Thursday was filled with good news all around. Upon our arrival at the hospital the surgeon told us a second look at the scans had changed his first impression of what we were dealing with. He now believed that the ‘mass’ that remained inside Izzy wasn’t actually tumor but scar tissue. Surgery confirmed most of what he believed to be true. Most of it was scar tissue. There were just two small spots that appeared to be tumor and he was able to remove both of them entirely except for a one millimeter place that was right between the kidney and the artery that connects to it.
That morning was a whirlwind of emotions. I had been up since 3am and surrounded by friends and family all morning. Having spent so much energy focusing on the surgery I had failed to remember how difficult recovery was. She had had this same surgery just ten months before and as I walked down the halls of the recovery unit to her bedside images of that last recovery began to flood my mind. The last surgery was much smaller than this one. They had only removed a small tumor, but this time they manipulated her bowel and stomach to chisel away at scar tissue that needed to be picked through with a fine tooth comb.
I passed the beds filled with children sitting up eating popsicles and sipping ice water. Each bedside was separated by just a brightly colored curtain. At the end of the hall were larger isolation recovery rooms with sliding glass doors. In the room they told me I’d find her obviously wasn’t a child eating a popsicle. What I saw instead was an unrecognizable figure lying on it’s back face turned toward the glass door. I peered in but didn’t dare open the door. The child’s face was swollen and round with no distinct features that told me this was my child. Without distinct features and no hair I could not tell if the child was a boy or girl.
The nurse motioned for us to come in. “Why is she so swollen? Why is she so pale?” I asked staring at the child they said was mine. They said it was all the fluid she had gotten but this seemed ridiculous. Even though she had a central line for access to run two types of meds or fluids at a time they had put in two more IVs so they could run four. Her once tiny arms were so swollen they would soon have to cut off the hospital bracelet which was now cutting into her skin. Between the oxygen line, the drainage tube hanging from her nose and the two drainage sites at her side she was lost somewhere in a tangled web of chords and fluid collecting around her. When she finally tried to open her eyes her eye lids were too swollen too part more than 1/4 of an inch or so.
The first two days after surgery were painful to watch. An epidural kept her pain under control except for when she would sit up to vomit. Her digestive system has been under constant stress from chemo on and off. Now things that may normally make someone a little sick to their stomach send Izzy over the edge. That first night she was up constantly but not from pain, from nausea.
It’s hard because everyone is celebrating the good news, everyone but Izzy. For her this has been the hardest week she’s had. The fact that all the rocks are out means nothing to her. She doesn’t even know what that means.
On Friday the day after Izzy’a surgery we got some big news about her treatment plan. We were four weeks out from a part of the plan I’ve been dreading. A part I’ve never had peace about. Friday we found out the study we were a part of is off. There were problems with the study and it was stopped just befor Izzy was to move forward. From what they know now that change in plans could save her life.
When I first started this journey the Lord quickly taught me that the only way I would make it through was one day at a time. I began to stop thinking about tomorrow all together and focus just on this one day, asking for the grace to get through it – “give us this day our daily bread.” And that was all I could do for a season.
But it seems that there is a shift now. Like now I’m moving into a new season. We’ve had some hard days and I know we have some really hard ones before us too. But asking for the grace to ‘get through’ isn’t enough anymore. I find myself wanting to hope. To hope for a time when this will all be a thing of the past.
In the beginning, I didn’t have it in me to hope. But over the past few days the Lord has shown me He’s trustworthy. He is delivering my Israelle. He showed me twice in the same week and now I’m ready to hope for that continued deliverance.
I wish I could say I had it in me all along…to hope for it. That all along I’ve been sitting back with my legs propped up and a smile on my face knowing with certainty that God would come through. But I didn’t. I’m a real live person and I’m broken. Just because we don’t always trust the Lord doesn’t mean He gives up. He never gives up on us, never stops loving us and never, ever leaves us to walk our journey alone.
Today He has given me reason to hope for tomorrow. I have stood at the pit of hell and looked in with despair and disbelief. But step by step He has pulled me back to a safer perimeter. And I will wait in eager expectation for Him to pull me further away until the pit is no longer in sight.