Saturday, May 24, 2014

Waiting to Exhale...

I think I can finally share this story now...


On April 28 (a Monday), Mark had a CT scan done. He has a family history of pituitary gland tumors so we wanted to keep an eye on his pituitary gland. Kind of felt like a sitting duck in a way.  I honestly didn't think a whole lot about it. I mean, I prayed and thought about him during that time but this was "routine" in a sense.

That afternoon, he walked into the room and said, "I have a growth behind my right eye."  He had apparently just found out and was in a bit of shock himself.

At that moment, the world seemed to stop.

I was prepared to hear "pituitary gland".  Not this.

I kind of laugh about this now. We always have big plans on how to tell each other things (or at least I do) and then it never works out that way.  Like when I found out I was pregnant. There are so many neat ways to share that. Instead, after having some disappointment over negative tests, all those ideas went out the window. I just called him and blurted out, "It is positive!  We are having a baby!"  Same with the day our adoptions were finalized. Nothing like we had planned on.  Not that there is a good way to share news like that but it was just so typical for us. Blurted out...

At that point, I am pretty sure I stopped breathing.

An MRI was set.  For 8 days later. 8 days.  That felt like an eternity!  We had little information at that time which was not good for me. I immediately started googling "growth on optic nerve". There are a LOT of possibilities for that but not very many of them were desirable.

By the way, a FAQ was and is "Didn't he have any symptoms?" Well, yes, looking back, he did/does. But blurred vision, an occasional headache, etc, those things are just part of being our age. So we didn't put much thought into them.

Two days later (the 30th), Mark came to eat lunch with me at school.  About that time, I got a text from my mom to call her. My grandmother had died. Unexpectedly.

Honestly, the next two weeks were like a blur. Having a completed thought was almost impossible.

We cried a lot. I worried a lot. We prayed a lot.  I found myself searching for comfort in the Scriptures.  We were also blessed by so many sweet prayers and notes of encouragement during that time. We tried to be normal but it was not a normal time.

I looked at life through a different lens.

And still do.

That is more for a post for another time.

The following Tuesday, May 6, we buried my grandmother.

I won't lie. I found myself wondering if I would be doing that again soon with my own husband.

The next day, May 7, Mark went in for the MRI.

I did not go with him.

I was in a workshop.

And there was nothing I could do. I couldn't be in the room with him.  I knew he wouldn't get results right then.

All I could do was pray.

A lot.

And try to ignore that feeling in the pit of my stomach.  The one that had become permanent at that point.

Unbeknownst to me, Mark announced the MRI on Facebook that morning. I had no idea. We had only told limited people at that time.

The outpouring of love and prayers was overwhelming. A good overwhelming but overwhelming at the same time.

During this time, tears came easily.  I could be laughing one minute, crying the next. And I often was.

One moment that brought me to tears? When our youngest child (who had overheard a conversation incorrectly) asked if Daddy was going to die and if so, who would practice baseball with him.

Another time I was cooking in the kitchen, singing praise songs at the top of my lungs. Suddenly I was on the floor crying, the dog right by my side.  It was like being on a roller coaster ride. A ride I wanted to get off of.

We had gotten CT results so quickly, I just figured it would be the same with MRI results.

I had my phone with me all of the time. Checked messages constantly. My phone battery ran down to empty more those two weeks than normal in a whole year for me.

The one and only time we somewhat relaxed was the weekend (Mother's Day weekend) because we knew there wouldn't be a phone call over the weekend.  But the thoughts were still there. The questions. The worries.

We didn't try to speculate on what the "no answers" meant.  I didn't take it as good news or bad news. Just no news.

Which was hard.

Very hard.

One thing I learned is that I can completely trust in God. I do. I really do. And I knew no matter the outcome, God would be there.  But I also learned that I am very human. And that knot in the pit of my stomach was very real and NOT a reflection of my faith or state of relationship with Him. Just part of being a human, a human who loves her husband very much.

Mark did call that Friday to ask for results.

Nobody called him back.

Mother's Day weekend was very surreal.

We tried to be normal...hiking, lunch out.

But life was not normal. And likely never will be again.

The next week I found myself more and more jittery.  More and more consumed with "What is going on???"

I tried really hard to NOT push Mark to get answers.

It was and still is HIS condition.  Not mine. I have to let him handle things his way.

On Wednesday he called again to ask for results. One week later.  Suddenly that 8 days we had waited for the MRI didn't seem like an eternity. This one week did.

As some point, the doctor's office called and he missed the call.

Gotta love phone tag.  With a doctor's office. 

He called back.

And finally he got to talk to a person.

And the "results"?

"You need to see an ophthalmologist."

That is all.

Nothing more.

Some people immediately said, "Well, they didn't say oncologist so that is encouraging."

But at that time, nothing was really encouraging.

We still had no answers.

On Thursday, May 15, Mark took matters into his own hands and called the ophthalmologist's office himself instead of waiting to be called. 

And somehow they had an opening.

That day.

I scrambled to find a substitute, a VERY rare thing for me.

And a few hours later found myself sitting in the eye doctor's waiting room with him, my husband, my love.

Finally his name was called.

At that point, I was pretty sure I was going to throw up.

My anxiety level was at an all time high.

We walked into the office. The nurse started looking through Mark's records.

She asked, "Have you seen the copy of this report?"

I was about in tears by this time, telling her we had heard or seen NOTHING.

She handed it to us.

Well, it made no sense. Medical jargon is not my specialty.

The eye doctor came in.

We have known him for a long time (on a professional level); our kids go to him regularly.

He did a few tests and looked over the report.

I was a basketcase by this point.

Then he said it, "This is a cavernous hemangioma. It is NOT something serious."

In fact, he said it a few times.

I think my face gave it all away.

And then it happened.

I exhaled.  I didn't realize it but I had been...

waiting to exhale.

And I finally did.

And cried.

A lot.

And still am.

Breathe in, breathe out.

More soon,

Friday, May 16, 2014

Thankful Thursday!

It is another Thankful Thursday.

And today I have a lot to be thankful for.

Well, every day I do.

Some days I just see it more clearly than others.

Our biggest thanks?

Two words.

Cavernous Hemangioma.

I have been practicing how to spell that.

And ophthalmologist. 

Today we went to the ophthalmologist on the recommendation of the MRI specialist.

He pronounced that my husband has a cavernous hemangioma.  It was probably always present though it has grown a little in recent months. And it should be treatable.

I cried.

A little.

Okay, a lot.

You know what?

Even if we had heard different words, I would still have things to be thankful for.

But we didn't.

And I am so thankful for the words we did hear.

Other things I am thankful for?
  • An opening in the day so the Hubs could get into the ophthalmologist today.  After waiting for over a week for results, we were so grateful to get some answers.
  • Our ophthalmologist who has a sense of humor
  • Encouraging texts and messages throughout the week
  • A teacher who understands the anxiety of one little boy (who senses things going on even if he doesn't fully understand them) and knows how to comfort him
  • Rain. Lots of rain.  And 8 o'clock baseball games that are canceled due to the rain. :)
  • Lunch with Moms. Because I ended up taking off the afternoon so I could go to the appointment, I was able to enjoy Lunch with Moms with the two younger kids (it is really hard to do when I am teaching).
  • A furry dog who loves on me when I am scared or sad
  • A protective daughter who may not say much but carefully guards me when I am stressed
  • A husband who stops at a specialty foods store on his way home from out of town so we can have some things we need
  • A Mother's Day hike to a beautiful waterfall
  • Getting to watch a robin splash in the puddles this week and having a child who was just as mesmerized as I was
  • Watching a groundhog pop up out of the ground on our hike
  • Butterflies
  • Life cycles (we are watching caterpillars change to butterflies at school)
  • Administrators who genuinely care
  • An almost clean garage
  • Cooler weather while we get some a/c issues straightened out
  • Scriptures of hope, comfort, and love
  • Friends of Child 1 who encourage him
  • Watching Child 3 cross the finish line at her 5K
  • A reunion with my graduating seniors...always a joy to see my kids grown up
  • The gift of texts (and texts that come at just the right time with just the right message)
  • A new perspective
  • A faculty that comes together for our teachers in times of trials
  • A sense of humor
  • Chocolate
  • Coke. Lots of coke.  That is one of the few things I have been able to "stomach" the past two weeks
  • "Couch time" with the Hubs (usually curling up next to him while we watch Shark Tank or home improvement shows)
  • A flower for Mother's Day (and it is still alive)
  • Stars
  • The source of all hope...God.
What are you thankful for this week?


Friday, May 9, 2014

Thankful Thursday

It has been a tough couple of weeks.  As I mentioned last week, my grandmother passed away.  Just two days before that, my husband found out that he has a mass growing behind one of his eyes.  He had an MRI yesterday; we are currently waiting for results. Throw in little things like whiny children, a mom recovering from surgery, a leak in our garage, etc...well, it has just been a heavy load.


And this is a BIG But...

There are still things to be thankful for.

Even in the midst of trials.

And tribulations.

Some things I am thankful for today are...
  • unexpected time with family when they came in for Grandma's burial.  It was not the reason we wanted for gathering but I treasure those family times.  They just go too quickly.
  • Mark's CT scan last week. The whole reason we know about this growth on his optic nerve is that we scheduled the CT scan based upon some family history.  Looking back, we now see some "symptoms" (like blurred vision in that eye, a visual change, etc) but we had just attributed a lot of that to our age...
  • my dear high school friend Melissa who showed up at my Grandma's visitation (unexpectedly). Not only did she just hug my neck but she also gave me a ring of Scripture cards.  Very blessed.
  • Prayers and encouragement from many.  We had told some people what was going on but Mark felt like he needed to share the day of the MRI scan...on Facebook.  We have been overwhelmed with the responses.  So many praying for us.
  • our God. He is good. All of the time. And tomorrow if we get bad news, He will still be good (even if it is hard for me to feel that for a while).
  • no regrets.  I will admit I have some regrets with my grandmother. I let the busyness of life keep me from talking to her as much as I should have.  At the same time, as I face uncertainty with my future with my husband, I have no regrets.  Not that we have had a perfect relationship. But I can say that he knows I love him. I try to show him daily. 
  • time.  We are treasuring time.  And even if the results are better than I hope, I don't want to lose that.  A couple weeks ago, I deleted Facebook from my phone. I still get on there (via computer) but I am more and more putting my phone to the side and just enjoying the moment.  (I was actually doing that before this but this has just confirmed my resolve)
  • the furry dog that knows when I need some extra love.
  • Child 2 for making me a milkshake the other night that just hit the spot. Food has been a problem for me recently...I want it but then it doesn't settle well with me.  That milkshake hit the spot.
  • Child 4's teacher who has given him extra love and hugs the past week. He is scared. He knows something is going on.  It is heartbreaking.  But she is taking care of him.
  • A friend who has "been there" and sends me just the right words, who listens without judgment, who understands where I am.
  • A principal who has supported me and helped me with an issue the past week when I didn't feel strong enough to do it myself.
  • Sleep. Well, it is kind of evading me at the moment. But I have had some rest in the past few days. And when I do, it helps me face the day.
  • Teacher appreciation week
  • listening to my girls sing praise songs.
  • my husband.  I love him.  Forever and always.