November 05, 2012

Just for the Record: Let's Swing for the Trees

Grab A  Warm Drink-Pull Up A Chair- Let's Talk

Disclosure:  This post may include TMI [too much information] and be of interest only to Loved Ones & Dear Friends who actually are 'loved ones' also.  I am not offended if you choose to move to another  room to finish your Coffee/tea  [scroll down to another conversation].

My Silver Fox started a new chapter of his life back in the spring, this year 2012. It began with continuing to notice weight loss and  that was not in the beginning chalked up as a bad thing.[a total of 33-38 lbs] He became aware of  issues with swallowing, called this to the attention of his VA doctors perhaps in April. That initiated test next month, another test a few weeks later,etc. I think it was June [while Ted was still drowsy from anesthesia] I sat in a small waiting room and had the doctor who had done his procedure tell me what she found was the base of the Esophagus.

God created us with Tears for times such as this. And he place a medical professional who identified herself as a follower of Christ in that little space to comfort me. She reassured me 'it was going to be allright.' I knew that.  No I didn't need staff clergy  ...I knew where to take my fears, my heartbreaking my doubts..Inside "I cry out." satan would defeat me..if he could. For several weeks I was aware [in the most fearful doubting moments] that satan would have me defeated by those fears, questions and uncertainties.

 I shared that need with Pray-ers. God's word promises ...He will not leave me. He does not promise to take the storms out of our lives but He does walk with me the other side. and His Mercy endures forever.
  • In the beginning : Discussion regarding> Surgery, Chemo, Radiation. I struggled with a little book in hand to understand & organize the information. As I recall we had several conversations with  medical professionals before someone finally said: "Stage 4" [Quietly exit here if it's TMI]
  •  Later:   No surgery & radiation was an option that would be reserved for later - perhaps. 
  •  New Information::  The PET picked up [additional] spots/ lung and liver. It has spread.
  • Early on as I 'hung on for dear life'  to edit and file the medical jargon I registered the phrase  'we are not looking at a CURATIVE...' etc. I dissected the conversation- something about "focusing on longevity and quality of life not curative." It seemed buried in the whole maze of words. [ My husband did not notice that sentence.]
  • October 4th oncologist appointment-while Ted had his chemo infusion [#3] David and I discussed and agreed we were not clear about some things and decided  he would try to get a few minutes with the Dr. again. I had no idea if it would be possible but after a long wait he got  the medical oncologist's  attention and sat down with him for an easy half hour of review and recap Q & A.
  • During that second conference David heard the response to one of his questions: 18 Months
  • No, he had not previously given us a TIMELINE..though as I remember our meetings I am sure he intended to and thought he had been time specific.  We had not asked enough questions.
  • Ted's response: "They are only doctors. They do not know Everything. God is in control."
  • Our family's collective response: "We choose not to embrace this. We choose Victory instead."
  • After the #1 chemo cycle  1. weight loss stopped 2. The issues with swallowing stopped 3. no plan for feeding tube to be put in place.
~Let's take a break to take this all in. Our  son David learned this news, relayed to me [new information] and we sat and sobbed on each other's shoulder in the spacious patient area with the baby grand, comfortable chairs and hand painted garden murals on the vast wall area. Having fears about what's ahead is definitely different from having some one actually speak the words..18 months.
It was not easy to turn off the waterworks but I knew I  had to. you know what we did the rest of the day...we pulled together all the 'resolve' possible - a lot of denying and pretending. I asked David to stay in Brundidge long enough to go aside alone with his Dad and share his conversation with the oncologist.  A lot of deep breathing and quiet intervals mixed with controlled cheerfulness..sleep on it .
[By this time we have lost polite uninvolved or just curious blog readers-]
We know the song "Joy Comes in the Morning",  that's not what happened.  Daylight comes in the morning...more quiet intervals and very little meaningful conversation. We move to our favorite morning coffee spot in good weather..the front porch of the Harrison House. It's Ted's favorite place.
He basically designed that front porch. He designed for the builder the old people friendly front steps and emphatically told him that he did not want a "Porch Wannabe"..not a pretend porch. He wanted room for porch rockers and enough floor space so a little shower of  rain   didn't run you indoors.
We took our usual spots at first but by the time I got to my ritual second cup I sat down on the bench next to the porch railing and directly across from Ted in his rocker.  Momentarily [I think]I began to speak very directly  in a way that says 'listen up we are about to have a serious one on one now.'
I indicated that I wanted to "talk about this."  My words included something about realizing that no one is ever ready..but "I am not ready to live without you" At that point you can guess what happened. we both dissolved into tears as I stood up, moving in front of him seated in his rocker, wrapping our arms around  each other as we just sobbed together. No, I can't remember the words, nor did I even think there might be someone walking or driving by a witness to this  scene. The world was shut out-after a time of trying to control the tears..I sat back down on the same bench and continued in a conversational but firm tone.."NOW- you have the right to handle this any way you choose. Tell me how you want to play this out." From his response this became the plan: 
  • Our children have to know.
  • Details are not for local publication.
  • We share with others we know to be real PRAYER WARRIORS who truly believe in the power of prayer. He does not want people to focus on him as a sad victim.
  • We do not embrace the medical view based on statistics.
  • We are claiming still ANOTHER MIRACLE as we have seen in our recent past...where God does what only He can do and He gets the Praise & the Glory. and incidentally..
  • we continue to LIVE OUR LIVES.
I don't have to enumerate or try to describe the moments during the days when those God given tears would not be controlled. Nor do I have to tell you of  nights when my head hit the pillow /or even during a daytime nap..that I fell asleep praying desperately, pathetically helplessly  as  tears poured onto my pillow.  No matter how often I make reference to experiences, medical tests etc and use the word WE...I began to know it is not WE...he still walks this path alone..with only one exception and that's Our Heavenly Father who is carrying us over the time and space when we cannot. Much as I long to I cannot carry this for him. 
So, how does one pray during these days. I learned many years ago- in times like these I don't focus on what and how to pray..This is when we know what it means to cry out to the Lord.  I cry..I call His Name. I don't have to tell Him how I feel, what I want and need. I just cry out to my Lord.
  • He's there.
  • He carries me.
In the same way I am reconciled to the fact my husband is not going to share with me his every thought, every fear, uncertainty.. heart ache and longing.  When two have been ONE since June 21, 1959..there are no words or pictures that can clearly honestly share what is happening inside one's heart as you take one day, one step at the time

I repeat: After cycle 1..weight gain stopped and eating issues gone.
During the first 4 Chemo cycles [August 23-October 25] all his lab results each cycle were GOOD.
  • Oncologist restated each cycle that the patient is strong and handling the chemo in his words "sailing through"
  • Nov. 1st Conference with Oncologist: focus is again on how 'well Ted is handling this strong chemo treatment,
  • As the Dr laid out the plan forward for CT to confirm what we believe -original tumor has shrunk- then add some more Chemo [2] then a PET which could tell us 1. the liver & lung spots have spread 2. The liver and lung spots are the same or 3. the liver and lung spots have also been killed by the chemo along with what it has done to the original tumor
  • The next words:  "This is not likely but it is possible" he added with a casual matter-of-factness. I asked him to repeat. He confirmed he had said "Finding the spreading cancer GONE was not likely..but it is POSSIBLE. In that event-he continued, we could/might [not sure which word] be looking at down staging  [from stage 4].
  • He was placing major emphasis upon Ted's generally good health, the lab results, and minoring on the Statistics it seemed.
  • Dr. Stated he was not making a promise and didn't want to dangle a carrot out there but he saw no reason not to 'swing for the trees.' 
  • This was the only conference w Dr. Allendorf that I recall [as we were leaving[ saying our thank you, hand shaking..he was smiling and laughing.
  • We are choosing to 'swing for the trees Dr Allendorf..friends and family. We are ignoring that twig that says " not likely. and grabbing onto that branch that says "It is Possible"
*We want  prayer warriors among our friends, church family and online blogger/ Believers  to have a part in this Victory we are claiming in the months ahead.  Then you will be joining with us as we give God the Glory for what He chooses to do in our our Family.

                                                                   Looking Forward~

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