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Friday, June 15, 2007

Birthdays and Anniversaries

June is a big month for me. First, it's my birthday. This year I have to share it with Father's Day (not my favorite thing to do..I like my birthday to myself). Birthdays are fun, I like getting surprises and presents!
June is also a big anniversary month for me. Not my wedding anniversary, that's in October. June is the anniversary of one of the most life changing experiences I have had. Being diagnosed with cancer. Would you like to hear what happened? Please read on if you want to hear the story. I'll start at the beginning.
Spring 1995. I was in my last semester at Coffeyville Community College. I was making plans for where I would go to get my Bachelor's degree. At the time I was majoring in Art. I believe it was February when I caught a nasty cold and had a really hard time shaking it. I was tired and dragging the entire semester. I missed more classes than I should have simply because I felt terrible.
I was having a hard time swallowing and breathing. I thought maybe I had asthma and that's why I felt like I couldn't get enough air.
I made it through the semester and graduated, but I still didn't feel good. I remember going out to dinner to celebrate graduation and getting things like mashed potatoes and fried mushrooms because they didn't hurt to swallow.
By now it was June and my brother and sister-in-law came down for a visit. We went to a little town in Oklahoma to go to some flea markets or something like that and at lunch I had mashed potatoes and I remember my mom telling me she didn't like the sound of my breathing. She told me I sounded like a death rattle. What a nice thing to say, huh? Only, she was right. I hadn't been able to sleep for a couple of days and still couldn't swallow and was so tired.
My mom decided it was time to call a doctor. At the time, I didn't have any health insurance because I was 23 and just had part time jobs to pay for school and I was too old for my parents insurance. I also had only lived in Coffeyville a couple of years and didn't have my own doctor down there. My parents were just switching to a new doctor. It was Sunday, June 10th and it was early evening. Mom called the doctor at home, explained what was going on and he told us to meet him at the emergency room in Indepedence (a neighboring town about 30 min. away).
At the emergency room the doctor looked me over and they followed procedure for anyone who comes in with difficulty breathing. They took x-rays of my chest and throat. I got a shot in my tushy to counteract any swelling and was sent home. They told us I could follow up with Dr. Empson that week.
I went home and slept. The shot had allowed me to breathe. Early the next morning the phone rang and my mom answered it. It was either the hospital or the doctor's office. They had looked at the x-rays and said it looked like something was pushing on my windpipe and they wanted to get me in for a CAT scan that day. So I went in and had a CAT scan. I got poked a lot while the radiologist was trying to hook me up to an IV to feed the contrast dye in with. After the Cat scan, I went to work. I had an appointment for Wednesday to find out the results of the CT.
The doctor had given several possibilities of what the problem might be when he had talked to my family. Thyroid, glands, or a slight chance that it might be something requiring surgery. So I went to the Dr.'s appointment alone. My mom was at cheerleading camp and would be back the next day or so and my dad was at work.
Have you ever gone somewhere to get news about something and just known that you were going to hear the worst choice scenario was what you would face? I went to this appointment knowing that I would need surgery. My parents had reassured me that I would probably just need a pill to make things better, but I knew. Deep inside, I knew, I wasn't going through this the easy way. I wasn't trying to be negative and gloomy, but I knew. I've had other times like that. Some people say it's intuition. Maybe. I think it's God giving you a sense of what will happen so you can prepare yourself at least a little.
So I went to the appointment with my gut instinct and then the doctor told me the news. "There's some sort of growth and we need to get it out. You're going to need surgery. I'm going to call around and see who can get you in the soonest." I sat there in shock, wanting to weep, but trying to keep it together because the doctor would be back. He came back and gave me the information and I left. I headed right for my dad's work. I needed to tell him the news. At this point, I was about to fall apart. I made it into my dad's office and found my dad. His boss let us use his office as it was the only one with any privacy and I fell apart. I sobbed the news to my dad and mostly I just sobbed. I was so scared. The only time I had ever been in the hospital was when I was born.
This is getting long. I think I'll continue in another post. Keep reading.

1 comment:

Miscellaneous From Missy said...

I'm way behind on reading your blog, but I'm really glad to be able to finally hear your story...from you, anyway. Colin filled me in a little bit when you guys were still dating.

How scary that must be to not be able to breathe! I'll bet you weren't sleeping very well either. I'd be scared to fall asleep.

I'm so glad God is good all the time!