Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A Miracle and an Angel

Twenty one years ago tonight, I was in a hospital room, drinking gallons of nasty medicine to clean out my system for my hysterectomy the next day.

I was absolutely terrified. I was ready to call off the surgery. I had never been under anesthesia, nor had I ever been in a hospital. The surgery was to remove a several benign tumors, a huge endometrial mass caused by endometriosis, and all of my female organs. What I was most frightened of was waking up and having the oncologist who was performing the surgery tell me that I had cancer, as there was a possibility of ovarian cancer.

The doctor I had was wonderful. He described what he would be doing, he was very calm and confident, and he sincerely cared about my well being. He was very well known not only for his bedside manner but his keen surgical skills as a gynecological oncologist. I remember telling him about my biggest fear of waking up and hearing his voice saying "it's cancer".

I didn't sleep well at all that night. There was a lady next door who was vomiting every 5 minutes. They knew for certain she had ovarian cancer, so they decided to operate on her first thing in the morning at 7 a.m., which was my original time slot. They told me it would take about 4 hours, and I should be ready to go to the O.R. by noon. So, needless to say, everytime I heard the distinctive surgery ring from the phone, I jumped, thinking they were summoning me as the next patient to be wheeled downstairs. I was finally summoned at 4:00 p.m., as the lady's surgery took much longer than anticipated. At about 4:30, a nurse came in and gave me a shot of some wonderful medicine (which I found out later was Demerol) which let me not have a care in the world as my gurney took me away to my fate. I noticed my husband smiling at me, and the aides having a bewildered look in their eyes when they looked at me - and it wasn't until the next day that my husband explained that I was saying some pretty stupid things on my way to surgery.

I do remember getting into the O.R. and Dr. Bell was waiting for me. By this time, it was close to 5:30, and he apologized for being so late. I was feeling rather magnanomous by that time, and told him that it was quite all right, he could keep me waiting anytime. He smiled and started asking me questions about my home town, and then everything went black. It seemed like two seconds later, I was in recovery, and my body was shaking because I was so cold. Dr. Bell asked me a couple of questions like what day it was, where was I, etc. , and then he said "Val, it wasn't cancer". I just smiled, and said "Thank God, and thank you", and I went back to sleep. I was now on my way to recuperating from the emotional and physical trauma my mind and body had just went through. It was, indeed, a miracle from God. And it paved the way for my next miracle, when, six and a half months later, I became a mom of my beautiful adopted daughter, TP.

What touched me the most during this whole ordeal was something special which Dr. Bell did for me. My surgery took about 5 hours to perform, which would mean I was finished by around 10:30. He waited by my bedside for me to wake up, which was at around midnight. By this time, he had been at the hospital for almost 20 hours straight. He actually remembered that my biggest fear was hearing the words that I had cancer, and he wanted to make sure that I woke up to the sound of his voice telling me I was cancer-free. It was the voice of an angel that greeted me through the foggy remnants of the anesthesia, to deliver that miraculous message.

And, by the way, I owe a big "thank you" to my husband througout this whole ordeal. He was my rock. He helped me through it - and he was very patient and kind and loving even when I was not. I told him tonight that, in a way, I wish it was 21 years ago so that I could re-live these years all over again. He looked at me like I was nuts, and said he liked where he was right now in his life. Don't get me wrong - I like where I am, too, for the most part - but I would dearly love to re-live the times again when the girls were little. It was so much fun, there was so much love and laughter.

Twenty one years ago, I was given a second chance at life. I am so grateful for that, because without it, I never would have had the beautiful experience of being my kid's mom. I love you, girls!!!


At 11:51 PM, Blogger Kevin said...

Wow. Your situation was similar to my wife's. The doctors thought that she might have cancer, but the oncologist came into the waiting room, sat down next to me, and said very rapidly, "I want to get this right out front: we didn't find any cancer." I could have screamed with relief and joy, but that just wasn't the way I rolled in those days.

Let's hope the next 21 years are as meaningful, eh?

At 8:27 AM, Blogger annb said...

What a blessing to have such a kind and caring doctor - sometimes hard to find these days. Of course, not having cancer was the greatest blessing - at that time! I know what you mean about re-living the time when your children were small. That was a wonderful time for me, as well. They were so cuddly and fun - without a care. I love my children and would do anything for them, but WOW! those teenage years. My son is 18, and those worries are still on-going and I will be so thankful when he realizes what an awesome young man he is and the great potential he has for his life. Maturity is a great thing and I'm ready for him to find it!
In His Love and Blessings,

At 2:53 PM, Anonymous ProphetJoe said...

Last night a friend of mine got a call that her cousin had passed away from lung cancer. She knew that it would happen soon, but she still struggled to regain her composure after telling us the news. We were at church when she got the call, so there were many friends around to console her, but the part that made us all so sad was that her cousin was 34 and leaves behind 2 boys and a 3 month old daughter. Doctors initially discovered the cancer when she was pregnant, but thought it had gone into remission. Several weeks after her daughter was born, she got the news -- she did, in fact, have lung cancer and it was terminal. That was about 8 weeks ago.

There is another parishioner in our church who has small kids and she's struggled with breast cancer. We've all witnessed the side effects of her chemo treatments, but we thought she was in remission too. Unfortunately, she found out this week that her cancer has metastasized and it does not look optimistic for her...

About 10-12 years ago, when my wife and I were starting our family, my wife was told she had severe endometriosis and it was extremely unlikely she would ever get pregnant -- in fact, the doctor suggested surgery without any physical examination (just an oral history of her symptoms) whatsoever!

We decided to get a second opinion and we're now expecting our 4th child (due in the Spring) -- always get a second opinion people!!! -- and it's never taken more than 2 months for us to conceive once we decided we wanted to try!

I don't really have a point to my comment, I guess. The events of the last 3-4 days, combined with the recent anniversaries of my parents passing away, really has me thinking...

Peace to you and yours, Val.


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