Don Bowen Update: 2008-01-06

January 6, 2008

Dear Family and Friends,

I’m sending this from Eileen’s email, but this will be my last update for a while.

The support, calls and prayers from all of you have blown me away. The words don’t exist to explain how loved and cared for you have made me feel. And that has translated into encouragement and peace, for what otherwise would be quite hard. I’ve said this to some of you, but it applies to all of you – you’ve been Jesus with skin on to me and been the physical touch of God in my life. It’s made all the difference. Thank you.

One of my friends at church this morning, Steve Kastelein, told me he helped install some of the equipment that will be used for my Stealth MRI. Here is a link for all my techie friends:

I know several of you have asked if you can come down to the hospital tomorrow to pray with me. That would be great, but I think it would probably have to be around 5:30 at OSF Admitting. I know, that is ridiculously early, but I just don’t know what the schedule will be after my MRI and whether I’ll be in places that are accessible to non-family. My advice is to sleep in  🙂  Eileen and I wish we could. Catch a few extra winks for us!

If the surgery really only takes 4 hours I’m hopeful that Eileen will be able to send out a short update on my status in the late afternoon.

I may be dreaming, but I’m also hoping that I will be able to take short calls sometime later on Tuesday. My friend Andy wondered why I wasn’t having a phone surgically installed as long as they’re in there. Funny guy.

Call Eileen on her cell (or mine) if you just can’t wait, but being patient on hearing an update is probably best.

Please keep praying, for the surgery and even beyond the surgery. I wish this was going to be over tomorrow, but that is, unfortunately, pretty unlikely.  Thank you to those of you who have and/or will help with the meals. I need lots of good food like a hole in the head – wait! – I do need a hole in the head, so I guess I do need lots of good food. Excellent!  🙂 Anyway, We are humbled by your generosity and I want you to know that will bless my wife immensely and that makes me quite happy. Thank you!

I had hoped to send out our Christmas letter by now,but just couldn’t get it done. We did take our family picture and I’m uploading them to flickr in the next few hours (I hope). You will be able to see them here:



Don Bowen Update: 2008-01-02

January 2, 2008

Happy New Year! I missed quite a bit of yesterday because my head was really hurting. Sleep and rest was the only thing that took the edge off the pain. I have felt much better for most of today, but I do get serious neck pain, nausea and dizziness sometimes when I stand after sitting for a while. I know, I know, so stop sitting for a while 🙂 Before I forget, I’m having Eileen double check my emails, but if you see weird stuff it is because seeing is a real problem. Not having a decent size monitor doesn’t help, but mostly it’s my vision, which alerted me to the tumor in the first place.

We found out this morning that surgery will be on Monday, January 7th at 10:30am. I have to arrive at 5:30am so they can do a stealth MRI at 7:15. I’m not a morning person, but I feel bad that Eileen has to take me. Oh well, “in sickness and in health” 🙂 I wish the MRI was regular and the surgery was stealth, but it didn’t work out that way. My surgeon is Dr. Jeffrey Klopfenstein and I’m very impressed with him: I’m praying that his cutting and sewing would impress Heidi Klum and the rest of those project runway judges. He will be cutting a big “C” starting below my neckline and coming up and around my right ear. Eileen suggested that I get him to turn it into a “G” (because I’m such a huge Green Bay Packer fan, but I don’t want to get carried away.

The surgery will take 4 hours if it goes well and I will be in the Neuro ICU for a couple days, again, if things go well. I’m praying that all the doctors and nurses would be blown away by how well it goes and that there would be no doubt about God’s presence.

Other than a couple of you, I believe I’ve returned all emails and phone calls. I can’t begin to express how much your love, well wishes, prayers and concern for me has meant. Minus the scary parts of this I would wish that for all of you, but since it’s a package deal I won’t 🙂 I feel like I’m praying all the time and then I hear some of your stories and know that when I’m not, you are. THANK YOU! I’m praying for each of you and really enjoying it.

Many of you have asked if there is anything you can do. Regardless of where you are you can continue to pray. I wish the surgery on Monday was the end of this journey, but realistically it is just the start. Up to this point it has been easy for me/us, but starting Monday it will get much tougher, and that’s if things go well, which is what we’re praying will happen.

Lots of you also asked if you could help with meals and that is one of the easiest questions I’ve received in the past several weeks – YES! One of our good friends from church, Michelle Kneer, asked if she could coordinate meals for us and we have happily accepted. I hope you won’t mind, but could those of you who have already volunteered, or want to volunteer, send your name, email address and phone numbers to Michelle? We don’t need anything before Tuesday so that should provide you with enough time to send Michelle a note and for her to coordinate with each of you from there. We are learning how important it is to let others help. If you know us, you know it isn’t easy, but we’ve gotten great advice (from many of you) that when people ask if they can help, learn how to say yes! That said, this is not a request for help. I know many of you are facing your own struggles at this time so please only help if you can and want to. When I’m back home I’d love for you to come by and eat with me. Being around people, especially you guys, energizes me!

Here is Michelle Kneer’s contact information:

The next update will probably be sent out by Eileen.


Don Bowen Update: 2007-12-29

December 29, 2007

If you are saying, “update about what?”, here is a little background. On Thursday 12/20 I found out that I have a brain tumor. I had been having headaches for over 3 weeks and starting having weird vision problems. At first the doctor thought it was stress, but the MRI told the rest of the story. The tumor is in the occipital lobe of the brain, where the visual processing is done. It’s about 3.0cm x 2.4cm, a bit smaller than a golf ball, and located on the back right side of my head. The doctor said it’s aggressive and believes it’s malignant, but fortunately we won’t know for sure until it is removed and analyzed. Let’s hope he’s wrong. It’s impacting my vision so I can’t drive. The headaches, which was what caused me to go into the doctor in the first place, have gotten a bit worse as has my vision so the sooner the better for the surgery.

One of the bigger issues was not having my insurance in place due to losing my job in December. With the help of both Sun and Ceridian (COBRA processing company) I am now fully insured by United Healthcare (UHC). We also didn’t think either of the hospitals where the surgery needed to take place were in network, but it turns out the best one, St. Francis, is. God is good!

We had hoped to do the surgery next Friday, which is still possible, but it does appear Monday, Jan 7th is more likely. It all depends on getting a quick determination of whether my neurosurgeon is in or out of network.

Today we met with my neurosurgeon’s nurse and discussed the details of the actual surgery. The only positive thing I heard was that I’m going to be heavily sedated most of the time. Let’s hope so. One thing she shared that really blew me away was that when she told the doctor I might not have insurance he immediately said he would just waive his fee. Unbelievable!

I will end up with titanium screws in my head. I was hoping this also meant bionic parts, but sadly it doesn’t. It will mean I can have MRIs and won’t set off airport screening devices. I’ll spare you the rest of the gory details.

I know many of you have been praying for me, Eileen and the girls and we really appreciate it. God has been answering and his goodness has been incredible. If you’re like me, having some direction on exactly what to pray for can be very helpful, so here are some things I’m praying:

Before Surgery
– Complete healing. They will do another MRI before surgery and I know God can do it, so I’m asking right up to the last minute
– That my doctor will be classified as in-network
– That surgery will be Friday 1/4, but if not then Monday 1/7
– That my headaches, which have been getting much worse, would go away and I’d make it to the surgery date
– That my confidence and trust would be in God and that I would have no fear
– Strength and a sense of peace for Eileen and the girls
– That we would get very good, very quickly at letting people help us and that in return those same people would be blessed

After Surgery
– Incredibly successful and smooth surgery and complete removal of the tumor
– That the tumor would be benign
– Quick recovery – that I could go home within three days
– Minimal pain so I can avoid pain meds as much as possible

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have moments where I’m anxious and even fearful about what the future holds, but they are only that – moments. God quickly reminds me that he is still in heaven and this didn’t catch him by surprise at all. He didn’t forget to tell someone to look after me 🙂 This is all part of his plan and I’m good with that. I’ve felt tremendous joy in the past week that is just impossible to describe. A big part of it is the outpouring of love and compassion from friends and family like you.

Thank you,


Ephesians 3:20 “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work in us.”

links for 2007-12-13

December 12, 2007

links for 2007-12-12

December 11, 2007

links for 2007-12-11

December 10, 2007

links for 2007-12-10

December 9, 2007

links for 2007-12-09

December 8, 2007

links for 2007-12-08

December 7, 2007

links for 2007-12-06

December 5, 2007