1:3 ~ A Hope Deferred
There was a reason I believed I was experiencing a bona fide miracle when I awoke from the brain surgery. Before my diagnosis, a friend of mine had sent me a writing she had penned long ago. She sent it because I was going to have a surgery on my shoulder and she thought it would encourage me. I had torn my rotator cuff lifting my grandson that summer soon after I graduated with my BA in Psychology. Years before, my friend had written a series that were meant to encourage others. While she did not claim the writings were “Words” from God Himself, they had that feel to them. The one she sent me contained these words:
* Let loose your understanding and let yourself “go under” in the anesthesia of My Spirit. I am at work very deeply within you. I ferret out the offending matter swiftly and accurately. I am a skilled surgeon and you can trust My expertise. With precision I dislodge the usurper of your strength and allow the rest of you to go free. It was not a grievous thing in size, but its placement pressed upon vital organs to thwart My purposes in you. Its removal is paramount to this time and place.”
As I read the words she sent, I thought, “Well that’s nice, but isn’t it a little serious for someone who’s having a simple shoulder surgery?” I felt grateful to my friend for caring enough to send it, but I honestly didn’t think it had anything to do with me or what was going on in my life. I tossed it aside with the rest of the mail and didn’t give it another thought. This was s simple shoulder surgery…in and out…then rehab.
But that first part, “go under in the anesthesia” reminded me of something. I needed to talk to the anesthesiologist. I wanted to warn the anesthesiologist about my neck injury so he wouldn’t be twisting me around too much while I was under. What I didn’t know was that after this shoulder surgery, I would be frantically looking for my friend’s words as if my life depended upon it. And perhaps it did.
My first order of business when I arrived at the hospital for the shoulder surgery was to ask to talk to the anesthesiologist. As soon as I met him I explained how I had broken my neck, and asked him to be careful as he moved my head around during surgery. He told me he had a more flexible scope he would use during the surgery to repair my shoulder and that he would be careful moving my head
“Mrs. Hoenigsberg, can you hear me?” I looked up and strained to understand where I was and what was happening. “That was fast,” I thought.
“Mrs. Hoenigsberg. I need you to listen to me. I saw a large mass in your throat. I have never seen anything like it in the twenty-five years I have been doing this. I am going to tell your husband. You need to have a CT scan of your throat right away. Do you understand?”
Numbly, I tried to nod my head. He left the recovery room. I was alone. What did he just tell me? A wave of adrenaline brought on a panic attack. The green tile walls surrounding me seems eerily cold and like they were closing in. I couldn’t move, so I lay on my back trying to breath normally. The smell of leftover anesthesia sickened me. Do I have throat cancer?
“Nurse?” I called out weakly, not sure where everyone had gone. A nurse in green OR scrubs came from around the wall and waltzed over to my gurney. “Yes?”
“Do you think I could get some Xanax?” I asked. “I’m having a panic attack.”
“Because of “the news?” she said. Her voice held as much warmth as the hard tile wall in the room.
“Yes,” I answered.
Jeesh! The News? Was everyone talking about me while I was out cold? Did the anesthesiologist give everyone a peep of my “mass?”Am I going to die? This was just supposed to be a routine shoulder surgery. Now I wished I had never come here at all.
“I’ll have to ask the doctor,” she said, and then left me alone again. I lay there shaking. I couldn’t believe the gall of these people. I wanted my husband in the worst way but my throat was parched and I was weak. In my distress, I still battled my people-pleasing way of not wanting to put anyone out or cause any trouble. Get me out of here!
My husband Tom came into the recovery room and reiterated what the anesthesiologist had told him. We had to make an appointment for a CT scan right away. He held my hand and helped me dress. Our eyes locked, held in confusion and shock. Neither one of us knew what we were in for. As soon as we left the surgery center, he called my primary care physician and after explaining the report of the anesthesiologist, the CT scan was set up for the following day.
I waited several days for an appointment to get the results. I felt like “dead man walking,” as I entered the waiting room at my doctor’s office, my body buzzing with nerves. Thankfully I was called back to an examination room within a few minutes. My doctor opened the door and greeted me with his usual welcoming grin.
“There’s nothing in your throat.” he started. “I have no idea what the anesthesiologist thought he saw. But we got a little bit of the underside of your brain in the scan, and you have a “brain tumor. It’s probably benign…not that large. Unfortunately it’s right by or on your brain stem. That’s the worst place you can have a tumor. We’ll probably just want to watch it and wait.” The words flew out of his mouth as if he didn’t want to give me time to digest any of this news before he got to the good part.
“I don’t have a mass in my throat?”
“No. I don’t know what he saw there.” You do have a brain tumor though, and he couldn’t have seen that from inside your throat.”
The words of my friend’s writing came back to me. …”it’s placement pressed upon vital organs to thwart my purposes in you.” A brain tumor? Oh. My. God.
“I’ll be sending you down to Missoula to see a neurosurgeon,” he said as he backed out of the room.
Was I supposed to be relieved? Hopeful? I looked for clues on the faces of both my doctor and his assistant. They both looked a little sad and seemed to want to get this over with. I felt nothing. Nothing but fear.” OK…thanks,” I said as I hopped off of the examining table.
I didn’t know it then, but the next words I heard from someone in the medical profession would devastate me. I had recently received the news that I had been one of 25 accepted into a graduate program at the University of Montana. I had just spent four solid years working on a bachelor’s degree. I had been proud to be the oldest full-time student at the liberal arts college near my home. I restarted my education when I was fifty-one, waiting thirty-six years after getting kicked out of high school to pursue my dreams. I thought I was on my way to fulfilling my life’s calling. Now this. Suddenly I needed hope more than ever and I only knew one place to find it. The One whose expertise I could trust. The One Who called me in the first place. The Skilled Surgeon. I dug that piece of paper out of the stack of mail and reread it.
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life. Proverbs 13:12
Stay tuned for part 1:4 ~ Death Sentence. And if you don’t want to risk missing an episode, simply sign up for an email alert in the right hand sidebar. Don’t forget to leave a comment or a question. Thank you so much.
*Copyright © 1989 by Lucy Brown. “Through the Dark Night” is from Oh Gracious Love by Lucy Brown. Copyright © 1993 by Lucy Brown. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Cedargarden Springs Press, 204 Lexington Lane, Clinton, Tennessee 37716