Saturday, July 23, 2011
Our Lady of Perpetual Help
I was given this icon as a cloisonné-like medallion by Bette Campbell, a long-time friend and the mother of Susan, one of my high school chums. She's been back in my life since health challenges got a bit too vocal 2-1/2 years ago. I wear it almost every day, sometimes with and sometimes without an Ethiopian or pounded pewter cross. I've had numerous people stop me and comment. It seems to be a beacon. SHE seems to be a beacon! I once asked Bette where she got it. She beamed and said, "I don't recall!" Perhaps a Catholic gift shop on a tour of California missions?
Ok - out of the way right now - I do NOT have the biopsy results from July 15th! My oncologist's office does not, either. Evidently the slides have been scurried off to UCSF Medical Center where they're doing whatever they do to come up with a result we can work with. I'll never hold back on y'all! Once I know, I'll post it.
Thursday at 8:45am, dear Brigitte from St. Paul's and my choir came by to take me to Novato Hospital for my scheduled Thoracentesis... I believe my 4th since June 22nd. The 24/7 drainage tube for the loculated right side does a paltry but consistant job of getting out what it can. But imagine your lungs in one of those 1940's B-horror movies, where the walls close in from some wretched dungeon you've fallen into. After each "tap", whatever the amount of fluid removed, it begins to seep back in again. Even with plastic tubing up my nose and this wretched but necessary O2 machine giving me now 4 liters/minute, I haven't had a proper breath since the morning of June 20th. So the "tap" (Thoracentesis) is an ongoing need until the nightmare of the pleural effusion is completely healed (PLEASE GOD). And nine days prior, Novato Radiology had flat-out refused to try. Too many pockets in the loculations (think bubble wrap). I left in tears.
I was desperate on Thursday. And praying. I'd not met Dr. Chinn before but his eyes beamed warmth. Bent over my familar table and pillow, they started up the ultrasound images. Same old same old. They shook their heads and clucked, "I'm sorry... we're sorry... we can't do anything here." I tried not to weep. I looked up. "Please. Is there ANYTHING you can do to help me breathe?" Dr. Chinn then looked at my LEFT lung, which weeks before had been clear. It was not. "We have some fluid here," he said, "and I'll try to see how much I can get out. Are you okay with that?" I'd have been okay if he'd hung me by my toes and danced around the room to give me some more breath.
He also noticed my medallion. "I see you have Our Lady," he said softly. "Yes," I said. "She helps me. She really does."
He got out nearly one-third of a liter of fluid around my left lung. "You're breathing better already!" chirped one of the assistant nurses. I could feel it - a shift, an ease of a little more freedom. "Thank you," I said grasping his hand.
He then walked around to my front and said, "May I pray with you?" I was stunned, elated. "Yes PLEASE!" And this wonderful doctor in a hospital room prayed with me, asking for healing in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. I was crying softly. What kind of miracle of God is THAT? A praying doctor!
I have a standing order for more of these. I phoned today. I see him again this Tuesday. You bet I asked for him by name!
The nurses gave me new information: "You've lost a lot of electrolytes today. Please pick up some Gatorade or Pedialyte, and rest." "I'm always resting!" I said. Still, I asked for a wheelchair to get me out and back to dear Brigitte's car. I was very happy and very weak.
I am on my knees grateful for my helper angels, not all of whom I've acknowledged in here. Back at the house, Brigitte swept my front steps that I can now barely ascend, put a small load of washing out on my wooden dryer on the deck, refilled my hummingbird feeder for me. She'd run into the local drugstore for my electrolyte goo while I waited in the car. And she picked some of my blackberries which are beginning to ripen. I insisted she take the small container. "This is the LEAST I can do to say Thank you!"
Carol L. came by shortly thereafter, bringing some of her Esau's Pottage (lentil stew). Oh how I cherish the gifts of my friends' homemade food! We visited for an hour, until by 3pm my eyelids grew heavy and I went horizontal on the sofa. "I'll go now," said Carol. Ah, rest time, I thought.
I stayed there for the next 16 hours.
My feet and lower legs have become sausages. I have never seen them so bloated and bulbous. My now-two lymph drainage sessions will hopefully help. I lift and ice them as I am able. Exercise? Sometimes I gasp going into the next room. The gym I grew bored with I now yearn for. I stare at the hills and fantasize walking them again, vigorously.
I pray to Our Blessed Lady more now. I need a Good Mother. The Mother of God, who can intercede for me and all of us, is a new prayer companion and spiritual succor in my life. Jesus, sometimes now I'm talkin' to Your Mother! And you know what? You All hear me.
Help me please to hear You.