For better or for worse

For better or for worse…

It’s been five days since my post on Entrepreneur’s unexpected brain surgery. Definitely a low point in our 36 years of marriage.

For richer, for poorer…

Emergency Room visit, five-hour surgery, recovery, and in-house rehabilitation; not to mention more CT scans, MRIs and other tests too numerous to count; and we’re not even to the part that involves treatment for any remaining cancer cells…let’s just say I’m feeling the “poorer” part of the vow. We met our deductible in…oh, about the first minute.

In sickness and in health…

In less than a week’s time, my over-achieving, fiercely independent, take-no-prisoners husband…the man who has come back from countless athletic injuries, a hematoma under a shoulder blade, rotator cuff surgery, knee surgery and, most recently, a kidney removal from cancer…has been humbled beyond belief by the need for a walker and help with the most mundane daily living tasks.

Because the cancer mass in his right temple measured 4.7cm and went deep into the brain, this necessitated the neurosurgeon cut around inside his head. And when people cut around inside your head, there’s trauma, swelling, bleeding and other damage that results in diminished physical abilities, capabilities and strength, And that’s in addition to the psychological, emotional and spiritual trauma that occurs when your body and thought processes don’t want to play well with what your brain want them to do.

But I signed on for the long haul. And a long haul is exactly what we’re facing now. Unless someone has faced this type of humbling disability, I’m not sure it’s possible to convey the feeling of sheer terror and helplessness that accompanies stepping into these unchartered waters.

It’s hard to remember that today’s “reality” will not be the reality of a month from now…or two months from now….or six months from now…or a year from now. Success will not be measured by the calendar days but rather, by accomplishments…however long they take.

Our lives are forever changed by this event. I’m not sure I can even comprehend what our family will go through over the coming weeks, months and years. All I know is I will be beside him every step of the way. I will celebrate the small victories as well as the major milestones. I will cry. I will curse the fates. I will pray.

“I will hold you by your right hand—
I, the LORD your God.
And I say to you,
‘Don’t be afraid. I am here to help you.”
~Isaiah 41:13

But I know we are not facing this challenge unarmed. We are not climbing this mountain alone. The outpouring of prayers and support is literally spanning coast to coast…as well as a few across the pond (a shout-out to my international Facebook/Bloggy friends). We are connected to an amazing support system and unbelievable prayer warriors. Earthly angels sent to minister to our family. No, we are far from facing this alone.

Strengthen the feeble hands,
    steady the knees that give way;
say to those with fearful hearts,
    “Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
    he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
    he will come to save you.”
~Isaiah 35:3-4

And I need to remember this when the days seem overwhelming, when the nights are filled with fear, when the odds look like they are not in our favor.

entrepreneur-surgery

The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.
~CS Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (1942)

But, I’m sure it’s going to feel more like this…

We’re not doubting that God will do the best for us; we’re wondering how painful the best will turn out to be. 
~Letters of C. S. Lewis (1966)

Thirty-six hours

Thirty-six hours.

That’s all that stood between us and our family vacation to Mexico. Luggage is packed. House sitter scheduled. Last minute cleaning in progress. We were leaving for the airport about 2am Saturday for a 6am flight….on the beach in a short 48 hours.

And then this happens.

Entrepreneur decides he needs to go to the ER. A nagging headache that had been previously dismissed as due to stress, sinus or seasonal changes took a massive turn for the worse. Coupled with nausea and the belief his head would explode, we head to the ER. Oh, and he’s got the flu.

And then this happens.

With a four hour wait ahead of us in the ER, docs send him for a CT scan to try and narrow down the cause of his headache pain. I head to teach my class at the university, thinking I’ll come back to take him home with some meds for his headache. We’ll resume the Tamiflu regimen and be good to go later on Friday.

And then this happens.

He texts me and says it’s not good and is being admitted to the hospital. “We see what looks like blood and a mass in the right temple area of the brain.” I hear phrases like aneurism and brain tumor. I hear the words I never wanted to hear again…..renal cell cancer met. I hear these words, yet they don’t really fully register.

I’m numb and my brain is in a fog. Somewhere in the cloud the word surgery is spoken.

Surgery. Brain surgery. This coming Tuesday. Valentine’s Day.

So not how I’d planned to spend that day. In four hours, we’ve gone from eagerly anticipating a relaxing tropical family vacay….to surgery for a hematoma or possible brain cancer.

All foreseeable plans cancelled. He’s admitted and taken to his room. MRIs and more scans are scheduled for the morning. But those are only to help determine how to proceed with the surgery. He’s in severe pain as we settle him in for the night. The next day will be filled with neurologists, neurosurgeons, oncologists and other medical personnel. He settles into the bed, a nurse finds him some food. Pain meds follow.

I retreat home and begin sending updates to family and friends. No sleep ensues.

So, now, it appears we’re going down this path again. A path I knew might be a possibility but never thought it would ever be this soon,,,,or in this form. Odd how two words can shake me to my core….brain surgery.

Thirty-six hours.

quotography-thankful 72

Feeding faith and starving fears

spider mum center72

I don’t know whether to be thrilled or terrified.

Inconclusive.

Entrepreneur’s biopsies of his lungs and thyroid are inconclusive for cancer cells. A biopsy confirmed the cells in the removed kidney were, indeed, renal cell cancer. But the spots on his lungs and thyroid….which the physicians were 99.9% certain were metastasized renal cell cancer….cannot now be definitively identified as such.

And without a definitive diagnosis on those areas, the future is unclear. Do we go ahead with the IL-2 treatments and put him through the hellish side effects and risks? Do we wait and biopsy again in a few months and hope they don’t spread further?

More questions. Less answers.

Inconclusive.

How does that happen? What determines inconclusive? What does it mean when cells are in limbo?

To be sure, there are many prayers being offered up for him and our family. Prayers of comfort, healing and guidance. Deep down I’m hoping and praying that inconclusive is another word for transforming….cells being healed and cancer being removed.

And life goes on as usual. Work is super busy and it’s looking like March is going to be relentless, so I’m secretly hoping he’s not out of commission for most of the month in treatment. My class will be approaching high gear on their projects in March, which will require hours of grading and availability for student questions. The Investigator’s schedule shows no signs of letting up either…which translates to the same for the home schedule. The amount of attention each of these areas will need from me is daunting.

So, for now, I’m remembering my word for 2015 going to stick with feeling thrilled at inconclusive….and keep the mindset that there just might be something going on behind the scenes we can’t see. This year, we’ll celebrate a quiet Valentine’s Day together and be thankful for the memories that are being made in this house.

Some see a hopeless end, while others see an endless hope. ~Author Unknown

Linking up with LTTL and Friday Finds
Life thru the lens fridayfindsbutton2

Putting everything in perspective

Christmas 2014
Texture by Kim Klassen; wonderful magic scripted
100% screen, 100% soft light, selective masking

Be thankful for what you have; you’ll end up having more.
If you concentrate on what you don’t have,
you will never, ever have enough.
~Oprah Winfrey

It’s been a helluva month.

1. The university, in its infinite wisdom, decided if an instructor hasn’t taught in 26 weeks, they need to go through the entire hiring process again. Since my adjunct gig is only from January until May, all my access was suspended until I could be re-hired. Criminal background check…check; application complete…check; present identification in person at the HR office….

2.  ….present identification in person. Who puts an HR department office in a parking garage? Almost impossible to find. Then, I can’t get out of the garage in any efficient manner. And it is past nap time for Twix.

3. The top strand of Christmas lights on my tree is out. Not the entire strand…just the last half of the last stringer. The top of the tree is dark. Not cool.

4. Entrepreneur is diagnosed with kidney cancer…metastasized to other organs.

Number four…making the first three null and void on any scale of importance.

Oh my. Cancer. I can barely say the word. We received the diagnosis shortly after Thanksgiving. Surgery needed to remove the kidney. We’re talking about aggressive treatment options for the other areas.

I’m numb. I’m terrified. And in complete shock. My emotions are reeling. My head is swimming in what ifs. This isn’t happening.

But it is.

My faith will now be tested beyond anything I’ve experienced so far in life.

I look at him….my husband of 34 years….the epitome of good health…on the outside. And I realize that, while there are volumes of things he does that irritate and infuriate me, there is absolutely nothing he has done or will do that I cannot forgive. The thought of living without him isn’t even on my radar. I realize how unappreciative I’ve been in the past. Woulda, coulda, shoulda. Memories fly past my eyes and the preciousness of time weighs heavily on my heart.

For better or for worse…in sickness and in health……My priorities have been shifted into perfect vision. And as my head swims, photos are taken, and unmentionable details are finalized…just in case.

As I sat in the surgical waiting room last Friday waiting for news, I’m surrounded by Entrepreneur’s parents, my mom and her husband, JW. And I find it amazing what gifts presents themselves in a crisis. Meals are provided. Dear friends of great faith surround me…physically and in spirit; he’s on prayer chains from coast to coast. The outpouring of care and concern has moved my heart.

Stories of hope are shared.

One diagnosed with cancer that invaded lymph glands. Multiple physicians concur twelve to eighteen months to live. That was 12 years ago.

Another of an unexplained regression of Parkinson’s symptoms.

Two of many stories of hope that have been shared.

Stories of miracles.

I hope and pray we are the recipient of one.

He sends forth His word and heals them
and rescues them from the pit and destruction. ~Psalm 107:20

Linking up with Texture Tuesday and Texture Twist
Texture Tuesday texture-twist