Wednesday, June 1, 2022

The wait is the worst part


The day started early. I woke at 6 a.m. and tiptoed into the kitchen to have my devotional. My sweet husband had taken the day off work so he could accompany me to the hospital for the test. I didn't want to disturb him. He'd set his alarm for 7 a.m. and that extra hour of sleep would be good for him. 

The kitchen was dark when I entered. The red light from my head lamp made things take on an eery glow. Pulling out my devotional book and my Bible, I sat down at the table and began to read. 

The time went by quickly and before I knew it, I heard hubby's alarm going off and a few minutes later, the shower running. While he got ready, I went back in the room to make the bed and get dressed myself. We needed to leave the house as close to 8 a.m. as possible so we could arrive at the hospital in time to find a parking space, get registered, and pay our co-pay. 

As I busied myself with small details, I tried to keep my thoughts in check. Of course, I was worried, but I did my best not to show it. 

When we arrived at the hospital, the parking lot was already pretty full. We couldn't find a space up close, so we parked a good distance away. Thankfully, as soon as we cut off the car engine, a hospital volunteer, an elderly man, pulled up in a golf cart. He asked if we wanted a ride to the front door. We took him up on it and were amazed at how quickly he drove. 

At the registration desk, I gave my name and other information. The receptionist printed a hospital bracelet and attached it to my arm. Another volunteer, a very white-haired gentleman, escorted us to the radiology department. I wanted to tell him I knew the way already, but I didn't. 

We checked in at the radiology desk and about 2 minutes after I'd sat down, a technician called my name. Rising, I turned to Phil and said, "I love you," as I followed the young man through double doors. 

I was asked to take a seat in the blood draw chair, a large, vinyl chair with a pull-down arm. I sat down and proceeded to tell the tech about my lymphedema and my arm restrictions. He didn't balk when I said my only option was the left hand. Taking my hand in his, he began to slap the top of my wrist and hand. I knew he was trying to coax veins to stand up so he could find them better, but he explained to me anyway. After finding what he thought would be a good vein, He pulled out a syringe and proceeded to jab me working the needle side to side hoping for flash - blood flow back into the needle indicating a vein had been hit. There was none. He apologized and moved the needle to another site. I watched as the sight of the first prick swelled and turned blue. Once again, he couldn't find a vein. I laughed and told him 5 tries was his limit. He said, "No. I won't try again, but I'll call a nurse in." The nurse came and hit the vein on the first try. I was glad. I hate getting stuck over and over again. 

When the needle was in, she threaded an IV and the tech injected the radioactive tracer. It only took a few minutes. I was told we could go home but would need to return around 11:30 a.m.

Phil and I left the hospital and went home. I did a couple of loads of laundry and tried to guzzle water as I'd been instructed by the tech. 

When it came time to head back to the hospital, I began to feel anxious. I knew this was going to determine my future. 

We checked back in and my tech, Doyle, met me at the double doors. As we walked down the cold corridor, he said the test would be about an hour. 

Doyle helped me climb onto the scanner table and covered me with a warm blanket. I'd had this type of test several times before, so I was familiar with what was going to happen. The table underneath me began to vibrate slowly as the machine came to life. Doyle's cell phone went off and he left to answer it. He came right back and we got started. 

The machine moved very slowly over my face, down my sides, over my chest and trunk, then down my legs. After the first set of scans was complete, Doyle ran extra scans of my hips, spine, knees, and ankles. He said he could see degenerative changes in those areas, which my last scan had revealed. 

Finally, it was over. Doyle reminded me to drink a lot of water to flush out the radioactive tracer and we left. 

We ran by a local restaurant to pick up lunch, then headed the Cancer Treatment Center. There was a nice covered pavilion there and we planned to use it. 

It was so quiet and breezy beneath the pavilion. I talked with Phil about our future asking him if he thought I should do chemo this time if the cancer was back. He told me he didn't think I was going to need it. Secretly, I hoped he was right. 

We sat and talked for about an hour, then went home. The doctor's office told us we wouldn't get a call until later that day or perhaps the following day. 

At exactly 4:30 p.m., I got the phone call from the oncologist's office. When the phone ran, my caller I.D. did not indicate who was calling, but I answered it anyway. The nurse said, "Hi, this is Kelly, Dr. P's nurse. He asked me to tell you what your scan showed." At that very moment, I felt my heart begin to race and I held my breath. I was so scared! She said, "The news is good, there's no evidence of cancer!" It was all I could do not to drop the phone. Tears welled up in my eyes. Phil came running over and I had to motion to him that everything was okay. 

I don't remember how the conversation with the nurse ended, but I do remember, as I hung up the phone, I gasped for air. I'd been holding my breath the entire time. 

Phil and I both began to cry and hug each other. We were so very grateful for the good news and immediately began to praise and thank God. 

Waiting on test results is such a hard thing to do, especially when those results could change your life forever, in a split second. 

I have no idea why God, in His mercy, has given me another chance at living life cancer free, but I am so very grateful. I haven't taken a second of life for granted since my initial diagnosis and I'm not about to start now. 

I group messaged all of the kids with the good news. Their texts of gratitude started to pour in. 

It was such an emotionally stressful day and I was so glad it was over, but even more glad that it ended on a good note. 

The fear of recurrence is a horrible thing. None of us like to live in wonder. 

I really want to learn to thrive this year instead of merely surviving. Hopefully,  this will be the year I do that. 

God is teaching me to number my days. I don't want to waste one of them. I hope you don't either. 

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