It all started in the spring of 2006. I was having some unusual symptoms that I never experienced. A numbing and tingling sensation persisted in my left hand and left foot. Sometimes I could even feel it in my right foot. First, I thought it may be circulation problems. I remembered what a client of mine (retired nurse) said about checking circulation . . . the fingernail test. I must have pressed on my fingernails a hundred times and every time I pressed, the blood would return normally underneath my fingernail. The numbing and tingling continued. I knew that these symptoms needed to be explained . . . not only for my own future health but my own peace of mind.
I called my family doctor and asked for an appointment. I was asked the nature of my request and I said, “I’ll explain it when I get there.” A couple days later I was sitting in front of my doctor and explaining my symptoms. She said that I was young and healthy, but she wanted to me to see a neurologist just in case.
Soon I scheduled an appointment with a neurologist. I couldn’t get an appointment sooner than three weeks with my current symptoms. Those three weeks soon passed, and I was in the neurologist’s office. I explained my symptoms and my past athletic activities. He seemed puzzled by my symptoms. He must have checked my reflexes three or four times. My reflexes were very good . . . at least I thought. He sat down and said that I have over-reactive reflexes. What? I thought my reflexes were good today. He demonstrated on my knee, and then I realized he was right. I could kick a soccer ball 10 yards with that reflex. He said we needed to do some investigative testing to determine/eliminate possible injuries or diseases. He said the symptoms point toward my head and/or neck. It could be a number of things like a compressed disc in my neck. He also mentioned a few other possible injuries and diseases (no mention of a brain tumor).
The first test was a comprehensive blood test. This test covered the gammit from Lyme disease to diabetes. As I expected, the blood test was completely normal. Now everything rested on the MRI of the head and neck. Looking back, I think the neurologist and I were both thinking Multiple Sclerosis. He even mentioned that if it was MS that he wouldn’t even have to treat it (symptoms were very mild for MS).
I had the MRI on May 13th. The following week the neurologist was on vacation, so I couldn’t see him for two weeks after I had the MRI. We had an appointment set for May 25th to review the MRI. When we sat down with him, he had not looked at the MRI (not sure why?), but he did read the radiologist’s report. He said there were no signs of MS! But there was a benign skull tumor (meningioma) on top of the right parietal lobe. He said there was also a small spot in my brain on the left frontal lobe. He said that he would look at the MRI and call me to let me know his thoughts on this other spot. Just a medical note here, the probability of having two different types of primary brain tumors at the same time is very low; 1-7%. So the general indication I received from the doctors was that it was not another tumor.
The next day was the Friday before the long Memorial weekend. I worked all day, and the reality of the benign tumor just didn’t sink in yet. We did send out an e-mail to family and friends that I had a benign tumor but the neurologist was not concerned about it. I think we wrongly assumed that he was not concerned about the other spot in the brain. When these health issues are flying at you at 100 MPH, it is easy to miss things. On one hand, we were ecstatic that the MRI showed no signs of MS, but no one could be prepared for the news that what was soon to come.
I came home that Friday looking forward to the weekend festivities. I had signed up for our annual church rifle shoot and had planned a fishing trip with [a friend]. I was changing into more comfortable clothes for the evening when the phone rang. My wife, Bridgett, answered the phone and walked into the bedroom. “Kent, it’s for you . . . it’s the neurologist.” When you get a phone call from your doctor on the eve of Memorial weekend, you quickly realize that this could never be good news. He quickly brought me up to date on this other unknown spot. Basically, he said that his expertise was limited in evaluating this and I needed to see a neuro-surgeon ASAP . . . like next week. Wow! What a load of bricks on my back. I told Bridgett the neurologist’s news. She asked me what I was going to do. I told her I would call a local neurosurgeon that happened to be a personal friend for the last nine years. I didn’t want to put a damper on anybody’s weekend, so we kept the news to ourselves that weekend.
I had a wonderful weekend. A church rifle shoot, Sunday morning service and then some nice fishing on Monday. I spent quite a bit of time with my friend that weekend and just couldn’t tell him. Truly, I didn’t want this to weigh on his weekend. Besides, these serious matters are always left for Tuesday morning Bible study and prayer. Every Tuesday morning at 6:45 is set aside for Bible study at Schoops with [some men from church]. It is a loose men’s Bible study that we all enjoy. When it came to prayer requests, I shared with my friends the news from the neurologist. I know that it’s not good to hold these things close, because it is a wonderful feeling to let it all go. I did that and we all cried. I was very scared and felt vulnerable. They prayed over me and I was already feeling better.
As I pulled out of the Schoops parking lot, I quickly paged my neuro-surgeon friend. I arrived at work and within an hour my cell phone rang. I looked at the number and recognized it was a hospital number . . . thank God! I quickly brought him up to speed on the MRI. He wanted me to pick up the MRI from the hospital and drop it off so he could take a look at it. Later that day, he showed me the picture of the benign tumor but could not get the image of the other spot to show (navigation problem). He said that I could expect a phone call from him later that night with his recommendation.
I knew he had a busy office day, so it didn’t surprise me that the phone call came in around 10 PM that night. He said that he was unsure of the second spot and reminded me of the probabilities of it being another tumor. So his game plan was to take the benign tumor out. This seemed to be a common surgical procedure, so I didn’t have a problem with this. From my own flimsy research, it seems that neuro-surgeons can go either way with benign meningiomas. They can either remove or medicate skull tumors. He also said that before the surgery he wanted to get more diagnostic testing on the other spot to see if it changed.
He wanted to do this surgical procedure as soon as possible. He asked me what I had planned for Thursday, June 9th. I told him that was the beginning of my nine-day vacation in South Dakota. My family and I were planning on visiting the Black Hills and its attractions. My [uncle and aunt] live in the area, so we were planning on spending some time with them too. The neuro-surgeon gently said that my relatives would understand the change of plans. I was sure they would as well.
The morning of June 9th came very fast. [Bridgett] mentioned that a group of young women at church were holding a prayer vigil for me while I was in surgery. That really meant a lot when I heard that, but then I wondered . . . do I really need all of these prayer warriors? Well, if God wants them to do it, I am going to need them.
I arrived at the hospital around 5:30 AM and started the testing at 6:00 AM. If all the tests were fine, surgery was set for 9:30 AM. When Bridgett and I arrived at the hospital, we were met by [my friend and our pastor of counseling]. In the next few hours and days, I would soon find out the invaluable counsel and comfort that [they] gave to me, my wife and my family.
The four of us were alone in the waiting room. Both [my pastor and friend] prayed and shared some verses of encouragement. [My pastor] shared Psalm 18:30, “As for God, His way is perfect.” What a wonderful verse! I am sure that I had read it many times before, but some verses just come to you like you never heard them before. I am sure timing and relevance may have something to do with it. Anyway, their encouragement and prayers were uplifting. At the end, [my pastor] said something that I thought was interesting. He said “Kent, I just have a good feeling about this one.” I think that helped Bridgett, but I didn’t have the same feeling. Maybe it was all my friends and loved ones praying for me or maybe it was the new nightgown I was wearing!
My pastor left and a nurse stopped by to pick me up. This is the worst part of a hospital . . . needles, especially IVs. Soon I was in the CT scan room. After that, they took me back to a pre-op waiting room that was filled with many family and friends . . . thank you, all! Conversation was light and soon [my senior pastor] dropped by for more prayer, verses and encouragement (Philippians 4:6). I heard some commotion at the nurse’s station. Then over the intercom there was a message. They were paging my doctor to call them immediately . . . not good. Soon after, a nurse came in and said, “You’re going back for a CT scan per doctors orders.” This was definitely not good. They quickly took me away. As I approached the CT scan area, there was my doctor waiting for me. “Kent, it’s a new ball game.” Boy, I knew the meaning of that! He quickly explained that the ill-defined spot in my brain had grown 1/3 in size within the last three weeks. This was not around the benign tumor. He said we have to know if this is a tumor from a different part of your body. If there was a different tumor location, it would be easier to biopsy say a colon tumor than the brain. So, for the rest of the day, I had more tests.
Friday morning came around, and an oncologist said that I was all clear down to my kidneys. He said they would finish testing in the pelvic area that morning. He suspected that nothing would show. He was right.
It was now down to “the spot”.
About noon, I met with my neuro-surgeon and he said it could be one of two things . . . an infection or a tumor. He suggested a biopsy that afternoon. If it was an infection, he could “remove” much of it and medicate it and I would soon be home. If it was tumor, (pause) well . . . we’ll have to talk about that.
An infection was very plausible to me because of the awful sickness I had earlier in the spring. I was struck by a virus that formed hundreds of cold sores on my tongue, gums, and lips. To top it off, I had strep at the same time. I had an extremely high fever for several days. It was the first time in 14 years I had to take a week off of work for an illness. I disclosed this illness with all of my doctors from the beginning.
As I woke up from the biopsy, I could see my doctor ask the nurse if I was awake yet and she said yes. He walked over and with a tear in his eye he said, “It’s a tumor”. I didn’t see him until the next day.
I’m not sure how Bridgett took the news, but it must have been devastating. She called my mother and told her. My mother was driving at the time, and Bridgett made sure she pulled over. Bridgett heard sobbing on her cell phone.
Not knowing much about brain tumors really put me at a disadvantage, but when a neuro-surgeon has a tear in his eye as he breaks the news there is an old saying . . . “I wasn’t born yesterday”. I soon came up to a neuro-ICU room. I spent the rest of the evening with more family and friends. I was in pretty bad condition from the anesthesia and prior testing agents, but I enjoyed every moment with everyone that visited me Friday night.
Everybody was composing themselves pretty well in my room. I could tell the waiting room was another matter . . . lots of red and swollen eyes freshly wiped with a Kleenex. That’s all I saw when they came to me. Mentally, I seemed to be taking the recent news rather well. Psalm 18:30 seemed to be taking hold. However, I knew this script was only on Day 2 and who knows how many more! As bad as I felt physically that afternoon and evening, it was nice to see all of the support and hear of all the prayers . . . especially the prayers.
A memorable moment happened that evening. The new shift of nurses was due, and I was assigned a new ICU nurse. Her persona reminded me of a younger version of my grandmother. She was probably in her 50s. I couldn’t do anything wrong but, as for others, don’t bother the patient or else. She had the stature to back it up as well. I wasn’t feeling well and she was concerned. She was also a little overwhelmed with the number of visitors I had that evening. I could often overhear her in the hallway “recommending” that we keep the visitors to a minimum of three. Surely she had specially training for this kind of warfare. One moment she made me feel like I was in my grandmother’s house choking down another slice of banana bread and the next moment she was making visitors feel so uncomfortable they probably felt like they were soliciting candy bars. Enter [my senior pastor]. I don’t think anybody warned him about my new ICU nurse, but he soon found out firsthand. [He] entered the room with some other family members to talk with me and the family. He was obviously updated on my health status and I could see that he was both concerned and intentional. It was the largest group I had in my room that evening. Apparently, while [he] was in the middle of his talk, my nurse had enough. She had a quick remark about too many people in the room again. [He] apparently wasn’t going to be deterred either. He kindly said, “I am the patient’s pastor. You take care of physical needs, and we'll take care of the spiritual needs.” That summed it up. If my head and stomach hadn’t hurt, I would have laughed. My nurse quietly left the room. She probably sized [him] up and realized she had nothing to worry about.
After my last visitors left, my nurse and I stayed up the rest of the night. I was sick to my stomach and throwing up. I don’t how many times I did, but there was so much pressure that blood was coming through the incision on my head. She took care of me and made me feel like her grandson. She even found me some nice doctor’s scrubs to wear! Away with that nightie gown.
Day 3. Saturday was a new day. My stomach was starting to feel a little better. I don’t remember much about Saturday morning, but I believe it was late morning when my neuro-surgeon stopped in my room. He was in a shirt and tie so I had a pretty good idea there was no surgery today. He sat down with us and said that he had gone as far as he wanted to go. He said that arrangements were made for me to go to Northwestern Memorial Hospital (NMH) in Chicago. He said that his request was for Dr. Hunt Batjer, an “internationally renowned brain surgeon”. Release papers were signed and by mid-afternoon, I was out of the hospital . . . at least for an hour. The transfer papers read “neuro-ICU to neuro-ICU . . . transport by spouse”.
Sometime that afternoon, my cousin visited me. We did our usual joking around and he did his best to cheer me up. Before he left, he prayed for me and Bridgett. Thank you!
The drive to Chicago was beautiful. The cool air was dropping and the green cornfields took my memory back to many wonderful days in Nebraska. My Dad was riding with us, so it wasn’t too difficult to start up a conversation about the family farm in Nebraska. I also thought about my three sons. I missed seeing them terribly. [Bridgett] and I decided to keep them away from the hospital due to their age. My oldest [son] was 4½ at the time. Thankfully, their [aunt] was staying at our home and watching over them. I didn’t know when I would see them next and the thought of it was painful, but I thought it was best that they didn’t come to the hospital. I-65 turned into the Skyway to Chicago and the landscape started to change. Steel mills turned into apartment buildings and apartment buildings into skyscrapers. Soon we were pulling into the NMH parking lot adjacent to the hospital in downtown Chicago. This is where I would spend the next seven days.
It was our first time to NMH, so Bridgett was having difficulty finding the drop off area for patients. It didn’t help having two males in the vehicle. My dad and I both became directionally challenged once we crossed the Stateline. Well, we couldn’t find it, so I told her to go ahead and park and I could walk. Besides, I was trying to find an excuse to walk. Bridgett felt bad that I was walking, but I assured her that this was the best I felt all day.
It wasn’t too far of a walk to the main desk. They greeted us and Bridgett quickly filled them in of our pre-arrangements. They were a little confused about the transfer papers. They read the orders “neuro-ICU to neuro-ICU . . . transport by spouse”. We all agreed that didn’t sound right. I should have been transported by ambulance. Bridgett assured them it was okay though. Regardless, they wouldn’t let me take another step. Standard protocol was that I sit in a wheel chair.
They took us to the 9th floor which was the neuro-ICU floor. This was a state-of-the-art ICU. The room was spacious and had all kinds of medical equipment. Soon my new ICU nurse was jamming more needles and IVs into me. The room was plenty big enough for a couch, but only had one cushion chair. NMH certainly had their experience with too many guests in the ICU. The message was clear, “You can stay here, but good luck sleeping.” The only person that had a chance to sleep in this room was the patient. But being in a university hospital, I soon found out that there was not much difference between day and night in the neuro-ICU. It always seemed to be a busy place and I never got much sleep there.
After about two hours in the neuro-ICU, my nurse said that I was their best patient. He said that I should be getting a room on the regular neuro-floor the next morning.
My Dad was still at the hospital with us and had planned on returning home with friends from church that evening. We had a nice visit and [they] offered a prayer and were soon on there way home. Bridgett stayed until [my friend] came. [He] kept me company for the rest of the night. I don’t know how [he] did it, but he slept in [a] chair.
Sunday morning came. After breakfast, I was down to the MRI room for more testing. One of my friends from church is one of the MRI technicians at NMH. Knowing [he] was overseeing the MRI gave me a good feeling. [He] and I chatted a little bit and he also visited me a couple more times throughout the week.
When I was done with the MRI and CT scans, the hospital put me in my new room on the regular neuro-floor. It was on the 12th floor. Always a great view. Soon a resident neuro-surgeon came in to discuss the next step. Dr. Batjer would be in the next morning to discuss my tumor. Finally, I get to meet this neuro-surgeon.
The rest of the day was quiet without a lot of interruptions.
Monday morning came and in walked Dr. Hunt Batjer with about five or six doctors behind him with notepads. After a friendly and quick introduction, he filled me in on my condition. He said that I had an ill-defined tumor on my left frontal lobe and it needs to come out. Fortunately, it is in the front of your brain and there should be little risk of motor skill loss. He said that the tumor would have to be deeper if that would occur. Okay, that seemed pretty good, so I asked how he would get at this tumor. He said that I’ll start with an incision at the bottom of your left ear, stay about an inch behind your hairline and would probably take it over to the top of my right ear. I’ll pull your face down and then cut your skull out and remove the tumor. He must have said that line a thousand times to a thousand different patients. He said it very well. I could tell this was the right place. Bridgett wasn’t convinced. She was getting sick to her stomach.
They left as soon as they came. It wasn’t much time with my new doctor, but what did I expect? It was Monday morning and I was an unplanned case in an ill-defined week. At least I was on the surgery schedule board, Tuesday, the 13th at 1:00 PM.
I had a few visitors that day. One of special note was my cousin [who] is a missionary in Romania and happened to be back this summer to visit his supporting churches. He made a special detour in his schedule to see me before surgery. He was there with his Dad and a young man from Romania that started a youth ministry there. It was a wonderful visit. They told me that their churches in Romania were praying for me and then [he] offered a prayer of his own. I felt honored that someone I didn’t know on the other side of the world was offering prayers for me. Wow! It was a special moment. I later learned that churches all over the country were praying for me as well.
The rest of the day was uneventful. A resident surgeon came in the evening and marked my forehead with some foam stickers. These stickers helped the neuro-surgeon’s alignment during surgery.
Tuesday morning soon came. No breakfast. This was the third time I was prepped for surgery in six days. This was getting old. About noon, Bridgett and my family gathered with my pastor of counseling for a prayer before surgery. We all held hands and [he] prayed. It was a wonderful prayer. I believe it comforted my family a great deal. I always looked forward to his visits. [He] always had the appropriate Bible verse and prayer for the appropriate time. Noon came around and one of the residents came by and said I was backed up to 3:30 that afternoon. This was getting very old . . . especially on an empty stomach. When 3:30 came around, the resident surgeon came in and said that I was a sure thing the next day at noon.
Soon, I was trying to get my three meals in before 9:30 that night. I knew that my strength was very low. I did accomplish my eating goals and my stomach felt a little better. Bridgett decided to spend the night in the room. She slept on the couch.
Wednesday morning came . . . surgery day. I was watching the news when the resident doctor walked in and said we’ve moved you up to 9:30 this morning. This was a pleasant surprise. Good thing Bridgett spent the night or no one would have seen me before surgery. My family planned on being at the hospital around noon to see me off before surgery.
At 9:30, a couple of guys wheeled me down to pre-op. Once I arrived at pre-op, the surgical nurse attended to some new IVs. Great! This time the IV tubes were noticeably larger in size. I could feel the difference. She said that once I was a sleep, she would have to do a couple more. These IVs would be even larger and requested specifically by the anesthesiologist. Soon they gave a relaxing drug through my IV. I don’t remember anything after that. It was about 10:10 AM when they took me into surgery.
As with any good nap, it soon comes to an end. I woke up as a couple of guys wheeled me back in my neuro-ICU room. Remarkably, I had no significant pain. Bridgett was the first one in my room. She asked me how I felt and held my hand. She was keeping it together . . . somehow. Soon my parents came in and then my siblings. Other relatives were there [and my friend too]. I was keeping myself pretty quiet and was trying to limit my communication to hand holding. As I sat there, I was doing some self checks in my mind. The best test is all of my computer passwords at work. I went through all of the passwords. As far as I could tell, my memory was all there. That felt good.
Eventually, everybody left and [my friend] spent the night with me. I could tell Bridgett was thankful and needed a good night sleep in her own bed. For [my friend], it was another night of sleep on the cushion chair. At a time like this, you realize that a good friend is a best friend.
I don’t know who slept less . . . me or [my friend]. He did some reading in the Bible and I was trying to keep my J-ello down. My new neuro-ICU nurse was busy taking care of me. I had IVs on each arm and each one had a purpose. I believe there were five total IVs. My nurse would draw at least two vials of blood every hour. My blood draws were checking out good. One time, my nurse came in with a bag and said I was low on potassium. As soon as the potassium reached my hand, my hand felt like it was turning to concrete. This was the most pain I had at my stay at NMH. I paged my nurse and he quickly removed the bag and gave me some potassium pills.
Thursday morning came and I was glad to be done with the first night. My stomach still didn’t feel right, so I had more J-ello for breakfast. My new nurse told me that I was scheduled for an MRI this morning and then back up to a normal room on the 12th floor.
The MRI room was busy. I must have waited an hour in the MRI waiting room. This would be my first MRI since surgery and a clear indication of a successful surgery. My stomach still wasn’t feeling well. It was probably an overdose of cherry J-ello. This would be the first time since surgery that I laid flat on my back. Before this, the nurses always kept my head above my heart to keep the swelling down. Technicians finally put me in the MRI tube and the racket began. This was torture. Brain surgery followed up by some hammer clanking on a cast iron grill . . . about a foot away. My head wasn’t hurting but the irritation was getting at my stomach. I felt like throwing up. Fortunately, I made it through 75 minutes of that clanking. They tried to scoot me out the room, but I would not let them do it. I must have sat on that MRI table for five minutes. I could tell that I was crimping their work atmosphere, but I soon felt better and moved into the wheelchair.
Soon I was back in the MRI waiting room. What a zoo! The place was packed. There were about 20 stalls separated by walls. Of course the walls were made of hanging cloth on roller bearings. Not exactly safe . . . but why would I need any more protection than that? Enter a non-cooperative patient male 30-40s, 6’3” and about 250 lbs. of solid muscle and in a bad mood. Maybe it was the night gown he was wearing . . . it didn’t look good on him. He told the technicians he wanted nothing to do with the MRI. I could appreciate that. I couldn’t appreciate that his stall was next to mine! One of the technicians pulled the cloth wall between us to help protect me. Right. The technicians had no training for this guy. They were used to pushing buttons and watching computer monitors and this guy was used to doing something physical. I don’t know what he did, but I wanted no part of this. Soon, six male technicians surrounded the bed and were getting ready for battle with this guy. I was thinking, “You’ve got to be kidding. I just went through brain surgery and now I am going to catch an elbow on my forehead. God, please help!” Fortunately, the patient calmed himself and entered the MRI room and I exited the MRI waiting room with my head intact!
When I arrived in my room on the 12th floor, I was greeted by my nurse. I quickly told her that my stomach was feeling bad. She recommended some medicine and I let her give it to me. She administered it through my IV and it calmed my stomach for good. Dr Batjer stopped in with some words of encouragement and reiterated that surgery was successful. He also mentioned that Dr. Raizer, a neuro-oncologist, would be in on Friday to talk with me. I knew what this meant. I didn’t feel like talking so he was out of there in a flash. However, I liked the sound of “successful surgery.” I knew that those words were chosen carefully.
Soon, I was eating a grilled cheese and my stomach started to feel normal. Bridgett came in and was happy to see me eating. I was too. We relaxed the rest of the day and enjoyed all of the visitors.
Friday came and I was feeling better. Sometime during the day, an unassuming middle-aged man walked in with the usual doctor attire . . . shirt, tie, and the white jacket. He introduced himself as Dr. Jeffrey Raizer, neuro-oncologist at NMH. I later learned that he was, in fact, the Director of Neuro-Oncology. He was very plain and could tell he was a straight shooter and I liked that. I had a strong feeling that there would be more details of the tumor (type, size, malignant, etc). He didn’t have much to say other than he looked at the MRI and the tumor looked like a grade III or grade IV tumor. He said to count on going through radiation and chemo. The official pathology report would be in the following week and he would review my treatment options at that time. He said not to count on the tumor being benign. I didn’t and it wasn’t.
Grade III, IV, radiation and chemo meant that I had brain cancer. When I thought about it at first, I thought brain cancer equals a death sentence. I had never known anybody that had brain cancer let alone that survived brain cancer. I was in un-chartered waters. My mind drifted a little bit, but I knew it was in God’s hands. God’s plan is always perfect whether I find it convenient or not. I knew that I would put up a fight and persevere . . . whatever the outcome. I felt physically, mentally and spiritually solid. Don’t worry about tomorrow . . . tomorrow will worry about itself.
It is still hard to imagine the thoughts I had at that time, but they were not of despair. I wouldn’t say that I was at peace with the recent news, but I felt that a battle had just been won. Not only a physical one and even a mental battle, but quite possibly a spiritual one. I don’t claim to take any credit for this battle, because it was my faith in Him that pulled me through this mental anguish. And I will certainly need His assistance and strength all the way through . . . He promises that. I would imagine most young men rarely get a close up look at death. Having a deadly disease makes its presence very accessible. This disease isn’t like a heart attack where you may only have moments of consciousness or even an auto accident that kills you instantly. This is much more like your worst dream that haunts you not only at night but during the day. A constant reminder of my mortality and the stop watch is ticking. Now it is ticking much louder than it was before. To not notice, you would have to classify me as a lunatic or maybe something worse.
So what is the point? I am not wasting my cancer. My life does have a special purpose and much of it revealed. What I believe and do in this life does matter. Some of you may say, “That is very nice, Kent, but I have done all of this or all of that.” My story may not offer you anything. But for those of you who have found some interest in my story, I hope you will take something from my experience and apply it to your life. I am not telling you what to do. You will know that enough on your own. You just have to do it!
And now back to my story. Friday came to an end and [my friend] decided to stay with me so Bridgett could take care of some responsibilities at home. It was a good night of sleep. [My friend] was sleeping better. He had the couch this time. I was starting to feel the effects of the anti-swelling drug, Decadron. The primary side-effect was insomnia. This would be more prevalent in the weeks to come. Anyway, it gave me time to thank God for my blessings. God doesn’t always give you what you want, but He gives a lot of what you need . . . even if you don’t know what you need! It was about 4:30 AM, and I felt like sitting in the chair. [My friend] didn’t wake. He was at the end of a well deserved night of rest. I thanked God for [my friend] too!
[My friend] woke up startled. He was concerned about me . . . I was sitting in the chair. It was about 6:30 AM. [He] quickly explained that I needed to get up and move around. Then start asking the doctors when I could go home. I wasn’t feeling up to the game plan, but I did it anyway. Well, it worked and I was all set to go home at lunchtime. So long hospital food!
[My friend] left for home and Bridgett was soon there to take me home. Release papers were signed and with a handful of prescriptions, I was out the door. It felt wonderful to be heading home! Finally, I would get to see the boys! I was very proud of Bridgett. She seemed to be holding her own despite the grim news. We had about a two hour drive home due to traffic. We didn’t talk much, but I noticed Bridgett’s countenance gradually changed. It was like her energy left and despair was setting in. At that time, I realized that there were two patients heading home.
Finally, I was home. I was gone for nine days but it felt like the whole summer. The boys were great. [The oldest and middle ones] had a new interest in baseball, and [the youngest one] was doing a better job of clobbering Daddy. My parents, [a sister and an uncle and aunt] were there for supper. It was a beautiful summer evening.
Sunday was a tough day. Not for me, but for Bridgett. Bridgett was retrieving information on the Internet. She was specifically looking for facts concerning Glioblastoma Multiforme (GBM IV). Most of the information she found was devastating. Certainly not the kind of hopeful message she was trying to find. I was unaware of her Internet searches that day. My day was rather relaxing and very unaware of my wife’s growing despair.
It wasn’t much before supper when I heard the doorbell ring. I opened the door and there stood [our pastor of counseling]. “Bridgett called and needed to talk so I came over,” he said. This was news to me. Soon we were all sitting in the living room. [He] had some specific advice for us both. First, Bridgett was to stop “chasing rabbits that aren’t running.” That is stop the Internet searches and the “what if’s.” The information was tearing her up and she knew it. Moving forward, we all agreed to only use Internet sites and literature recommended by Dr. Raizer. Second, he said, at this time, I shouldn’t feel responsible for Bridgett’s healing. This counseling should be left to him and other members of our church body. I never gave that any thought, but I thought the advice was wise. [He] wanted me to focus my energy on healing and I definitely had enough on my plate.
And last [he] shared a story with me that he wanted me hold onto. It was the Old Testament story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abendego. The story has been told many times but now has special significance to me. We think of Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Before King Nebuchadnezzar threw them into the furnace for refusing to worship a golden image, they said, “If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up." They were saying that if God did not deliver them, they still would not bow down and worship another god.
If you were wondering who I was referring to when I referenced He, Him, and His, this story is about this man. If you want to read the whole story it is in the Book of Daniel. Three brave men were facing a fiery furnace. Death was imminent. The furnace was hotter than ever. Men died making it hotter. Yet these three men believed their God was the one and only God. They believed He could deliver them from their current persecution. And if He didn’t, He was still the one true God. This proclamation didn’t serve them well. Thrown into the fiery furnace they went. Yet they were unharmed. The three men could be seen walking in the furnace. But the amazing part of this story to me was the introduction of a fourth person in the furnace. King Nebuchadnezzar said he looked like the “Son of Man” (this man was Jesus).
So what is my point? I think God is trying to hammer in me that He is and has been there for me and I need to rely on Him. He can deliver me from my pain and suffering but doesn’t need to. He wants me to count my pain and suffering as pure joy. Persevere. His plan is always perfect. He has sent his Son, Jesus Christ, to walk with me in “my furnace.” He has suffered more than I will ever know. All I had to do is believe and put my trust in Him. And I have and will forever. That is my point.
Later, I went to bed . . . thanking God.