It Only Hurts When I….
Posted November 14, 2012on:
His back hurt all summer. He couldn’t ride his horse or even bait a hook without groaning. He visited doctors, chiropractors, had x-rays. It’s just arthritis, they told him. He insisted on an MRI, which revealed a disturbing spot on a kidney. CT scans showed a mass on his right kidney which presented itself in every way as cancer. It’s small – I can remove it, the young urologist told us. Have you ever done this before? I asked this doctor who looked to be about fourteen. Oh yes, he assured me. I did hundreds of these when I worked at the IU Med Center. Don’t worry. How could I not worry over my husband of 47 years? It was like asking me not to breathe.
We’re great believers in the power of prayer, so we enlisted friends, relatives, church, and even Facebook friends to pray. Our pastor and elders came and annointed him with oil. We were ready. On the day before surgery, the doctor called to ask if we had any questions. Are you a Christian? I asked. Yes, I’m a Catholic, he assured me. Good, I told him. Get a good night’s rest and say your morning prayers. I’m sure he rolled his eyes. The next morning he met with us briefly before the surgery. My husband asked, Got your knives all sharpened? Weary with surgical humor, the young doctor said they didn’t use knives anymore. When I asked if I could pray over his hands, he appeared startled, like I might invoke some voo-doo on him or speak in tongues. But he offered his hands and I held them, surprised how big and soft they were – like oven mitts. My husband’s hands are big and rough. My son’s are smaller but hard. I offered a short silent prayer and released them. The young surgeon, in his turquoise shower hat, turned and quickly scuttled off to the OR. Soon our son, daughter, son-in-law, and pastor joined me. It was to be a four hour surgery, but before two hours passed the doctor called for me. All five of us crowded into the small room. Bad news: he couldn’t get quite all of it due to blood vessels. Good news: it is benign. Question: should I take the whole kidney or close him up? Close him, we all agreed.
The next three days were nighmarish. Pain, itching, headaches, constant nursing care, machines beeping, leg wraps, IV line, drain tube, catheter, no sleep, food or drink. Walking was tortuous but necessary. Days 4 & 5 a little better. Friends popped in with flowers and balloons. He tried to resond cheerfully but groaned when they left. After six days, he came home and improves daily, but still taking lots of pain meds, not eating or sleeping much. Relatives and friends bring nourishing food and short cheery visits. Tomorrow he gets the staples out, that tiny foot long railroad around his mid-section. We are grateful.