Friday, August 24, 2012

Surgery is Not for Sissies

I've never had surgery before so I was taken aback at how really terribly bad you feel when you start to come to. During my very fleeting moments of consciousness afterwards, I thought I must be having complications, possibly dying. Apparently, I can be very dramatic even when I'm on a pain pump. I couldn't tell anyone or ask questions because I couldn't speak.  Nobody warned me-probably because they knew I would flee for the hills if I knew how bad it was going to be.

Then, I was amazed at how much better I felt the next day. For about a week I felt appreciably better every day; it is remarkable how quickly the body bounces back.I still found it hard to swallow, I was hoarse and I tired easily. There was tweaking of the thyroid replacement to be done over the next few months. Pretty acceptable results-considering loss of body parts was involved. I hyperbolize; they were very tiny body parts! Prognosis is as good as it can be.

Bruce and I were so moved at the love and concern showered on us. My friends from Bible study brought meals. My lovely friend and prayer partner who lives next door brought me two scarves to cover my scar-one silk and one cashmere. Such luxury and such incredible empathy. I received cards and calls and each one carried a boost of energy and well being! One of my favorite cards had a photo on the front of a large group of people. Inside, my friend had written, "We all think you look better without your thyroid!"  I laughed out loud for the first time in a while.

I am very grateful to have bounced back so quickly. The surgeon opined that my throat was so sore because the tube they use for this particular surgery has transponders or some such thing on it. They use the extra equipment to test the larynx while they are in there to confirm they have not injured the nerve so that you can continue to speak afterwards. Apparently, when they tweak the nerve, the larynx spasms against these boxes on the tube. OR some such excuse.

At the post-op appointment, the surgeon gave us the pathology report. The larger cancerous node in the right lobe was completely removed; they strive to cut around it and not through it and they were successful. 

Collateral to that excision, he removed 6 lymph nodes in close proximity (on purpose) and also part of a parathyroid lobe (by accident) According to Dr. Daughter, they are about the size of a pea and impossible to see. She said that the chagrin of the surgeon over this is evidence that he is extremely conscientious.  The parathyroid excision caused a calcium deficiency, which responded well to treatment-although I may never again be able to look at TUMS without gagging.

The small node in the left lobe tested benign; however, he thought the safe route was to remove it since thyroid cancer could return if any thyroid tissue remains. I’m SO GLAD he did, I would not want to have to do this again! The surgeon also took the bandage off; sadly, he put another one on. This one was less visually noticeable but just as restrictive. After another week to 10 days I was down to just a bandage at night. 

Scripture referencePsalm 138:2-3

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Just Passing Through

Prayer is an interesting word because it describes both the act and the person doing it. I have had great opportunity to practice this devotion since receiving my diagnosis of Waldenstroms. For a few months, I was pretty depressed and I spent a lot of time talking to God about the situation. I’m a timid person and I don’t like change. Well, dying is the biggest change of all and the unknown is frightening, no matter how much you trust the One you go to see. In my own strength, I am completely incapable of facing these challenges.

Over the weeks, God began to change my prayers. I asked God to give me a vision of heaven. Not a visual experience, but an understanding deep within me that would give me comfort-and courage. Gradually, I began to see things differently. It is easy to become fooled into thinking that this world is the “real” one. Even as a believer, knowing there is a heaven, trusting in God (mostly) this is the world that we can see, that we can touch. Now I began to have a new understanding about which life is the “real” one. This present life is our preparation, our boot camp, if you will, for the life for which we were really created. God has put eternity in our hearts-it is what He designed us for, what He intends for us. He made us “eternity aware” because He wants us to seek Him and find Him.

Even though the wrong I've done separated me from God, He loved me enough to make it possible for me to be reconciled to Him. By God’s design, Jesus lived a perfect life and willingly sacrificed Himself to pay the penalty for my offenses. Because I believe this and accept Him as both Savior and Lord, I have relationship with God and eternal life. I have joy because I know that I will spend eternity in the presence of my Savior.  The Bible talks about the heroes of the faith who admitted they were foreigners on earth, longing for their heavenly country. And then it says “Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them.” 

God prepared me to understand this when we moved our family from TX to WA and back. During our nomad period (we moved 5 times) I made friends and had loved ones all over the place. We passed through beautiful places and made wonderful memories everywhere. But the places I was passing through were not my home-no matter how delightful or comfortable or pleasant they were. I’m still pondering on this, but God is faithful to continue to educate me.
I went from “Why is this happening to me?” to “How can You use me in this?” God’s ways are mysterious.  After my diagnosis, several friends have had someone close to them-mostly spouses-receive a sobering diagnosis. I’ve been able to share what I am learning with them. Before my own experiences, I would have had nothing to give. 

The events Bruce and I have experienced the past two years have given us opportunities to share Jesus with people we never expected. God has been at work in our lives in amazing ways. I can’t say I’m never fearful, never sad, or discouraged but I can say that no matter what I feel, I know that God is present in my life and that He can be trusted. He’s used the tough times to teach me what His presence feels like and to prove that His faithfulness and His love really do endure forever.

Scripture references: Ecclesiastes 3:11Hebrews 11:13-16; Philippians 2:13