Since much of the past 2 weeks have been spent inside doctor offices, a friend and I made plans to head to Belmar and walk the boardwalk to "God's Square Mile on the Jersey Shore," also known as Ocean Grove.
When I realized it was 2.2 miles in each direction, I suggested perhaps we park closer.
My friend polietely said "no."
So off we headed while I internally fretted a bit about the chilly winds and the fact that I was heading out on a 4 1/2 mile round trip walk after weeks - okay, maybe more like months - of virtual couch potato-ness punctuated by the occasional shoveling session for what seemed to be our weekly encounter with a Nor'easter in the Garden State.
I didn't want to overdo things 2 days before my first surgery to remove "sentinel lymph nodes" to check on any spread of the cancer.
We walked for what seemed like an eternity and considered giving up our quest when we bumped into a couple who told us it was another 10 minutes away. We kept walking.
We arrived at our intended destination with a few minutes to spare before their 2 pm closing time.
A delicious lunch, two cups of tea and a slice of double chocolate mousse cake warmed me up and gave me the energy to head back!!
We enjoyed a warmer, less windy return trip, stopping on occasion to snap a few pictures.
Tuesday I headed back to the hospital for a nuclear dye injection.
Now, because I'm allergic to so many things, my first question always is "what's in this?" before anyone gives me anything.
The response from the technician was "you should be fine as long as you're not allergic to sulfa."
Well, guess what. I am. And I have detailed that a million times on the litany of forms I've filled out for the hospital and every doctor in the place over the past 2 months.
Tears started welling up because I was frustrated and a little scared. I could have taken Benedryl or something else to prepare for this, but now, here I was, in the position of having to make a decision on whether or not to move forward with this very important test.
The alternatives weren't much better - one drug would turn me blue..."you'll look a little like a smurf for a few days"... and the other had a 3% chance of anaphylaxis.
"Jesus, you knew this would happen. This is not a surprise to you! Help me."
The doctor reentered the room voicing doubt that my earlier reaction was to sulfa. He believed it was another ingredient in the pills I had taken.
I hesitantly agreed to the injection.
The test finished, I began to notice my tongue felt as if I had scalded it on a hot drink. That lasted for the entire day. Although my surgeon said she'd never heard of such a thing before, I'm kind of the poster child for weird diseases and reactions.
I didn't sleep well that night.
4:30 a.m. came as early as it sounds and I got ready for the trip to the hospital. Although I thought I was calm on the outside, my subconscious was messing with my stomach.
My sister dropped me at the door and went to park. I pulled out my Bible, and opened it up to the Psalms where my eyes fell on 138:3 "When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted." I read the rest of the passage which ends with "The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, oh Lord, endures forever-do not abandon the works of your hand." I felt God's presence and was ready for the next step.
I registered and my sister and I chit-chatted until the nurse came to take me back to the prep room. On the way, she shared that she too had breast cancer but was a 7 year survivor. It's a story I've heard far too many times since my diagnosis. So many women have walked this path before me! Too many.
I had been concerned about anesthesia because after my last operation more than 30 years ago it took longer than normal to come out of it and I woke up nauseous. So when the anesthesiologist walked in, I said "you're the one I'm concerned about."
I explained my fears, but he went over all my allergies and addressed my concerns. When he left, the nurse said "He's the best...he was my anesthesiologist. You know if the nurses use him for their own surgeries, he's a good one."
I remember being moved from gurney to operating table and not much more. As my eyes fluttered and I began to emerge from unconsciousness, a nurse asked how I was feeling.
"Tired." I drifted off again as I heard her say, "that's okay, rest."
The doctor came in and told my sister that the nuclear material from the day before had somewhat worn off and so she was only able to remove one node instead of the intended two, but it would be okay.
Eventually, I wakened and steadied and was able to leave.
I went home and slept some more, but all the early dozing and the soreness of the area under my arm made for a rough night.
In my previous post, I stated that I was praying for a Good Friday. A good report. When I woke from a nap this afternoon, I was surprised that I had slept through half a dozen phone calls, one of which was from the surgeon.
She had gotten the pathology report back a day early. The lymph node was clear. It will indeed be a Good Friday!
"Thank you Jesus. Praise you Lord!" I sobbed the words out loud, tears of joy running down my face.
It's the first good news I've had since January 22nd.
I still have a long road ahead. The bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction scheduled for Monday looms large, but I am bold and stouthearted. I know God has heard my cries and the prayers of scores of people. Some know me well, some have heard of me, some I've never met. But each person who lifts their voice toward heaven and intercedes on my behalf is precious to me.
Thank you for joining me on this journey through your encouraging words and prayers. I pray that should you find yourself facing something similar in the future, you will know that peace is possible when you look to the Prince of Peace for strength.
Joshua 1:9: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do no be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go."