Saturday, October 26, 2013

Scary Words

Scary words were spoken this week. The kind that I want to push back from my brain like a dream, but  there is no way to deny them. No matter how I try to protect myself, there is no way to escape them. It was the same feeling I had almost five years ago as I lay in hospital preparing for surgery asking the doctor how long the artificial hip they were about to implant into my body would last. The surgeon looked at me as though I was a stupid insect and told me simply, "You need to get your things in order".

As I looked at him, I was suddenly conscious of every blink of my eye as though they could wipe away the words that he so callously cut into my heart. My mind rebelliously thought, "you don't know", even as my heart beat with fear.

This week did not go as planned. After last Friday, I had hope for a good, painless and productive week. Instead, Monday the pain was so immense, I could barely walk, calling for a trip to UrgentCare which at least offered some relief. A steroid was prescribed to help with the pain. Thankfully, it produced the desired effect almost immediately.

Tuesday was my appointment with the Radiation Oncologist, a young sweet doctor who spoke in soft tones and looked at me with kind eyes as she told me what she felt additional radiation would and wouldn't do. It offered me a 80% chance at decreasing the likelihood that my femur wouldn't break at some point so I agreed it would be the best course of action.

The only thing that made me nervous was the fact that I would need to lie on my back for the planning stage and the treatment itself. I had been sleeping on my recliner since Saturday night as sleeping in a flat position was painful. With my MRI on Wednesday, I knew that would be the test as to whether I could do it.

With the steroid and two tablets of the pain killer the doctors had prescribed, I was able to walk down the hall of the medical center to radiology on Wednesday for my MRI. With God by my side, this claustrophobic scaredy cat was able to withstand almost an hour in the little narrow tube they encase you in for the scans. The knocking of the machine didn't bother me. I found comfort in it knowing that meant the machine was one, working and I wasn't lying there forgotten. Even more of a miracle was the fact that I was able to do lying on my back. As they pulled me free from the tomb, I gave thanks, whispering, "I did it". Truth be told, God did it.

When Dr L called on Thursday afternoon to share with me the results of the MRI, I wasn't surprised. In many ways it was a relief, the explanation I needed as to why walking and standing up have become such a trial…stress fractures in my spine caused by the cancer and compression. They would treat these with radiation, hitting them when they work on my femur. There was also a rise of fear. Now I knew for sure. My bones were more frail than I wanted to admit. There were questions I knew I had, but couldn't think to ask. He told me that he would call Dr H and she would get a copy of the results.

I called my dad, talked to my sister and shared the news with my mom. Each call brought a round of questions that I couldn't answer. Answers to questions that I didn't want to ask. If I don't know I can pretend that things were more normal than they are. But one movement of my body and the truth is there, even a full jug of milk is hard for me to carry.

I had planned to call Dr H on Friday just to make sure that she saw the MRI results so the lower spinner would be included in the radiation planning session that I would have on Halloween. Turns out I didn't need to do it. Sometime before lunch, Dr L called again telling me he had called Dr H to review the results. Since she wasn't in, he conferred with her colleague who wants to refer me to a neurosurgeon. I pushed back the rising fear I felt as I asked the Dr if there were precautions I should take in the meantime.

The rest of the day was spent working as I lay in my recliner. Sometime after 4pm, I stopped working and just lay there numb. My biggest fear of all, losing my joy, losing my faith. I kept telling myself that no matter what, my life can matter. I can have the joy of the Lord. I can still be the creative being that God has called me to be. I can still love on my family, but it hurts to know that I can't just get up and drive to the desert on a whim to see my babies there.

Selfishly, I thought about what this meant for me and my photography. How I've scaled it down for the last few months and how it's been on my heart to start picking it back up.

This may present a new challenge, but it doesn't mean it's not doable. I have not given up hope. Not at all. Not when I know that my Lord, Jesus Christ is right along side of me, as well as in front and behind. Yesterday was a day of reflection, absorbing the shock waves, processing the meaning, trying to figure out what it all meant, how do I balance taking care of myself and not giving up independence, the things that I love.

It all comes down to this. I may need to do it. But there is one thing I will never need to give up, one thing that has and will never leave me. My Lord. And with him walking beside me the whole way, guiding me down this path, I know it can be done.

Today, I am thankful for:

  1. Being able to get dressed by myself
  2. My feet hitting the cool floor this morning 
  3. A sister who prays faithfully for me
  4. My mom
  5. A comfortable patio to drink in the morning delights
  6. The sun shining
  7. Sweet times with my baby girl before she heads off to her dad's
  8. The sounds of the early morning
  9. Feeling rested after a good nights sleep
  10. The peace of the Lord that dwells in me

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