Have I mentioned that cancer is a jerk? It is. In case you’re wondering: Cancer doesn’t care if you got up at 4:30 am to drive across the state and speak and when you get home you have to rush hubby to the hospital for a wound check. Because cancer’s friends compromised immune system and side effects have caused more infection to crop up and cause pain. Cancer doesn’t care if it causes you stress or duress. (I think Cancer likes that, actually.)
Cancer doesn’t care because: Cancer isn’t a person. It’s a disease. But, I’ll tell you- somedays it sure feels like a smart (and evil) adversary. An invisible bad guy, waiting to mug you of joy and peace as soon as your guard is down.
Which mine was, yesterday. actually- when I got the call from my husband that we needed to take him in as soon as I got home from a speaking engagement, I HAD been flying pretty high. I’d just finished giving my “A Mile in Her Shoes” #Shoefie talk. And: they got it. I love speaking almost as much as I love writing- so it was a double rainbow kind of morning. The weather cooperated. I felt connected to the audience-The truck started on the first try and I didn’t get lost or even argue with The Navigation system, on the way.
It was a good morning.
When my phone rang after my talk- I knew it was probably not good news. It was my husband: “I called the doctor. They want me to come in. I told them I needed to wait till you get home.”
Guilt flooded my joy and drowned it like a flowery rat. “I am THAT wife. I left my cancer patient husband, knowing he was having an issue to drive across the state for a speaking gig. Now, he’s at home, in pain waiting for me to get there and take him for help.”
As I drove home I started to think what a craptastic day it was. Guilt almost caused me to pee my pants -because I wanted to rush straight home and make up for the time he’d been waiting. An hour and a half into the drive, I realized it would take me longer to clean up that mess before we could go to the hospital than it would for me to stop to pee. I also made the smart decision to get some quick food and caffeine. I knew it was going to be a long day. and feeding yourself is like putting on the oxygen mask when a plane loses cabin pressure. It makes you able to care for others.
It also makes you think straight.(Panic, guilt, exhaustion, hunger and a full bladder= do not.)
An empty bladder, some hot tea, a sandwich and a shortbread cookie helped me get a grip. “It’s not an emergency. He’s not having a heart attack. His wound needs to be checked. It was right to go this morning- and it’s right to go home now and take care of whatever’s ahead.”
The guilt cloud lifted. My phone started beeping with messages about the morning’s talk. I tried not to peek. (I failed.) Whether it makes sense or not- I had been in the right place and said some things that needed to be said and heard. A trickle of joy warmed my heart and soothed the residual guilt.
I got home- grabbed my emergency overnight bag and prayed I wouldn’t need it as we headed to the hospital. We used the Cancer fast pass lane. (Cancer treatment? gets you to the head of the line- in general. Especially if a doc calls ahead and says to get you in keep you away from the flu and barf bus in the waiting room.)
The bottom line? Yup. There are 2 small painful pockets of infection that needed to be treated. Honestly? I felt like crying. It’s MY JOB to take care of the wound. For a few minutes I felt like a total failure. I’d screwed up. I let it get infected. I felt like we had to start all over again.
Except I didn’t. And we don’t. I’ve done everything I can to care for that wound. Sometimes this just happens. Fortunately, what they found was very small. Hours of IV antibiotics, morphine, an ultrasound and a surgical consult later- we left the hospital- 2 prescriptions in hand-exhausted and: elated.
We’d caught it early. At this point no further surgery is necessary. The rest of the wound looks great. This is just what can happen with these things. Radiation damages tissue. The tissue can become prone to infection.
We’d done the right thing.
Joy flooded back in, along with and infusion of hope. It wasn’t as bad as we’d feared. We’re not starting over- we’re just moving on.
The truth is- 3 steps forward and two steps back is still a step further than when you started. It’s also a dance step. If you choose to hear the waltz of joy instead of the cacophony of guilt.
Today- I choose joy. I choose to dance. Exhausted, tired sore from those awful hospital chairs- but still- I dance with joy.
Because God was present in our pain and exhaustion and in that hospital room. The infection hadn’t spread to the blood. we’d made it in time. My being across the state didn’t kill my husband. (Um I may have a had a few full- bladder, hunger and guilt induced moments where I thought that during the drive home from my talk.) God was also present and faithful in helping me communicate the truth he’s put in my heart.
Maybe next time I’ll remember this. Maybe next time Ill be more hopeful and less freakish. Hope grows like that. And it did last night.
Which is funny- cause that’s NOT how I thought last night would go I really thought last night was gonna end with more pain- more surgery, another long stay in the hospital. And it was all going to be my fault. Instead- I found hope and joy…..and relief. Thank you God.
I don;t know what your day is like. I don;t know how your night was. But if you feel like you’ve taken a coupe steps back and 3 forward- remember- you’re still further than you were.
Remember- you can either dance those steps- or try jiujitsu moves to fight back…. I hope you dance. I hope you choose to listen for joy.
I’ll do the same.