September Past – Part I

Around 2 a.m. CDT September 16, 2004, Ivan struck the U.S. mainland near Gulf Shores, Alabama as a Category 3 hurricane with 130 mph (210 km/h) winds. Ivan then continued inland, maintaining hurricane strength until it was over central Alabama.

My husband, Robert, and I traveled to Georgia to ride out the hurricane and when we returned home we found no damage, only tree limbs and debris strewn about our yard. I cautioned my husband not to try and clean it all up in one day since having a manicured yard is a must in his world, nonetheless the next day he worked outside until it was all cleaned. The next day he even went to my brother’s house to help him clean up his yard. I was grateful for his generous spirit but something inside me made me wish he hadn’t gone. I didn’t express that to him and I couldn’t explain it, I just felt he shouldn’t have gone. When he returned he mentioned that his shoulder was hurting. He probably had done more yard work than he needed to the past two days but I offered to rub his shoulder with Icy Hot. The next morning he said the pain was worse. He took Advil but said it offered him little help either.

For weeks Robert’s shoulder pain reminded him it was there. He said it was sometimes worse than others but always there. Since we both thought it may have been a strained or pulled muscle I made an appointment for him with my chiropractor.  Soon after that appointment and before he could return to her he received a letter from the veteran’s administration in New Orleans, Louisiana stating that there was an opening in their schedule for him to attend a class he had been waiting to get in. He would stay at their facility during the week and return home on weekends. I had mixed emotions about our separation but I knew it was something he needed and wanted to be involved in. As weeks progressed his pain did too. Finally, he went to a doctor and had an ex-ray. On November first, his birthday, the results of that ex-ray were read to him. I will never forget that I was working at my desk when I received the telephone call. It was from the veteran’s administration doctor who identified himself and said, “I was going over the ex-rays that we took of your husband last week.” with hardly a breath between the sentences he said, “I have determined that he either has tuberculosis or lung cancer.” I dropped the telephone, scrambled to retrieve it, and asked, “What did you say?” in a voice that I knew was barely audible. He repeated his statement. “May I speak with my husband?” I asked, for lack of knowing what else to say. Robert could only say that he really didn’t know how to tell me and, yes, I heard the doctor correctly. I asked him to call me when he left the doctor’s office.

When we hung up I couldn’t hold back my tears any longer and a flood of them streamed down my face. I knew, yet I wasn’t sure Robert knew, that if we are talking tuberculosis that was terrible news but if we were talking lung cancer, I remembered reading that it was the number one cause of death in medical conditions! Immediately I prayed. I researched my suspicions and unfortunately found that I was right. I explained the situation to my boss and left work that day.

I prayed all the way on the twenty-five mile drive home. When I got home I was armed with too much information and too little time to prepare. Robert had to come home immediately. I knew he wanted to finish his program but that hardly seemed feasible now. I needed to see him. Talk with him. Figure out with him how we would invite God to join us in what I perceived as the fight of our lives. His life was my life. I saw no lines between them. Whatever he faced, I faced. We had truly become one. When Robert called I told him how I felt. He agreed to forego the program.

He arrived home and we discussed having the diagnosis verified and how we would just take God’s hand and proceed from there. That is exactly what we did. We were referred to a reputable pulmonary doctor who ordered the tests, PFT (pulmonary function test), bronchoscopy, tissue sample, etc. needed to confirm the condition. The results endorsed squamous cell carcinoma but the pulmonologist stated that he believed its position rendered it inoperable.

The pulmonologist referred us to the best oncology surgeon in the city. After taking a PET scan we met with Dr. Walker, the oncologist, and on the first of December we reviewed the results. Robert was given the option of radiation and chemo, radiation or chemo alone, surgery, or whatever combination he felt comfortable with. He cautioned that the mass had invaded three ribs, was in a precarious position but felt confident that he could reach it. Without hesitation Robert elected surgery and my stomach cartwheeled. Dr. Walker explained the probable hospital stay would be five to seven days after surgery. “You’ll be home in plenty of time for Christmas,” he said. The surgery was scheduled for the morning of December 4, 2004.

My sister-in-law, Barbara, and I came with Robert to the hospital and despite all of the festive Christmas decorations there loomed an air of unwanted change. We prayed together and waited for the mass to be removed from Robert’s body and the healing process to begin. It came to pass that the wait was far longer than anticipated.

Instead of leaving SICU (surgery intensive care unit) in the three to four days we expected, he remained there eight days after experiencing atrial fibrillation (an irregular heartbeat that increases the risk of stroke and heart disease). Robert was moved to a room after that but was given medication that caused unexpected problems the following morning and was rushed to CCU (cardiac care unit) where he stayed for seventeen days. There another problem developed but an especially astute nurse recognized the symptoms as pericarditis and a pericardiectomy (pericardial window) was performed to correct it. He mightily struggled for his life, Barbara and I mightily prayed and asked everyone we knew to do the same. Still, the prognosis was dim. I had not heard Robert’s voice in twenty-five days and the enemy heckled that I would never hear it again.

83 thoughts on “September Past – Part I

    • Hi. Thank you so much for your time and response. This was a particularly difficult post for me to write. I pray that anyone who suffers through the ravages of any illness gains hope from it that faith will see them through – with God all things are possible. May God Bless you always.

  1. Somebody necessarily help to make critically articles I might state. That is the first time I frequented your web page and thus far? I amazed with the analysis you made to make this particular post extraordinary. Fantastic process!

  2. Thanks for the sensible critique. Me & my neighbor were just preparing to do some research about this. We got a grab a book from our area library but I think I learned more clear from this post. I am very glad to see such fantastic info being shared freely out there.

  3. Generally I don’t read article on blogs, however I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to take a look at and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite nice post.

  4. Great article, I just passed this onto a student who was doing a little research on this. And he in fact bought me dinner because I found it for him… :) .. So let me rephrase that: Thankx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for taking the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you gain expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more info? It is very helpful for me. Two thumb up for this blog!

  5. Greetings from Ohio! I’m bored to tears at work so I decided to check out your blog on my iphone during lunch break. I enjoy the info you present here and can’t wait to take a look when I get home. I’m amazed at how fast your blog loaded on my mobile .. I’m not even using WIFI, just 3G .. Anyways, excellent blog!

    • Catholic Daily owns the website and I completely agree that they provide an invaluable service to readers and those who post on it. Thank you so much for visiting and taking the time to comment. May God Bless you always.

  6. I precisely had to say thanks once more. I am not sure the things that I would have achieved in the absence of those hints documented by you over that situation. It became a depressing situation in my view, however , discovering this specialized style you handled the issue made me to cry over contentment. Now i am thankful for your information and as well , believe you know what an amazing job you are carrying out educating others via your blog post. I’m certain you’ve never got to know all of us.

  7. Hiya, I am really glad I have found this info. Nowadays bloggers publish only about gossip and web stuff and this is actually frustrating. A good website with interesting content, that’s what I need. Thank you for making this website, and I’ll be visiting again. Do you do newsletters? I Can not find it. I have bookmarked your website: http://catholicdaily.net/riseup/2011/10/10/september-past-part-i and will check back often. Thanks for the excellent post!

  8. Good – I should certainly pronounce, impressed with your web site September Past – Part I | Talitha Koum I had no trouble navigating through all the tabs and related information ended up being truly easy to do to access. I recently found what I hoped for before you know it in the least. Quite unusual. Is likely to appreciate it for those who add forums or something, website theme . a tones way for your customer to communicate. Nice task.

  9. Woah! I’m really loving the template/theme of this blog. It’s simple, yet effective. A lot of times it’s very hard to get that “perfect balance” between user friendliness and appearance. I must say you have done a superb job with this. Additionally, the blog loads very quick for me on Safari. Superb Blog!

  10. Thank you for sharing excellent informations. Your site is so cool. I’m impressed by the details that you have on this web site. It reveals how nicely you perceive this subject. Bookmarked this web page, will come back for extra articles. You, my pal, ROCK! I found just the information I already searched everywhere and simply could not come across. What a great web-site.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>