Chapter Twenty-Four

Never in my wildest dreams had I ever considered that our retirement years would consist of so many medical appointments and surgeries! I was hoping for travel, more involvement in our church’s activities, and grandkids to visit and stay the night.

This past July I awakened to find my husband taking his blood pressure. This is not unusual as he often takes his BP. This time, however, he would take it, wait a few minutes, then take it again. Being naturally curious, I asked him what he was doing. He responded by saying, “taking my blood pressure, but I think the machine is broken. My BP is way high.” “How high?” I asked. “205/189, and now I’m having pressure here (pointing to his chest.” I smiled, went to the kitchen got him a glass of water and a whole aspirin and gave them to him with the instructions to take them while I got dressed.

I drove him to the Southern Arizona VA Health Care System’s Emergency Department (SAVAHCS), where he spent a number of hours being tested, scanned, blood work, etc. Eventually he was provided a room in the Clinical Diagnosis Unit (CDU). Yes, his BP had stayed like that so they were able to verify it. The next Tuesday, they did an angiogram on Dennis and found the areas where he had two stents had developed blockages as well as one new area. Thus, on July 27th, Dennis had a triple by-pass. This prevented him from having a massive heart attack. To which I add, “God is good, God is faithful!” He is still in the recovery stages, but can assist me in ways that do not hinder his progress.

The previous November, I had the second lung cancer surgery (robotic) on my right lung, with the first having been in April of 2015 resulting with the removal of the upper lobe of the right lung. I was recovered well enough to become Dennis’ caregiver – as he had done for me previously.

I remember having surgery at the tender age of nineteen. It was the first of four thyroid surgeries that would finally culminate in its entire removal some thirty plus years later. I thought it was a nightmare that would never end. Little did I know it was ‘boot camp’ for what is now going happening with this lung cancer diagnosis.

During my six month checkup last Thursday, I was told there are several nodules being watched that are showing signs of growth. W.O.N.D.E.R.F.U.L. Oncologist Linda Garland wanted to discuss this with the “Tumor Board” prior to discussing any treatment options. (Isn’t that a horrible name – “Tumor Board?” Couldn’t they find a more user friendly name? How about the “Cellular Review Team?” Doesn’t that sound more user friendly?)

There is one particular nodule (the largest) that the board is concerned with. I will be notified soon as to when I will be meeting with Dr. Samuel Kim, cardiothoracic surgeon. He performed both the first and second surgeries. The first surgery was VATS or video-assisted thoracoscopic surgery. The second was robotic surgery where they removed the nodules. Both were cancerous, yet providentially, there was no lymph node involvement.

It was due to my having kidney stones in late 2013 that led to a CT scan in the first place. The scan also showed the calcifications in my lung. My primary care physician repeated the scan in late 2014 and the growths were larger.

I now have five scars on my left side and four on my right side. Sure, it appears I lost a knife fight, but I have thus far lived to tell about it!

The hardest part of all this has been the depression. The hopelessness that comes from each diagnosis. Yet, I will continue to proclaim, “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him…” Job 13:15. No matter what, I want all of this, every single bit of this to point to Christ. I want it to make all of these inconveniences count for the cause of Christ!

I am also under the care of a psychiatrist and receiving medication for this as well as counselling. I was afraid to write this out, as it might be perceived as weakness, as indeed I certainly felt it did.

Sometimes… sometimes you must be a Peter and venture out upon the waters to follow Jesus. But when the storm overtakes you, and fear causes you to lose focus, just cry out to Jesus. That is when He will reach out his hand to you.

This past weekend we had our grandson with us. He must have sensed the angst I was feeling about this third occurrence of lung cancer. This ten-year-old began to recant to me certain aspects of his/our lives. “Grandma,” he said, “I eat vegetables because you taught me to and I love them.” “Grandma, I learned to use watercolors, because you taught me,” and he continued on with, “You and Grandpa have taught me to give food to the homeless and not money.” He finished with this, “You and Grandpa have taught me about God.”

He sat beside me prior to leaving for home and put his hand on mine and said, “Grandma, when you got sick the first time, God helped you get better. God did that the second time you got sick too.”

And gently I heard the voice of the Spirit saying, “And we have you covered this time too.”

Out of the mouths of babes… come utterances of profound wisdom. ~Amen.


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