Thursday, February 23, 2023

The Waiting Game

 Nobody likes playing the waiting game, especially not me! I'm a very impatient person and don't have time to waste on waiting, but sometimes, we don't have a choice. Wait we must. Especially when it comes to lab results and other medical tests. Then, we're at the mercy of a phone call or a piece of paper that comes in the mail. 

7-10 days. That's what the doctor said right after he'd completed my stomach biopsies. It's a disconcerting thing to say to someone who's already been through cancer. Naturally, one thinks the worst. Though I try not to, my mind instantly goes to the "what if" zone. What if I get the news that I've got cancer again? What would I do? How would I react? Would I do things differently this time around? Would I opt for chemotherapy instead of foregoing it? And the answer is a big, fat I DON'T KNOW! 

Not knowing how I'd react bothers me. Of course, I'd want to be aggressive. I'd want to do whatever necessary to live as long as possible, but how would I know if I was making the right decision? How does anyone for that matter? All we have to go on is whatever our doctors tell us. And we trust them. We trust them because they have more medical expertise than we could ever dream of but then, some of us, ones like me, start digging. We do our homework. We look at unconventional methods of treatment, grasping at straws, hoping upon hope for something that won't be as damaging to our bodies while still letting us live. 

I don't want to go there. I don't want to think about the possibility of cancer again. I've already been there. I've done my time. But I'm no dummy. I know there are no guarantees it won't come back again some day. 

Why does it have to be that way? Why can't cancer be a once and done kind of thing? Why can't we have a zap it, kill it, and be done with it mentality? Maybe because there's too much money to be made in dragging out the treatment...hmmmmm... What do you think? 

Of course it's a racket! There are big bucks to be made in cancer care. And since we don't have a cure or even know exactly what causes most cancers, we wing it. 

Today is the 10th day since the biopsies were performed. I am holding the doctor to his word. I'll be watching the mail like a hawk today and hopefully, I'll get good news. My husband says if there was bad news, the doctor would have already called and he's probably right. That old addage, "no news is good news," has been true in the past for so many things. 

My gut instinct says it's probably nothing serious but my mind says, "You can't be sure." 

So I wait. 

Please keep me in your prayers. But don't pray for patience! They say when you pray for patience you get tribulations to teach you patience. I don't want or need any more trials, thank you very much! 

I'll keep you posted and thanks in advance for your prayers. Have a blessed day!

Monday, February 13, 2023

Contemplation

 Sitting outside as the sun began to dip below the horizon, thoughts were swirling around in my head. It had been a challenging day. 

I woke up at 1:00 a.m. as the cpap machine blasted cool air in my face. Quickly pulling off the mask, I got up to check the machine. It still had plenty of water in the reservoir. I wondered why the sudden blast of air. Had I quit breathing? I made a mental note to check later in the day. 

After taking a restroom break, I crawled back into bed, reaffixed the cpap mask and drifted back to sleep. I slept until a little after 4:00 a.m. and was jolted awake from an odd dream. I lay back down and tried to get back to sleep. Finally, after about half an hour of restlessness, I got up and grabbed my headphones. I pulled up a YouTube video by one of my favorite ministries and listened until I dozed off. I slept until just before 7:00 a.m. and was able to silence my alarm before it went off. 

I was having an upper endoscopy at 9:30 a.m. This would be the third one I'd had done in the past year and a half. I wasn't looking forward to it. 

My husband had taken the day off. Since I'd be under anesthesia for a little while, they didn't want me to drive. I was glad he was with me. He's such a calming presence. 

When we reached the hospital, the parking lot was full. I was surprised to see that so many people were already there and wondered if they were visiting patients or if they were patients themselves. 

The nurses on the gastroenterology floor were extremely nice. I was thankful they were attentive and kind. 

Soon it was time for the needle stick, the part I always dread. It's so hard for nurses to find a vein in the back of my hand. Those veins are very tiny. Although she tried twice, she finally had to move a little higher up on my arm using a vein scanner to find one big enough for the I.V. 

I was wheeled down the hall into the procedure room and met another nurse, the anesthesiologist and the doctor. I was unusually calm and knew it must be from all the friends that were praying for me. 

The nurse helped me get turned over onto my left side and placed a device in my mouth that would keep it open for the procedure. Then the anesthesiologist placed oxygen over my nose and mouth as she injected a white liquid into the I.V. She told me to take a couple of deep breaths and I don't even know if I made it to the second one before I was out. The next thing I knew, I was waking up in the recovery room. 

A nurse sat at the foot of the bed monitoring my vital signs. She saw I was waking and asked how I was feeling. When I tried to speak, my throat was so sore I could barely croak out any words. 

I don't know how long I lay there before the doctor came in but when he did, I made a point of listening hard so I could remember what he was about to say. I was still feeling groggy and didn't want to miss anything. 

He told me he'd done several biopsies and he should have the results back in a week or so. He told me not to worry and to call his office with any questions. Then he left and the nurse began to remove the I.V. and told me I could get ready to go home. 

An orderly came to wheel me downstairs to the car. On the way down, I asked her how many patients they would see that day. She said the average was seventy. I was surprised.seventy endoscopies or colonoscopies a day seemed like a lot for an 8 hour period. 

I hadn't had anything solid to eat for almost 3 days and I was famished. My sweet hubby had promised to get my favorite, Chinese food, on the way home. 

We got home and I ate a little. I didn't want to overload my stomach, especially since I'd just had that procedure done and my throat felt like someone had taken sandpaper to it. 

In the back of my mind, I keep wondering how I'll react if the doctor tells me they found cancer. I don't know if I can go through that again. 

Since being diagnosed in 2014, it seems that thought has haunted me continually and I don't know how to get rid of it. 

I tell myself all the time that I'm not supposed to worry about anything - God tells me that in His Word, but sometimes, my flesh is weak and I can't help it. 

I don't think I'll be able to fully relax until I get the all clear from the doctor. 

My inbox holds an unread email regarding the upcoming annual National Cancer Survivor's Day. I've celebrated it every year since 2015, the year after I was diagnosed. This year, I'm not too keen on participating. I don't know why. I'm just kind of tired of cancer and everything to do with it.

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

We take so much for granted

Breakfast. Some eat it and some don't. I fall into the first category, believing that the day’s first meal is important. My husband, on the other hand, falls into the second. He doesn't like to eat first thing in the morning but would rather wait until lunchtime for his first meal. It's a personal preference and I don't fault him for wanting to wait while I prefer to eat something within the first hour of waking. We have our routines. But when my routine gets disrupted, I'm not a happy camper. 

I was slated for medical testing this morning. The doctor's office said I couldn't have anything to eat or drink after midnight. Since I don't stay up that late, my last sip of water was when I brushed my teeth, right before bed. I figured I could go without food for a while. I've fasted many times before but knew the water was going to be hard to do without. I've been dealing with a dry mouth and blocked salivary glands for months now and it's been a real challenge. 

So, I got up this morning and instantly realized I couldn't drink a cool glass of water like I wanted to because it would interfere with the test and I wasn't going to be able to have breakfast either. Rats! My mouth was so dry. I not only wanted a drink, but I also needed one! But since I couldn't afford to screw up the test by breaking the rules, I did everything I could think of to distract myself until time to go. I read my Bible and prayed. I checked my emails. I perused Facebook. I looked at the clock and waited. 

Finally, when the time to go came, my husband drove me to the hospital. We got checked in and sat in the waiting room. I watched the people that came and went while we waited. All were masked, a hospital requirement, but I could see their eyes and most of them looked concerned. None of us wanted to be there. 

Shortly after 9:00 AM, I was called back. The radiologist had asked if I liked applesauce and I said yes. He took a tube of radioactive liquid and injected it into the applesauce then told me to eat it. He said I wouldn't taste it so not to worry. 

The first bite I took was amazing. The cool, wetness of the applesauce tantalized my tongue. I wanted to eat a gallon of it! I was so hungry and so thirsty, mostly thirsty. After a couple of spoonfuls, he stopped me and asked me to lie on the table beneath the scanning machine. I won't lie. I was miffed. I wanted to finish my little lunch-sized container of applesauce. Poo! Instead, I did as I was told and climbed up onto the bed/table beneath the scanner and waited to be slowly inserted into the machine. 

There was a video screen just above and to the right of my head. I could see the image as the scanner moved over my stomach. There, in my esophagus, was a brightly illuminated area - the radioactive applesauce. After the image was captured, I was slipped out from under the scanner and told to wait in the waiting room for 90 minutes. At precisely 10:30, the radiologist said he'd come back and get me for another scan. 

Sitting in the waiting room, my mouth felt so dry. Those 2 bites of applesauce haven’t helped quench my thirst. Across the room was a water fountain. Oh, how I wanted to go take a long, luxurious gulp but I knew I couldn't. I'd asked the radiologist, after the scan, if I could have a drink of water. He'd said, "No, will alter the test results, and we don't want that." No, we didn't want that. 

As time ticked on, I became more and more aware of my thirst. My mouth felt like the Sahara Desert. My salivary gland on the left side wasn't working and hadn't been for months. Normally, I'd have been able to use the Biotene moisturizing mouthwash and lozenges the ENT had prescribed to help with the situation, but not so today. It was a wretched feeling to be thirsty and not be able to drink. That's when I thought of the thousands of people in Turkey and Syria. As I was feeling sorry for myself, I thought, "My situation is temporary. I'll be able to get a big glass of water right after this stuff is over, but they won't."

We got home and I had the biggest, longest drink of water I think I've ever had in my life. As I was enjoying it, Phil flipped on the TV. A news report said Turkey’s and Syria’s death toll has risen to 11,000. My heart dropped. I watched as images of rubble and devastation were displayed. The camera scanned the area revealing hundreds of homeless people lifting debris in hopes of finding survivors. All I could think was how cold and tired and hungry they must be, but more than that, how very thirsty they must be. 

Where would they get water? And how many days would they go without it? Would they resort to drinking from puddles or creeks if they could find one? Would aid workers to come with trucks full of bottled water? 

We need water to survive. Every single day we need water. Water is life. Without it, one can only survive about 3 days although there have been instances where people have survived longer periods. Our bodies crave water to regulate our temperature and feed our cells. 

We take access to clean water for granted. So many don't have that right. I pray, the next time you bring a cup to your lips before you even take one sip, you'll thank God for the gift of clean water and think about all those who are longing for refreshment. 

Can you imagine going for days and days without water? I can't. Fourteen hours without water just about did me in. Worse than going without physical water for me would be going without living water. Though my physical body will thirst again and again, my spirit is always quenched with the living water Christ provides. 

John 7: 37-39 says, "Let anyone who is thirsty come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them." Living water? In this passage, Jesus was referring to the Holy Spirit whom His followers had yet to receive but would shortly after He had been glorified.

The well of Living Water never runs dry because it's fed by God. Our wells, rivers, lakes, and streams can dry up if conditions aren't right. One gives temporary refreshment while the other gives eternal refreshment. Which would you rather have? I'd rather have the one I know will never run out! What about you?

If it ain't one thing, it's another!

  Trying to smile through the pain I've been AWOL for a while now, so this post will more than likely be longer than most. I don't e...