"On the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be Your Name"
The last few months have been a medical nightmare for me, not to mention for Ed and the rest of the family. I know I was run down from the stress of moving and adjusting to a new church and community, and of course the frustration of my inability to find a job in a library - my sense of self was severely effected. But come on, this is ridiculous!
It all started with a simple cold, that turned into a sinus infection, that turned into severe hives from an allergy to the antibiotic. After a trip to the emergency room I literally was turning blue from the intensity of the hives, couldn't walk because of the many hives on the soles of my feet, and couldn't bend my fingers - frightening. Steroids helped until I started having crazy side effects like a racing and pounding heart, extreme sensitivity to light and sound, fogginess, shortness of breath etc. In the middle of all this I had a routine appointment with my gynecologist where she found a large cyst on my ovary, which led to an ultrasound, and a recommendation for a hysterectomy because of possible cancer - no way was I jumping into something that serious! Off to Pittsburgh to my former doctor, another ultrasound and other tests, and a recommendation that nothing was seriously wrong and only a follow-up ultrasound was necessary. Whew, I dodged that bullet! So I went for my routine mammogram and lo and behold abnormal readings, a needle biopsy (inconclusive), another possibility of cancer and a surgical biopsy. This also came out negative (praise the Lord, but I was really freaked out at this point) though I am high risk and have to address that. I'm done, right? Wrong! Congestion immediately set in, another trip to the emergency room for a severe headache, exhaustion and lots of meds. Will it ever end? Hopefully the sinusitis will clear up, the followup ultrasound will show that the cyst is gone, and the high risk appointment at the Hillman Cancer Center will give me a good plan of action. But seriously, enough is enough. I've about had it with emergencies, cancer scares, and pain.
Well, the high risk appointment went well. Only a 2% risk of cancer in the next 5 years - I can live with that (no pun intended)! No such luck with the ovary though - it has to come out. But they are sure the cyst is benign so that is good. Things seem to going my way - only an outpatient surgery and all of this craziness is over. Or so I thought. I finally saw an ear, nose, and throat doctor about my constant congestion and sinus infections and got the scariest news so far. A CAT scan showed one sinus cavity is blocked and filled with what might be a tumor. Two surgeries later I am minus one ovary and and most of the tumor and still no cancer. Amazing! But the pituitary tumor is still partially there, fast growing, and will require radiation treatment and a lifetime of monitoring. I don't even know how to respond to this; I feel a combination of numbness and dread and my future is filled with unknowns.
All through this progression of events I have been really scared, and felt very alone. Ed has been with me every step of the way - every doctor's appointment, treatment, surgery, and symptom - but in the end it is my body that is betraying me and he can really only be my support and advocate. The hugs and loving words of my family have been invaluable but ultimately this is my battle. It reminds me of the old song:
We must walk this lonesome valley,
We have to walk it by ourselves;
Oh, nobody else can walk it for us,
We have to walk it by ourselves.
You would think that during this time I would draw closer to God, spending more time in prayer and leaning on Him through every trial. But instead I feel abandoned by Him - up until now my life has been pretty much filled with blessings and I can't help wondering what I did wrong to cause this avalanche of poor health and why God has withdrawn His blessings from my life. Of course I know, intellectually, that He is still there loving and taking care of me, and so I reach for Him and try to pray, but I just don't feel a connection. And this is where the power of the community of faith comes in.
Through it all one thing has become very clear - I have a great support group! I have been blown away by the way those around me have responded to my troubles. Our new church has been concerned and supportive with meals, cards, rides for Jonathon, calls, and many prayers. Our former church has also rallied around me, with calls, emails, texts, cards, and still more prayers. The library where I worked before the move has been great with emails, phone calls, a group get well card, and a wonderful surprise cookie/chocolate get well basket - I am touched by their generosity, and all I was expecting was prayer. My first surgery happened when we were at Jumonville for CAT Camp and we were surrounded by a loving Christian family with hugs, sympathy, advice, and an outpouring of prayer. And of course my close friends and family have been with us all the way, supporting us in any way they can, including many, many prayers. We are so blessed - I am humbled by the love that has been poured out on our family. Everywhere I look I see the face of God.
You see, by myself I couldn't find a connection to God, so He came to me in person. He has sent literally hundreds of believers to minister to me and my family in ways over and above anything I could imagine. I am so weak, and I still get lonely, depressed, and scared, but the strength of the community of faith is carrying me. Don't tell me God does not appear to us anymore - I know He is here among us because I have seen Him again and again.
"You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Lord blessed be Your Name."