There is no way I can write everything that happened last week in one blog. I would leave out too much information, and would not be able to offer a true picture of what my family experienced. With that in mind, I am going to take the next few posts to share our story. It’s not a fun story. It’s not an easy story to tell because it is filled with fear and pain. However, in the midst of the pain, there is hope, love, and even some laughter.
I made a decision that the following posts will be dedicated to two women: My Wife and Emily. My bride needs no explanation. Emily is a friend of mine from high school who has battled breast cancer and decided to share her thoughts in an article. Her raw honesty inspired me. It’s given me the courage to not shy away from the harsh reality of what I have faced. To her, and my bride, I dedicate the next few blog posts. (You can find Emily’s article HERE. I hope you can appreciate her honesty.)
The night before surgery was hard. I could not sleep. My mind was riddled with fear. Everytime I closed my eyes images of my wife laying in a casket invaded my consiousness. I even had vivid dreams of the doctor telling me she didn’t make it. They were so real I feared it was my soul trying to prepare me for what was to come. I know that sounds crazy, but it’s true. I tried everything to make them go away. I prayed. I read. I watched t.v. I stared into the darkness and contemplated my next blog post. Nothing worked. Nothing calmed my soul.
My alarm was set for 4:30 a.m. We were scheduled to be at the hospital by 5:30. At 3:30 I gave up trying to sleep and watched t.v. By the time I took a shower to, “wake,” me up, I felt like a walker from The Walking Dead. I probably looked like one too. When my bride woke up, I didn’t tell her about my dreams.I knew she was dealing with too much stress already. I just told her I couldn’t sleep.
After getting ready it was time to leave. With coffee mug in hand, we grabbed our bags and headed for the hospital. The conversation was light. I could tell that both of us were nervous. I don’t remember what we talked about. I do remember how dark it was outside. I do remember wanting there to be traffic and long lights. Instead, we got a clear path and all greens.
When we got to the hospital we had to check in. As always, we had to sit in a small cubicle, electronically sign papers, and hear our estimated costs. By this point in the journey, the numbers don’t scare me because we hit our out of pocket max a long time ago. This means everything should be, “free.” However, there was a computer glitch. We were told we had not hit out deductible and had to pay our portion.
The lady across the table asked us how we would like to pay for our procedure. I informed her that was the insurance companies job. She typed at her keyboard and told me,”No, it looks like you still have to pay.” In a quick move, I whipped out my phone, pulled up our insurance app and checked our status. Nothing had changed. We shouldn’t have to pay anything. I told her as much. Reluctantly, she told us she would check on it and let us go.
We were directed to a hallway we are all too familiar with. As we walked, we held hands. Before cancer, I honestly didn’t like holding hands much. These days, I relish the opportunity. At the end of the hallway, we entered the room for day surgery. It was almost empty. Andrea was escorted to her pre-op room and I was given a buzzer. I was told it would be how the hospital would communicate with me. I found a seat and waited to be called to the room.
After what felt like ages I was led back to see Andrea. When I walked into the room she was in a hospital gown and had the necessary i.v. We smiled at each other and I sat down beside her. We talked for a little while and then she asked me to take a picture to put on Facebook. I obliged and then we rested until they wheeled her out for her first procedure.
The first thing Andrea had to do was get nuclear meds. The meds would help the doctors to see where the cancer was located. Because her cancer had spread to her lymph nodes they needed those suckers to light up when they went in to remove them. As they wheeled her away I gave her a kiss and told her I would see her soon.
While waiting, the parents began to arrive. As they were grabbing some coffee from the lobby our surgeon walked into the building. Our eyes met and she gave me a reassuring look. She walked over to me and in a moment of sheer madness, I hugged her. I know doctors are supposed to keep a professional distance but I couldn’t stop myself. She didn’t stop me. I am grateful for that.
I led our group back to the room where Andrea was and we all waited together. In our group of supporters was a man I highly admire. He is one of the men who has molded me into who I am today. He surprised us by flying up to be with us. He didn’t have to, but I was glad he was there. Without him, my Dad, and my bride’s parents, I couldn’t have made it this past week.
As we waited, Travis entered the room. When I saw his face I began to weep. Travis didn’t have to be there. We are connected professionally and I never expected him to visit, but he did. I walked up to him immediately and we embraced. It was one of those long, enduring and therapeutic hugs. He stayed a little while, prayed with us, and left. As he left I pulled him aside and told him he would never know how thankful I was he came, and he won’t.
After meetings with the anesthesiologist and the CRNA’s it was time for Andrea to go. The surgeon came by and assured us she would be in good hands. She promised me she would take care of her. I knew this to be true but it still was hard to see her wheeled away. As the doctor left the room I whispered to her a phrase I don’t use. In a moment of pure emotion, I said under my breath, “You go get that Son of a Bitch.”
I know that phrase may have offended some. I know for many it’s inappropriate for someone in my profession to say it. I know some will judge me by one phrase I uttered during a great time of pain. However, it’s what I said. It’s how I felt, and I am unapologetic about it. Ole Scruffy has wrecked my wife’s body. He has attacked her in a vicious way. When it comes to cancer there are no soft words that can be used.
With that, Andrea was taken away. I now had to leave her in the hands of the doctors and the Great Physician. I trusted the doctors but had faith in my King. He has walked side by side with my family through this whole mess. He has never left us. He has surrounded us with a great host of warriors who stood toe to toe with us as we battled Ole Scruffy.
In that moment, I knew Scruffy’s days were numbered. We came that day prepared for war. Soon his reign would end. He no longer would be allowed to terrorize my bride’s body. His power had been diminished by chemo and now his kingdom would be eradicated by a scalpel.
As Andrea was leaving I kissed her on the forehead. Tears flowed down my face. The nurse wheeled her out of the room and I stepped into the hallway. Standing there as she was led away, I closed my eyes. In a brief moment, I allowed myself to dream. I saw the beautiful setting sun over the ocean. I could feel it’s cool breeze upon my face. Standing there on the boat with my bride, healed of all cancer, I kissed her soft lips. We then turned our gaze to the setting sun and looked towards the sea.