2 Timothy 1:7
For God has not given us the spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.
These scriptures and many others brought me great comfort through the moments when I thought I could not go on any longer (in my imperfect self, there were lots!)
I knew that God was with us in every moment. We were briefed on what the surgery was going to involve and what could happen during it. I know the Doctors have to inform you of the risks, but sometimes I have wished that they would just not say it, that somehow it could be said without saying, you know?
Somehow them putting it into words made me more nervous about it, though I wouldn't have wanted them to do the surgery without me knowing the risks either. I guess it just gave me more reason to pray harder!
Like I said in the last post, I was now around 8 months pregnant. We went into Regina on the 15th and stayed at my dad's overnight because we would have to be at the hospital early in the morning.
That was a rough night, Greg was in a lot of pain. We managed to get some sleep and in the morning the hospital called. The surgery was moved to the following day because something else had come up.
It was a let down and a relief in the same breath. We wanted to just get it over with and get this intrusive disease out of his body, but we were relieved for one more day together. I didn't want to think about the dangers lurking in this. The night of the 16th was even worse that the night before. We were sleeping on a mattress on the floor in my dad's living room. Greg wasn't moving very easily at this point. It was a long, awful night with lots of tears shed. We turned out the lights and fear started to settle on us. "What if I don't make it?" Greg asked me. "I don't want to die. I want to be here to see our baby breathe it's first breath. I want to do so many more things in life." More tears from both of us. Greg was so uncomfortable and we had already given him pain meds. I tried propping him all different ways and nothing seemed to help. He was having trouble breathing if he laid flat, the pillows would not sit properly to lean him up on the mattress, it was not going well. My dad was so great that night. I felt so loved by him and I know Greg did too. He must have heard us moving around trying to get Greg comfortable and he came out to see if he could help. He used to be a paramedic and worked in the medical field for many years. He asked what Greg had taken for meds and told us what he could take in addition to it. He brought us a vaporizer to make the air easier for Greg to breathe, he brought some rub stuff out for Greg's sore muscles, he brought out a tape with healing scriptures on it for us to listen to and most importantly he brought his prayers out. Greg ended up sleeping sitting up in one of the recliners propped with pillows and a footrest, I ended up curling up on the love seat and Dad sat in the recliner opposite Greg and prayed. I finally fell asleep that night listening to my daddy pray over us. I was so thankful he was there and felt protected by him that night.
In the morning we got up and headed to the hospital. My dad came with us, again I was thankful to not be alone. They took Greg and got him settled and ready in pre-op when we arrived at the hospital. Then they let me in to sit with him til it was time to take him to the O.R.
Greg was very nervous and feeling quite queasy so they brought him something to calm him. Dad and I sat by Greg's bed and prayed with him as we waited. The nurse came and said it was time, they were ready. Dad gave Greg's hand a squeeze and waited for me just outside the door as I walked beside the stretcher down the hallway. Our eyes were filled with tears, I was trying VERY hard not to show that I was scared. I wanted to hang onto his hand forever and not let go. Trusting people to look after your soul mate in a situation like this can be so difficult. Trusting God, I felt better about that option. The surgery was to be about 3 hours.
I watched them wheel him through the doors and out of sight. I smiled through my watery eyes till I could see him no more and then the tears poured. My dad wrapped me in his arms and suggested we go get something to eat. It was going to be a long day.
I really didn't feel like eating, but I knew it was necessary. I needed to be strong. My dad sat with me for the morning. Cathy, my other mom, came up for a bit as well. My mom arrived part way through the morning. I was so thankful to have my parents there with me. They were the best support I could have had through this.
It was now noon and Greg had been in surgery for about 3 and a half hours. We kept checking in with the nurses but they had heard nothing yet. We went for walks, read magazines, talked and dad cracked jokes to distract me. At about 2:30 we still had heard nothing so dad went to talk to the nurses again. When he came back he had good news, Greg had been in recovery for about an hour and a half already. Shortly after the surgeon came to talk to us. He told us Greg had made it through surgery and done well. He said it had been a complicated surgery. Greg's doctor from home had asked to sit in on the surgery.
The doctor performed a right thoracotomy and they were able to remove the whole tumor, however they could not completely remove the nerve the tumor had grown from. The tumor grew from the 6th intercostal nerve. It was abnormal, about the size of a man's finger. The neurosurgeon had left about an inch of the nerve attached to Greg's spinal cord. He did not feel comfortable getting any nearer to his spinal cord to remove the rest of it because he felt that in order to get close enough, Greg would very likely have been paralyzed in the surgery. He did not want to risk that. Just to be safe, they also had removed 4 and 3/4" sections of his 5th, 6th and 7th ribs that the tumor had worn away at. Greg's right lung had been completely collapsed by the tumor and the surgeons were able to peel the lung away from the tumor successfully. The lung re-inflated beautifully after the took the tumor off of it. The tumor appeared to be encapsulated except for an area at the bottom of it. They could not tell if the tumor had spread to any more of the tissues in his chest, that remained to be seen. The tumor measured 7.5" x 5" x 5.5" and weighed 3.62lbs.
I thanked the doctor and was told that I could see Greg in about another hour if they were able to move him from recovery to SICU. I think it was about 4pm before we actually got in to see him, but oh what a relief it was. I had been told to expect a lot of tubes and machines and lines on him. We were allowed to go in two at a time to see Greg. Mom came with me. As we walked down the hallway, I tried to make my heart ready for what I was about to see. We walked into the room and they were right, lines and tubes and monitors and beeps everywhere. He had gone from my healthy, strong, teasing husband to this wounded body laying incredibly still on the bed. I took a deep breath and went closer, I leaned in to give him a kiss on the cheek trying not to disturb any tubes. He opened his eyes and I don't think I have ever been so glad to see those beautiful blue eyes in my life! He whispered for me to come close again. I leaned in and I can't tell all of you what he said ;o) but let me assure you, Greg was still Greg! His sense of humor was fully active even just out of surgery. When I stood back up chuckling, my mom leaned in and asked "What did he say?" She thought he had whispered something romantic or deeply thoughtful and reflective. I told her and she laughed and said, "Oh that boy!"
The next days of being back and forth from the hospital are a bit of a blur. There were ups and downs with Greg. It was very difficult to watch him in such pain and not be able to do anything. About the third day they decided to try a morphine PCA pump. (Patient Controlled Analgesia for those non medical people like me)
Greg had three IV sites already and two of them had malfunctioned and were removed. When they decided to try the PCA pump, they tried to start another. The first nurse tried three times and then called in another nurse. The second nurse tried another two times and still no success. Each time they would get the line in, turn on the pump and it would wreck the vein. Greg's arms were turning into black and blue canvases, not to mention the pain of "fishing" around to get the line in a vein. They decided that they would switch him from morphine to Tylenol 3's. I can tell you right now that when a person is in enough pain to warrant a morphine pump, T 3's do almost nothing. He was in so much pain and I could not help, it felt like I was failing him.
That night I drove home from the hospital and I felt so stressed out. (Yes it was a bit of a selfish moment for me, not proud of it) Because of my pregnancy being considered high risk, I had been off work for the whole pregnancy and could not go back until after the delivery. I did not want to have to go back to work with a newborn at home. I wanted to nurse my baby for many reasons most of them to do with health.I also wanted to save some cost by not having to buy formula, but in order to nurse the baby, I had to be home. I did not know where life went from here, the future looked very uncertain. Financially I had no idea where money was going to come from, I just had to trust and have faith that God would provide for us. There were baby things that we still needed to buy and no money to buy them. I had some diapers but certainly not enough to last very long. I didn't know how we were going to pay bills, buy food or necessities and all of that was on my shoulders at that moment. Yes, the tumor was out of my husband, but they did not know if it had spread or would return, it was all very overwhelming.
I drove home to my dad's in the snow that night, emotionally exhausted from the day and cried. I let the tears flow that I had been holding back all day trying to be brave, and poured my heart out to my Heavenly Father. I pounded the steering wheel and told Him how frustrated I was, how scared I was, how I didn't want to have to raise this baby alone. I wanted our baby to know it's daddy. I am sure I must have looked like a basket case behind the wheel! The nurses at the hospital as well as some family members were concerned for our baby. They thought with all the stress that I may go into labor early. I prayed again that night, that God would protect and shelter the baby. I told Him this was His miracle baby already and I told Him that He was going to have to keep her safe from the stress. I prayed for peace, I prayed for comfort and strength to be what my husband and this baby needed me to be. I know He was with me in the car that night, I felt Him. I felt His arms come around me and I determined from that moment on to rest in Him. I had peace that He was going to work it all out for good and that we weren't going to have to wonder where provision was coming from. My God would take care of me and us. He would never leave me nor forsake me.
Greg got out of the hospital a couple of days later. At that time I was driving a 1982 Ford Fairmont. It was a good old car, but the highway has many bumps and I felt terrible for every one we went over on our way back home. We set up a bed in our living room so that Greg could lay down comfortably through the day, but he spent the first few days downstairs where our bedroom and the bathroom were so he would not have to do stairs for the washroom. Now that Greg was home healing from surgery, we were on to the next thing, preparing for our baby to come. I was due in just over 3 weeks. When the day came for us to go to the hospital to deliver Jinaea, Greg was still healing. He was not allowed to lift anything heavier than 4 liter jug of milk which is about 9 pounds. Jinaea was 8lbs 1.5oz. Just under the wire! He could not walk and carry her for long but he did spend plenty of time holding her. I would prop his arm with pillows so that he could hold her properly.....My heart cried out as I watched them, "Thank you God for my two miracles."