Sunday, October 10, 2010

The Waiting Game

     There are periods of time in our lives when we are called to wait for something whether we like it or not.  The waiting time may be as quick and decisive as a red light versus a green light, but other times the waiting period may be excruciatingly longer than we think is fair or necessary, and we just don't understand why.  Sometimes the end result is positive, but other times it's not, and then all we can do is trust that God has a reason or a better plan in mind, even when we can't possibly fathom what it is. 

     Harris and I wanted to take an Alaskan cruise for our 20th anniversary, but due to a myriad of family and life circumstances, it just didn't happen.  We kept dreaming of it and finally just took a leap of faith and booked it because we knew just how badly we needed some time away together.  Our 25th wedding anniversary happened back in January already, but our getaway wasn't scheduled to start until Sunday, September 5th.  The timing ended up being horrible because only 24 hours into the cruise, Harris's dad passed away from his 3-year battle with cancer.  We ended up coming home early, and now we will be waiting for that next niche of opportunity to try it again.  We are still completely mystified why God chose to thwart our plans in such a manner, but ultimately, our faith in God wins out when the feelings of frustration and bitterness threaten to consume us. 

     Last year my OB/GYN doctor recommended that I have a procedure done to help eliminate some female problems that have been haunting me for a few years already, but again, a variety of circumstances kept getting in the way.  To be honest, as a mom it's just always been easier to put the needs of our kids first, but finally I knew that it was time to schedule my surgery, so the preparatory measures were set in motion this summer already.

     On September 3, two days before we were to leave on our vacation, I went for another doctor appointment, a little begrudgingly because I felt as though what we needed to discuss could be done over the phone.  I was already extremely stressed going into it just because of all that was going on with Harris's dad and the looming decision of whether or not to leave for our cruise, but when my doctor explained to me some further complications that had shown up on my tests and mentioned to me that she needed to do a biopsy to rule out cancer, that just about put me over the edge.  That big horrible "C" word was not at all what I needed to hear, but that became a new reality for me to have to deal with in my inner being.  She explained to me that the chances of it were very slim, but nevertheless, it was something that we needed to rule out before proceeding.  We ended up scheduling a D&C and a biopsy to be done on September 30, and if it worked to go ahead and do the endometrial ablation procedure at the same time, she would.  Another waiting period was thrust upon us.

     After Heath was diagnosed with his tumor on September 29, we had a very difficult decision to make very quickly.  Do I go ahead with my surgery the next day or not?  How soon would the next step happen with Heath?  Would Iowa City call the next morning and say they wanted to see him that day or the next?  What if I wasn't well enough to go?  What if the biopsy that had to be done on me was cancerous and we were forced to deal with that at the same time as his brain tumor?  All of those questions were haunting my very weary heart and mind, but my wise husband lovingly and firmly said to me, "Jac, you just need to have your surgery tomorrow and get it behind you."

     We went ahead with the plan, he took me to the hospital for my outpatient procedures, and everything went very well.  By 3 p.m. Harris had me all settled in on the couch back home for a good long nap.  Totally unbeknownst to me, angels were appearing and taking care of my family while I couldn't.  My sister-in-law Steph delivered dinner and had it cooking in the oven, and my sister, Sheila, blessed me with a surprise visit!  While I was sleeping, she was doing my dishes, made a grocery run, and started making some freezer meals for our family.  God is so good!  My family allowed me to fully recuperate all weekend, and with great joy and thanksgiving to God, I am finally able to report that there is NO cancer!  Praise be to God!!!

     Just five days after my surgery, we made our way to Iowa City for Heath's first visit to the neurosurgical clinic, and we met with the head of that department.  We went into Tuesday's appointment not knowing at all what to expect, but we kind of assumed that they would want to run some more tests.  Instead, the doctor has advised us that the first step is to rule out whether Heath's tumor is something that just may have been there for a long time and is a nonissue OR whether it is something that is growing and needing to be removed.  The only way to determine that is to do a repeat MRI in four months.  Yes, four months.  We were all quite shocked by that kind of news.  Harris explained to him that we had already met our deductible for this year and just wondered if there was any way we could do it before the end of the year instead, and he said that would be fine.  I would imagine we'll be in for meeting our deductible again next year, but why go into 2011 knowing that we'll meet it when there's a chance we wouldn't.  Besides that, with the new healthcare reform bill, who really knows what all will happen. 

     The doctor also indicated that the seizure and the tumor may have nothing to do with each other, so he wants to send us to an epileptologist, a doctor who deals more exclusively with seizures, as well.  That doctor will help us determine what is going on with Heath.  He explained to us that brain surgery is not something to take lightly, and he felt that even doing a biopsy at this stage of the game would be rushing it.  He said that the headaches that Heath had been experiencing could just be stress related.  Lord knows we've been under a little stress around here!

     By the time he left the room, Jenny voiced what all of us were thinking.  "I'm confused," she said.  There were certain questions that were still lingering in my mind, but I hadn't asked them because I thought maybe they would be taking us to the other doctor's office next.  When we were at the checkout desk, the receptionist made us feel a little crazy for thinking such a thing and proceeded to explain to us that his patients were waiting till February to see him, and all she could tell us was that as a new patient, be sure and watch for anything that comes in the mail because only after we return some survey to that office will our appointment with him be scheduled.  That was not exactly comforting news, and we left even more confused. 

     Within an hour, we were headed back to our car and really felt as though we didn't have a lot of answers, and it took us the rest of the day to kind of come to grips with the fact that we were in for the waiting game of our lives.  The only thing that will rush it is if troubling symptoms occur, so we'll be on the constant lookout for those, but we're also going to take this God-given opportunity to pray for the tumor to miraculously be gone when we go back!  Feel free to pray with us that that be the case! 

Jenny's been so supportive throughout this whole thing!

Thank you, Lord, for this boy's constant sense of humor!

     Life has moved on this week a little more normally but with a very busy schedule:  a swim meet in Clinton on Tuesday night ~ a swim breakfast to be served at the high school early Thursday morning ~ a cookout to be hosted at our office on Thursday night ~ my uncle Steve and aunt Lynn's family came for a visit on Thursday night and left Friday morning ~ Primerica events in Coralville on Friday night and Saturday.  There is never a dull moment in our family!  Overall, Heath has felt pretty well, but he's been experiencing some random stomachaches.  We're learning that that may very well be a side effect from the Dilantin.  His headaches have not been as frequent this week!  Praise the Lord for that!  Probably the hardest thing for him to deal with right now is the fact that he can't drive for six months.  He's forced to figure out rides to and from school and is at the mercy of everyone else's schedules.  He did get to fly "home" from school one day though!  One of the friends he has met at college is a flight instructor, and Heath had been asking for a chance to fly with him someday, so it worked out one day this week for him to fly Heath to a nearby airport!  That was pretty cool for him.  Another friend of his even took him out for dinner and to a football game on Friday night, and he appreciated that so much.  Everyone's support, words of encouragement, and prayers mean so much to our family right now.  Thank you!!

     Very surprisingly, we received a phone call from the seizure doctor's office on Friday!!!  Maybe that checkout receptionist has a few things to learn in how to handle anxious patients?  We have now gone ahead and scheduled that appointment for November 10, so we are thankful for the fact that maybe we can have a few more of our questions answered sooner than later.  I took the opportunity to question a couple of nurses on some nagging questions and felt very much relieved by the time we hung up the phone.  Many people had been suggesting to us that we should be getting a second opinion, and our neurosurgeon's nurse assured me that if we wanted to do so that that would be fine and that the doctor would not be offended by that at all, but then she also assured me that he is very experienced and that if at any point along the way he feels as though we need to take more aggressive measures, he will let us know. 

     Even though the waiting is very hard, there is a sense of peace in my spirit that we are doing the right thing for now.  Obviously we are being overly cautious by constantly asking Heath how he is doing, but we are honestly realizing that we just need to take life one day at a time and enjoy each moment.  Only by the grace of God will we survive this waiting game!

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