Summer of Tumor, Part Four

(If you need to catch up . . . part one, two, and three)

I left you with Nate, my mom, and me in a small jet, flying across the country.

Now onward with the story…

We arrived at the Indianapolis airport some time in the middle of the night, rode in another ambulance to Clarian, and checked into our room on the transplant unit. I was fairly disoriented and still very sleepy (the continuing effects of Xanax), but I very clearly remember the wonderful face of my brother-in-law, Phil, already in our room waiting for us. He stood up as we walked in and gave me the biggest hug. I could use lots of great adjectives to describe Phil’s hugs, but I’ll just say of this one in particular that for a few moments that night, I felt all would be well.

Somehow a chair in the room was converted into a bed and I was asleep in record time. It wasn’t until later that I realized/recognized that Phil had been reading to us from the Psalms the rest of the night while we slept. This expression of love became a pattern over the next few days.

Meanwhile, back in Arizona or New Mexico, our team was driving straight through the night in a mad dash to resume support in Indy. And Nancy was actually able to sleep in a bed after a week of sleeping in a waiting room.

Side note to Nancy: Nancy, what you did for us means more than I can possibly say with words. I’m typing this with emotion (that you can’t see) because I know you sacrificed so much and loved us so much, without being asked and without getting much in return. Your presence was so missed in Indianapolis, but I knew you were praying like crazy and loving us from afar. You are an amazing woman!

Around six in the morning I had a dream that a group of doctors were standing around Nate’s bed talking about him, and one of them was really tall. Except it wasn’t a dream, because of course six in the morning is the perfect time to meet patients, answer all their questions, and fill them with all kinds of anxiety for the day!

We had an amazing nurse that morning, though. Sara was so sweet, so patient, and so thorough- relaying information, and explaining lots of things. She managed Nate’s pain like nobody’s business, and we felt like we could finally relax and trust the hospital staff taking care of us.

There was a lot energy and anticipation felt about the move to Indianapolis. I guess I assumed we’d fly in to a flourish of activity and doctors and surgery, and we’d know some sort of resolution in a short amount of time. Wow, I was really wrong. The first day was full, but it also felt like taking a few steps back. Another biopsy (oh my) and more of the same tests. The Phoenix hospital forgot to send Nate’s scans along with us (are you serious?!).

The second biopsy. The first one went so badly and my stomach was sick about the possibility of a repeat. At this point, Dave and Margie (my in-laws) and Rachel (sister-in-law) had arrived and together we followed behind Nate as he was wheeled down for the procedure. I was a freezing bundle of nerves, and am pretty sure I walked everywhere that day (including the cafeteria) with a giant white hospital blanket wrapped around my body- trying to get my shakes under control. We stood around his bed, expressing so much love, crying, praying, then sat waiting. So. much. waiting.

The doctor who performed the second biopsy came into the small waiting room and told us things didn’t go as well as he hoped. He had a difficult time grabbing samples of the tumor because it was so vascular, and wasn’t sure they’d be able to get a read on them. More shaking.

The rest of the day was full of meeting doctors, a really sweet social worker, a psychologist (who asked us lots of questions and said lots of encouraging things), a chaplain, friends and family. Loads of incredible friends and family– all praying and all expressing love.

To sum up where we’re at now… we’re waiting. Waiting to find out what kind of tumor we’re dealing with– this great mystery that no one had been able to figure out yet. If it was cancer, surgery would be taken off the table, and it seemed we’d then find ourselves back at a desperate prognosis. If it wasn’t cancer, we could move forward with a transplant, and Nate would eventually be added to the donor list. Looking back, I wonder how on earth all of us managed to pass the time sitting with these life-altering options. Crazy.

I very clearly remember, though, the start of praying for a miracle, and including all of you in on it…

Part five tomorrow?


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