Below is the letter I sent to a bunch of people this week. Because of a relapse today, and the effects of narcotics for the pain, I will write no more for now.
Dear Friends and Relations,
This update should’ve been set a couple days ago already, but my sitting-up-right moments have been scarce, so here goes.
Last Wed. I went to Dublin for an MRI. After doing that (which wasn’t scary or claustrophobic at all), there were 2 nurses waiting for me who said “We’re keeping you!” It was hard to be ok with being incarcerated in a hospital when I was feeling fine and wanted rather to go out shopping. Plus, I was miffed to be on the geriatric floor. BUT it was a bed that I needed, and these things are scarce at this hospital, so I was grateful to have one.
The next morn. they trundled me (in a wobbley, rickety hospital bed) to Interventional Radiology. I lay in the prep room and sniffed deep and long, grinning in the simple pleasure of clean air. It smelled like soap and coffee, and was absolutely wonderful. Having spent the night with old people made me grateful for simple pleasures.
The IR consultant, the senior dr who I’d met 6 wks ago and who was in charge of the procedure, came to say the MRI showed 7 or 8 tumors (I’d thought there were only 2), but that the job was straightforward and he expected no problems. He said that was his job, and all I needed to do was deal with the reprecussions: pain. I passed it off, because I thought I could handle pain.
The procedure is an amazing feat of science. They go into the right femoral artery at the top of the leg, go up to the aorta, down to the left femoral artery, and shoot in little pellets that stop the blood flow to the tumors. On the way back out, they inject more pellets on the right side, clamp the hole they made in the artery, and that’s it. No stiches even. There was only a local anesthetic, but they gave a sedative that made me drowsy, so I watched the action a little bit but slept for most of it. I saw stuff move on the computer screen they were working off of, but of course it didn’t make sense to me. At one point I said I feel something on my lower left side, and he said that’s about where they were working. It was surreal! The actual procedure took around an hour.
By the time they put me back on the rattley bed, I was whimpering. They whizzed me back up to the old ladies’ ward, and for the next 12 hrs I groaned and moaned and cried. I think the meds should’ve stayed on top of the pain more than they did. BUT it’s over, and I survived. The pain comes from the tumors dying (cell death) which tells us that the procedure was effective. The drs and nurses were all wonderful. I cannot fault them; they know what they’re doing, and their patient care is terrific but they’re locked into an inefficient, bumbling medical system.
I came home Fri. I’ve been holding the recliner down by day and sleeping long nights. Food is a drudgery. So is sitting in a chair. But I can stand up straight now! I’m so tired of feeling wretched and slow, but hope to be nearly normal in another week.
I wonder what I’m supposed to learn in all of this. In the past months, I asked God several times to take the tumors away, and He didn’t. There was a reason for that. Maybe He wanted me to know in a real way how real and close and sufficient He is, because that’s what I learned–that He doesn’t always give answers or solutions, but He gives His presence, and then everything’s ok.
In the hours when the pain was suffocating me, I felt an amazing sense of being surrounded and cared for–not alone, like I’d thought I might. And lines from Amy Carmichael’s poem on pain came to me–Thy servant, Lord, hath nothing in the house…I who know pain’s extremeties so well–have I not felt the sourge, the thorn, the nail?…Thy songbird shall have a braver song to sing.
If you’ve read this far, you’ve done well! Back in June, when I’d gone to the dr. and she said she found 2 palpable masses and was quite worried, she sent me to the hospital and the xrays were inconclusive and I had to wait a week for an ultrasound. I came home that 1st day and took a walk down our road to clear my head and it came to me that I can’t do this alone. So I decided to tell a few friends, and ask for an annointing. ‘A few friends’ mushroomed into many because of course I had to tell everyone. I’m overwhelmed at people’s care and love and support in these months. It humbles me and makes me feel rich indeed. ‘Thank you’ is not enough, but thank you anyhow.
with a braver song to sing,