I’ll Be With You Here on the Oncology Floor
A guest post from Lindsay Allen
Last week, our family enjoyed a full, fun, sometimes rainy, week at Walt Disney World. We were a little disappointed that we couldn’t get reservations to Epcot on Friday because it was full, but it was still a great week. We decided to just go on home a day early and take our entire Saturday to unpack, wash clothes, and for my husband, Derek, to conquer some of the landscaping projects on his list. About 20 minutes before arriving home on Friday night, Derek began experiencing strong abdominal pain. He assumed it was just tummy troubles from sitting in a car all day after a week of pb&js and amusement park rides. Through the night, his pain worsened. Saturday morning, he decided to go to the urgent care thinking they would give him a pill to clear it all up so he could preach the next day. He called me from the urgent care. “They think it’s appendicitis. They are sending me to the hospital for a CT scan to confirm, and if it is, they will operate there.” As COVID restrictions have been coming to an end, I was happy when Derek told me I could come to be with him at the hospital.
When we got to the ER, they did another CT scan to confirm the findings. Before long, the urologist on call came in and drew a diagram of Derek’s kidney. He showed us where the tumor was located and detailed his plan for removing it. “But first, we have to figure out this abdominal pain and resolve that.” They were able to give him pain medicine to relieve his pain, and for the first time in over 36 hours, Derek was able to rest. The hospital staff had told me that once he leaves the ER I would no longer be allowed to be with him because...you know...COVID. Then I got a call from one of our church members who serves on some of the local medical boards. He asked if there was anything he could do to help me. At first, I said, “No, we’ve got everything we need.” But then, I realized that he might be able to find a way I could stay with Derek once they moved him to inpatient. “I think so! Let me make some calls” he said. Derek tried to persuade me to go home to rest. He said, “You don’t need to try to sleep on a hospital pull-out bed, “ to which I responded, “You did it 5 times for me (when our kids were born). Now it’s my turn.” About an hour later, our friend updated me that if I would consent to a COVID test they would let me stay, but I would not be allowed to come and go. Deal. At about 2 am, they took us to his room. We were tired and emotionally drained but grateful to be moving to a room where we both could get some sleep. Then it happened.
We were led to a room, where a nurse introduced herself to us. “I’m your nurse, LaDetra, and I will be with you here on the oncology floor.” We were on the oncology floor. The word rushed to my mind again. Cancer. As they got him settled into his bed, I felt my eyes holding back tears and my throat trying to help. I put the sheets on my pull-out bed, covered them with my blanket, and, once I knew Derek was asleep (I heard snoring), I buried my head in the sheets and wept. So many thoughts, what-ifs, and fears tried to push their way into my mind. But, as they pushed, a still small voice pushed harder, “I will be with you here on the oncology floor.” It was the Light shining in the darkness. My darkness could not comprehend it, but it was being overcome. My tears slowed, and rest came.
The next morning, the GI doctor came in to tell us he felt sure the abdominal pain was coming from appendicitis as well as the small bowel obstruction and his recommendation was to go to surgery immediately to fix both. He was taken back for surgery, and within 30 minutes the doctor called to say that all went well, the inflamed appendix had been removed, and the intestinal obstruction was cleared. A small band had been wrapped around his intestines constricting it completely.
After the surgery, the words from Psalm 116 became more meaningful to us as we sat in his hospital room:
I love the Lord, because he has heard my voice and my pleas for mercy.
Because he inclined his ear to me, therefore I will call on him as long as I live.
The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish.
Then I called on the name of the Lord: “O Lord, I pray, deliver my soul!”
Gracious is the Lord, and righteous; our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple; when I was brought low, he saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.
For you have delivered my soul from death, my eyes from tears, my feet from stumbling;
I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living.
I believed, even when I spoke: “I am greatly afflicted”
After a few more days in the hospital, Derek came home, where he is now recovering from his appendectomy. In about 6 weeks, once his body has healed, the urologist will operate to remove the kidney tumor. In the words of the urologist, “God sent you appendicitis so we could find the tumor that would have killed you, but now it won’t.” We are overwhelmed with the mercy and grace of God. We never thought we would thank God for appendicitis, but here we are. It was a good and perfect gift. There will be many more doctor visits between now and then, as well surgery and more days in the hospital, on the oncology floor, no doubt, but of this we are sure...God will be with us even there.