Sunday, February 3, 2013

In the Details

Thursday was to be our last day at MD Anderson. We had been there for 9 days and were more than ready to return to our home and our family. It had been a week of anxiously waiting for answers, and never feeling like we had quite enough to know where we were heading. Our final scheduled appointments were with a series of doctors who would deliver the game plan---or so we thought.

As we arrived for the series of appointments, we were told that my oncologist, and lead doctor, had been called away for an emergency. I would have to see another physician. My heart dropped. The man who had requested all the tests, who promised all the answers, wasn't available. A week of waiting for this moment and we would not be seeing our primary caregiver. We would start from scratch with a new doctor. There was nothing to do but swallow and say, "Oh, okay."Dejected, we moved to the waiting area, but we quickly decided that God had been so faithful during this trip. He would be faithful in this as well.

After a time, we were called back to the exam room. As they tried to sort through who would see us, we got lost in the shuffle. As we waited for the new oncologist to be assigned, we fell off the radar of the radiologist. It took radiology awhile to realize we were there and had not missed our appointment. Nurses came in and out trying to figure out who would see us and how we would get everything done. They were diligently trying to sort things through.

Finally we were assigned to a new doctor. As we waited to meet her, the radiologist came in to see us. He had index cards on a book ring with information about my case. He was very knowledgeable and helpful. He answered our questions and offered information. His thoroughness was comforting.  As we sat with him, the newly assigned doctor popped in to meet us. We wrapped up with radiologist and began to visit with the her. She had to catch up on our case, but tried hard to do so. She tried to answer our questions to the best of her ability. Ultimately, these two decided that radiation was probably not our first line of defense as we had originally thought. It is important to know that when we originally began this journey, we were hopeful that radiation would be our source of treatment. We thought it had less side effects and didn't sounds as scary. What we didn't realize is that radiation would mean 4-6 weeks at MD Anderson---away from our family. What had seemed desirable was now amazingly frightening. We were thrilled that it would be a final option rather than the first. The doctors were in agreement on that point, but couldn't decide was what should happen next, chemo or more surgery. It was then decided that we should meet with a surgeon for his input. They asked if we could stay another day for an appointment. Doing so would mean missing our flight home, changing our travel plans, delaying hugging our sweet boys. I was so ready to be home, but Rodney quickly said we would stay. As the nurses went to make arrangements, they discovered that the surgeons were already gone for the day. They could not promise we would be seen or what doctor would be available. They would call us and let us know.

We left the office with that familiar feeling of uncertainty. As we sat in the cafeteria, eating and waiting for our shuttle, they called. We would be seen. We began to cancel flights, change rental arrangements and notify our family. Now this is where the story gets good!!

Friday we arrived for our appointment. After a lengthy wait, we were called back to the exam room. The surgeon finally came in and began our consultation. He explained in great depth, with vivid illustrations, what thymoma was and how it functioned. He described how it spread and how it responded to treatment. He began to talk about the two remaining tumors on my diaghram. These tumors were not removed in surgery because we didn't know about them until I was on the operating table. He said that in retrospect, the two remaining tumors could probably now be seen on the original CT scans since we knew what to look for. That was interesting. My surgeon in Lubbock said those exact words to me. I looked at him and said, "That is what Dr. Springer, my surgeon, told me." At this point he replied, "I know Bill well. I trained him. We have had several conversations about your case." My heart jumped in my chest. This doctor, who I wasn't supposed to see originally; who squeezed me in last minute; who was one of eight possible doctors I could have seen; who I might not have been referred to at all had my original doctor been there, had trained the surgeon who operated on me in Lubbock. He had conferred on my case long before we met. Weeks, no years, before this appointment, God had been ahead of me preparing for this moment. Preparing the men who would assist in my healing. Once again, I stood amazed.

We finished our barrage of questions and came to an understanding that surgery was probably not the best place to start. The surgeon was very certain that chemo, which of the three options could be done at home, was the place to begin. We wouldn't begin with weeks of radiation or surgery away from home. We would go to our boys and begin to heal.

 The appointment began to wrap up. The doctor leaned forward and tapped on the cross ring on my hand and said, "I like your ring." I replied, "It is a reminder". He referred back to my Lubbock surgeon, Dr. Springer, and their prior conversations about me.  I asked, "So how did I get up to you and you already know me? How did I randomly end up with the doctor who trained my surgeon and had prior knowledge of my case?" He looked at me and said, "I think you'd have to say it is a God thing." Tears filled my eyes as I replied, "I asked for that today."  He came and hugged me and said, "We'll take care of this." And you know what? I have full faith in that promise. God has been working since my surgeon was in medical school to take care of this. He has rearranged appointments, schedules and doctors to take care of this. God is in the details.

I would never wish this situation on anyone. I would never have chosen it for myself. I wouldn't choose it now given a choice, but I would not want to miss these moments for anything in the world. God has made himself so abundantly evident. Now I know, that I know, that I know that God is God.  My prayer comes from 1 Chronicles 16:11-12: Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. REMEMBER THE WONDERS HE HAS DONE, HIS MIRACLES, and the judgements he pronounced." I pray I never forget HIS wonders.

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