Tuesday, November 22, 2011

The Year-Long Wait

     It was a year and two months ago today that Heath had his first seizure totally out of nowhere.  At that time a lot of testing was done, and we were completely shocked one week later when we were told that he had a 1cm tumor on the left occipital lobe of his brain.  It rocked our world in a season of already being unusually rocked, but at that time we were told to wait and see what would transpire over the next couple of months.  On December 7, 2010, we were thankful that the second MRI revealed that the tumor had not changed, but we were then told to wait a year for the next MRI.  A year!  Two days after that he had his second grand mal seizure, so his seizure medication was increased, but he's been seizure free since then.  Other than being told he couldn't drive for six months after each of the seizures, he's really been able to live a very normal life.  Every once in a while, he'll have a headache or some other little thing that makes us wonder what's going on inside his head, but there has never been enough of a concern to warrant taking him in sooner than scheduled.  Thankfully his doctors are only a phone call or even an email away, and they have been very good at responding to any little questions we've had along the way. 

     A year has been a long time.  There has not been a day that's gone by that I haven't looked at my son and wondered what we would learn at the end of the year.  My prayers have been somewhat bold in that I would even pray that the tumor would be shrinking and gone by the time we would go back.  Sometimes I would pray that there would at least be no growth at all.  My curious mind would always be tempted to play out the "what-if" scenarios in my head.  What if it had grown by a millimeter?  Would they suggest surgery for something little like that?  Would it be better to have that happen and have it be gone than to always wonder if it was growing?  What if it had grown slightly but not doubled?  Would he face chemo, radiation, surgery?  What if it had doubled in size?  What if it had spread or more tumors showed up when we went back?  Would Heath be facing challenging doctor appointments or a hospitalization in the very same month that we’re sending Harris back to the hospital for his repeat colon surgery?  How would we handle having two men in the hospital in different locations for very different things?  Would Harris have to postpone his surgery?  It’s set up for next Wednesday, November 30, by the way, and the dread factor is very high.  Every time my mind was tempted to entertain all those questions, I'd have to remind myself to hold those thoughts captive and not borrow trouble and just wait it out.  That is way easier said than done. 

     Finally sometime late summer or early fall, the appointments were actually set up for today, November 22, two days before Thanksgiving.  We knew that if some kind of treatment were to be needed, we wanted to have a little time to plan and prepare so that once his semester is over in early December, he could get started.  We knew that our holiday plans could end up in total upheaval, and we certainly couldn't let ourselves even contemplate the thought of trying to get away for the holidays on a family vacation like we'd all really like to do.  Everything has been hinging on today's appointment for a while now.  I sensed in my spirit a few days ago that everything would be okay, but even so, yesterday was particularly hard.  Prayers for my anxious heart were answered when I finally just entrusted our son back to the Father who gave him to us and leaned on the understanding that God loves him even more than we do and that we had to trust in God’s plan for his life, no matter what the outcome. 

     So we started out the day at 10 a.m. by seeing a physician's assistant who was filling in for Heath's regular seizure doctor.  Since he's been seizure free for a year, we anticipated this appointment to be pretty noneventful, but it turned into quite a discussion regarding his medication and the long-term effects and plotting out what it would look like to make the switch to a different one down the road.  We have instructions on what to change when, and we’ll be going back in May for further consultation.  We still have no way of knowing whether the seizures and the tumor have anything to do with each other, which is frustrating, but it is what it is. 

     The next two hours were spent leisurely having lunch together, Heath, Jenny, Harris, and I, and thankfully the time went by pretty quickly.  We arrived back at the hospital at 1:20 for his MRI check-in time of 1:30, and by his 2 p.m. actual appointment time, they already had it done.  We moved to the third department of the day and proceeded to fill out more paperwork and waited for our 2:50 appointment with the neurosurgeon to find out the results of the MRI.  We were told he was running behind schedule, and we found this to be the longest wait of our day.  We were all anxious but very tired too, and an iced coffee would have definitely been a welcome treat by this time.  The nurse practitioner finally gave us a hint of good news about 10 minutes before the doctor came in the room around 4 p.m. for his typical very quick appearance.  The tumor had not grown at all, so we were all very relieved.  He said that it could either be a very slow-growing kind of tumor or a developmental anomaly, which is something he was maybe born with and that we would have never even known was there if he hadn’t had the original seizure and tests.  His recommendation is to just come back in another year to check it again, but if there are any major challenges between now and then to make sure and call. 

     Relief?  Yes.  Definitely.  Of course, we know that we now have another year of “wait and see,” but at least I think we all feel a lot better now that we know it hasn’t grown in 14 months’ time, and we are very, very thankful for that.  It was a rather silent, tired, and contemplative ride home in the rain today, but we are all feeling a little less stressed.  We’re ready to enjoy the holiday weekend with our family and give thanks to God for His goodness to us.  We are also very thankful for you, our friends and family, who have been praying with us through some very rough times.  We want to wish you all a wonderful Thanksgiving!  Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good.  Very, very good. 

1 comment:

  1. I was reading through your post, and my heart was beating like it was US waiting for MRI results! The waiting is SO hard. And then I felt relief rush over me when I read the good news! So happy for your family. ~ Angie Rumer and Family