Tag Archives: fear

On The Unknown Road

The cold snapped in the air as the sun shone distant and too bright through the windshield of the car as we traveled along the road.  Chase’s first day of therapies.  A new building, new people, new things to be learned…the start of a new chapter.  And with the new, came the old and familiar: the fear of the unknown and the question – what lies ahead?  Always that question.

Chase’s high voice pierced the questions gripping my mind like my hands holding the steering wheel.  photo 2 (1)“Mommy? Where are we?  This is not the road to my hospital.”  For this is how Chase tells direction.  There is the road that leads to his hospital and then there is every other road ever made.  I answered and assured him that this road was a good road and that it was the way to his new therapy – therapy that would help him grow strong.

Silence followed for a brief second as he processed what he’d heard.  Then; “But Mom, are we late?”

“No, Chase.  We aren’t late.  We are right on time.”

Another moment of silence, then his voice again, this time with anger, “But Mom, this isn’t the road and we’re late!”

Steeling myself for the familiar exercise of reasoning with the irrational; I responded: “Chase, this is the road and we are not late.”  I received nothing but an angry growl and the reiteration that I was in error.

How many times would I need to speak truth to him before he heard?  

Finally, this; “Chase, do you trust me?  I know this road and I can see the clock. I know where we’re going and I know that we’re not late.  You don’t know this road, but I do.  I’ve driven on it before and I know where it goes.  Chase, you’ll just have to trust me.”

The petulant retort; “Mom, I can’t trust you because I cannot see the road and I cannot see the clock.  You can; but I cannot.”  

Suddenly, his voice was mine….mine to my Creator who speaks truth to me and calms the questions and fears at every turn.  He tells me that even though I don’t know the road, He does.  He knows where it goes and what’s along the way.  He knows the timing of it and how it will take me to places that will be hard but will make me stronger.  And I sit, petulant child that I am, and question trusting Him because I don’t know what He knows and somehow, in my small heart and mind, that makes Him seem less good and my fears seem more justified.

In that moment, that silly short moment of driving across the city, in the child voice from the back seat, I was reminded how good He is to me and that I don’t have to know what lies ahead to trust and follow.

Moment by moment.

For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Jeremiah 29:11

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Looking For Still Waters

Monday
With a long but encouraging clinic day behind us, I gently lifted Chase onto his hospital bed. We had just finished several rounds through the halls on the tricycle and he was finally ready to rest. After chasing him with a rolling IV poll and protecting/pleading for caution with his central line, I was also ready to rest. As I lifted him, his face contorted in pain and he let out a warning scream -I’d seen it a hundred times at home- the line was pulled tight and the IV tubing stretched from the pole to his chest. I quickly gave it slack and laid him down. He’s an active boy – this happens all the time.
Then he contorted and grabbed his chest, still screaming and crying – this did not happen all the time. With an all too familiar feeling of dread, I raised his shirt to see dampness around his central line dressing. Not again, please, not again.
The doctors and nurses confirmed what we feared. The line had been partially pulled from his chest when the IV tubing caught on the pole. With his new central line -a port- this wasn’t the same problem it would have been, say, two weeks ago – just remove the damaged needle and put in another one. The main features of the access are protected under the skin. It would have been so easy but for the chemo. There was chemo infusing when the needle moved and a particularly vicious one at that. Known for harming tissue and muscle; there was a small but very real chance that instead of going into the vein, the damaged needle had spewed this poison into the muscle around it.
For several hours, there was an intense spiral: immediately discontinue use of the port….apply ice…had we heard about the antidote?…IVs needed in his hands to keep him hydrated…surgery for a temporary line in the morning…and on it went. The door to our room was a constant portal to more poking, prodding, and bad news. Please God, no more
In the early afternoon of Tuesday, for the second time in about 24 hours, Chase was taken into surgery to place a temporary line. Moments before he went into the operating room, I received a text saying that a friend of our dear friend would be the nurse on duty in the room. I can hardly explain the encouragement it is to send your child into that cold, dark, unconscious place with a familiar face and friend at their side. A blessed moment in the chaos.
Despite the completed access surgery, there will still be more unfolding consequences of that malfunctioned needle. His hands are bruised and scarred from all the IVs, both failed and successful. He shows signs of the broken trust that comes from hours of people touching and hurting as they’re trying to save your life – anytime someone enters the room and greets him, he screams “No!”. The port must be left alone for at least a week -maybe two- to guard against the chemo damage, and when he leaves here, with his temporary line (in his upper arm…again), we will have to vigilantly continue to watch for the signs of that wretched drug doing its harm.
The irony of these last two days is that when you’re first given your child’s diagnosis, you expect that horrifying knowledge to be the all-encompassing stress and grief. In this moment, I can assure you that -at least in our case- it’s the little things, the daily, the back-and-forth, the multiple procedures. Those are the things that kick you when you’re already down.
But…
In this moment, he’s laying on the bed sleeping peacefully. …snoring, actually. His punctured, bandaged and tubed arm propped on pillows. His mouth relaxed from its pained expression.
Peace.

“He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.” Psalm 23:2b

Moment by moment.

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Facing A Fear

Chase’s doctor once told us that most parents know it’s time for more chemo when they see their child looking better, eating more, and having more energy.  Proving this theory, Chase’s Thursday lab results were really encouraging which means we are scheduled to go back to the hospital on Monday.  It’s time.  This particular round of chemo includes several days of being admitted to the hospital as well as a spinal tap under anesthesia.

You may remember that I wrote at one time about Chase’s vivid anesthesia memories.  Since that time, we have had really good experiences because he has been given a “forgetting” medicine in pre=op -while still with us- that relaxes him and saves him the memory of a sterile operating room and a mask over his face all without the comfort of mom or dad.

Because of some aspects of his new central line, Chase’s nurse will be removing the needle from his chest a couple of hours before he is scheduled for the spinal tap.  It’s a little tragic as there will be no shower or swimming pool to jump in and celebrate [children with the type of central lines he’s had until now can’t really bathe or swim], but mostly awesome as he has never officially been without his “tubie”.  However, there is a direct impact on the procedure.  The lack of needle in his chest means that there is no good way to administer medicine in pre-op, which means that Chase will go into the operating room by himself and be put under anesthesia while fully concious.

We have been talking about it every day.  How he will be a brave boy, and how he will take a deep breath and fall asleep, and even how -if he can be still- the doctors won’t have to hold him while they put the mask on his face.  He dialogues with us, and understands what he needs to do, but he is still very frightened.

Please pray for Chase on Monday, that he would be anxious for nothing and that God’s perfect peace would surpass and even confound all of our understanding about how Chase would most likely respond in that operating room. (Philippians 4:6-7)

This will be a big step for him and for all of us…but our God is much bigger.

Learning to let go… Moment by moment.

Take Off The Bag

Sixteen of Chase’s every twenty-four hours are spent attached to an IV bag. This bag, its carrying case and the pump weigh about as much as he does (when the bag is full) and he must drag it behind him everywhere he goes. In addition to the weight, the cord has a short range, so he can only walk about two feet before it pulls and strains; reminding him to pick up the burdensome piece again. The moment it beeps (a notification that the cycle is complete) is the happiest moment of his day and as soon as he’s detached, he immediately starts running and jumping…two things he really can’t do without causing harm when the bag is on.

However, there was a day last week when the IV pump notified it’s completion, and instead of the jubilant “My baggy’s done!!” that I usually hear, there was silence. I went to him and said “Chase, your bag is done! Do you want me to take it off for you?” He sighed and said “Not right now, Mom. I’m playing…maybe later.” He had become so engrossed in his play that he was no longer energized to remove that awful shackle of a bag.

And I suddenly saw myself in this encounter…

How often I struggle with fear and sin that -with God’s help- I could lay aside! I could find peace, find rest, and be free of whatever burden holds me. He comes to me, much as I came to Chase and says “It is finished, this can be removed…will you let me do that for you?” …yet in my foolishness, I am content to play while my worry and fear is attached to my very life vein because I am too preoccupied to see that He stands there -more able than I will ever be- ready to remove it.

“…let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1b-2

Take off the bag. It is finished.

Moment by moment.

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Fear, Thanks, and Deliverance

I have been considering thankfulness a lot this week.  Specifically, how I could possibly be thankful in a season filled with things that I wish weren’t happening.  I have found myself praying “God, I know that I’m supposed to be thankful for everything, yet how can I possibly be thankful for cancer?”  This awful disease provokes zero gratitude…rather, pain, hopelessness, and often fear.  In the face of heartache, how can I be thankful?

My answer is found in the knowledge that I have been already delivered from this fear:

“I sought the Lord, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalm 34:4

This is how I can thank God for the cancer: as I am blessedly pushed to greater dependence on Him in the midst of this season, I seek him more, and as I seek him more the fear is gone, and God’s indescribable grace becomes both how I am and what I am most thankful for in this season.

Preparing for discharge…in time for Thanksgiving!

Blessed beyond blessed with so much to be thankful for in this moment by moment life…

Happy Thanksgiving