation techs, tell her the other day (in talking about radiation treatments), “ya’ll are the bravest women I know, to have this happen and still come back”.  Which Felicia answered, “What other choice do we have?”  Sometimes I don’t think they know how to take my wife down there at MDA.  She has laughed and made jokes almost the entire time she has had treatments.
But I got to thinking about the “brave” statement.  To me the definition of bravery is doing what is required, even though you are scared to death.  I think anyone who has cancer is in this same boat, scared to death, but doing what is required.  But I can only speak for my bride.  She has been scared through this, but you would never know it to be around her.   She has laughed and joked most of the way through this whole ordeal.  I couldn’t be prouder to call her my wife!
Never once has she questioned why she has this, her attitude has been “ok, I’ve got it…what’s the next step?”  She has been a Godly example of a courageous woman to Faith and Alicia.  I pray that they will look back  at this time and use it as an example whenever they are having hardships in their lives.  She has been a faithful example to me and I cherish each moment I have with her.
Look at Psalms 119:49-50 “Remember your word to your servant, for you have given me hope.  My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life.”  No matter the outcome, which we have been blessed with, His promise preserves her life.  What a promise it is!

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

The Hang Up

One problem with telling stories about others is that most of the time what happens to you, is usually funnier that what happens to others.  Now I’ll be honest, I have had a good laugh at my friends and family.  But, to be semi-fair, I have to tell on myself a little once in a while.
About a month ago my father-in-law bought one of those things that you hang upside down in for his back.  I think it is called a “Hang Up”, or some such thing.  He had been using it and just raving about how much better his back felt.  Heck, he said he was even taller!  Now it had peeked my interest because my back had been bothering me as well, I had just not taken the time to even look at it…let alone try it out!

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Twitch and the Leopard Print Onesy

Sometimes the picture in your mind, of how things look, differs greatly from the way things actually are.  Sometimes how we see ourselves in the past also differs greatly, from how things actually happened and it affects how we see our skill set now.  For example, in my mind’s eye, I was a really good football player when I was in high school.  When in fact, I was a 6 foot 135 pound tackle.  I will say I more than made up for what I lacked in size by being slow (I guess that must have been the “good” part…skinny and slow, two skills that are hard to come by in the same body).  Now this has nothing to do with horses or cowboys, just a way to give you some perspective of how things look in the past.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Skunkology 101

I last wrote about skunks when I was that one getting dosed, so I thought I would tell another story where I was the witness and not the witnessee.  In college there was a guy that was from one of the European countries (Sweden, I think) and he was there to take the HTM course.  He said he wanted to learn all he could so that he could go back to his country and start a training stable with his Dad.  He was a pretty good guy, but we sure had a hard time understanding him sometimes.  So we did our darnedest to incorporate him in a wild cowboy lifestyle.  Fortunately for him he was somewhat immune to our cowboyology lessons.  But sometimes his curiosity got the better of him.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Redneck Bobsled

Before anyone can think that crazy thoughts and actions can only occur in an older generation, I give you my nephews.  Now I heard this story over a card game this summer and I just knew it had to be repeated.  I have asked them several times to write it down (ok, I was being a little lazy…thought I would just publish their words), but to no avail.  I have gotten a couple of excuses, the latest one being from the new college man Clint that he just does not have time!  Come on now, I went to college….there is plenty of time!  HA!  Clint is pretty focused and we are proud of him.  Clay has given me nothing, not a phone call or even one of those text thingy’s (proud of him too)!  So, they have to suffer through my bad memory and any embellishments I might want to add to this story of the redneck bobsled!

Monday, August 29, 2011

Fortuitous - Look it Up

My nephew just went off to college and I told him not to do anything I wouldn’t do.  Then I thought better of that, there wasn’t much that I didn’t do!  So I told him to be safe instead!  It did bring to mind some more stories of my college years, looking back it is pretty funny …but my buddy Matt probably didn’t think so at the time.
Matt, Rod and I ran around together a lot.  Matt being the oldest, he was the designated purchaser.  He collected the cash we had (if we had any!) and went to the liquor store.  He generally led Rod and I down a path of destruction by contributing to the delinquency of us minors.  Well, ok, we were already a couple of delinquents before we me Matt.   But once Matt was involved in the mix, it was Katy bar the door!  There are a lot of stories I could tell on the three of us, and I will tell some more in the future (statute of limitations and all).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

MD Anderson - Ring-a-Ding

Yesterday I escorted my bride down to MDA for her last chemo treatment!  Praise the Lord!
It wasn’t simple, because her regular doctor was on maternity leave; so we had a fill in.  Which means his patients came first and our appointments were later in the day.  All that said, she started chemo in the main building at 8:30 last night.  At 10:30 they moved us to another floor because that portion of MDA closed at 11.  She finally finished about 11:45 and we left around midnight.
BUT, she is done with the chemo!  In some places they have a bell to ring on your last chemo, but we did not have one on the 2nd floor.  That was probably a relief for Felicia because I had planned on banging and clanging on that thing, even if she wouldn’t!
Someone had told us God has a plan and that we should not waste her chemo.  Gods plan was to affect someone’s life by her words and walk.  I just never knew it was going to be mine….
My bride has walked steady with Christ through all the ups and downs that come along with chemo, I couldn’t be prouder to call her my wife.  I have seen her faithful and upbeat, with never a complaining word.  I believe her heart is completely His.

2 Chronicles 16:9 "For the eyes of the Lord move to and fro throughout the earth that He may strongly support those whose heart is completely His."
I saw something posted today that reminds me how we are to approach life as move on the next mile of this road:
Romans 5:3-5 "More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us."

As with most Christians who have been down this road before us can attest, your life will never be the same.  Your relationship with Christ is different becasue He is that hope you cling to even more.  You are reminded how fragile our stay on this earth is and how sure the strength of Jesus is. 

I say it again, I am so proud to call Felicia the mother of my children and my wife.  Praise the Lord, He has truly blessed me!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

MD Anderson – Update / Chemo #5

Sorry this has been so long getting out there, but time flys!  Chemo number 5 kicked Felicia around a little.  She was sick and weak, probably for the first time felt like she just couldn’t move.  Her Mom got on the phone with the doctor and he said it sound like her body was just wore out.  He decided it would be best to give her another week off to recover.  Which seems to have worked well, because today she acted like she felt pretty good.  We registered the girls for school today and then Shirley and Felicia took them shoe shopping.  (I dodged a bullet on that one!) 
She will probably be wore out by the time they get home, but I think she will have fun!   The last chemo is on 8/15/11, and then it’s celebration time until she starts the radiation.
All in all, God has been good.  I have been blessed with a trooper of a wife who has hung in there with a good attitude.  You can't ask for more than that!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Riding The Milk Cow

My dad grew up in a time without gameboys, facebook or really any of the things that consume a kids time.  He, and his friends, had time on their hand to think of things to do that actually involved them doing it.  After hearing some of these stories, I have to wonder how he survived!  This is some of his story, in his words.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Teenage Ben Hur

My Dad, Jere Johnson, is a Natural Horsemanship Clinician in the Central Hill Country of Texas. When he was young, he did things the old way of “make” and “force“, just like everyone else he knew. Now he has a whole different way of looking at things, and the horse always comes first, with dignity and respect. This is the story(as he told it) of his mule driving days, when he was twelve years old.

Monday, July 11, 2011

MD Anderson - Weekend at the ER

Yesterday, the eighth, Felicia ran a low grade temperature all day and by 8:40 last night she had reached the number that the doctor said was the go number.  At one point, heading in last night, her temp spiked at 101.4.  So of course, when we got here she had a minimal fever.  Seems like that always happens!  Felicia said that she was hoping for a little temp, she felt foolish coming in with a 99.4, but better safe than sorry!
They got us into an ER room and began the tests!  They took blood to run blood cultures and checked various other things.  They finally ended up giving her some antibiotics and fluids.  Which have taken all night to administer.  They are now giving her a blood transfusion which is a two hour per bag operation, so by 11am that part should be complete.
The only troubling thing was her heart rate, which has been running high.  Doctor said it could be stress, but if it does not go down…then they are checking her in upstairs. 
So we sit here!  I don’t think Felicia has gotten much sleep and I know she doesn’t feel good, but she is a trooper.  Whenever I ask how she is doing, she says “I’m alright”.
8:10am 7/9/11:  Just found out that since her temp is rising, they are going to admit her and slow down the transfusion, since it is not safe to give blood.
9:10am 7/9/11:  Doctor came in and said she was going to check Felicia in for a couple of days.  She said that Felicia did this same thing, basically, the last time we had an ER visit and had everything had returned to normal within 36 hours.
9:40am 7/9/11:  Her fever and high heart rate is due to the low white counts.  So she will spend at least one more night in the hospital.
4:00pm 7/9/11:  Finally got to a room about noon, but Felicia’s temp has been up and down all afternoon.   Right now it is at 102.8. 
9:00am 7/10/11:  After a fitful night (neither of us slept much) the doctor came in this  morning and told us that if Felicia could take it, she would go ahead and give her the blood transfusion.   She did not have any temperature last night, so of course she had a 100.2 this morning!  She has to stay in one more day, so hopefully we can go home tomorrow.
7/11/11 –  She got two pints of blood last night, so hopefully she gets to come home today.  She felt real good most of yesterday.  They just would not release her with her heart rate up and her blood counts down.
Your continued prayers are coveted and we trust God will see us through this!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

MD Anderson – Chemo # 4

No details, just the facts!

Felicia and her mother left early, 5am on Monday, so they could be down at MDA before her blood work at 6:45am.  They did a little running around and went to see the oncologist at 8:30am.  The oncologist decided her blood count was low, so she was going to give her two pints after the chemo.  She was starting the chemo by 10:30 or so.  She finished the chemo by 2:30pm, but had to wait for the blood to be delivered.  Seems there was a mess up somewhere, so around 6pm, they finally started her blood.  They really had to pump it in, because each bag takes two hours and the Mays Building closes at 10pm.  They finally finished the blood a little after 10pm.  By the time they stopped and tried to get meds…they got home at 11:45pm.

That, folks, is a really long day!  From 5:00am to 11:45pm it seems my bride was her usual charming self, laughing and joking with the nurses! 

She is a little tired today, but she usually is after a chemo treatment.  From what I have seen so far, chemo is a mixed bag of side effects.  Sometimes you get them; sometimes you get different ones….everybody reacts different.  So we shall see what bag she gets this time!

What I have seen from my bride is this:  She doesn’t want to be a burden on anybody.  She continually does things for her family, even when she doesn’t feel good (heck, it’s hard to get her to slow down!).  She still has the same sense of humor she had from the start, so (I say selfishly) we (her family) have been blessed!

Not one of her favorites, but it is one of mine!

From the start she has not looked at this as six months of chemo, it is 6 treatments.  So now she is ¾ of the way through!  Yay!  Only two more to go!

Consider Hebrews 12:1-3. 
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.  And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.  For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from the sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”

Keep your eyes looking forward to Christ!  Rely on your brothers and sisters in Christ to lift you up in prayer!  Know there is an end to the race you are in!  Thank you all for the continued prayers!


Monday, June 27, 2011

A Nine Foot Anaconda

I was thinking yesterday about a snake we had at the barn one day.  He was a nine foot long anaconda and bigger around than my body.  I know you generally don’t find Anacondas in South Texas, but trust me that’s what it was!  I have seen them on TV!  It was a snappin’ and a snarlin’ and a foamin’ at the mouth!  I think he was there to eat horses and in order to protect my family and horses, I jumped into action.  I got a shovel and fought it to a standstill!


Thursday, June 9, 2011

A Stinker of a Tale

With this drought we are going through on the gulf coast right now, I got to thinking’ about the last time it really rained.  I’m talkin’ about a cow peein’ on a flat rock, frog stranglin’, turd floater type of rain!  This brought to mind one that happened about two years ago, I’m not saying we haven’t had any rain in two years….this is just the one that came to mind.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

MD Anderson – Chemo #3

Since we pretty much follow the same routine every time we go to MD, I will not bore you with the details.   Monday the 6th she showed up the for blood test, went to see the oncologist, checked in at the chemo suite, went to get port accessed, took the chemo and then we went home.  Doesn’t look like an eight hour days, does it?  The only difference this time was our friend Amber came down and sat with Felicia while I went to see Doogie (I have got to quit calling him that, one of these days he might read this!). 

Nothing going on except he wanted to check my cholesterol levels.  He noted that I had lost five pounds and asked me what I was doing to lose it, I told him it was supernatural.  I don’t change my eating habits, I just go in there expecting a miracle!  HA!

Good news for our family though, Felicia only has three more chemo treatments.  Praise the Lord!  She is halfway way through and for the most part all has gone well.  She is feeling pretty good today, just tired.  So she works for a while and takes a nap, then she works for a while and takes a nap.  Pretty much her day for the last two.  Generally the side effects don’t hit until end of the first week/start of the second week.  So by Friday or Saturday the chemo should knock her down a little.  I pray that it doesn’t but, God is in control and has a plan. 

Her Dad re-shaved her head yesterday morning, so her fuzz is really close to the skin.  One thing about her being bald is that we are saving a lot of money on shampoo and other hair care products.  She also said that it doesn’t take near as long to get ready!  Who knew there would be benefits to this! HA!

I was told to expect some grumpiness, well actually I was told to expect meanness.  I haven’t seen anything like that, but if she wanted to….I understand.  Through all of this, my bride has shown her grace, faith and style.  She has been a real blessing to me!

Psalms 4:3-4
Know that the Lord has set apart his faithful servant for himself, the Lord hears when I call to him.  Tremble and do not sin; when you are on your beds, search your hearts and be silent.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

21 Years and Counting

The title of my blog has always meant to be a shout out to my wife.  I truly believe that I married above my station in life.  Through all the hills and valleys of our marriage, the one constant has been her faith in Christ.  I was not a Christian when we got married, but God watches out for us....sometimes even when we are not aware of it!

I remember our wedding day pretty clear.  It didn't start out to very good....

Since I didn't have a lot to do early, my buddies and I decided to go to a horse sale that morning.  I know I know...what was I thinking?  To be honest, I thought I had plenty of time.  We only had one chore and that was for my brother (Cully) and one of my friends (Marc) to try on their jackets.  Easy breezy, right?  Turns out their jackets did not fit.  Did they tell me?  NOOO!  They just came out and said, "All is good, let’s go!"  So of course we left to go to the sale.  We were probably at the sale for two or three hours, not long considering we got there about eight in the morning. 

As soon as I got home, Felicia called me.  She was upset and asked me, “Do you want to get married?”  What….what are you talking about?  After we got through the tears and anger, she told me the story of the jackets.  Turns out Cully’s wife (Kim) and one of her friends (Gina) ended up going into Houston to exchange the jackets that didn’t fit.  They went into a city they were not familiar with to a store they had never been to, to help out a friend.  That’s friendship, not like mine….who left me hung out to dry!  I’m kidding of course, but they did cause me some grief!

Once we got to the church, my nerves kicked in.  I must have walked around that church 50 times.  Of course we looked like a bunch of penguins, me with the long tails and all my buddies following me around in a line!

Once we got started though, the nerves all went away.  Felicia walked through that door and took my breath away!  I had never seen a more beautiful woman!  Still to this day, there isn’t a more beautiful woman in the world!

The preacher must have thought I was still nervous though, because we went through the vows…two words at a time!  He said, “I, Cory” and I just stared at him (I was waiting for the rest of the line!).  My best man (Rod), poked me in the side and said, “Say something!”  And so it went through all of the vows!

Preacher:  I, Cory…
Me:  I, Cory…
Preacher:  take you...
Me: take you...
Preacher:  Felicia
Me: Felicia

That’s how it went, all the way through!  It seemed like the longest vows in history.  I could feel Felicia’s hand shaking in mine…I like to think that it was her emotions.  But looking back, I think those emotions were laughter! 

At 4:16pm we were announced as Mr. and Mrs. Cory Johnson.  Finally I had trapped her and she couldn’t get away!

God has truly blessed me though the years!  First He gave me a beautiful wife, who loved me into a relationship with Christ.  I went to church with her for five years, not because I cared about the Lord, but because I just wanted to spend time with her!  Like I said, sometimes the Lord watches out for you…even if you don’t know it!  The Lord blessed us again when he gave us two beautiful girls (thank you God that they take after their Mom!).  

This latest chapter has been a struggle!  Felicia’s attitude, faith and strength have helped me through.  It’s hard to feel sorry for yourself, when the one who has had all of the hard things happen to her is showing such strength!

All I can say is…God bless you Felicia!  I love you more now more than I ever thought possible!  Thank you for 21 awesome years!  I cannot promise forever (only God can do that), but as long as I am here on this earth…you own my heart!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Practicing Self Control…or Not!

Have I mentioned how little I think of the way I used to “break” horses?  This is a story of a past sin, when I used to lose my temper and how I used to break ‘em.

When Felicia and I first got married we bought a stallion from her cousin.  He was out of a horse called Barbazon Yogi, I think he was a race horse down in Louisiana.  I don’t recall what his registered name was, but he had some really long hair (he looked woolly) and Felicia said he looked like a teddy bear.  So the name stuck, we called him Teddy. 

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Stupid Kamikaze Birds – Flash’s Story

When I was a kid, we had a mare named Sonny Gill’s Flash, we called her Flash.  That was real original, except in the story behind the story the name fit!

Dad brought her home in a small two horse (home made) trailer.  The trailer didn’t have a top and, of course, all of the wind and lights was just too much for her to handle.  We hadn’t gotten very far when we hear a terrible ruckus from the trailer.  So Dad stopped and when he got to the back of the trailer, he found she had kicked the back door out!  What a start to life with the Johnsons!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Tales from the Dental Chair

In honor of my kids finishing the 6th grade today, I am going to tell a story on them (or on me, as the case may be!).

When we go to the dentist, I usually take the girls and get my teeth cleaned at the same time.  We have been using the same lady since the girls’ first visits, when they were around 6 or 7.  In fact she was our neighbor for a period of time, so the girls were very comfortable with her.

This starts out just like any other visit, the girls take turns getting their teeth cleaned as Pam talks to us about what they are doing and what her kids are doing.  Just normal chit-chat stuff.

Monday, May 16, 2011

MD Anderson - The Hair Is Gone

All this past week, Felicia’s hair has been coming out.  It started out as a strand here and there, but quickly got to the point that everytime she turned around she was picking up hair.  At one point on Saturday, we were sitting on her parents back porch, I looked over and she was pulling it out in chunks!  So, Sunday she asked me to clip her hair.

I have joked with her all along about shaving designs, but when it came down to it….we just shaved it off.  Losing her hair has never bothered Felicia, but this is the lady that used to try and color her own hair.  I remember one time she was trying to put some blonde in, but it came out yellow.  I’m talking about comic book super hero yellow!  So to try to tone that down, she added some brown…it came out green!  No big deal to her though…she went to work two days like that before she could get in and get the color corrected.  She said that it taught her that being a hairdresser is not her career path!  (I could have told her that, she cut my hair ONCE!  After the 3rd or 4th oops, I said “I have a hat, we are done”).

Anyway, we shaved her head….my biggest fear was hurting her head with the guard!  I felt like I was shaving a porcelain angel!  She just seemed so delicate to me, but being the trooper that she is she gave me good directions as to what she wanted done and was ready to move on.  The girls both felt her head afterward and that was that!

She is still the same beautiful woman I married; she just has less hair than me!  God has truly blessed me with a strong woman as my wife and I am thankful!

I did offer to shave my head, to show support, she again said “no, I have seen your head!”  Alicia offered to shave hers too, but she was hoping for a “no thanks” answer.  Faith said “Mommy I love you, but I’m just not into the whole bald head thing!”    My kids are funny.

I have given my porcelain angel to God.  He has her in his hands and all is going according to HIS plan!  Our job is to trust God!

Psalm 9:1-2
I will give thanks to you, LORD, with all my heart;
I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.
I will be glad and rejoice in you;
I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

MD Anderson – Update

It has been over a week since I posted, sometimes in the business of life….time slips away from you!

The week of April 25th was trying for Felicia.  She was so sick starting on the 22nd.  Starting with the nausea and then the other end kicked in, so by Monday she was very dehydrated.  Her temperature spiked and Monday afternoon she called me and said the doctor told her to come into the ER.  We arrived and they immediately put her into a room and started pumping fluids in.  They went through the first two bags in the snap of a finger (ok maybe not that fast, but fast enough that she got cold in a hurry!).    It turned into a long night with tests being run and more fluid being pumped in.  The doctors said she had nutrepenac (sp) fever.  Which I think means she got so dehydrated that her body kicked her into a fever.  They gave her antibiotics and fluids all night. 

We finally got out of there about 3pm on the 27th.  She was weak, but ready to get home.  It’s funny how fast it turned around after that.  By the 29th she said it was the first day she felt normal!  The rest of the next week she felt pretty good, still made a couple of trips down to MD for blood work, but all in all….she felt really good!

Yesterday day she said the wind blowing her hair hurt her scalp, so we wondered if this was a pre-cursor to her hair falling out?  Guess we will know as soon!

I have been told by a couple of people that she will start to feel better just in time to get another treatment.  Looks like that is hold true, she is feeling pretty good the last few days and she goes for another treatment on the 16th.

We still covet your prayers for her!  We trust God to do His thing, we just have to follow the path laid out before us….

2 Samuel 7:28
Sovereign Lord, you are God!  Your covenant is trustworthy, and you have promised these good things to your servant.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

It Was Really Worth It

One of the things my family does when they get together is play cards.  It can be anything from poker to spades to Uno.  Sometimes we throw some chicken foot it there for good measure, but mostly it is cards.

Last year the girls and I went out after Thanksgiving day (Felicia stayed and went shopping….I dodged a bullet with that one!).  It was my brother Cully, his son Clay (Clint had gone to Oregon to visit his girl), my sister Jereny, myself, Faith and Alicia.  We spent the days riding, with my Dad doing a mini family clinic for all of us.   It was a lot of fun; we got to see No Fear Clay get on a young horse for the first time in the arena.  Sadly, there was no bucking involved….we were all very disappointed in the horse (maybe Clay wasn’t that disappointed).  But at night after supper, that’s where this story starts to get interesting. 

MD Anderson Visit – 1st Chemo Treatment

Sorry this is so late getting out here, but here it is!

We had a rough night Sunday, neither one of us slept.  I believe Felicia’s was due to the steroids she had to take, but mine was the bone I picked up to worry on again.  Fortunately she leveled my head and reminded me that God was in control. 

We arrived down at MD around 6:30, mostly to beat the traffic (her first appointment wasn’t until around 8am).  But time fly’s when your having fun, I guess!  We checked in and she gave blood and all of the sudden it was time to meet with the oncologist.  She checked Felicia out and gave us instructions about letting the chemo team know we were there so that they could start mixing the drugs.

We then headed over to meet with the radiologist to discuss the radiation.  We both like the doctor there, he told us “he was very picky about the set up and would not treat her any different than he would his sister or mother”.  We were probably there about two hours with him explaining how, and where, the “rays” were going to go in and come out.  There is a funny story along with this involving a table that raises up and down, but you will have to get with Felicia on that one because I told here I would not tell it!

We decided to eat and then we headed out to the car so that Felicia could put the numbing cream on her port.  She was more afraid of them sticking the needle in the port than she was about the chemo!  I barely had time to sit back down and she was out with her port accessed.

Then to the chemo about 1:30.  They gave her 4 different things, all separately, so that if she had a reaction they would know which one caused the reaction.  Each drug took varying lengths of time with the Herceptin being the longest at 2 hours.  But she dozed, read Bonnie’s book thingy (thanks, Bonnie) and watched TV.  All in all, other than the blood pressure going up a little, everything went great.

The nurse must have thought we were crazy because for a period of time we were both sitting up in the bed (a single bed at that!), but that only lasted a couple of hours.  I got tired of having one cheek hanging off and decided that the chair was probably more comfortable.

She got done with her treatment about 8pm and we got home somewhere around 9:30pm.  It was a long day and on top of not sleeping the night before, we were both wiped out.

Yesterday morning she was up and feeling pretty good, though she did say that some foods and drinks already tasted different.  She also said she felt like her teeth were floating (her words, not mine!).  She is back at work (from home) today and seems to be feeling really well. 

All I can say is praise the Lord that things went well!  If we trust him, he will take care of us according to his plan.

Psalms 103:11-12

“For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.”

Thursday, April 21, 2011

My Kids Make Me Laugh - Alicia

Alicia is my little daredevil.  She believes she can do most anything.  She was the first one to ride a bike, the first one on a horse, and if I remember correctly the first one to walk.  She also has a sense of humor that pokes out once in a while to hilarious results!

We had been in Houston all day and were discussing what we were going to eat and had been talking Mexican food.  Only problem with that is that Faith is gluten intolerant, so there are limited places where she can eat.  Well Felicia and I had really talked ourselves out of eating in a restaurant and the girls really didn’t have a choice in the matter.  We had decided to just go home and fix something there.  All of the sudden Alicia says, “Wait a minute, wait a minute…that’s just crazy talk!”  Of course we died laughing, still went home and ate, but we laughed all the way home!

She is not much of a hugger; you usually get some form of the a-frame or side hug.  She will give full frontal hugs, but you kind of have to push the issue.  When she was little she would not hug me (or anyone for that matter) if my shirt was off, she always said she did not want to hug the hair jacket!  I don’t want any regrets here either, so I usually force the issue and get my hugs!

We have gotten them pups twice and the interest just isn’t there for the dogs.  Cats are a different story, if her sister wasn’t allergic to cat hair (soft spot for her sister too…she gave up her cat for Faith) she would probably find all kinds of strays cats to pick up!

If you can’t tell from the last two posts…I love my kids and think they are the smartest, most beautiful girls in the world!   I am really dreading the day that them nasty boys start taking time away from me!

As I said last time boys….hurt my girls, I hurt you!

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

My Kids Make Me Laugh - Faith

My daughters generally don’t try to be funny, but sometimes (as the TV show used to say) kids say the funniest things!

Faith is my soft hearted one; she is quick to let the dog love on her and any other animal for that matter!  We are always hearing from her teacher how she is helping some other kid at school through a tough time.  So we have come to expect her tenderhearted moments.  She is also the shy one, doesn’t want to talk to new people or sometimes even people she knows!  What she doesn’t realize is how funny she is, without even trying!  She will say something funny and after we are all dying laughing, she’ll say “what…what… what are you laughing at?”

A while back the girls were in the back seat of the truck playing something on their iPod thingy.  It was some kind of dare game and all of the sudden Faith says, “What is the opposite foot?”  We just died laughing!

I think she was having a blond moment because the game was telling her to do something on one foot and do something else on the opposite foot.  In reading it, she didn’t tie the concept into what it had actually said.   It was just an innocent question, and of course led to her “what..what” statement.

Another time we were on our way to church with their grandparents and we were talking about what to buy for one of the aunts’ birthdays.  My mother-in-law said, “ I don’t know what to buy for her.”  We talked a little longer and all of the sudden, kind of under her breath Faith says, “you know what to buy for her…”.  Of course we all asked, “no, what?”.  She says, “ oh, I don’t know, I was just asking!”

She is also my hugger.  She always wants to hold your hand or hug.  I sometimes fuss at her a little because it seems she always wants to do this when we are hot and sweaty from working outside.  I have been convicted in the last few days about that.  There will come a time when she is not around to hug or hold hands with, and I don’t want to be filled with regrets about my hugger!

The Lord has blessed me with two beautiful daughters who, I regret to say, are coming up on the age when boys become an interest.  Makes me a little sad that time has passed so quickly, just yesterday I carried them out of the delivery room.  One in each arm and they fit from my elbow to my palm.

Boys, just a warning….if you hurt my girls, I will hurt you!  Just kidding….or am I?

Thursday, April 7, 2011

MD Anderson Visit – Surgical / Oncologist Follow-up

We spent all day the 6th down at MD.  For about 3 appointments!  That’s ok, because everyone was extremely happy about how well Felicia was doing in her surgical recovery.

First appointment, at 9am, was a resting EKG.  It didn’t take long, so once Felicia was done we headed downtown on the train to pick up some liquid vitamin (because she has problems with pills!).  I believe the train ride made her sleepy!

As soon as we got back to MD, we headed up to the waiting room for her next appointment.  It wasn’t until 1:50, so she took nap and I read.  It was an exciting couple of hours!  Around 2, we met with Dr. Wagner (well I say that, first we met with the nurse and then the happy PA Whitney.  She is a young lady who enjoys her job, which I can imagine sometimes gets pretty tough.) and Dr. Wagner was very pleased with how things were going.  She gave us the pathology report and explained how much they took out (3.1 cm) and that there were no cancer cells left and the lymph nodes were clean.  Yay!

Next at 2:50 was the medical oncologist, which ended up being at 3:30 because they were running behind.  Dr Koenig was also very happy with the pace of recovery.  She explained more of what the chemo (a 3 drug cocktail) would do and all of the side effects.  I guess they have to tell you that just in case the worst happens, but wow, some of the side effects are scary!  We also set up a date for the first chemo treatment, which will be on the 25th of April.  When we started out, that seemed pretty far away, but it will be here before you know it.  She also prescribed something for nausea, which led to a wait in the pharmacy and us not leaving til almost 5.

I think me driving in the traffic scared Felicia a little, but we made it home just fine and I didn’t have to shoot anyone!  On the way home she asked me something that reminded me how human we all are.  She said, “after they explain all of that, do you ever feel like it is happening to someone else?  Like you’re outside your body?”   Of course I have, on and off the whole time!

It reminded me again how easy it is for us to pick the worry and fear back up from the foot of the cross.  God told me to give it to him in Philippians 4:4-7:

"Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let you gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.  And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will gaurd your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus."
We are a little like a dog.  We bury that bone, but still want to dig it up and chew on it again….and again…..and again!

Psalms 121 reminds me that our strength comes from God:

1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains—
   where does my help come from?
My help comes from the LORD,
   the Maker of heaven and earth.
 3 He will not let your foot slip—
   he who watches over you will not slumber;
indeed, he who watches over Israel
   will neither slumber nor sleep.
 5 The LORD watches over you—
   the LORD is your shade at your right hand;
the sun will not harm you by day,
   nor the moon by night.
 7 The LORD will keep you from all harm—
   he will watch over your life;
the LORD will watch over your coming and going
   both now and forevermore.

Our friend Cynthia told me the easy part is the surgery, now comes the hard part…the chemo.  Cynthia (put Cynthia in your prayers too!) should know, she has been fighting the beast for almost 20 years.  So continue to pray for Felicia, that she will rely on God for her strength.  After all, He will watch over her coming and going!  Pray also for our family, I think the girls will be most affected when the hair starts to come out.  She continues to amaze me with her wit and grace.   Speaking of her wit, I offered to shave my head (when hers starts to come out) and she said, “no babe, I have seen your head…it needs hair on it!”  How can I not live up to that?

Monday, April 4, 2011

Peekin' Thru The Gate

When I started writing this column, I was also going to write some stories about my Dad, his family and my Grandpa.  There are some wild, sometimes unbelievable, tales that come out when my family gets together.  So in the interest of family history, I have decided to write some of them down.
My Dad made the statement to me one time that “I offered something better for the horse than he did and he offered something better than my Grandpa did”.  It was a different generation and a whole different way of handling a horse for most of the public back then.  There were a few, the really good ones that were natural horsemen.  But, in general horses were treated as tools to get a job done.  Grandpa Johnson was a horse trader and for him, and other working cowboys…the horse was a tool, and that’s all they were.

Friday, March 25, 2011

MD Anderson: Post-op Report

God is good and He does answer prayers!

We got down to MDA about 7 in the morning, on the 4th floor of the Mays Building.  Felicia checked in at 7:30 and they called her back about 8.  Of course they had her undress and put on one of those fancy gowns that opens in the back (or the front depending on what you want showing!).  As soon as she was ready they moved her to the 5th floor for the needle localization.  Which is a fancy way of saying they stuck two 4 inch needles in her breast to mark where the lump was.  I could tell when they called me back that she was hurting, but she bucked up and made a joke about the Styrofoam cup they put over the needles. You would think that with all the money spent that they would come up with a better way to cover them, but I guess sometimes the simplest thing works the best. 

They moved her back to the 4th floor in the back halls and I can say that they completely confused me.  The surgical nurses were all very kind and knowledgeable; they acted as if they cared about her well being.  That was a real blessing.  I knew Shirley wanted to come see her before she went in, so I had to ask the nurse to direct me to the waiting room.  Turns out, it was right outside the room we were in!  Once I got back I waited for about an hour before the nurses came back and started giving her cocktails for the surgery.  As soon as they took her out of pre-op holding I moved out to the waiting room and the waiting began.

 We waited probably 2 hours before Dr. Wagner (the surgical oncologist) came out and told us that the surgery had gone well.   She had removed a couple of lymph nodes and said there was no cancer in them.  She sent them off to pathology just to be sure.  She removed the lump, took probably a little more than quarter size spot.  She said every thing looked good and she believed she had gotten all of the cancer cells.  About 1 ½ hours later Dr. Brown (the port surgeon) came out and said everything had gone well.  He placed the tube in a vein in her neck and then snaked in down to just above her heart.  He was very pleased.  She was in recovery for another 1 ½ hours.  As soon as she urinated they were happy to let us go. We got home about 6 last night and of course Felicia had taken some pain killers and was pretty loopy.  So, we put her to bed and she went off to la-la land.

As I write this she in conversing with her daughters, laughing.  She has been moving well almost all day.  She said she was sore like she had been in a car wreck.  Of course, she laughs about it when she tells me that!  Again, she is handling all of this with grace and style!  I am truly blessed to be married to her!

I would like to thank everyone for their prayers and thoughtfulness!  Ya’ll have been a real blessing to both of us!  Most of all I would like to thank God above.  He proved out again!   I cannot imagine how someone who doesn’t know Jesus Christ deals with all of the stress that comes being diagnosed with cancer.  He told me to give it to Him in Philippians 4:4-7.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! 5 Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

 The biggest thing to understand was that God has a plan, His plan may not fit my plan….but it is His will and not mine!  We gave the stress and strain to God (Felicia did it quicker than I did!  I might be a little stubborn.) and just lived by faith.

I read in Psalms 121 that God will always watch over us:

 1 I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? 2 My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.  3 He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber; 4 indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.  5 The LORD watches over you— the LORD is your shade at your right hand; 6 the sun will not harm you by day, nor the moon by night.  7 The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; 8 the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

It’s His plan; we just have to trust that he will take care of us and reveal that plan to us down the road.  Someone told Felicia to not “waste” her cancer, so there is no telling who He wants us to witness to or effect someone’s life with ours!  So praise the Lord!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

MD Anderson - Pre-op

We had a long day yesterday, seems like we waited more than before.  But, it felt like we were constantly on the move.  We had interviews with the anesthesiologists, the doctor putting the port in and of course more blood work.

We got down to MDA about 7 and did not leave until about 6 in the evening.  Made for a long day, but it did get us prepared for today.

Again, I saw my bride handle all of this with grace and style.  All I can do is follow her lead, she is an amazing woman! 

Not much more to report right now.  She is in surgery as I write this, so as soon as she moves to recovery I will update.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bad Bob

When I work for Sam Wilson, he owned Bob Acre Doc.  Bob was not a big horse but he was cowy and quick as all get out!   I have seen Sam with his boots dragging in the dirt when Bob worked.  Now that is impressive, until you realize that Bob was only about 14 hands tall and Sam was about 6’5”.  Still, Bob was a cow eating machine.  He really threw some good babies too.  Almost all of them were as cowy as he was, heck there were a couple that looked just like him. 

One of these was a horse we called “Bad Bob”.  Ya, I know…real original.  Bad Bob was not very big, he maybe stood 12-12.5 hands as a two year old.  But boy could he buck!  Don’t get me wrong, he couldn’t buck hard….he was just really quick!   When I started them in the round pen he out quicked me and dumped me into the dirt 4 times in a row (which is a fancy way of saying “he buck me off”).  He used to buck so fast that you felt like you were sitting on a fence post!  He would stick his head so far down between his front legs that you couldn’t see his head or his tail from the saddle!  He bucked out onto the concrete with me once, I was afraid to pull his head up and afraid to let him continue to buck!  I think it scared both of us!   I could just see him slipping down on the concrete, with me under him!  He bucked with me every day!  The other guys used to line up on the fence when I was going to get on, you never saw so much hootin’ and hollerin’.  To my recollection it felt like he was in training for 1000 days, but was probably only about 60.

One of Sam’s customers bought him and to my disappointment kept him there for us to get ready for the futurity.  Of course he did one thing that I liked, he gelded ol’ Bad Bob!  Now I took great advantage of that and only gave him one day off.  Turns out that was the only day he didn’t buck with me.  Oh, he wanted to….but was just way to sore.  I left there before futurity, so I don’t know if Bad Bob turned into any kind of a cuttin’ horse…..I just remember him as being a really quick bucker!

Monday, February 28, 2011

MD Anderson Visit – Testing and Medical Oncologist / Graceful Woman

We left the house the morning of the 23rd, at 4:30AM.  A little early for us; Felicia normally leaves the house at 5AM, to go to work downtown.  But we had appointments all day long, so a long day is in store for us.

Got down there before 6, but the place she was supposed to give blood was not open yet.  So we waited for it to open.  Once we got in for Felicia to give blood, I went and checked to see where and when the shuttle would run.  I was gone probably 5 minutes and was headed back up the elevator and here’s Felicia coming down!  She said the lady was messing around with her arm and asked her to put pressure on it.  Of course she thought she was holding the needle for some reason, but looked over and the lady was done! 

Our next appointment was at 6:30, offsite from everything else.  It was about 3-4 blocks down Holcombe, so we were trying to decide if we were going to wait on the shuttle or walk.  Shuttles do not start until 7, so our decision was made for us.  We walked.   Arrived in plenty of time and by 7, they had called Felicia in for her CT scan. 

At 9AM she went in for the nuclear isotopes to be injected.  This is for the bone scan; the isotopes go into the bones…making them easier to see.  They injected her with nuclear medicine; does that mean she will glow in the dark?  That could come in handy for reading at night!  HA!  Kidding, kidding….That took a little while, but once she was done we were free for almost two hours.  The In-laws were downtown also, so we went to lunch with them.

We came back at 11AM for the bone scan, which they say only takes a few minutes.  They came and got her and she was back before I could blink.  They are like a well oiled machine down here.

The assessment with the medical oncologist was next.  The medical oncologist is the one who decides if and how much chemo she will be given.  The scary part!  After meeting with her, she gave us the low down.  Four weeks after the surgery she will start chemo, a treatment every 3 weeks for 6 months and then 6 weeks of radiation.  That’s a lot to take in!

There it is, the day in detail.  Except for one thing….

My bride showed incredible grace and strength through all of this!  I listened to her laughing and joking with the techs at the CT place.  I listened to her asking the oncologist about the side effects.  She always jokes that she is a big wuss when if comes to being sick or anything like that!  I think she always has been worried that she will not be able to handle what is coming.  But, I saw a woman who is confident in her God!  Confident that He will take care of her no matter how this turns out!  Praise God, that He has given me a wife like that!  Jesus is my “solid rock”, but she is my anchor here on this earth.  With a wife who lives with Grace like that, I can’t help but be a better man!

Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:4-7

 I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.   John 16:33