I’ve tried to write this entry at least a half a dozen times but my thoughts are so non-cohesive that it always turns out as hopeless ramblings of darkness. Needless to say this eleven day hospital stay has been difficult. In my mind I had prepared to write about how the doctor’s warning about this chemo round was wrong. I envisioned this entry being a testimony of God’s faithfulness to Israelle, another story that amazed modern medicine. Not so much. Not only did everything play out just as they had warned, it actually lasted longer.
Some time over the weekend the nausea hit and at one point she was dry heaving almost every hour. Her body was so weak that she would fall over onto mine afterwards, waiting for the strength to sit up. She handled it with more grace and dignity than I have ever seen, never crying, just reaching for her bucket and moving on.
There were a couple days where it seemed we were on the upward swing and then yesterday she began vomiting again. We aren’t able to leave until her stomach can keep down a certain volume of formula that she’s receiving through the feeding tube. So far we aren’t even one fourth of the way there. To say I’m discouraged would be a significant understatement considering we have to be back here in ten days for the next round of chemo.
My little Izzy is a fighter. She’s an overcomer. She is able to endure what must be endured and still do the things she longs to do. For Izzy, the thing she always longs to do is take a ride in the little pink “school bus” as she calls it. We take a ride every single day in that car. I walk behind her with her pole and all her cords and she pulls ahead with excitement. This week she has been too tired and sick to go at her normal speed. She’d go herself a few steps and then stop to lay her head on the steering wheel for a couple minutes. Then I’d push for a while. It usually takes us about twenty minutes to go to the main lobby and back. Yesterday I think it took us about an hour. The point is, she did what she set out to do. Every single day she goes on a ride downstairs no matter how sick she is. I just pack up the bucket and a towel and we go. Cancer will not stop her.
But it’s stopping me. I know the things that are in store for us in the weeks and months ahead. I can see the dates on the calendar where she won’t be able to leave the room for “school bus” rides. And I know that after the next round of chemo we’ll have a scan. Then we’ll know how the cancer is reacting to treatment. And that same week they’ll do surgery to remove the primary mass. How much of that mass they are able to remove will give them a new statistic for her chances of survival. In a month I’ll have a new number staring me in the face. Once again, I am left to wait.
It occured to me this week that it seems the Lord is calling me to a season of patience during all of this. That in and of itself seems horrendous to me. I am not, nor have I ever been, patient. But now I have two choices. I can either learn to be, or I can continue being miserable in this waiting. Initially I was stuck, not liking either of the two options at hand and then it struck me, “I am to be patient.” Then I looked over at Izzy and realized that she is “a patient.” She was the exact thing that it seemed I was being called to be, but they were different words, right? Maybe not.
Intrigued I start doing some research and I was amazed at what I found. The definition for patient as a verb, in other words what I could be during this season, means “bearing or enduring pain or difficulty with calmness.” The definiton for patient as a noun, as in what Izzy is, is “a person undergoing medical treatment.” But both words come from the same Latin verb, patior, which means “to suffer.” Is it really so hard for me to consider being the same thing that she already is? The thing she has no choice but to be?
Suddenly my perspective changed. Was I willing to let go of all control and allow myself to suffer graciously too, just as she already is? Perhaps that’s why Izzy suffers so beautifully. She isn’t fighting against her suffering, she’s fighting through it. Wow. When I grow up, I want to be just like her.