Sunday, April 1, 2012

...side steps

The mind of man plans his way, but the LORD directs his steps.  Proverbs 16:9

My apologies to all for the tardiness of this new blog post.  However, the remaining days of the month of March have been quite an adventure.   God has allowed a lot of events into my life these past weeks to challenge my faith, question my resolve to trust Him in everything, and cause me to entertain thoughts regarding His wisdom concerning my life.

The side steps, as I will call them, began with me contracting a case of Shingles.  Shingles are related to the Chicken Pox, a childhood disease with which most of my readers are, I'm sure, well acquainted.  However, when an adult experiences this Chicken Pox relative, the results are not good.  Shingles can be very painful; encircle the body; and appear in the most awkward and embarrassing locations upon the human anatomy.  Fortunately, or should I say through God's providence, Greg and I had the Shingles vaccine some years ago.  Now, this shot does not prevent one from getting Shingles, but the vaccination does limit the disease's impact and scope.  So I experienced no pain, just minor itching and physical evidence of the Shingles was restricted to a couple small spots in the middle of my lower back.  I thought contacting my Oncologist would be a prudent act, so I did.

I was prescribed an antibiotic to combat the Shingles and proceeded to take the first dose before going to bed.  During the night I developed "the mother" of all headaches.  I don't believe I have ever experienced a more throbbing, continuous pain in my head.  "Migraine" would not be an accurate, descriptive term for the hurt I was having.  I got up in the morning; put a cool wash cloth on my forehead; and lay down on the couch with my eyes closed.  I also made an executive decision.  I would take no more of the antibiotic pills.  My Shingles were minor compared to this headache and if the pills were causing the head pain, I would willingly take my chances and fight the Shingles without assistance from the antibiotic.

The headache gradually dissipated during the day and I was finally able to formulate coherent thoughts unaccompanied by pain.   As the next day I was scheduled for routine lab tests and a scheduled visit with my Oncologist, I determined to mention the disturbing side effect of the prescribed antibiotic.  During my appointment, I dutifully described the agonizing head pain I had experienced upon taking the antibiotic employing appropriate facial expressions calculated to demonstrate the "on a scale of one to ten, my pain being 12" level of discomfort I had endured.   With a "I feel your pain" look of sympathy, my Oncologist prescribed another antibiotic which I took that night and awoke the next morning with a...RASH!!

My body was peppered with red, somewhat itchy, splotches from the waist up.  I looked in the mirror and patiently waited for the boils to appear.  I had read the book of Job.  When this whole journey had begun, I resolved to trust God and faithfully rest in His wisdom.  I turned over complete control of the situation to Him.  Now, as I watched my face join the rest of my upper body in a red glow, I wondered if, perhaps, I should quietly regain control of my life for just a little while; at least until this current situation cleared up.  I wrestled with this control issue for a while.  Finally, I decided to leave everything in God's hands.  Everything, that is, except the new antibiotic.  I made another executive decision to quit taking the new pills for the Shingles.  After all, hadn't God directed Greg and me to get the Shingles vaccine?  He knew then that what was happening now would occur.  Obviously, He knew the vaccine would work.  And hadn't I decided to trust in His wisdom?  So, no more antibiotic.  The vaccine would do its job.

A few days later as my faith was being confirmed by the lessening of the Shingles, I noticed that my right ankle was a bit swollen.  Again, by God's timing, I had another routine lab appointment scheduled for the next day during which I mentioned the swollen ankle to my Infusionist, Jan.  She informed my Oncologist of this new development.  I was subsequently informed to go across the parking lot to the hospital where personel in the "Imaging Lab" would be waiting to conduct an ultrasound of my leg and ankle.  Greg drove over and dropped me off at the appropriate entrance and then parked the car.  Together we found our way to the imaging lab.  I registered and soon was escorted back for an ultrasound.  Imagine Greg's surprise when I returned to the waiting a wheelchair.  Seems the ultrasound had detected a blood clot behind my right knee and down the back of my right leg.  Another drug was now added to my regiment - Coumadin.

As of this posting, I'm still on the Coumadin. My ankle has returned to normal. The Shingles have healed.  The rash is gone completely.  My faith, trust, and belief in God's wisdom are still strong and intact.  No trip is without its surprises, dangers, and side adventures.  My journey is no exception.  Yet, throughout this odyssey I am reminded of I Thessalonians 5: 16 - 18  "Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."

In my next posting, I will talk about our trip to Detroit in preparation for a Stem Cell transplant.  Until then, my journey continues...