Sunday, June 16, 2013

Examples of His Mysterious Ways - Severe Illness

There was a time, back at the end of August, 1999, when I honestly had reason to believe I would not see the Millennium come in. I had Stage 3 colon cancer. I was in the hospital after surgery, waiting for results on lymph node biopsies. I had gone through a rough two months just getting this far. Now my fears were confirmed. Now I would find out how severe the situation was.

I was 59 when I went into the hospital, and became 60 the next day. A friend said to me, "This is a terrible way to spend your 60th birthday." The way I saw it, though, is that I was now 60 and, so far, still alive. I had just spent two months advising my loved ones of my final wishes. I had made sure that my insurance beneficiaries knew who they were. I told my loved ones how much I loved them. And I told them not to mourn me unreasonably. And then I waited.

It took almost a week for the results. I already knew, if I survived, I would need extensive chemo treatments and I would have a colostomy for about a year before they could reverse it. This is a humiliating situation for most of us.

The results confirmed that the cancer had, indeed, spread to the lymph nodes. However, I had an oncologist who didn't believe in massive doses of chemo in these cases. His technique was to administer lower-grade doses, but steady, constantly. For six months, 24 weeks, I underwent a blood test every Monday and a chemo IV every Wednesday. My veins collapsed. But I stood it and I waited it out.

In the days before I was given hope, while I was waiting for the biopsy results, I made all kinds of promises to God. I wasn't afraid to "go." But I did realize I had a few more things to take care of. I asked for that time. I promised to never take another day for granted. Oh, I promised anything and everything, just to buy a little time.

Others facing a similar life-threatening illness probably have done the same thing. The interesting thing is that, afterwards, I kept my promises. For a while, that is. Then life took over. The promises faded a bit more each month and each year. It is now almost 14 years later and I can barely remember those promises.

But in my typical "darkest before dawn" reasoning, I made sense of it all. If I had not lived, I would not have this mobile home. I would not have the dear, dear friends I have today. I would not live in this compassionate but fun-loving community of seniors. I would probably not have as deep a faith as I have right now. I would not have written my paperback, the Busy Person's Prayer Book.

I would not have begun our charity crafting group 4 years ago. I would not have been here to help a dear friend, 24/7, for the last 3 years of her life. I could not have helped my younger sister to deal with her 4 years in long term care before she passed on. I wouldn't have known my little Tigger, now gone. And I would never have begun this blog. Oh, there are so many things I would not have had a chance to do, or be, or see, or experience.

Bottom line? I had to almost die in order to live again even more lovingly and happily and faithfully.

Sweet, sweet Jesus, thank you for being there for me back then. Thank you for holding me up when my health was down. And thank you for reminding me today of how a wonderful dawn came from that dark, dark time.

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