Have you ever witnessed a miracle? A full fledged throw away your crutches miracle. A there-is-no-way-that-could-be-possible miracle. The word gets tossed around these days creating a blur between what is real and what is entertainment. We grow increasingly numb to that which is sensational and in the broadness of our reality things get really small. Our worldview gets limited to the world we think we know. Things can be explained away or simply ignored.
So what is a miracle? Is it a miracle when I arrive safely at my destination? When someone we have issues with suddenly becomes an ally? When the sun rises in the morning? Just the words miracle healing bring forth memories of preHDTV Benny Hinn striking people with his jacket encouraging Jesus to heal on command. Was it real? Hard to say really. I know God has the power to heal through any vessel He chooses. Did a miracle take place? Hard to say. A younger me found it entertaining and slightly embarrassing.
A miracle defined is an awesome event in which God bears witness to Himself. When I consulted Scripture I realized it was beyond a quick what-does-the-Bible-say-about-miracles. Miracles appeared on page one and continued. Throughout Scripture we see amazing signs and wonders choreographed and carried out by God who does things on His own schedule in His own way. And so I ponder, have you seen a miracle?
Let me tell you about mine. First I have to say that God and I have history. A relationship formed through years of love and trust. It hasn’t been easy. I am not a gal who is easily wooed and often my attention is focused only on what is in front of me. My health has recently required a lot of attention. On top of two chronic illnesses I was diagnosed with my fourth round of Thyroid Cancer. It has been quite the ride. After a standard diagnosis Dr N sent me to Dr O sent me to Dr S sent me to Dr H sent me back to Dr S. while encountering biopsy’s, tests, consults, rejects and a failed RAI. (The last sentence was a time warp of 9 months.) No one knew exactly what to do with complicated me. All the while my prayer army battled on and the time for miracles asked was realized…
I arrive at Mayo Clinic for an evaluation and end up with aprocedure. My patient portal says I have a whole medical team. Looking back there are lots of things that just suddenly fell into place. Things that happened literallymomentbymoment. After waiting months and being tossed around I had appointments. I was complicated but doable. If I was willing they would try. The odds were in my favor that I would lose my voice, I didn’t. I was able to walk out following the procedure. This all happened within 48 hours of arriving on campus. I could sing on… making you feel like you were in a musical but I will spare you. It does make me want to sing and dance. Much like the people healed on Mr. Hinn’s tv show now that I think about it.
I don’t want to leave you with the wrong idea. I am not cured. Not yet. I go back in three months for a follow up and probably more ablation. Did a miracle take place? It is not hard to say. I have experienced an awesomeseason of events that caused me to see God more clearly. I have experienced a miracle.
I love watching American Ninja Warriors. I have enjoyed it long before it became mainstream. There is something about an obstacle course that gets my attention and causes me to see possibility. Good athletes always make a sport look effortless or at the least doable to those of us that have never done it. I secretly think I could shimy across the Bungee Bridge or any other bridge-like obstacle. I realize that anything requiring hanging or climbing would have to be worked out on the Monkey Bars at my local playground. If they could lower the 14+ foot Warped Wall to about 4 feet I would be willing to give it a try. Wouldn’t everyone?
Life can feel like one big obstacle course. This week feels like I have Twilight Zoned myself right into a test of strength, speed and agility with a side of sharing. Only lately, I feel like sitting down mid-course. Not quite giving up. Just having some quiet time to gracefully dismount instead of crashing into the water.
American Ninja Warriors are ordinary people doing extraordinary things. What we miss is how many times they hit the water. Everyone I know faces obstacles. Obstacles come in many shapes and there is no end to what can throw us off course. To make life look effortless isn’t something that comes without training. How we have trained for obstacles often determines how we handle them. What we have stored inside us surfaces to help us face the challenge in failure or victory.
My mind recalls the words I memorized years ago from an old Beth Moore bible study. I believe God is who He says He is. I believe God can do what He says He’s going to do. I believe I am who God says I am. My training isn’t without but within. Even if I sit down mid-course focused on my failure my heart knows. It isn’t my strength, speed or agility that will help me reach the buzzer. It is believing God.
My sewing machine died this week. I have had her since the eighties and I wasn’t her first owner. Sewing is one of those things that many of my friends don’t realize I do. Mostly because I don’t do it often and I am not very good at it. When I have down time my brain starts dreaming up things to make and I currently seem to be focused on fabric. So out comes my seldom used sewing machine. After about a week of sewing I needed to make a bobbin and the clutch would not release. This lead me straight to the internet and long story short (smile) I broke my machine. I think I got bad advise. The sewing machine repair guy also thinks I got bad advise. Well, it wouldn’t be the first time. I hate when it happens, especially when I am suffering the consequences of said advice. The internet is a bevy of information to wade through. The problem is disernment. Bad advise often makes sense or looks really appealing. But it is still bad. I have learned that knowledge is power and I just need to be careful where my knowledge comes from.
In dealing with my health I have been overloaded with information. I have pursued several options and my path has not been quick, clear or straight. I recently decided to simply wait before I proceed with any treatment for my cancer. The cancer is not in a good place to remove surgicially and Thyroid cancer is usually slow growing. It seems that God has me in a place of waiting. An action that I am getting better at. As I wait I am asking God to take away my cancer. I am taking care of the health that I have and being content in my circumstances. I researched a few sewing machines online but just couldn’t commit to a new one. A friend advised me to borrow instead of buying and I am currently trying my mom’s sewing machine. Borrowing was good advise.
Being off thyroid replacement medication feels like you have been in a car accident. There may not be any visible injuries but every part of you aches. Even your hair. Then there is the brain fuzz. I imagine it was what my grandmother who had Alzheimer felt like. She realized she couldn’t remember. There is a loss of control and things teeter at the edge of recall. It is difficult for most people to understand that you are just not 100%. I look the same. Well almost. I look like the tired-didn’t-comb-my-hair version of me. Although I am able to function everything takes at least fifteen to thirty minutes longer and requires a nap. I will spare you the funnies about Husband having to guide me to the proper vehicle (too many choices), forgetting what year it is (after all it is only March- isn’t it?), forgetting to rinse out my conditioner (I am proud my hair got priority). It is good to have a sense of humor otherwise I would just refuse to get out of bed. And I have done a fair amount of that. This brings me to the out of whack emotions. There aren’t enough emojis to express how I feel. Not to worry because it is quickly passing, unreasonable, amplified emotions. Normal Deanna runs even and we look forward to her return.
I began this week off my thyroid medication and then received two Thyrogen shots to quickly halt my thyroid function. This prepared me for RAI (Radioactive Iodine 1-131). The day before scheduled RAI, I took a tracer and had a bone scan to determine if the iodine will uptake. I have had this treatment three times so there was a possibility that it might not. That is exactly what happened. No uptake. I leave the hospital feeling a bit put out. I felt mentally and physically prepared and the treatment isn’t going to work for me. Time for Plan B. We backpedal and try for the PET scan my insurance refused in December. This time they approve and currently I am awaiting results. This will tell us if there is cancer anywhere else so we can choose how Plan B will play out.
Last week in my small group we talked about the importance of memorizing Scripture. I know it is hard to imagine ever being somewhere that Gods Word is not available when you need it. This week I had 2 scans and for approximately 90 minutes I had to be completely still with only my mind to entertain me -yeah scary. I found comfort in the Scripture I had tucked away. The KJV recall is from childhood, other versions I memorized as an adult and some verses I just get the gist of. Versions or exact words do not matter. I hold to the meaning. Truth that will be with me always, no matter where I am or what I can remember.
I have a tendency to mindless overeating when I am stressed and sometimes when I am happy. Sugar is my drug of choice when I need a bit of a pick me up or I am distracted or just too busy. Currently I am floating on a sugar high and Easter candy is my new best friend. I have discovered that jelly beans are in season! They are reasonably priced, readily available and the selection is extensive. I admit that it can be a challenge to find the perfect bean. The jelly bean must be really fresh. I prefer bright happy colors such as orange, purple, blue or green with a nice fruity bouquet. A compliment to the firm coating that surrounds a soft smooth center. A burst of tangy yet sweet flavor intensity is the highlight of the bean and it what leads me to consume one right after another. I am only limited by my memory of running into a friend at the dollar tree when the maple leaf cookies were in season. I had to explain that the cookies were seasonal so the armload I had was for the year. They freeze quite well. No kidding. I am not sure I could use the same story for jelly beans. I guess I need to do a bit of research on freezing…
I stopped my thyroid replacement Saturday and will begin Thyrogen shots on Monday. Tuesday I will have another shot, Pre-Scan and consult. Then on Wednesday Labs and Radioactive Iodine treatment. When I leave the hospital I will have to be isolated for several days (I can’t remember exactly how many, they will tell me Tuesday maybe) Then a post-scan and resume thyroid replacement the following week. I plan on being off work for two weeks and Husband will be off to take me to my appointments. It was the week of Thanksgiving when I found out my cancer had returned and since then I have experienced a series of events. I am amazed by things that each of us go through and continue to move forward. I am inspired by those around me who suffer and still look outside their own circumstances to encourage me in mine. I am inspired to hear how God has worked in impossible situations. How He has healed, guided, provided, blessed, enabled and continues to do so regardless of our tendency to wander…
As I wander down the candy aisle I am able to see past the sugar haze to the One who not only can pick me up but will carry me through. Onward!
I realize I skipped part 3. I will come back to it I promise. It is just that part 4 feels really fresh. It is nowhere near over so hence the a. It begins in November 2018. 2018 was a year fraught with unwanted change and grief. I was ready to be done with it. Through it all I appeared to be managing my health really well. I had a rough spell in April that required an adjustment in my meds. Other than that things were looking good. A colonoscopy showed my colon to look “just like a colon is supposed to look.” I was managing my nutrition and exercise well. I wasn’t experiencing low calcium symptoms. I was feeling pretty darn good. I was. In November I had a routine ultrasound that came back suspicious. I went for a biopsy and Dr E told me immediately that it was Cancer. Dr. N called me and wanted me to see my surgeon who sent me for a CT scan. Dr O called and wanted me to consult with specialist in NC. I have a consultation with Dr S that gives me an overload of information. Dr S wants me to see a thyroid specialist but I am unable to get an appointment. In the meantime my insurance will not approve my PET scan. I have another utrasound. Dr S is concerned about the location of the tumor and damage to a nerve if he operates. He still wants me to see Dr H the thyroid specialist to see if she could do an Alcohol Ablation. Christmas is upon us so I go home and wait upon the powers that be.
At the first of the year I am finally able to get an appointment on January 29 with Dr H in her new office in Charleston, SC. It is a three week wait. For the last month I have scheduled my clients appointments telling them I might have to move them. I continue to do this. Husband has been on jury duty since October and has had alot going on at work. We are dealing with lots of unsettledness. I feel like I can’t commit to anything because I don’t know what I will need to do. I like having a plan. I am willing to deviate but I want something to deviate from. I trust God. I trust His plan for me. Often it isn’t exactly clear what I am supposed to do. I think for believers knowing Gods will through the details is often quite difficult. Do I go left or right? Wait or move ahead? I wish God functioned like Alexa. I could just say, “Father, what do you want me to do today?” And then hear His audible voice. Sigh. I know to consult His Word. But it fails to give me the details of left or right. What His Word does tell me is who He is. And without knowing who He is I could never begin to know His will. So in my struggle to make decisions and to actively wait, I will rest in who He is. Father, Savior, Redeemer, Healer, Provider, Omnipresent, Omniscient, just to name a few.
I saw Dr H in Charleston. I admit I have a dr-crush on her. She is caring, smart and pretty. She did a very through ultrasound and reviewed my medical history as well as my current regimen. Unfortunately she did not think I was a good candidate for the alcohol ablasion. It is just too close to that darn nerve. She reviewed my past records from 2005 and consulted with my three other doctors (crush!). Conclusion: The plan is to see if I can “uptake” radioactive iodine to shrink the tumors. And so I wait for insurance approval and further direction as I focus on who God is.
I had begun to call my first go around with thyroid cancer The Big Inconvenience. I had survived. I found it doable and at this point it mostly felt inconvenient. I was still trying to figure out how to live with HYPOPARA and I was still managing my daily meds. Both with no end in sight. The endocrinologist I began my journey with had retired and I began to see the Nurse Practitioner. JG was great. She spent time with me and listened when I had issues. I really felt like a person and not an appointment time slot. She found part 2 of my cancer. It was 2013 and for the last eight years I had been having the regular blood-work and ultrasounds. When things showed up she wanted me to go for a biopsy. I had done all this before and I had opinions about who I would go to. She patiently send me to someone more specialized in delicate area biopsy. My new Cytopathology person Dr R was amazing. It was still painful but a much better experience than the first go around. I was surprised with the results because thyroid cancer was supposed to be the easy one. No big deal in the cancer world. The word about town was that it was curable. We next had to find a surgeon and I had gotten pretty choosy after the first experience. I landed with Dr O. Since this wasn’t my first party I felt I knew what to expect. Not a lot of the process had changed. The nurse would start to go over things with me and I would inject my own view of what was going to happen. I am sure I was annoying but I felt annoyed. There are lots of important details that they don’t exactly share up front. I want the whole story. I want to know what to expect and to have a plan. I can veer from the plan but I need to have one in place. Aside from the problems with my calcium levels (hypoparathyroidism) following the surgery, everything else went fairly smoothly. I liked my new surgeon. He made another scar right above my old one.
I worked as much as I could during the process and I had lots of help. Off my thyroid meds all my appointments took 15-30 minutes longer and I had trouble doing all the extras. Laundry, scheduling and cleaning up was difficult at best. At home I was equally worthless. I was exhausted in the morning and worse in the evening. I couldn’t take a shower without resting before I could dry off. One day my girlfriend left me something in my mailbox and I thought, well that’s too bad it might as well be in Ireland. I thought about driving down to get it but didn’t know where my keys were. Chronic fuzzy brain was also a problem. Please don’t ask me anything because answering questions was a struggle. I love how each time you go to the doctor they ask the same questions over and over. I wanted to tell them that we could just look at my computer file and that way we would both know the answer.
A lot of what I experienced has been lost due to my lack of memory or is mixed up between surgeries and treatments. I did learn that the human body can mindlessly function through things that are habitual. I learned that suffering grows my faith and my relationship with Jesus. I have learned that we need each other. That shared experiences are the things that hold us together and cause us to love more deeply. That it is okay to ask for help and what a blessing it is to receive needed help that you didn’t have to ask for. We have all asked someone, Is there anything I can do? I have learned that to be a friend is to just do it.
I resolve to only make resolutions that I will enjoy keeping. Why set myself up for failure? I always hate January at the gym. It is impossible to get a good workout in because of the crowd. Then February comes and the crowd goes away. There is a pressure to come up with a life changing resolution that actually changes your life. So, several years ago I decided to resolve to only do fun resolutions. Things that I enjoy and look forward to doing. Such as drink more wine. That was a enjoyable resolution that broadened my taste buds and appreciation for good wine. See more plays. Also enjoyable and resulted in lots of dates with my hubby. Play with what you have. My way of being content with what I have and it forced me to get more organized so I could find what I have. This year it is a toss up between get outside and hike or do more yoga. Both are things I enjoy and might actually help me become healthier. It might encourage me to focus on maintaining or bettering the good health that I have regardless of the cancer. Change is the bottom line for a resolution and the new year symbolizes new beginnings. I love in Scripture when Paul talks about believers becoming a new creation in Christ, the old is gone and the new has come! (2 Corinthians 5:17) This not only speaks of salvation, but of the sanctification process that Christ works in each believer. Although sanctification is ongoing, I feel that the new year encourages my partipaton in the process. It causes me to examine myself. Do I like what I see? My life goal is to make Jesus smile. Am I? I think get outside and hike will be my catalyst. Happy New Year!
I am a glass half full kind of person. I can’t help it really. I am blessed with being able to see different sides of a situation and I am naturally drawn to the full side. But sometimes my glass gets tipped over. It throws me off and it takes a bit to get it upright again. It’s like one of those days when gravity always wins and no good deed goes unpunished. There is a line in Psalm 22 that describes it for me exactly. “I am poured out like water…” Wow. If you have ever felt this way you know exactly the feeling David was describing. It feels like I am spent and I have nothing more. I have often heard well meaning believers say that God won’t give you more than you can handle. Well I don’t think that is exactly true. Without getting into a Scripture debate I declare my proof is in life. I know because at this moment I have more than I can handle. You disagree? You think I am handling? I am certainly not doing it in my own power. I am spent. Poured out like water. I think I have misplaced my glass and I am not going to look for it. Instead I will paraphrase 2 Corinthians 12:9 His strength is made perfect in my weakness.
This isn’t the first time someone has told me that I am complicated. I get it. I feel complicated. When I try to explain my medical history it is hard to get it all straight in my head and then verbalize. Every new doctor I see has to be educated in Deanna and from there do their best to figure out what I need. It is complicated. The human body is amazing. Although we are individually responsible for our own health it is also a collaborative effort. We find ourselves at the mercy of insurance companys, doctors, nurses, assistants, technicians, labs, technology, appointment makers and even the person that checks us in. It is a delicate balance and it is complicated. When life gets messy I love David’s Psalms. How he pours out his heart. He holds nothing back from God and tells Him exactly how he feels because he knows God can handle it. David feels forgotten, fought against, slipping, guilty, brokenhearted, rejected, slandered, attacked by enemies, despised, mocked, insulted, surrounded by dogs, encircled by evil, stared at and gloated over– just to mention a few. Sound familiar? I am sure David felt complicated and he knew God was not suprised or baffled by compliciation. I wonder how many times David thought back to how it felt to slay Goliath. How it felt to depend completely on God’s power, step into harms way and experience an impossible victory. I think he remembered Gods power through all the other complications in his life. I think so because when I read his Psalms I see that he not only pours out his suffering but he praises God in the midst of it. He knows that God can take care of his enemies, his suffering, his health, cancer, insurance and every annoying thing that comes against me. Okay I added those last three because they are personal. Like David, I remember how God has enabled me in the past. How He has carried me. God and I have history and like David I am confident in the mercy of my Lord and Savior. It is not death I fear but what I might have to endure to get there. It is complicated, this feeling of peace entangled in helplessness. The feeling of wanting God’s will but telling Him exactly what I think I need. “I cry aloud to the Lord; I lift up my voice to the Lord for mercy. I pour out my complaint before Him, before him I tell my trouble.” Psalm 142:1-2
In faith, Deanna
PS This week I was unable to do a scan because of insurance and see a specialist because I couldn’t get an appointment. Dr. S did spend well over an hour with Mark and I discussing options and what ifs. My next step is chasing down the specialist –Dr. H–to get a consultation and see if I am a candidate for a newish procedure. If that doesn’t pan out I have a few more options. In the mean time I am brushing up on prayer, persevering and trying my best not to be compliciated!