Mom's been having pain in her side for several months now. Her primary care doctor told her it was probably a pulled muscle.
A pulled muscle.
My mom has been more than diligent in keeping up with her care over the last years. She has had the same primary care doctor for over twenty of those years. She has faithfully had mammograms, colonoscopies, blood tests, and CT scans. She's no hypochondriac, but she is also not stubborn about getting things checked out.
Two months ago she had hip replacement surgery. Mom was born with a hip disorder called Legg-Perthes disease. As a child my mom endured all sorts of things including a very extended stint with crutches. One of my very favorite pictures of my mom is one of her at a dance recital on a pair of crutches. There is no image that sums her up more than this one. Over the years the pain in her hip increased and finally reached the point where she needed to have something done. In the meantime, her abdominal pain was bothering her and she went to see her doctor. He ran blood tests and did a CT scan. He reported to her no findings. This is when he diagnosed her with a pulled muscle and signed off on a release for her hip surgery.
She located a surgeon in Nashville who performs a new hip replacement procedure. (If you ever know someone having hip replacement, this is the way to go!) It cuts the recovery time in half. I felt so positive as we moved into this surgery. By Christmas, I thought, Mom is going to feel like a new person.
In all of her post-op blood work, her liver enzymes came back slightly elevated. And each time we were assured it was nothing to worry about. Mom recovered from her surgery like a champ. She ditched the walker after about 3 days. The hip surgeon declared her the "poster child" for hip replacement.
Because of her surgery she was required to take a blood thinner. Because of this, she had to quit taking ibuprofen for her abdominal pain. The pain continued to mount, culminating in a trip to the ER. This began the journey leading us to where we are today.
Even as we started down this road, I had no inkling where we were headed. I'm usually a tiny bit psychic. Able to sort of see what might be coming. I did not see this coming. Doctor after doctor, test after test, all her levels were "borderline". There might be a little something, we're not sure. My mom and my sister Kristin exhausted themselves trying to get to the bottom of what exactly was going on. Finally, the Lord sent a special surgeon into the picture. I say the Lord sent him because the story of why he is in Knoxville is just that. He believes the Lord called him there. He examined Mom once, and could not hide his suspicions. He believed it was cancer.
Surely, though, because of the levels and the CTs and everything else it was just a tiny cancer right? How could it be really serious and no one have caught it to this point?
I will never forget sitting in the office at work listening to Katy tell me it was cancer and it had already spread to her liver. I had googled enough to know what this meant. The doctor said 6 months. SIX MONTHS. Chemo will only buy her time. To this point, I had not cried about any of it yet. In that tiny office with the blinds closed (thank goodness) the dam burst. My preschool family waiting outside the door, hurting me for me, because that's who they are.
It was the day of Drew's fifth birthday party. I was supposed to leave for Monkey Joe's in half an hour. I had no idea what to do. Daniel arrived-he was having lunch with our "Star of the Week". I collapsed on him. "Just tell me what to do." Mom wanted us to come, and so, of course, we would. Daniel would do the party, flanked by some of my best friends in Nashville who just happen to be preschool teachers. "Go," they said, "we got this." I packed up my things and was surrounded in prayer and laying on of hands. I ran home grabbed my bag, threw in some random clothes and went to get Katy.
As we got in the car we just looked at each other. What could we possibly say for the next excruciating three hours?? At the time we did not know it, but we were both nervous to see her. But when we walked into her condo, it was just her. My little mom. We ran to her and cried our eyes out. The next two days were some of the sweetest time we have had in a long time. It was just mom and her babies. Three girls and a boy, sitting in their PJs soaking her in. We're a talky bunch, and so we hashed and rehashed it all from every angle-physical, emotional, and mostly spiritual. We want to be faithful in these days, but OH how it hurts.
I have three brave, beautiful friends who have lost parents very suddenly in recent days. I thought about them all weekend, knowing what they would have given for one more day to sit on the couch with their loved ones. And so, I sat. Numb and in pain, but with HER.
Over and over I have said I have no idea how to do this. I don't know how to simultaneously beg God for a miracle and walk with someone as they face death. I don't know what to say. I don't know how to help. So, I pray. I pray for as many days as possible of hearing her voice.