Episode I: December 31, 2015
After 7 days, I finally got transferred to St. Thomas Midtown from St. Thomas Rutherford about 10pm. They’re still guessing. The GI (gastrointestinal) docs seemed to be ignoring the OB/Gyn side of this (the rising HCG with a “pregnancy of unknown location”). OB/Gyn suggested the chance of Chorio but aren’t convinced and want proof. We were hoping GI could find the proof – some actual cancer cells, perhaps a tumor causing the GI bleed. Robby was already grieving the likelihood of a miscarriage. An ultrasound every day and still can’t find the fetus. Endoscopy and colonoscopy and still can’t find the GI bleed.
They had done every test available to them, to determine the source of my gastrointestinal (GI) bleed and yet had been unsuccessful. At this point, they just knew it was coming from somewhere in the middle of my intestinal tract, but not what was causing it.
The ambulance had brought me to St. Thomas Midtown, and I was taken to my new room. Robby joined me in my room about an hour later as he had made a quick stop at home to check on the kids, the house, repack, and get a rare shower. At 11:45pm, we had the TV on, about to watch the ball drop…
AT THAT MOMENT… in walks some doctor in street clothes. He introduces himself and then says “so her symptoms are consistent with choriocarcinoma…it’s a clinical diagnosis and we need to start chemotherapy tomorrow.” Umm…excuse me? I turn to Robby…tears in my eyes…question all over my face. Robby may have asked the Dr. some questions, but my ears heard nothing else. The Dr. left. I turned to Robby…”seriously?!? Is this for real?” And then the clock struck midnight. 2016 had begun.
Episode II: December 31, 2016
Vanderbilt Hospital…11 North…Room 29
From my journal: “These are the strangest days of my life. I wake up in a small, quiet room, all by myself. I’m stuck here. I can’t leave. In so many ways it does feel like a prison. Thankfully though it’s a more joyful prison. It allows me so much time to think, to ponder. My life becomes so clear when all the day to day is stripped away.”
Ellie and Clara came to spend the night with me as we were to welcome in 2017. They were excited to watch movies, stay up until midnight, and try to see the fireworks from the Vanderbilt windows. I, however, still struggled to believe I was still there. In the hospital, as another year turned.
Not knowing what was yet to come in 2017 I wrote “The last verse in Psalms is how I want to live out every day of 2017: Let everything that has breath praise the Lord. Praise the Lord!” (Psalm 150:6)
Episode III: December 31, 2017
Robby left early that morning for a study abroad trip in Thailand. There I sat in our living room. 9:20pm. All the lights out save for the Christmas tree. Kids fast asleep. 3rd New Years in a row not celebrated together. (We had been together New Years Eve 2015, but there was no celebration. 2016 Robby was home watching John Mark.) Thankful, regardless, to be at home and not in a hospital. Nor, hooked up to a line, or staring out a window, wondering or fearing or hoping for what might come in the dawning year. Every new year is a year of unknowns. As stable as life may seem at any given moment; with each setting of the sun arises a panacea of possibility. Tomorrow is yet unknown, and a few days from my typing will hopefully reveal another victory of healing in my body. My response must remain as it was a year back. “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” 2017 was a year of endings on various fronts, some deeply saddening, some expected, and some revealing hopeful possibilities. The ending of siblings living nearby (at least for now), the ending of marriages, and prayerfully, the ending of this cancer. Regardless of the endings being those we hoped for, prayed for, never expected or didn’t desire…an end is necessary for there to be a beginning. And a beginning of something new means that you can’t go back to what was before. We can’t go back in the natural realm nor in the spiritual. What’s done is done. Gratefully, grace abounds. But when we move forward, what has been gained can not be lost unless is it thrown away. It can not be stolen. The end….the dying…the breaking…has brought forth the seed that is growing.
Those endings have flung forth many seeds. Some of the growth may be forthcoming….some fruit may be witnessed as we move forward into 2018….and some we will not enjoy until eternity. But all seeds grow something.
Therefore I look back. On my past 3 New Year’s Eves. Thankful. For the ups, the downs. The tears, the laughter. The joy, the sadness. The hope and the disappointment. Because without all of that, the glory that is yet to come…would have never been possible.
Robby got me the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings book set for Christmas (forgive this blog post’s title!). I think I’ll set up camp in those books and enjoy a little reading. Like Bilbo said: “I feel I need a holiday, a very long holiday, as I have told you before…Why, I feel all thin, sort of stretched, if you know what I mean: like butter that has been scraped over too much bread.” Think I might take a short trip. Maybe go visit my brother in NYC.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. Romans 8:18