“We pray for blessings
We pray for peace
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep
We pray for healing, for prosperity
We pray for your Mighty hand to ease our suffering
All the while, You hear each spoken need
Yet love is way too much to give us lesser things.”
I have recited these lyrics before, Blessings by Laura Story. Unfortunately, they became all to familiar to me again two weeks ago as Jay, Collin and I walked into St. Jude for his kidney surgery. Blessings? Peace? Healing? What was I walking into again?
My fear was just that, walking into St. Jude and sleeping on the couch that makes a bed as I would watch Collin sleep. I anticipated the bed separating as it had in 2012 as I watched Trey sleep for so many nights. Yet God did hear our spoken need. We spent our time in the new Chili’s ICU step down unit and not in the same area where we had been with Trey. What a blessing. It was so nice for Jay and I to feel a little bit of the chest pressure release.
Dr. Davidoff, who performed Collin’s surgery, consulted on many issues with Trey when he formed pseudo cysts. His associates, staff, nurses, etc. were all familiar with our family. I was allowed to go with Collin into the operating room as he was put to sleep. Collin kept exclaiming he didn’t feel sleepy. We all joked because we knew the seconds were clicking down before he would be in his nice, deep sleep. I hovered over him and told him I loved him and to enjoy his nice sleep. About that time his eyes began to roll back and they shut. The nurses and doctors said that would take very good care of him. I couldn’t help but say, “You better take care of him because he’s my baby and he’s all I got. The last time I left here, I left my other son.” And I began to lose it. A sweet nurse walked me out and assured me Collin was in good hands.
A surgery that we were told that should last maybe four hours lasted six. All I could think about was, “I can’t believe I’m sitting here, I can’t believe I’m sitting here.” As Jay and I sat in the surgery waiting room, another family was experiencing our March 6, 2012 (Trey’s diagnosis day). We tried to be comfort to the family, tell them what to expect, tell them not to be overwhelmed by doctors, nurses, residents, social workers, etc. and just ask for a time out! Their world was falling apart as their daughter was in surgery the same time as Collin. I just wanted to take their pain away and it made me even more mad at cancer.
Surgery was successful as they removed a 20 percent wedge from the back of Collin’s kidney that contained a cyst. When we finally got to the room at around 8 p.m. Tuesday, I was ready for rest. I guess my mind had forgotten the every hour to two hour visits by the nurses and even the doctors in the middle of the night.
What I didn’t anticipate is how dark the night is. I once heard a theological argument about faith. In that argument, to prove his point, he said that dark is the absence of light. There was so little light and the night does NOT feed peace. The night can feed anxiety and fear, memories from the past, faces replacing faces, time going back. Before you realize it, you can’t breathe. Inhale Lisa, Exhale Lisa.
As I tried to help Collin, he would become angry and not want to be touched. He had tubes from his nose, a catheter, two IVs, oxygen, and beep, beep, beep, as we repeated BREATHE COLLIN, BREATHE. In the night I paced, he called my name but he didn’t know what he needed and I couldn’t help him. I prayed for the sun as I would doze off in the wee hours of the morning. Jay, bless his heart, slept in the parent room because we knew Collin might not rest because Jay would snore and I would prefer to be in the room anyway.
Each morning was the same of giving Jay my update of our night and Collin not remembering anything that happened. I think there were two days I didn’t leave the room because we could order food from the room and I didn’t have to leave Collin’s side.
We waited for him to progress so that he could get tubes out, IVs would blow, he couldn’t eat (he’s lost about 10 pounds) and all during this time he could not tolerate the light. I have always feared the dark to the point of panic. I think the ONE night that was the brightest was Wednesday night when Dr. Sara Federico FLEW in the room while Collin was sleeping. Her arms fly while she talks and she laughs and smiles all at the same time. There is no way to not feel joy when she walks in the room. It was such a relief to see her and she knows how to calm me.
Collin had his days mixed up, thought he missed Christmas, and at one point just looked at me and said, “Can’t you just call Aunt Donna to come pick us up?” This was Thursday when I was with him and Jay was seeing his surgical oncologist at West Clinic. I wanted to be with my husband as he was seeing Dr. Tauer AGAIN but now, for another occurrence for a different cancer, but I needed to be with Collin because he couldn’t even stand up. I wanted to scream, “WHERE ARE YOU GOD!” Oh, wait, I think I did a couple of times.
The blessing is that Collin’s cyst came back benign. It was a relief for all of us and I know, especially Collin. He will not have that in his body to worry about what it is any longer.
There were many lonely days and exhausting nights. Jay had to work some of the time we were there. Maybe I have been watching too many Hallmark movies because this post doesn’t end with a positive, inspiring note. I’ve just been told so many times by my friend, Tami Theobald, that writing is a way of healing. Maybe this is what will bring peace.
I can truly say, I will never have true peace until I’m in heaven with Jesus and my son. I think that thought became too real. I also learned a few valuable lessons the week at the Jude. Collin doesn’t flinch when you call him Trey when he’s on drugs. That’s one. (I didn’t do that. The nurses did.) No two patients are the same. That’s two. Shave your face if you know you are going to have an NG tube because the tape doesn’t stick to facial hair and it pulls on the tube. That’s three. There are a few others I’ll keep to myself. Just know, if you are ever scared, facing a surgery with your child in a familiar setting, needing a shoulder or hand to hold, I’m your girl. That’s four.
Trying to hold it all together.
Praying I will conquer fear with MORE faith in 2017 as the Erwin family faces the battlefield.