On a day to day basis I worry about a lot of things. Will Nathan actually grow up unaffected from living on a diet of cheese and crackers, grilled cheese and peanut butter bread? Will Ket drive to work (2 miles away) without crashing the car and hurting herself? Will we finally find a way to keep our house clean once and for all?
But then, something happens that turns life inside out in an instant. My son has been sick for a couple months, we are at a follow up appointment and the nurse practitioner calls in the pediatrician, something she hasn’t done in the 10 years we have been using this practice. The pediatrician mumbles, “biopsy”. And suddenly every other worry is forgotten.
So what do I do after that appointment? I shut down emotionally, let myself get lost in Friends re-runs and other mindless TV. I scroll facebook till my eyes cross. Anything to avoid thinking of IT. The C word. Then my 15 year old says it, “Cancer, I have cancer.”
My heart almost stops. I put the smile on, no, no you don’t. I’m sure it’s nothing, they are just making sure. But inside, I know it is possible, and he does too.
Stage 1- avoidance. Complete.
Stage 2- research. Nurse mom commence.
Now I go into research mode. I read everything, I text and call everyone I can. What should I ask for, who should we see? What do you think? A colleague pulls a personal favor and gets us into a surgeon in a couple days. I am a wreck. My mom calls daily to ask how he is. He is fine I say, maybe more tired than usual, but really fine. I am short with my mom because just the thought of it and the lump in my throat grows and my eyes well up, I just can’t talk about it, cannot think about it, not yet. Not ever.
We see the surgeon. He is fairly patient with me and my questions yet offers no insight into what he thinks is going on. I ask him what he is looking for. He looks me dead in the eye and says, “Mom, we just need to get a look at it.” I want so badly to send my boy out of the room and have a heart to heart with this guy, but I also don’t want to scare my son. So I accept the fact that there will be no answers now and schedule the CT.
The CT is done but not without me calling, pleading, changing sites until we can get it done 4 days earlier than originally scheduled. Then the wait begins. The day of the CT my son and I played hooky. We got Steak & Shake and went to a movie at noon. He smiled for the first time since this started. I am scared, he can see it, and it is worrying him. Because, you see I am not that mom. I rarely take my kids to the doctor. We rarely do anything more than take a Tylenol. Because I am an ICU nurse I know most of what they get are viruses that have no treatment anyway. I encourage fluids and rest. Yet now I am pulling my son out of school for last minute appointments. Usually I scribble short notes to the school on scrap paper, now I am writing letters, asking for a phone call. Wis is smart, he knows.
Waiting for the report is hell. I call more than I’m willing to admit, and finally the report is ready. I am there in 10 minutes, ripping the envelope open and reading as I walk to the car. Could be this, could be that. I know all about radiology reports they are pretty much always inconclusive. But the one could be is bad. So the calls begin.
Two days later we are at the second surgeon’s office, and finally my momma’s heart can rest. It is unlikely. There will be surgery, it’s not over, but hearing ‘unlikely’ is what I needed. My breathing slows, in fact, I can breathe again. Then Wis smiles.
When it’s all over I reflect on if this boy had not been adopted. If he had not had access to some of the best doctors in the world. In Haiti he would have waited months to be seen, going to clinic after clinic looking for answers, but even if answers came, so little treatment is available. I’m grateful for insurance and available medical care, and answers, and bright doctors who take the time to figure my kid out. Yet again I see God’s hand in our life, in how he built our family and I’m thankful for the way he has woven together this story.