Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Medical Update: Doctors, Doctors, Doctors

When a mom of three young kids is going through cancer treatments, there is just no way to go more than a couple days without a doctor’s appointment. And sometimes, like yesterday, you can have multiple appointments – even five – in a single day. In the past week, I have found this out in a very real way. 

Last Friday, my surgeon recommended that I have a full body bone-scan done as well as Vitamin D testing. I had been having some severe pain in my left hip, and she wanted to rule out the very real possibility that the cancer had spread into my bones. She explained that estrogen-positive breast cancer (like I have) tends to like “weak” bones. This possibility made Matt and I very nervous, but praise the Lord, the test came back normal (though my Vitamin D levels were a bit low). She put me on Vitamin D and Calcium supplements to help strengthen my bones and possibly relieve some of my pain. 

On Monday, I had an appointment with a pulmonologist to investigate a persistent cough I have been battling for the past three months. After an x-ray and brief exam, he discovered the culprit: my SINUSES! If you know me well, then you know that I have suffered with sinus problems my whole life. I have what is called “non-allergic rhinitis” and “chronic sinusitis.” I have had four sinus surgeries since high school, including one that kind of messed my sinuses up even worse. Anyway, the pulmonologist said it looks like surgery might be the only thing to help me, but obviously now is not the best time to be having sinus surgery!  It was wonderful to have an objective diagnosis of what is going on, but it was also wonderful to connect with this particular doctor. When he walked into the waiting room he asked me if my husband was a pastor in Pooler. I responded, “Yes,” and he said, “I think you are the one we have been praying for lately.” He said that he attends a local PCA church and that they have been praying for me and my family for the past several months. WOW! I am continually amazed at the faithful prayers that are continually offered up on my behalf! What a blessing!

On Tuesday, I made a total of five visits to various doctors, but the one that stands out is taking Hudson to the pediatrician for a severe allergic reaction. You see, in the midst of our unusually busy family life, we decided we needed to take on a new challenge: we decided to adopt a sweet, one year-old cat that has been hanging out outside our house for the past two weeks. We took “Louie” (named in honor of his presence in our driveway when we returned from our trip to St. Louis) to the vet on Saturday to see if he was healthy and to get him the various vaccinations he needed if he was going to be around the kids. Of course, just three days after paying for the vaccinations and all the “cat stuff” we needed (litter box, food, collar, kennel, etc.) we discovered that Hudson was allergic to Louie. While I was at a physical therapy appointment for Samuel (for his head – he ended up being able to do PT instead of getting a helmet!), Bethany called me and said that Hudson was a little out of sorts. I came home to find Hudson’s eyes red, watery, and nearly swollen shut. He was also coughing, sneezing and whining a lot. I called the pediatric nurse and she said to bring him in. They gave him a little Benadryl and he was fine. But needless to say, we need to find a new home for Louie.

After I brought Hudson and Samuel home I went back into town for my radiation and for a physical therapy appointment for myself. Radiation is continuing to go well. Since My first radiation I have had arm pain that could be the start of lymphedema. My PT appointment was scheduled to get that issue checked out. I guess I have to keep a close eye on that as radiation can tend to make lymphedema worse. 

Thanks to Bethany I have been able to get all these appointments done. Matt and I are so thankful that she is here! Thanks to her, it has been a lot easier to use my non-medical time to have some summer fun with the kids. We have gone bowling, to library story time, to the pool, and to the mall. 

I came home from my PT appointment just in time to spend the evening with the youth group from our church. God has blessed us with sweet group of kids, and it’s always a blessing to hang out with them! As a pastor’s kid (and pastor’s wife), I just love finding ways to use my gifts to serve the Lord by serving others in ministry. Next week I will be teaching fifteen 4 year-olds at our church’s Vacation Bible School program, so I have been preparing for that as well (reviewing curriculum, making decorations, etc.). Of course, every time I talk to my sisters about teaching VBS in the mornings and doing radiation in the afternoons, they think I'm crazy. Well, I like to have a little crazy in me. And even though doing these ministry things while dealing with my treatments can be especially exhausting, I have found it to be such a blessing to get to know the children of our church and to be able to have fun with them while teaching them God’s Word.

I apologize if this blog post seems a bit “whiny,” but I really want my blog to be an accurate representation of what my life is like these days. I want to balance stories of personal encouragement and truth from God’s Word with an honest account of some of the hard and tedious aspects of this journey. In my own experience, I know I always benefit when I am able to read others’ honest reflections on their difficulties and take a certain comfort in identifying with their struggles. But of course it is equally beneficial to read more positive, hopeful reflections on persevering through life’s trials, and especially wonderful to see how the truths of God’s Word relate to those trials. I would appreciate your continued prayers.
I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ." 
Philippians 1:3-6