Thursday, January 12, 2006

Things To Be Thankful For Today

I usually sleep soundly and peacefully through the night (something to be thankful for), but when I wake up in the morning there is a renewed realization that, "Oh, no - I have cancer." And the ache in my heart feels very heavy. I pick up this load and carry it throughout my day. Such was the case again this morning. Shortly after rising I read an article in a church magazine entitled, "Be Of Good Cheer". I desired more than anything to follow that admonition, and prayed for help to do that. I wanted so much to be relieved of that heavy grief. I was grateful, I was faithful, I was trusting in the Lord - but I was still grieving, and I needed comfort and peace from that grief. As the day went on I realized that I was feeling some relief. I wasn't exactly cheerful, but the heavy ache in my heart was lightened considerably. (Something to be thankful for.)

I had an appointment for an MRI and C-T scan today as part of the preparations for my radiation treatment. They have software that combines these images into a 3-D model to guide the treatment process. It's pretty cool. (STBTF.) I was able to make the appointment thanks to the help of my husband's parents, who are visiting from Maryland, and who provided childcare and driving assistance. (STBTF.) Another friend made sure my son had a ride to and from his speech class. (STBTF.) I endured the procedures, because they were smooth and seemed to go quickly. (STBTF.) And despite what I discussed in my THUNK post, I still fit in the MRI tube just fine! (STBTF.)

After my appointment we drove to the pharmacy to pick up the chemo medication, nervous about what the verdict was going to be regarding the cost. We pulled into the drive-through, and the pharmacist handed us the bag and said that our copay was $55. I was SO relieved! (STdefinitelyBTF!) But then there was a drawback. "The insurance only covers a 20-day supply." I am supposed to take this for 42 days. After some initial stress, we were able to clarify with both the pharmacy AND with the insurance company that this meant they would pay for it in 20-day increments. I will still get all 42 days' worth of medication, and it will be covered by insurance. But I will only get it 20 days at a time. In 20 days, the next supply will be covered. (STBTF.)

As part of the process of figuring this out, I sent an email to my neuro-oncologist's nurse practitioner about the insurance situation, asking for her advice. I was so glad to have the convenience of email communication. (STBTF.) I also sent a separate email to her with a question about drug interactions. Within minutes she sent me replies to both emails. Such a refreshing contrast to the frustration I experienced before with my neurosurgeon's office! She wins first place in the healthcare provider communication olympics! (STBTF!)

In the morning, before we knew how this prescription insurance thing was going to play out, I happened to get a call from my brother (the dermatology resident). As always, he was able to use his knowledge to put my fears to rest. He knew so much about how medical insurance works, and the typical reasons why a drug would not be covered (which didn't apply to this medication), which gave me greater confidence that things would work out okay (and they did). (STBTF.)

During my MRI scan I kept my eyes closed and snoozed a little. But toward the end of the procedure I was convinced that there were strobe lights flashing in front of my closed eyes. I could "see" them, the way you can sense lights even when your eyes are closed. It was so vivid that I remembered being bothered by the flashing lights, and I wondered whether it would trigger a seizure. Later I asked the technician about it, and she didn't remember any lights flashing during the MRI. It must have been a hallucination. I started to worry that these hallucinations were seizure-related. And I started to worry that this meant I was having seizures out of my occipital lobe, which can sometimes manifest as flashing lights. And I started to worry that this meant the cancer has spread far, and a new tumor must be forming in my occipital lobe. And I really got worried because the occipital lobe is closer to that ever-critical brain stem. My only solace was in the fact that: 1) my hallucinations started right after my surgery, while still in the hospital, and they did an MRI the day after surgery. If there was a tumor, they would have seen it; and 2) if anything is popping up now, it will at least show up on the MRI that was done today, so the doctors will know to do something about it. I still worried about it, though, and mentioned it in my evening phone conversation with my brother. Once again, he knew enough about the anatomy of the brain and the nature of my surgery, and was able to offer some very plausible explanations for those hallucinations that might not involve a catastrophic new tumor. He recommended that I share this information with my doctors, and not worry about it anymore. Once again, he talked me out of my worries. (STBTF.)

Soon I will go to sleep for the night, and hopefully I will wake up feeling better than this morning. I will be safely in the arms of my dear husband, who knew that even in the midst of my hardest times, and even when he couldn't change my circumstances, the best thing he could offer me was himself, always being there for me. He is a source of strength and comfort and love. (STAlwaysBTF) And the icing on the cake is the fact that tomorrow is a day off for him, so he will be home with us all day! (STBTF!)

As I pondered my desire for peace, comfort, and the ability to "be of good cheer," I was reminded of the words of a favorite hymn, called, "Where Can I Turn For Peace?"

Where can I turn for peace?
Where is my solace when other sources cease to make me whole?
Where with a wounded heart, anger or malice,
I draw myself apart, searching my soul.
Where, when my aching grows,
Where, when I languish,
Where, in my need to know, where can I run?
Where is the quiet hand to calm my anguish?
Who, who can understand?
He, only One.
He answers privately, reaches my reaching
In my Gethsemane, Savior and Friend.
Gentle the peace he finds for my beseeching.
Constant he is and kind, Love without end.


AmyLee said...

You are so blessed to have a man like Jared in your life. Your "rock" to lean on. Someone you can count on in hard times. I know that God is always there with his arms around us protecting us from things, but sometimes it's nice to feel those arms in the form of a wonderful, loving, supportive husband. I know this is strange to say, but I envy you. I would gladly be sick for you if I could have just one day of the relationship that you share with your husband.

Rachelle said...

So many prayers are coming for you and your family. You are truly an example to me and so many others. Thank you for that and thank you for all you have done for many others like me. 2ofus4now has been a blessing in my life in many ways. You continue to inspire.

Becka said...

You are in my thoughts and I wish that there was more that we could do for you. Please let me know if there is anything. All of our love is reaching across the miles to you all.