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Location: DownByTheRiver, Central Iowa, United States

Husband of the world's most wonderful wife, father of the world's four most brilliant children, grandfather to the world's eight most beautiful granddaughters and two handsomest grandsons

Saturday, July 02, 2005

Good News, Better News

Ranger Readers have not heard from the RRR in over a week. Not suprising as there has been an explosion of events. Let's roll the clock back. When last you heard from me I had completed the dreaded CAT scan at the VA and was running on auto pilot, drifting between dread and the tyranny of the urgent. In that time period I carefully set up the irrigation system for the garden, hooked up the supply line to the well, had the sprinkler hose blow out, heard thunder and returned to the house to watch the beginning of a 1" plus rain.

On Sunday we went to the chapel and heard an excellent sermon by a Northern Irish immigrant and after a superlative pot luck he showed us an advance look at the movie Beyond The Gates Of Splendor. It is a retelling of the massacre of 5 young missionaries from the US back in the '50s by Auca indians in Ecuador, but more importantly, what happened to the tribe after they invited the widows and children of the missionaries to come and live with them. It was one of the most spectacular documentaries I've ever seen. Then I heard from an Indian (India Indian) missionary to the U.S. who is seeking support. He's an old friend. Years ago he and his wife invited the RRR and his family to dinner. They had no idea that Oldest Son and I would truly desire the genuine Indian cooking and not just the mild, watered down American version. We practically emptied their refrigerator.

Monday Grandpa and Mrs. Ranger came to visit along with Oldest Son's wife, Rangerettes 1 and 2 and the Youngest Ranger, age 2 months. Heaven, holding, hugging, snuggling granddaughters and then the special treat Tuesday when Mrs. RRR, Daughter-In-Law and the Rangerettes all went swimming and for almost 4 hours, the Littlest Ranger and I bonded. He talked and "goo"ed at me and waved his arms, and snuggled and fell asleep in my arms, cried and got his diaper changed, (yes, after 30 years I hadn't forgotten how) and sat in my recliner and listened seriously while I explained the joys of hiking, starting campfires, river float trips and regailed him with my heroics 35 years ago in the South East Asia War Games.

Handsome tiny boy with coppery hair and eyelashes and brilliant blue eyes, touch of his hand feather light on my cheek. Grandpa's interlude in paradise.

Then Wednesday, News Day. Mrs. RRR and I drove to the Big City and went to the VA for the care conference. I ran up the steps to the 2nd floor for the pure pleasure of not having to drag myself up the hand rail, hand over hand as I did a year ago while still on the chemo. We went to the waiting room and to keep busy I filled out the 3 page depression evaluation, only mildly depressed. Mrs. RRR spent a long time looking at the poster depicting the deteriation of a liver with Hep C. Then, after discovering I've gain more weight, we at last went in to see Jennifer, the Hep C program coordinator. She pulled my CAT scan results up on the computer and started to read and stopped. Then checked she had the right patient. Then checked to see if she had the right test results. At last read them to me...

1. No masses, tumors, cysts or other growths or abnormalities.

2. No enlargement (!)

3. Normal blood flow throughout.

4. Surrounding blood vessles not dilated.

I sat stunned, then started babbling happily. This is a stage 3, grade 3 diseased liver with 80% disease involvment (scar tissue intrusion in the cells) and it is to all intents and purposes functioning normally. There is no increased internal blood pressure. This is the liver that a couple months ago ached when my abdomen was pressed, that I could SEE when I lifted my arms in front of the mirror. It's back to normal size and all the function tests show it's working fine. The awareness crept over me that I might actually live to shout "amen" when the Littlest Ranger kisses his bride at his wedding someday and embarass him silly.

OK, apparently I still have the virus and yes, like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat, Jennifer came up with the brand new latest version of Interferon to take for 48 weeks, but all that is in the future, cirhossis is not my immediate fate.

Mrs. RRR and I almost skipped out to the car. When we got home I started calling relatives and giving them the news.

God is good.


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