There was a time in my post-operative journey that all I felt was rage. I was angry at the situation. I was angry that I was stuck on bed rest for months without any end date in sight, while the days flew by and everyone else got to keep living. I was angry at optimism. I was even angry at my husband’s prayers.
Luke would pray over me asking God to please perform a miracle. To please remove the tumor completely. To remove all of the hardware completely. To bring complete healing. I was so blinded by the very present feeling of the tumor’s weight in my body. I was so blinded by the grief. I was so blinded by the very heavy screws and rod in my spine I still swear I can feel shifting ever so slightly. I could feel all of these things. And the pain was horrific. How could he pray such a thing? It didn’t seem possible. Ever. So I grew angry at these prayers, because I felt there was no possible way that this very present very painful tumor could just vanish. I grew angry at God.
We named my tumor Hamilton. Luke and I couldn’t stand the “t-word” in our apartment as we sorted through the horrifically long weeks of tests and diagnoses. So I named it. No idea why Hamilton popped up, but here we are. Hamilton is an 8 centimenter neurofibroma in my spine that wraps around and extends into my right psoas muscle.
This Friday, I go in for my one year post-operative scans. We don’t know what these scans will look like. The suspicion is it will continue to grow about a millimeter each year. But the big question mark is in which direction. If it grows into my spinal cord, it will again compress my nerves causing loss of motion and goodness knows what else. If it shifts further left into my psoas muscle, it could shift closer to my uterus. To me and my deep yearning to one day carry a baby Pfleiderer, that may be even harder to fathom than losing nerve functionality.
I can do this. But even if I can’t, I have to.
We all have it. The Thing. The Thing we are determined to decide we cannot do. The Thing that when we try to even consider conquering we cannot further consider the thought alone, let alone the actual action. The conversation that needs to happen. The interview. The appointment. The day. The phone call. The Thing. The Thing we absolutely completely totally wholeheartedly cannot do cross our hearts and hope to die…and yet, we push. And we do it. And even after we conquer it, we wonder how the hell we ever conquered it. But Lord are we glad we did. Yes, it does indeed call for a Chick-fil-A celebration, no matter what The Thing is. Right now, this is The Thing in The Pfleiderer House.
You don’t have time to be afraid when you’re on the field fighting. When you’re doing The Thing. I felt myself actually feeling emotion at one point during my hospital stay. The other moments were blurs of adrenaline, pain, and a whole mess of medication highs. My surgery, scheduled for 3 PM, was now bumped up to 10 AM. The nurse came bolting in and told me to strip down as they were going to disinfect me and get me all “beautified” for being wide open on the operating table. When she left the room, Luke helped me sit up to start getting undressed. WHAM. Tears stung my eyes. Then came the fear. Then came the unthinkable. Then came the questions. The overwhelming sadness. The long list of what ifs. The nurse came back in. Swabs of iodine in my nose. Hands wiping my entire body down. Business bustling in and out of my room as I sat there naked. Back on the field. No time for thoughts. No time for fear. The Thing was here.
In Pre-Op, Luke stood by my bed squeezing my hand. When our neurosurgeon came behind the curtain to say good morning and brief Luke, I told him we needed a picture of Hamilton because we had a lot of people praying for us up in Ohio and we needed to put a face to this horrible named thing. He asked where in Ohio. Boardman. He graduated from Boardman High School 15 years before I did. BHS. Little itty bitty Home of the Spartans. And here he was. Saving everything. No more fear. The Thing was being conquered. Hope was knocking. And yes, plenty of Chick-fil-A was had, trust me on that one.
One night, during my angry phase of post-op, my sweet mother-in-law took us out to dinner. It was one of my first times out in public since the surgery. I was angry as I dressed my sickly and shrunken 85 pound bony body. I was angry as I tried for the first time to put makeup on a paled, unrecognizable face. I was angry as Luke slid my shoes and pants on for me because I couldn’t do it myself. I was angry as the cool December air pricked my skin, causing a shiver, causing horrible tinges of pain as my muscles tensed around the healing wound. I was angry.
That evening, we sat at the table as the man in the party next to us excitedly told a story to his group or surrounding friends. Angry at the world, I tried to tune him out. But I couldn’t. I wasn’t meant to.
He shared that his father’s best friend had an incurable brain tumor. It was benign, but growing and causing severe issues. It needed removed. In the days leading up to his surgery, as the support system prayed the brave prayer of complete healing, the doctors scheduled some final scans to get a solidified route of where exactly they would enter and attempt the resection. When reviewing the scans, two days before his surgery, the doctors glazed over vacancies where there was once a very prominent presence. The tumor was gone.
Mama Jane & Luke looked at me and heard this just as I did. My whole body tingled. It was possible. I was angry. But I felt Hope nudge at my angry heart.
I am not afraid. I was born to do this.-Joan of Arc
It may seem impossible. It may make you reject the thought alone like a toddler rejecting anything green on their plate. It may seem like you will never get through The Thing. But it is possible. You will get through it. Even when you’ve shut every door, locked every window, sealed all cracks, nooks & crannies…Hope will still come knocking.
Let’s pray the impossibly brave prayer. Let’s do The Thing.
Big Hugs. Always.
Featured Image By: Creative Imaginations Photography
To find out more about Neurofibromas, please visit: Neurofibromas