Saturday, September 26, 2009

Not Just A Little Something Good...

Merry Meet and Brightest Blessings Friends and Family!

Firstly, I beg your patience, because there is no way this to abbreviate this tale.

That said, I need to begin by making a confession. I had begun to take for granted my many, many blessings. Sorrows, past and present and the usual stress and unpleasantries of daily life began swirling like an ill wind around me, vying for a place amongst all the wonderful things that have happened. I am ashamed to admit that, at times, I allowed these things to overshadow my perception of what was really important.

On a beautiful Friday morning, two weeks ago, I sat gazing out the window and prayed silently, "We need something good to happen in our lives. Not just a little something good, but really spectacularly fucking good". Without realizing it, in that moment, I had broken one of the most basic rules of magickal practice, "be specific".

The following afternoon, my husband had planned to attend a Hindu dance recital being performed by one of his students. He was really excited about it. I however, felt unusually uneasy about him going. It was raining quite hard, it was a fairly long drive and my son would be traveling with him. We argued about it for most of the morning.

A few minutes before they were to leave, my husband announced, "I think I'm going to the hospital". "What's wrong?", I asked. I had been having vague premonitions about this very scenario for months, which I foolishly decided to chalk up to anxiety. I already knew his answer. "I'm having chest pain", he replied. "Get in the car, NOW!", I demanded, and drove 50 mph the block and a half to the hospital

Now, this is exactly the kind of thing my husband would have just blown off as being insignificant, so the fact that he was even telling me at all meant that he was truly alarmed. Once at the hospital however, it was quickly determined that he wasn't having a heart attack, but needed to be monitored for several hours and have lab work repeated just to be certain.

During that time, the ER shifts changed and we were assigned a new physician. "Hi, I'm Dr. Meyers, I'll be taking over your care", he announced. So, you have abdominal pain?" My husband and I quickly exchanged worried glances. "No", my husband replied, "I'm having chest pain". "Did he NOT read the fucking chart?", I wondered. "Oh yeah, chest pain", he replied. I felt nauseous.

The new doctor reiterated the plan of action. They would be repeating the blood work and if all was normal, we would be discharged. The previous tests were all good, so we were hopeful. Then he took things a step further and ordered a chest x-ray and CAT scan of the chest. My husband is a former smoker and given that his mother died of lung cancer 30 years after she had quit smoking, my anxiety level just rose to something akin to "Red" on the Homeland Security Terrorism Threat Advisory Scale.

After all was said and done, Dr. Meyers came in to report, "Well, your CAT scan was normal and if the blood checks out, we'll be sending you home". To say the very least, we were relieved. Things however, were about to become...surreal.

He returned a short time later with a team of hospital personnel who began unhooking my husband from the cardiac monitor. "Well, your blood work looks good, he said. "We're sending you home, have a mass in your lung"

Wait! What did he just say? We both shot him a look of shocked disbelief! He did not just say "a mass in your lung!", did he? Hadn't he just said the CAT scan was normal!? There had to be a mistake!! Was he even looking at the right patient's CAT scan?! No, he was wrong! He HAD to be WRONG!!! I felt as if I might pass out!

"Are you sure?", I demanded. "Is it a mass or a nodule?", I asked. "No, it's a mass", he said. You know, there was a time when I considered myself unshockable, but what he said next was something even I couldn't fathom coming from the lips of a physician. "Listen, the mass is not going to kill him right away", he said. "The important thing is having him seen by a cardiologist first thing on Monday morning, then follow up with a Pulmonologist". "Maybe they'll just "watch" it for six months". At that point, I actually considered the possibility that this person had to be a psychiatric patient who had wandered off the ward, taken the elevator to the ER, grabbed a white coat and was pretending to be a doctor!

Afterwards, I'm pretty sure we were discharged. At least, I sort of remembered a disembodied walk down the corridor of the ER. I stopped our nurse on the way out. "How big is the mass?", I asked. 4.6 centimeters, was her reply. "Good Luck", she said. Her tone was more one of sympathy than sincerity. I shook and gagged on the ride home. Neither of us slept much that night.

I woke up on Sunday morning with the words, "lung tumor' echoing in my mind like some kind of twisted mantra. Alone, I paced the house...not knowing what to do first. My mind played a continuous stream of the worst possible scenarios. After 30 years in the field of medicine, several lung cancer diagnoses amongst family and friends, I can tell you that none of these were beyond the scope of possibility. I felt desperate to know what we were dealing with, yet terrified to possess that knowledge.

I was so distraught that I was physically ill. I desperately needed to calm down enough to take control of both my emotions and the situation.

I admit it, I'm no fucking hero. I called my boss to ask for a prescription for Valium. I told him that my husband was diagnosed with a lung mass and despite him speaking to the ER physician the evening before, he had no idea. He asked me for my pharmacy number and told me he'd call me back. And so he did, a short time later, but what he had done was so much better than any little yellow pill I could have asked for. Not only had he reviewed the CAT scan himself, but he contacted Dr. Robert Korst, the Thoracic Surgeon who was to perform my husband's surgery. Dr. Korst was kind enough to take the time to review the CAT scan on a Sunday morning. Have I mentioned that I love these men?

What we learned was that there was a tumor, the size of a silver dollar, that was "squatting like a toad" in my husband's chest, very close to his spinal column. They weren't sure if the tumor was in his lung or the chest wall. What was certain was that it needed to be removed immediately and it was to be major thoracic surgery. The good news was that the Thoracic surgeon was "fairly certain" that it was something called a "benign neurogenic tumor". We clung to the word, "benign" like our fucking lives depended on it...because they did.

The surgery took place this Monday past, via the VATS (Video Assisted Thoroscopic Surgery) procedure. The initial surgery went well, but was more complex than was initially thought. The next day, it was determined that Ray had a "bleeder" (a small area of internal bleeding) and needed to be brought back to the OR for a second surgery. That surgery went well, the bleeding stopped and he was discharged from the hospital a day later.

On Friday morning, the "not just a little something good, but really spectacularly fucking good", that I'd asked for came into our lives.

From my lips to the ears of the Gods, the tumor was completely benign.

In Darkness, Light!


P.S. Dr. Meyers, the ER physician, turn out not to be a psychiatric patient as we'd suspected, but instead, was actually an angel in disguise.


Rue said...

Thank the gods your husband was operated on so quickly and thoroughly! I hope he heals quickly! What a blessing this was caught and corrected!

Noelle said...

I am sorry to hear about all of this..I'm so glad that your husband is doing well. Sending good thoughts your way.

greekwitch said...

Lots of healing thoughts! That was freaking scary!

Anonymous said...

I'd have been total basket case. Sending positive thoughts and energy your way.

Tracy said...

Thank you all for your comforting words and healing thoughts!

Yes, I was a complete and utter basket case and yes, this was a blessing disguised as a near disaster.

These tumors are rare, usually have no symptoms, but are almost always benign. They can however, become large enough to be quite dangerous.

My husband occasionally complained "he felt something was "stuck" in his shoulder, but an adjustment by our Chiropractor usually alleviated his discomfort.

He actually thought that he may have made too much of the chest pain, but he had also had some jaw pain which are classic symptoms of a heart attack.

If it weren't for the quirky doctor who ordered the CAT scan, our situation could have been much more serious than it already was.

Thank you all again!

We feel truly blessed.

spottedwolf said...

Well Tracy ? The whole incident sounds as if you've been granted the best gift ever...a longer span of each other. For a woman who loves as deeply as you...what could be better, I ask?? Nothing atall.

Pretty damned spectacular for you and Ray, et al..........

SeeThroughGreen said...

WOW! I dont even know what to say! Thank the Gods that it wasnt fatal and that the surgeries went well!
That really was something amazing!
I am so glad that everyone is allright!

carol said...

HOORAY FOR YOU AND RAY!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

wylde otse said...

There are few atheists at the moment of death, and fewer yet at the gates of heaven or hell.

I am touched by your story.
Thanks for sharing.

Hitherto, I had a loose understanding of the word 'blessing ' as synonym of 'gift '. I realize now a truer meaning: that 'blessing' is knowledge of, or faith in, the Divine Spirit.

The word * blessing * acknowledges the Giver. It is both the gift, and the thanks, in a word !

And thank you, for opening my eyes and heart a little wider.