Thursday, February 18, 2016

#SOL16: A Litany

Rob before Treatment

My husband didn't have a chance to fight the lung cancer that is killing him because he was too busy fighting multiple staph infections. Three staph infections in five months.  During that time, he received just two chemo treatments and one of those led to the staph infection that we had been told had been successfully treated running amok, settling the infection near the right ventricle of his heart and requiring emergency thoracic surgery and the removal of his 5th rib.

Grief (2/2016)
Rob has endured so much pain from the infections, the cancerous lesions on his spine, bone breaks, relentless tests, spinal cord compression,  multiple surgeries, the spread of cancer, and nearly 90 days away from home, away from all that is familiar, known, touchable.

With each new procedure,
Devon holding his father's hand (2/2016)
each new MRI,
Cat Scan,
blood test,
Doppler ultrasound,
with each new blood culture,
each new surgery,
each bag of antibiotics,
each injection,
each transfusion,
each new needle in his arm, his thigh, his stomach,
each new pill to relieve pain: oxycontin, dilaudid, morphine, and lyrica,
each new fentanyl transdermal patch,
each new roxanol injection,
each new blood clot screen,
each dose of radiation,
each new arterial stick,
each new picc line insertion and removal,
each new port insertion and removal,
each cardiac incident,
each blood clot in his legs, his arm,
each new cancer fighting drug

                                                  --alongside these medical maladies and interventions,
we were offered hope.

It is important that you understand that we were not being fanciful, imagining the best of outcomes. Was it not a month ago that we were assured that Rob would not have been a candidate for spinal neurosurgery, had he not had a prognosis for at least 6 more months to live?  Was it not a month ago that we were assured that the cancer was not aggressive?  How then did it spread so quickly to Rob's sternum, ribs, liver, spleen? How did we end up hearing 4 weeks later that nothing more could be done?  How in the space of 28 days did his life expectancy change from greater than 6 months to a couple of weeks?


Doctors, even the finest ones, are mere mortals like us.


In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis captures this sense of false hope well. He writes,
"What chokes every prayer and every hope is the memory of all the prayers H. and I offered and all the false hopes we had. Not hopes raised merely by our own wishful thinking, hopes encouraged, even forced upon us, by false diagnoses, by X-ray photographs, by strange remissions, by one temporary recovery that might have ranked as a miracle. Step by step we were ‘led up the garden path.’ Time after time, when He seemed most gracious He was really preparing the next torture" p. 30.

The next torture.
That so aptly encapsulates what Rob has endured these last five months.


Sometimes late at night, as I sit in the chair beside his bed, listening to the putter and puff of the oxygen machine, I find myself wondering what might have been had that infected port not been inserted into his chest on that Monday in September. Or if that surgeon had spent a bit more time and followed up instead of missing the signs of infection.  I wonder where Rob might now be if the first staph infection had been treated completely so that when he received his first chemo treatment, the infection didn't result in a massive abscess.

What might have been had we opted for no treatment? 

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