I'm sure that most of you have been updated through my facebook, but I thought I'd start with an update and some explanation. I had a small reconstruction procedure in January that was supposed to be a simple last step to the whole reconstruction process. Ever since then, I have not been able to heal from the wound on my left side. I've gone from disappointment and frustration to resigned acceptance as I've tried various methods to help the healing process, eventually starting wound therapy up at our local hospital. While this has been inconvenient, it really hasn't gotten in the way of me living like a healthy person, and I have been so thankful for that.
Last Tuesday, I woke up in the middle of the night in lots of pain. I went up to the wound clinic in the wee hours of the morning, and through various phone calls and visits to doctors that day, I ended up in front of my plastic surgeon on Wendesday afternoon (thanks to my sweet daddy who dropped everything to take me to Medford and my superwoman gramma who dropped everything to watch Sawyer and Everett--Liam was worried about me and came with us). By this time I was feverish, in intense pain and very obviously sick. My normally optimistic surgeon told me, "This is really bad." And so, into the hospital I went to be put on IV antibiotics and regular pain meds (yuck and phew!) Ryan made the trip from San Franscisco in record time and was with me by late Wednesday night!
Over the next few days, I truly felt like I was in a battle. Sometimes the antibiotics and I would be winning and I would feel so much better; sometimes the infection was definitely winning and I would feel wiped out. But, on Saturday, God used the antibiotics to get the better of that darn infection, and they let me out to enjoy the romantic birthday weekend Ryan had planned before all this happened. For 24 hours, Ryan did an amazing job of spoiling me rotten and distracting me everytime the despair would threaten to overwhelm me. We laughed, because it felt a lot like when we sometimes are trying to hold off an impending melt-down with the boys by pointing out pretty stuff and handing them candy (which NEVER really happens, because we would never bribe our kiddos into good behavior with candy;-)
The sense of despair and doom comes from the fact that next Monday I have to undergo a surgery called a latissimus dorsi flap surgery. I consulted with all of the doctors who have helped me battle cancer, and they agree that this is the best and perhaps only choice in moving forward. As soon as I heard that I had a dangerous infection, I requested that they just take out the left implant and be done with it. I know that I would have to grapple with the self-esteem issues that would arise with that, but I definitely did not and DO not want to go through major surgery again. But the real problem is not trying to make sure I have what looks like a left breast; the real problem is that the skin on my left side has been so damaged by the radation that there's not much hope it will ever heal. There's no blood supply, so there can't be any healing either (I'm sure there's an awesome metaphor in there somewhere...stay tuned:-)
The LAT FLAP surgery will create a new source of blood supply to my left side, giving me the best chance of ultimate healing. So after much prayer, Ryan and I decided we agreed with the doctors. Unfortunately, I know what this means: I know the pain that is in store for me through these next few months; I know what this will do to my loved ones, even though they are happy to be there for me; I know this means relying on everyone around me to meet my needs and my sons' needs; I know this means my husband having to serve me in hard ways, which he always does valiantly; I know that I will need to be brave and strong when I feel like my resevoir of those qualities is used up instead of stored up.
Fortunately, I know what this also means. I know that I am never closer to my Lord or more comforted by his Spirit than when everything else--especially my health--is stripped away. The instensity of my reliance on him is never stronger than in times of pain and dependence. And this knowledge helps me to keep pushing forward.
I also know that God never stops giving me reasons for joy, even when things are a bummer. I have the best family and friend support in the world! Every time the nurses came into my hospital room, they said, "Wow! It's a party in here!" because I had so many visitors (all the way from Klamath!) I got balloons, flowers, gift cards, and--best of all--tons of encouragement through emails, phone calls, and texts. My husband loves me like crazy, my boys think I'm amazing, and my family is ready to help in any way I need. I am so blessed.
One of my dearest friends, Denise, emailed me this verse that I am claiming as my own through the next few months: "And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil. 4:7).
May you all feel this peace as you pass through your own valleys of pain and fields of joy.