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Issue 13-4

Cancer Surgery, et al

Dear Friends,

It is 7:37 in the evening, Sunday July 13, and I am scheduled for thyroid cancer surgery tomorrow morning at 9:00 or thereabouts. This week has been filled with pre-op examinations and appointments. A general exam with my physician—blood tests and two EKGs because the first was a little fuzzy (my heart is fine). Then a CAT scan, because I’d been having pressure behind my eyes, that showed my head was clear. A change in my readers—from 2.50 to 2.75—seemed to help, and David, who is not a good back-rubber by genetic design, found the knot in my left shoulder, knuckled it out and this relieved the tension, also alleviating the pressure behind my eyes.

I found I didn’t have time to run for a physical therapy appointment my general physician had arranged for me (David fixed the shoulder anyway); nor did I want to spend $87 on a skin patch so that I could absorb some pain medication since I am not allowed to have anything that thins my blood.

I concluded that houseguests from overseas, in addition to the visit of a young-adult grandson and his girlfriend, the launching of a Kickstarter crowd-funding campaign, food on the table, and a visit to the Art Institute to increase their culture learning, and a looming cancer surgery all had combined to so stress me out so that my shoulders were hunched, and I was contributing to my own painful achiness.

ARRRK! Somewhere in here I fit in a visit to Delnor Hospital to register for surgery, to visit with a nurse who explained the operating procedure (bath at night, clean sheets, and wiping my body in the morning and again at the hospital with swipes that remove bacteria). This may seem silly, but we have watched the impact this year of MERSA and hospital infections and a sepsis episode. I will happily bathe, change sheets, swipe, dress, undress in the pre-surgery unit, then swipe again. Believe me, I know by experience that it is a jungle out there. No more dangerous place on earth than a seemingly sterile hospital with SUPER-bacteria.

Along the way, since I fell in January and dislocated my shoulder, I’ve spent some $3000 out of pocket on nutritional counseling and discovered many things about my state of unhealth. I’ve come to realize, and tests verify, that my adrenals are not functioning very well. I am living with adrenal fatigue; my adrenal glands get stuck on the fright-and-flight response mechanism.

In addition to three kinds of nutritional powders taken three times a day, iodine supplements and adrenal boosters, I am supposed to walk at least 10,000 steps. I walked 2 miles this morning and came home despite my clean EKGs with heart arrhythmia. I had to lie down (after we had turned the mattress, spread the clean summer dust ruffle over the mattress, re-made the bed with clean mattress cover and sheets, which included putting the pillows through an hour in the dryer to exterminate dust mites) with my heart thrumping and feeling like my body was jerking slightly beyond my control.

Do I sound like a lady under duress? David looked at me and said, “You are just going into warp speed thinking about everything that has to be done today, aren’t you?” He was absolutely right. David and I are both getting in touch with the fact that I am in the habit of disabling my poor adrenal system. So I rested this morning, picked a bouquet of flowers for the dining room table, rested again this afternoon, spent a long time in Scripture that wasn’t in the middle of the night, took a handful of the $126 worth of supplements that were mailed to me to help me go through surgery well and respond better in recovery. I watched the World Cup final game with Cirillo, the Mexican man who lives with us during the growing season, and with my husband.

During this last week, we learned that Cirillo had become a Christian and wants me to go to “church” with him next Thursday night (a gathering in Wheaton for ex-offenders that David is inclined to attend). I will probably go if I feel up to it (if the supplements have done their work). Meanwhile, we had a family gathering up at my daughter’s Turtle Creek Acres for the big cousins. Much of the work of this year has been to understand and develop a deep relationship with our high-functioning autistic grandson (he scores in the 100th percentile in the nation in math and science). Coached by his dad, we had a wonderful, happy laughing afternoon of ping-pong challenges, of dinner together (for which I made a macaroni ziti that tasted great but looked like I’d scraped the leftovers off plates!) and of Rook challenges.

It is now 8:07 in the evening before surgery, and I have to say that my most pressing concern right now is that we won’t meet our Kickstarter goal of raising $22,500 to revise, re-illustrate and republish The Kingdom Tales Trilogy, three sets of books that are allegories designed to reveal in fiction the Kingdom of God to kids of all ages. As of this moment, we have 53 Backers (almost no Backers in the lowest levels!). We have pledges (really pre-orders for products) of around $12,000 (out of a goal of $22,500) with another 19 days to go.

Talk about a nail-biter. Talk about an adrenal blast. Talk about heart arrhythmia. Talk about thyroid cancer surgery. Talk about I need to get to bed into those clean sheets. I’ll pack a hospital bag in the morning (we’ll have to leave by 7:15 am).

Believe me, I’m not even talking about the great stressors in my life. Those are all confidential and beyond description as far as pain. (Yes, David’s and my marriage is still OK.)

I didn’t know, when the Kickstarter Campaign launched, that these stressors would take place concurrently. I didn’t know that one son, who is filming a documentary on a Christian tattoo artist who removes barcode tattoos from sex-slave trafficking victims and gang members leaving their gangs, would actually give shelter to one. Converted the same night his buddy was gang-slain, then shot in the stomach because his rivals knew he wasn’t “packing” any more. Operated on, hospitalized, recovering (of sorts) in the home of the parents of his “baby-mama,” my big-hearted, merciful son has provided a safe place—because Lord knows if this former gang member popped his head out of the door in the “hood,” he was done for. We dropped in last night, unannounced, and there he was. “Man,” the former gang kid said to David and to me, “this is Heaven. I’ve been in Hell and this is Heaven.”

I wanted to weep. OK, so my adrenals are fatigued. OK, so I’ve got this cancer operation tomorrow and no one knows if it is really cancer I have and they won’t know until they take the left side of the thyroid out and biopsy it while I am unconscious with anesthetics on the operating table. OK, sometimes I ramp up into warp speed (well, actually, it seems to be a default action). OK, so I’m 71 years of age and should have learned how not to do this to myself. OK. OK. OK.

I have a son who is merciful. I have a husband who rubs the knots out of the tightening muscle in my shoulder. I have young-adult and teenage grandchildren who play ping-pong with their aunt and uncle in the summer sunshine and get beaten by their grandfather. I have grandchildren who are supportive and kind and welcoming to their cousin who is learning to understand his own autism and articulate what he has learned to others. I have a son-in-law who talks turkey to me when I am being overly considerate and who makes us laugh and who takes time out to spend with young-adult cousins who visit and want to come back for two more weeks. I have a daughter who sends me home with aqua eggs and a box of almost ripe Georgia peaches.

I have a God who loves me, who knew that we would lose a well-loved child and have a whacked-out, strung out year in which we launched an Internet marketing campaign, and in which I would drop half the rhubarb and blackberry strudel, which I got up early to fix for my grandchildren who had picked the rhubarb, on the floor.

I have friends who are saying, “Oh, those Mainses. They’re always doing crazy stuff. Let’s Back that Kickstarter Campaign. Where’s that link? What are the levels? How do I get the new republished books? When’s the end date? How can I tell some friends? How can we push to make this viral?”

Send yourself and people to Or to make a pledge directly, go to Let’s get over the halfway mark by the end of this week, Saturday 19. And just pray that I will not begin to think this craziness is the new normal. Mama said there would be days, weeks, months, years like this.

Karen Mains


"A Girl Named Dirty"
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Reading "Tales" Together

The Tales of the Kingdom Trilogy is three children’s storybooks that teach biblical truths. You and your spouse will enjoy reading these heartwarming stories with your family while you impart valuable lessons about loyalty, honesty, courage, friendship, kindness, perseverance and more! Each lesson conveys Kingdom Truths via powerful and compelling stores and original art. A Girl Named Dirty is a young woman who prefers living in the pig pen, until one day she meets the King—who can find beauty anywhere—and He changes her perspective on life forever!

Back Our KICKSTARTER Project to RECEIVE books 1-3 of this Award-winning CHILDREN'S TRILOGY to READ & ENJOY WITH YOUR KIDS (or GRANDKIDS)—each story teaches character lessons for life, and comes fully revised, re-published in print and all eBook formats, and re-illustrated with captivating, original art! All books will be delivered in time for Christmas gift giving. Go here for more details:


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David and Karen Mains

Karen Mains

My most pressing concern right now is that we won’t meet our Kickstarter goal of raising $22,500 to revise, re-illustrate and republish The Kingdom Tales Trilogy, three sets of books that are allegories designed to reveal in fiction the Kingdom of God to kids of all ages.”
The Fault in Our Stars
The Fault in Our Stars
by John Green

I always try to read the books my grandchildren read. To my delight, some of them are becoming big readers. This can’t do anything but delight a grandmother who has a writer’s heart. Joscelyn Timberlake highly, highly recommended John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. And since we are on the topic of thyroid cancer, I read the book—also enjoyed the writing, then went to the movie of the same name with Josie and her mother, Melissa, my daughter. review:
In The Fault in Our Stars, John Green has created a soulful novel that tackles big subjects—life, death, love—with the perfect blend of levity and heart-swelling emotion. Hazel is sixteen, with terminal cancer, when she meets Augustus at her kids-with-cancer support group. The two are kindred spirits, sharing an irreverent sense of humor and immense charm, and watching them fall in love even as they face universal questions of the human condition—How will I be remembered? Does my life, and will my death, have meaning?—has a raw honesty that is deeply moving.

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