God’s hand was in it from the beginning, although it probably did not seem like it when mamma was throwing up for so many hours the weekend after Thanksgiving. Her stomach had locked and wouldn’t let anything through the “normal” way, so it was coming back up from whence it came.
By that Monday morning she knew she needed to get in to see a doctor. She tried to call her medical provider, a wonderful nurse practitioner in Pueblo who has taken good care of my folks for quite some time. She was not only unavailable, but her office staff wouldn’t even try to get a message through, at least not right away. I know if she had known about my mother’s situation, she would have worked her in that day.
But it was providential, I believe, that the regular provider was not available. She might not have run the tests that Dr. Azar ordered later that day. Another miracle was even getting an appointment at short notice with the good Dr. Azar. God was at work.
It was the tests that revealed the cancer. Mamma had had colon cancer surgery a dozen years or so ago. (It definitely runs in the family, as her mother and her mother’s mother and I have had it.) The cancer was in the same general area. Mamma was kept in the hospital for a couple of nights while the doctor who would perform the cancer surgery figured out when would be the best time to operate, other than as soon as possible.
Neither he nor mamma wanted to have the surgery the day before Thanksgiving — he because some of his best surgical team was gone for the holiday and she because nothing messes up a holiday quite like being in the hospital during it.
So it was the following Wednesday when the surgery was scheduled. The doctor also discovered that mamma was quite anemic, and she received some blood transfusions before she got to go home for Thanksgiving.
I couldn’t make it over until the weekend, but my older sister and her husband were able to come down for Thanksgiving itself and the entire weekend. My little sister and her husband weren’t able to go, and since that time they have both been pretty sick so of course they couldn’t go to the hospital while mamma was recuperating.
Mamma had so many projects to finish, and she just didn’t have time for a surgery, but when the doctor finds cancer, you don’t wait until after New Year’s when things might slow down a bit. We helped with as many of the projects as we could, like filling the bags for the homeless and helping to put together folders that my folks give out with Christmas stories and readings for their fellow church members and many others they have ministered to and continue to minister to.
Mamma even made fudge right before she had to go into the hospital, probably while she was not able to eat it herself because she had to make sure her system was all cleaned out before the surgery.
A week ago Wednesday was the surgery, and we all anxiously waited for word. My older sister and her husband took time off work to be there during the surgery and the day after the surgery, and I went over on the weekend. The surgery began late in the afternoon or early evening, and a few hours later, the surgeon told my family what he had been able to do and what he couldn’t do.
He had taken out mamma’s gall bladder, a tumor on her stomach and a foot or so of her colon. There was a piece, however, that he could not remove because it was located in too sensitive of an area, her aorta. He couldn’t even biopsy it without risking her life.
So that is the part that is still unknown. If it is indeed cancerous, which it probably is, how long has it been there and how fast will it grow?
There will be consultations with oncology folks on what to do next. But this week was not the time for that. This was the time for healing from the surgery, at least to the point where mamma could go home. Since her stomach had to heal from the tumor removal, she could not have liquids or anything else in it for days, and she had a tube down her nose that was totally irritating for her. Even the ice chips she was allowed to have didn’t taste good to her, and of course the hospital bed was uncomfortable. Not to mention the indignities that by necessity go on at a hospital.
She was pretty miserable until the tube finally came out Monday, and then she was able to have liquids. I think broth never tasted so good! By the time she was able to go home on Wednesday, though, the hospital “food” wasn’t tasting so hot. I think she could hardly wait to taste a bit of that awesome fudge she had made (of which I took an ample chunk home with me.)
I don’t know what the future holds or how long it will give us, but I am convinced this is in God’s hands, as my mother’s entire life has been. I am greedy, of course, and want as much more time as I can with my best friend. I treasure every conversation, every moment together, as I always have but even more so now.
God has directed my mother’s every step, her every breath, since her first one, and He will direct every one until her last.
And I will trust Him with every one of them.