2009 was not a good year. It was pretty much miserable from beginning to end and I was glad to see it go. Two friends and my mom, within weeks of each other, had each been diagnosed with aggressive, deadly forms of cancer, our marriage was not in good shape, I had a car accident for the first time ever, my husband flipped over his bicycle and broke both his arms and on and on it went.
While all that was happening, something was showing up in my blood work, so my nephrologist sent me to another specialist to figure out what was going on. I got some tests done and had lots more blood drawn and went for a follow-up visit to the specialist.
“You’ve got This Thing, but you knew that already,” he said dismissively.
Confused, I shook my head. “No, I did not know that.” Why would I let you draw 100 gallons of blood and get scans and stuff if I already knew that?
“Oh well, you have This Thing.”
He then went on to explain all the really scary things that can happen because of This Thing, but then again, maybe not. I was in a bit of shock from all I had just heard and asked a couple of questions. Finally, I asked if there was anything I should keep an eye out for. He answered, “I’m not going to tell you anything because I don’t want you to run to me every time you get scared.”
Well, all righty then.
I found a kinder, gentler doctor who ran more tests to get more information, silly things like which type of This Thing I have. The good news, he told me excitedly, is that I’ve got a type of This Thing that responds really well to treatment and there’s a very high probability that it can be gotten rid of. The bad news is, so far, doctors have decided not to treat me because the treatment may cause me to lose my transplanted kidneys. However, at some point I may have to risk treatment since I can live using dialysis if my kidneys fail, but I can’t live without the organ This Thing might potentially, maybe, possibly destroy. Yaayyy, this is fun, isn’t it?
Soon after I found out about This Thing, my friend’s wife died as a result of the brain tumor she had. Her death shook me to the core. Hundreds to thousands of people were praying for her and this vibrant woman was very much loved, but despite all that, she wasn’t healed down here on earth. She was a few years younger than me and left behind a loving husband and three young children.
Ahhh, my kids… the real weakness in my armor when I think of a couple of the possible outcomes of This Thing. My kids have never seen me chronically ill. Neither has my husband. They all came along after my last transplant. Quite frankly, I don’t want them to ever know me that way and I don’t want to be that way ever again.
But He didn’t heal her, why should I be any different? my mind kept taunting.
There are too many maybes, mights, unknown variables and possibilities, good and bad, that my mind can’t seem to find a nice, comfy spot to put the information. Most of the time, I honestly don’t think about it. Except sometimes, every once in a while, I do. And when I do, it really messes with my head. Dealing with this new unknown can be a bit much and the “what ifs” are the assaulters of my soul.
So a couple of weeks ago, while stuff we own was breaking down and acting quirky, I had my own little break-down too. I was supposed to go to the doctor to see where This Thing stands and I was getting nervous. I feel fine so I don’t think much has changed since my last visit a little too long ago. But then again … what if?
Sometimes when I hear a verse running through my head, I just do what it literally says. So, as my what if anxiety rose dramatically, I went into my closet, shut the door and prayed. As I sobbed my heart out, all I really ended up saying over and over was “I don’t want to be sick again. I want to live.”
I was a little surprised by how strongly the words “I want to live” came out. It’s not that I think I’m going to die any time soon. It’s just that I want to live. I simply don’t want to be sick anymore. Illness has taken up too much of my time already and I don’t want to be afraid of what might or might not come. I want to live. I don’t want my kids to see me shrivel up in fear of the unknown. I want them to see a mother who lives life so they may know that they too, even through the unknowns that life throws our way, can choose to live.
So, while I may now have This Thing, I pray that This Thing never has me.
“This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…” Deut. 30:19-20