Saturday, October 15, 2011

Starting Again

"Picking up the pieces, now where to begin? The hardest part of ending is starting again." Linkin Park Waiting for the End

It's been a year and a half of one medical crisis after another, with my daughter's wedding as the bright spot tucked into the middle of it all. I have been going from one appointment, procedure, event, celebration, emergency etc. to another for what seems like forever, but I seem to be at the end of the parade. What happens now? It's all over so I can put it behind me and start to get back to normal, right? Well, not exactly. I'm left with the residue of my many health issues and, not to be depressing, but they will be with me for the rest of my life.

After my breast biopsy last July we were thrilled and relieved that no cancer was found BUT... atypical cells were found and I need to be checked at the cancer center once a year, along with my routine mammogram, indefinitely.

After my brain surgery to remove a pituitary adenoma (a mass in my sinus cavity) last September we were happy that it was benign BUT... the doctors had to leave five percent in because it was too close to the arteries and optic nerve and I will need regular MRIs indefinitely to ensure that it doesn't grow back.

The cyberknife radiation treatments I had in January, though terrifying because of my claustrophobic tendencies, were not invasive and had few side effects BUT... there is no guarantee that the radiation will stop further growth of the tumor, and there may have been damage to healthy tissue - time will tell.

My endocrinologist has found little evidence of damage to my pituitary gland (yay!) and my hormone levels are normal so far BUT... radiation treatments cause progressive deterioration of the pituitary gland over time which may result in the need for hormonal replacement supplements - so I'll be making a visit to my endocrinologist twice a year for the foreseeable future.

The aneurysm behind my left eye has been successfully closed off from any new blood flow, thus protecting it from bursting, and I came through a dangerous surgery with nothing but a slight visual disturbance BUT... I will need follow-up angiograms (not fun) to monitor how the device is working and to check for more aneurisms.

That's a lot of follow-up appointments, tests, and procedures, and when you look at the big picture, that's a lot of stuff that could go wrong. I have to admit, it weighs on me. How does one move forward into a productive, satisfying life with this kind of baggage to drag around? I know I'm not the only one with health problems, and many people have much bigger challenges to face, but that doesn't help me figure out how to get out from under the burden of worry and dread with each new follow-up event. Am I a time-bomb or a miracle? All I know is that I am tired, apathetic, and it should be no surprise that I have daily headaches.

I know the answer. It's complete trust in God and His plan, His care, His love, His power, and His control. Somehow, with the help of God and "the great cloud of witnesses," I have to internalize this and live it.

"Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us" Hebrews 12:1