I sat in the waiting room reading "Choosing to See" by Mary Beth Chapman. It was a bit eerie how much her words mirrored my own life in certain ways. In her book, she talks about how she had certain expectations of how her life would weave into the way she had perfected it in her mind. Only, her life turned out to be nothing like she had previously envisioned. It was hard and heartbreaking and exhilarating all at different times...it was so much more difficult and yet so much more rewarding than she had imagined. It was rattled with trial after trial. And in these trials, she and her family grew in amazing ways.
I found myself relating in so many ways to her words...all while I was facing another trial to shake up our family...
I have always been open and honest about Nathan's medical struggles, and I have reached the point where I feel that I should be open about my own recent medical issues. As mothers, we tend to undermine our own struggles and wait until the last minute to take care of ourselves...it's part of being a mother. We tend to worry about our children and put our own issues on the back burner. We also tend to hide our struggles, as not to cause worry to those we love. It is with that disclaimer that I apologize to anyone who may be offended that I did not share the following information with them previously...
About mid-summer, I had a lymphnode pop up at the base of my hairline. I often have lymphnodes pop up with illnesses and infections, but this one was different. It was really hard and fixed, meaning it was not movable. In dealing with Nathan's chronically swollen lymphnodes, I know what is okay for lymphnode to feel like...and what is not okay. My new little node was not okay. However, it was an isolated finding, so I ignored it.
About 3 months ago, I had 2 new and larger lymphnodes pop up on the opposite part of my head...again, hard and fixed. All three swollen nodes are occipital nodes. I also started getting pretty intense headaches originating in the back of my head. I was a little more concerned with more rock-hard nodes popping up and not going away, but this was a time when we had a LOT going on. It wasn't until the headaches got pretty bad when I made an appt with our family doc.
Understanding quite a bit about the medical world and showcasing my amazing skills with Captain Google, I was not surprised when lymphoma was at the top of the differential. The doc ordered lab work and a chest x-ray, which all came back normal (labwork is more of a rule out process for infections in this case and a chest x-ray was to see if the lymphnodes in my chest were swollen, which they were not). Shortly thereafter, I met with an ENT who specializes in head and neck tumors. Since I have no other symptoms indicative of lymphoma (unexplained weight loss...gee, I wish!, night sweats, and fever) he wanted to make sure there was no underlying infection somewhere causing the nodules to swell. He put me on a 21 day course of antibiotics. There was no change in the lymphnodes.
Unfortunately, one of the earliest warning signs of lymphoma are painless, hard, fixed, and enlarged lymphnodes in the neck, armpits or groin areas. Mine are in my upper neck...the occipital region. This morning, all bundled up from the sub-arctic temperatures that are unfamiliar to our area, I walked the familiar path to the hospital I have visited with Nathan countless times in the past 3 years. Only this time, I had no children with me. I underwent a punch biopsy of one of my funky little nodes, which is one of the strangest sensations I have ever had (you can actually hear it being ripped out...totally nasty!).
The procedure was painless due to the wonders of lidocaine. Unfortunately, the doctor (who I love, btw...he's from Russia and is totally hilarious) wasn't quite sure if he extracted enough of the nodule (apparently, lidocaine distorts everything, making it difficult to decipher what you are extracting). He said that if he did not get enough of the node, I will need to undergo a more complex surgery under anesthesia, where he will make an incision and remove one of the larger nodes.
However, if the procedure was successful today, we should get results by Friday. If it is not lymphoma or any other type of cancer that has moved to my lymphatic system, we can assume that swollen nodules are benign. Obviously, that is our prayer.
That being said, God has blessed us with a wonderful sense of peace regarding whatever news we will be given. It is simply amazing to think of all the ways he has prepared us for the trials we face in our life. I believe that dealing with the severity of Nathan's issues have prepared us greatly for whatever we may face in the future. God has blessed us with abundant grace to face each and every trial we have met so far, and we know that he will continue to lead and direct our minds and hearts.
But our prayers are that the findings are benign. Lord willing, we should know more soon...
"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness." Isaiah 41:10