Waiting On Phone Calls
Yesterday Mason had his post-chemo follow-up appointment. It was supposed to be earlier in the month but they had the wrong doctors office scheduled so we stuck with the first planned appointment yesterday with his oncologist. He went yesterday around lunchtime and we got GREAT news. His blood-work looked great and they were really pleased at how well he was doing. They want to see him again in three months for a chest x-ray and in September for a CT Scan.
We were so relieved and are grateful that we got the news we had hoped for. I immediately hit my knees right beside my desk because I am truly so grateful that he is making a full recovery after his unexpected cancer diagnosis. Again, I want to thank everyone for praying for us and sending meals, gifts, and words of encouragement last fall. Many have asked for an update but I haven't had anything new to report since I knew his appointment was coming up.
We are now roughly four months away from his cancer diagnosis and round of chemotherapy and it still seems so strange to write. I am still unable to talk about that time without immediately getting emotional hence the reason why you haven't read a lot about it here on the blog. I typically share my hard seasons but it takes a while for me to find the words to talk about certain seasons and especially this one. It all happened so fast that I truly am having a hard time recalling the details. We didn't sleep much during that time and a mixture of prayers, adrenaline, and caffeine kept me going up and down the road taking Mason to appointments.
I think I am reaching a point where I can string coherent words together but this appointment brought on a lot of emotions and anxiety. The night before we didn't really say a lot about it or even say a lot about anything for that matter, but that's okay. As the calendar crept closer and closer to his appointment date, I prayed a little harder and felt my heart beat a little faster.
God has already brought us through the worst of it but this first check-up caused some anxiety to arise in my heart. I felt like we had been out on stormy waters like the disciples. Jesus calmed the storm and got us to shore but when this appointment came up it almost felt like a low rumble of thunder in the distance. I had to remind myself that He delivered us from a major storm and that this little rumble of thunder in the distance wasn't anything He couldn't handle.
Ironically, last night we had a thunderstorm in the middle of January. Another reminder that He carries us and will carry us through the storms we endure in this life.
After we found out the good news yesterday, we were laying in bed last night talking about how relieved we were but how crazy it was that it happened. I told him I would never get the image of him in the hospital bed out of my mind. For a solid week he battled a chemo-induced fever/mouth infection. He was so pitiful the night I had to rush him to the emergency room at 1am. A doctor nearly sent us home (another story for another day) that night even though Mason was so sick. Later that morning at around 4am, a doctor told me she was glad I pushed to get him admitted because a cancer patient fighting a high fever AND, not to mention, the horrific chemo-induced mouth infection can turn deadly fast because his body had no defense. He ended up staying an entire week in the hospital and I visited him every afternoon as soon as they opened the doors for visitors.
They only allowed visitors from 4pm-8pm so I called his nurse every morning and would wait for a callback. It was brutal. For the first few days, Mason didn't text a whole lot because he could barely move his body. I kept calling the nurse each morning and finally had to get in touch with a doctor because a nurse did not tell the Hospitalist (who was amazing by the way) that Mason's throat and mouth were swelling shut... Yep, swelling shut.
I spoke directly with the doctor who had not been alerted by a nurse that this was happening to him. She immediately went in his room to look at his throat (Face-timed me during the process) and started giving him steroids because his throat was closing up. It was horrifying and again, I had to wait around for the call that his body was handling the steroids well. That particular Hospitalist was not okay with the fact that she wasn't told his throat was swelling shut and did immediately handle it which I was so thankful for. The sad part is that Mason could barely talk and tell them how he was feeling so if the nurse didn't check it was hard for him to communicate. Literally, that mental image kills me. I think watching the love of your life or a loved one suffer hurts more than physically suffering yourself.
I remember being so tired and angry at the doctor that acted like Mason was fine when ALL of his paperwork told us to immediately get to an ER if he ran a fever and then the situation with the nurse not alerting the doctor about Mason's throat swelling shut. I learned that you have to be your own advocate when it comes to your health. I shudder when I think about that doctor in the ER because, had I brought him home, he would have most likely been worse off and in the hospital for a lot longer than a week. Speak up, ask questions, call the nurses line, and don't feel guilty for doing so. It is their job to care for patients and to keep the family in the loop especially during these unprecedented times when visitors are unable to stay all day.
95% of the people we dealt with were amazing. We did have two experiences that were not good and one situation was so bad it had to be brought to the attention of the hospital administration. They were not happy with what happened to us and did go to great lengths to resolve it which we appreciated. That is another story for another day as well.
So we've spent a lot of time waiting on phone calls. I have paced our bedroom floors so many times that I am surprised the carpet hasn't worn down to threads. I have never experienced a more uncomfortable test of my faith than I did during that waiting period. Every morning I would get up, after being awake all night, to call his nurse to see how he was if I hadn't received a text from him. He was able to text more towards the end of the week after they started the steroids. The nightshift nurses were always so great and took good care of Mason. He had two male nurses caring for him at night the majority of the week he was there and they were phenomenal. They would call me every morning or leave a note for the next nurse coming on shift to call me once they did their rounds. One particular nurse gave me her direct number and kept me in the loop throughout the end of his stay.
Then it occurred to me that I never used to worry about phone calls from the doctor.
Waiting on phone calls after appointments used to be easy. If it was a routine checkup for my husband and I or we were waiting to see if our child's strep-throat test came back positive, we didn't wait anxiously by the phone. Those answers were expected and easy to wait for because we knew, most likely, it was an easy answer that we could resolve.
When Mason called me last September and said his doctor was pretty sure he had cancer it was not expected and totally knocked the air out of our family. That phone call was the first of many where we would both wait by the phone for results and it was rough. I had to wake up every morning and trust that God was taking care of Mason even when I couldn't see him or hear his voice over the phone.
It is easy to say you have full faith in God when all is going great. A true test of our faith occurs when we truly can't see the way forward or even an end-result. This season was the worst of our lives so far but God did a lot of good through it and I don't want to forget that. He grew our faith and perhaps you're in a hard situation as well where you are really struggling to trust Him.
Life can be hard. Trusting God doesn't always mean we get the answer we want. Sometimes we pray and trust and still don't get the answers we want. We might never understand why some answers are a no but we can be sure that God is doing a work in us through every season.
It might hurt.
It might not turn out like we want.
It might make you angry.
But He is still faithful to carry us and never leave us or forsake us even when we endure loss. We live in a fallen world where bad things happen but thank God we have hope in Him to look forward to.
Now when someone tells me they are waiting on test results I sympathize even more with them. Waiting on a phone call or sitting in a cold waiting room waiting to be seen by a doctor is scary. It is scary when it is your body that is being tested or a loved ones. I pray more fervently for these requests because I have been there and felt the despair that comes with the unknown.
God faithfully carried us through and did take care of Mason. I am so thankful. I know a lot of people don't get the answers we did and that makes me sad. No one is immune to the suffering this life can bring and I am cherishing every moment even more so after this season.
More than anything I praise God for all He has done and all He is going to do.