First it was Rituxan. Now apparently, our favorite drug is Methotrexate. Specifically methotrexate injected via spinal tap. This drug was started in Round 3 of Kim’s chemotherapy to keep the cancer from attacking her central nervous system, and brain. The injection in her spinal cord was done 8 days ago and triggered massive headaches every time she tried to sit up and forced her to be bedridden since - keeping her head flat was the only way to find relief. Nothing else worked – not I.V. fluids, not caffeine, not heavy pain meds. They told us it’s basically like having your worst hangover x 100. Usually after 48 hours the fluid leak around the spinal cord from the lumbar puncture resolves itself and people feel much better, but we’ve found that Kim is always in the top 5%. Meaning she’s always in that elite group of people in which doctors say, “That’s strange. We only see that happen in about 5% of patients”. What can I say? I married a special woman.
|getting ready for her 1st blood patch|
So we went in at 3:30pm to get the blood patch. I had to set up a bed for Kim in the back of the mini-van because the day before when I drove her to the doctor’s the nausea and headaches from sitting upright (even leaning back) were too much. The procedure started around 5:30pm and she was done by 6:00pm. After resting for a while we picked up Timothy and Selah from our friend Jill’s place and headed home. (Caleb was at basketball practice with our friend Gerald and their son). Although Kim could hardly feel her back we were all in good spirits. The headaches were gone!
We ate a quick snack at home and that’s when Kim noticed that at certain angles she would feel an intensely sharp pain in her lower back. By the time we got upstairs it was so bad that when I tried to lay her down on our bed she would scream in pain. At certain angles the pain was breathtaking and she was nervous to move. I had her put ice on the back (as the doctor recommended) gave her some more oxycodone and quickly put Tim and Selah down. Within the span of 10 minutes the pain grew more intense and there was no way to find relief. I tried to take her to the bathroom but she started hyper-ventilating. She then started losing feeling in her arms and legs, became light-headed and was so close to going unconscious from the pain. I was holding her in my arms and her body felt limp and I knew I couldn’t let her go or she would faint and so I just kept telling her to focus on breathing deep, slow breaths. Somehow I was able to reach for the phone without dropping her and dialed 911.
It was about 9:00pm and I knew Caleb was due home at any moment so I had already left the front door unlocked which was providential. Within a few minutes I could hear voices downstairs and Caleb happened to arrive the exact same time as the paramedics and firemen with our friends who were dropping him off. I could hear Caleb guiding them upstairs to where he thought we might be. I couldn’t move because I was still in our room holding Kim upright to keep her from fainting. When they got there I had to explain our situation and all the meds Kim was on and they carefully strapped her in a seated position and took her downstairs – all the while Kim is fighting to breathe and stay conscious. Amazingly, neither Timothy or Selah woke up from all this commotion. This is a miracle in itself. They were put to bed only 15 minutes earlier and they are very light sleepers but the Lord, in His mercy, apparently put them in a deep sleep because this morning they said they didn't hear a thing even though Selah's room is right next to ours.
Caleb on the other hand was right in the middle of it all. By the time everyone was downstairs I was scrambling to get all our important things together and get in the ambulance. That’s when I noticed Caleb standing on the couch next to his friend Jake. I’ll never forget it – he looked at me and in front of all the firemen and paramedics and with an expressionless face he asked:
There was a moment of silence. We were all stunned - especially me - this is not typical for Caleb. He is a shy and quiet boy. And so I knew he would have never asked this question, especially in front of that many people, unless he really needed to know the answer. I quickly walked towards him, grabbed his shoulders and said, “Oh no, Caleb. Mom is not going to die. She’s in a lot of pain right now and so she can’t breathe but she’s going to be just fine. And so we’re going to the hospital to be safe. Okay?” As soon as I finished talking that small stoic face burst into tears. I asked him a few times to come with me to the hospital. I thought it might comfort him to be with his dad but he insisted on staying home. At first I didn’t understand why – but then he said he wanted to stay home for Timothy and Selah. He didn’t want them to wake up and be sad because everyone had left them in their sleep. One of my proudest moments as a father.
“Is mom going to die?”
|T reading to S|
So when this cancer hit, naturally we were very concerned about how he might process it. However, a couple weeks ago I was reading through Caleb’s “Devotional Journals” which he turns in for school. I was amazed at how open and honest he was with God and what the Lord was teaching him all throughout January – much of which we spent in the ICU and unbeknownst to us. I had realized that as much as I tried to see what he was thinking via conversations with him, with this journal I suddenly had a window into his heart and soul. God’s grace was so evident because his class just happened to be covering the topic of God’s sovereignty in his Biblical Studies class that month. The devotional opened with:
The King says, “Nothing happens by accident. I am Sovereign!” How often can you say that was by accident? Or it wasn’t supposed to happen that way? Since the whole world is under God’s control, there really can’t be accidents. Isn’t it comforting to know that the world isn’t spinning out of control?
I thought my mom shouldn’t have to go to the hospital knowing that God is in control makes me know that whatever happens God will never let things get out of control. And if God is in control he could heal her.
Dear God, you are good and can heal. You can heal my mom anytime you want. And you know how she feels. Sorry I did not read my Bible yesterday and for getting upset when Tim made a mess in my room right after I cleaned it. Thank you God for friends who bring us dinner every night because my mom & dad are at the hospital…Please help me not to get mad at my brother and help mom get better and not be scared when she gets surgery today.
The following week he wrote this (in italics):
The King says, “Don’t fret and worry I’ve got everything under control.”
What do you worry about?
“I worry about my mom!!!”
How can Psalm 37:8 be of comfort to you?
I know that nothing will go wrong because God has everything under control.
Dear God, I praise you for your grace. I love you! You are holy. You can heal and take care of us.
All this to say, that it is obvious to us that the Lord is using this cancer to show that He is sovereign – and He is answering our many prayers by demonstrating that sovereignty even in the heart of a little 9 year old boy. To my amazement, Caleb is learning things through this cancer that took me decades to learn: that God is real. God is good. God is in control. God can heal and take care of us.
And through your service to us and prayers for us, he is seeing firsthand the love of Jesus through the body of Christ in a profound way, and he'll never forget it. Additionally, this entire blog and all your comments will serve as a forever reminder to all of our children of this season in which God has shown Himself so strong in our lives. Thank you, Jesus.
So after sleeping in the ER with Kim last night I woke up at 3am and couldn’t fall back asleep. Watching her cycle through so much pain was so incredibly hard. There were moments when I was holding her in our room that I wasn’t sure if she was going to make it - an all too familiar feeling these days. I kept thinking I have to keep her conscious until the ambulance arrives. Even in the hospital the pain was so intense and morphine wasn’t even calming it down and she was vomiting. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. There is nothing more humbling than seeing the one you love, suffer so greatly, and being powerless to stop it.
|my sleeping beauty|
There's a day that's drawing near
When this darkness breaks to light
And the shadows disappear
And my faith shall be my eyes
Jesus has overcome
And the grave is overwhelmed
The victory is won
He is risen from the dead
And I will rise when He calls my name
No more sorrow, no more pain
I will rise on eagles' wings
Before my God fall on my knees
I will rise
And I hear the voice of many angels sing,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
And I hear the cry of every longing heart,
"Worthy is the Lamb"
Just like last time (see previous post HERE) at the same stoplight the tears started to flow. It was the perfect word – at the perfect time. The victory is already won. The battle is already over. Jesus has overcome. And as much pain as I saw Kim in a few hours earlier – the Lord reminded me that there will be an end to pain and suffering. And it will not end with Oxycodone. It will not end with Morphine. It will not end with Valium. It will end when we see Jesus face to face “and my faith shall be my eyes”. And we are longing for that day -- the day when we “hear the voice of many angels sing, “Worthy is the Lamb”.
Amen. Worthy is the Lamb. Maranatha.
In His Grace,
Peter & Kim