Wednesday, October 3, 2018

5 Year Tumorversary.....

5 years.  5 years ago at this very moment, Jon was going in for emergency brain surgery to remove a brain tumor that had been found only 30 hours prior.  We walked into the ER, thinking we'd get sent home with some Extra Strength Tylenol.  Little did we know, Jon would be admitted into ICU immediately and life as we knew it would no longer exist.  

That ICU room.  It was so cold.  I'm sure there's a reason they keep it so cold.  I remember Jon called the nurse in the middle of the night, while I was sleeping on the "couch" next to his bed, and requested extra blankets - for me.  He was so loving, even then.  

There was family. And friends. And strangers. Oh the stranger that showed up.  A man I had never met.  "Who is this man?  And who let him in to Jon's room in ICU?"  He ended up being one of the sweetest gifts.  "Jon, I was just at Mariners, praying for you with the staff and community, and I got this verse from the Lord and I had to come speak it over you."  He walked in, spoke it, and just as quickly as he appeared, he was gone.

Isaiah 49:1-3

Before I was born the Lord called me;
From my mother's womb He has spoken my name.
He made my mouth like a sharpened sword,
In the shadow of His hand He hid me;
He made me into a polished arrow and concealed me in His quiver.
He said to me," You are my servant, in whom I will display my splendor."

Truer words have not been spoken over my husband. It was prophetic.  That verse now hangs in our bedroom.  That verse now hangs, engraved on a necklace around Jon's neck.

The fear.

I remember the fear.  Mostly of the unknown.  "Babe, I... Um.. I'm scared." Jon said to me in a moment of pure honesty, the night before his surgery.  We sat eye to eye and talked through the fear.  The risks. The side effects. The unknown.  "What if this surgery alters my personality?"  "What if I don't survive?" The fears sat on a wide spectrum.
What if....

The morning of his surgery, my heart and my body were at war.  I felt strong.  I felt peace.  But the tears. What was going on?   I wasn't crying, but tears streamed down my cheeks anyway.  I've never experienced such a battle between mind and body.  I thought my mind was strong.  But my body was declaring it was in a state of shock. Or mourning. I'm not sure.  But it was a physical reaction of which I had no control.

Then there was The Gathering.  Friends, family, school teachers, neighbors. Gathered downstairs at the time of surgery. They prayed. They worshiped. They walked the perimeter of the hospital pleading with God on our behalf.

And then there was the online gathering. I've never been so grateful for social media in my life. So many prayers from so many people.  So grateful.

The hospital waiting room was overflowing with people.  "The surgery will be 6 hours," the Neurosurgeon said.  We hunkered down.

There was a man who showed up in the waiting room.  He told me he met Jon at a coffee shop once.  His life had been impacted by his one conversation with Jon, and he came to sit with me in the waiting room.  Who was this man I married?  Who starts up conversations with strangers and it impacts them so deeply, they come to the hospital?  

Then there was the other man.  The one that flew in from out of town.  Who didn't say a word but sat in the waiting room for 12 hours, praying.  When we finally got word that Jon was out of surgery, he quietly left and flew home.  Who does that?

12 hours.  That's how long the "6 hour surgery" lasted. I thought I was going to vomit with each passing hour.  What took so long?

"Your husband is alive.  I was able to remove about 95% of his brain tumor. I had to cut his hearing nerve, so he is now permanently deaf in his right ear.  And he has facial paralysis."  I met the Neurosurgeon right outside the O.R. doors.  His words and his face and the smells and the sounds... I remember it all like it happened 5 minutes ago.

Then came All The Stages of Healing.  Each moment was excruciating.
"Let's try to sit him up," They said.  But they couldn't.  Jon can't control his vomiting.
"The tumor was on my right side, but I can't move my left side."  Yes, sometimes that happens, apparently.  Time will tell.. 

The mirror for his face. The electric shocks.  The therapy.  His face won't move.
So many Emotions.

The kids came to see daddy for the first time.
"I want my old dad back," one said after seeing him.

5 years.  That's a long time for a new normal.
So many victories. So many tears.  So much to celebrate.  So much to grieve.
Has God put a "bow" on our story?  Perhaps.  We have life.  Not everyone gets longer life this side of heaven.  His mercies have been new every morning and He continues to write the very best stories...

But today?  Today I sit in the memory of it all.  I soak in All The Feels.

Because 5 years ago today, I found out who my husband really was.  When all was stripped away and all that was left was his core, I found out who I really married.  A man of extreme faith, humble, vulnerable, a fighter, a warrior, filled with tenacity, grit, a man who listens to God, a man who submits to God, a man who isn't afraid to wrestle with God. A man who, when all else is gone, and The Hard has taken its place, can't help but ooze The Good Stuff.

And 5 years ago today, I found out who God really is.  When there's no stage. When there's no fog machine to enhance the worship, no cool lighting and no rockin band.  When there is no preacher to explain Him.  No bible study leader to direct me to Him.  There He was.  In the ER room.  In the waiting room.  In the bathroom stall I would hide in to cry.  He was there in the icy cold ICU room.  He was in the blankets Jon requested for me.  He was in the healing and He was in the "I'm sorry, this is as much healing as you'll ever get."  He was in the questions.  He was in the unknown.  He was in the meals that were brought to the hospital and our home. He was laughter. He was tears. He was peace.  Day by day, He showed up.  I have never believed God more.  I've never trusted Him more.  I found that in the pain - the deep pain - He reveals Himself to us in ways we would have NEVER known Him, otherwise.  Think about it.  We'll never know God as Comforter, unless we need to be comforted.  Would I un-do the past 5 years?  Never.  I would never want to un-know what I know about God.  It was too sweet a gift.  And I know Jon would say the same.

Thank you, 5 years, for the gift of perspective.  For the gift of dependency. And healing.  For the things seen and unseen.

And Happy Tumorversary, Jon.  I've never been more proud to be your wife.

 The night before surgery, the most precious support system...

 The last pic of Jon before surgery...

 Friends driving from near and far to sit and wait...

After moving out of ICU, and several days later... Tay getting to see daddy.

 One step at a time... 

All the therapies... 

Our amazing Neurosurgeon, Dr. Nwagwu.


They said the picture on the left was a good as it would get.  As time went on, we celebrated any and all extra healing...

No additional caption needed.

On Jon's 1 year Tumorversary, we went back to the ER and thanked the ER doctor who found his brain tumor.  A moment I will never forget.

Thank you, Jesus.

1 comment:

  1. From Christa McAlister Ford
    I am so moved by your story guys and the unbelievable depth to which you know God through this experience! I pray complete and total healing over Jon! God bless you guys! You live within seconds of my parents home and go to the church we all went to for a long time!