Shadows of Things to Come

We had an episode last night that was quite alarming. I was on the phone and walked into the living room where my husband was watching TV. I had heard him coughing and wanted to see if he needed any cough syrup.

When I saw his face, I knew that it wasn’t the usual cough from sinus problems. He was clutching his throat and he was trying to talk. It was similar to when I have a bad asthma attack. He was able to get out that he had taken a drink of cold water. 

He had such a look of panic in his eyes. I hung up the phone and I began to assess the situation. I knew that this was like one of the warnings regarding a side of effects of one of the cancer drugs that he took. This drug continues in the body after the patient stops taking the chemo drug. One of the side effects is having a tingling, almost like an electric like shock to the hands, should you touch something cold; but this was like the other side effect that we were warned about. If you went outside into cold air or drank something cold, you could have a laryngospasm like response. A laryngospasm is when you feel like someone is holding their thumb in the middle of your throat. It feels like this even when there nothing is obstructing the airway. The patient feels like they are suffocating.

He kept clutching his throat and he began to hyperventilate.  I saw that he was not changing blue in color nor was he cold and clammy. I knew that he was getting oxygen and this was a side effect of the drug rather than an immediate problem. I began helping him to breath slowing through his nose and his mouth. As I instructed him to slowly breath in and breath out, he began to relax and the terrible feeling was beginning to subside. As he laid back in he recliner, I saw a lonely tear form in the corner of his eye and I realized that he thought that this may be it, he thought that he could be dying. I saw the fear that hides in the shadow of his mind. I knew that he saw the look on my face as I was trying to quickly decide whether this was something I could handle or that I needed to call for help. It was a moment of truth and reality.

Severl time, he has asked the doctors what to expect when it is time to die. He wants to know what to look for when his time on this earth is coming to a close. The doctors try to  find ways to side step a direct answer to his direct question. As a nurse, I have some idea how this may end, but I also know that there is no exact path or no exact predictions to make. Cancer never ends a life. It is usually complications or infections that will kill the body. The doctor’s lack of cander is very frustrating and frightening to him.

After about 30 minutes, he was sleeping in the recliner and I was grateful. It was a reality check for both of us. To survive living with cancer, there is a certain amount of denial that is required. If you don’t try to live some semblance of normalicy, there would be the tendency to find a spot and just wait for death to come. It seems like that anyway to him and to me sometimes. Instead, telling yourself that death isn’t here and you have to find a way to live, you go about your day, washing dishes, mowing grass, feed the animals and making meals….. But, just underneath the surface of conscience thought, you know that with each season that passes, you wonder if he will be here to see the same things next year.

Anticipation isn’t an easy thing in which to live; even more when it the anticipation of death. Living in the shadows can be frightening. It is the unknown that seems to plague your waking thoughts. Is this the day? Is this the time? How much pain is coming? How long, oh Lord, how long?

New Beginnings

In the midst of shadows, there are new beginnings. I had a very poor understanding of blogs and their uses until I discovered a few and I got up the courage to post a comment or two. Now, there are blogs that I visit daily and I have found comfort in reading others thoughts and ideas. It is like a window into a personal’s mind.

Because of these strangers and their humor, intellect and information, I chose to share a window into my mind, heart and soul. Now that I have a better understanding, I decided to changed the look of the blog as well as its emphasis.  It will continue to walk through this Valley of the Shadow because I have no choice. Cancer has dictated it. But, I will focus on those who love and care for those with cancer. There are countless of us who are on this road. If we could glimpse into a different dimension and see all of us who are walking on this path, it would take a six lane superhighway that streatches for countless miles to accommodate all of us who are effected by cancer. Yet, so often, we feel isolated and alone. That is why, I want to shift this blog from just my narrow personal focus, to one that has a broader view with issues besides medical treatment.

That doesn’t mean that I will stop writing about shadows and being in this valley. This valley is where I live. But, I don’t want to forget that in the shadows, there are wondrous beauties that need to be appreciated. There is a big world outside of this valley and it is easy to loose perspective. Cancer places people in isolation and it is confining. But, there is hope. As long as there is breath, there is hope.

 At this time, I may not be able to connect or to be a functional part of this bigger and brighter world, but I don’t want to forget that is is there. Hopefully,  others will post a comment to bring life back onto perspective.

I will be focusing on issues concerning cancer care, emotional support and surviving with quality of life and who knows what other issue will arise that will cause the need for me to have a voice. So many times in cancer treatment and care, it feels that there is not voice and when you find the voice, it is so angry. I suppose that this blog is a voice for me and my husband. We need a voice.

 The thought of living past the moment when my husband may not be with me is the largest shadow that looms over me and my future. I need to share these thought, insights and blatant emotions because when it boils down to one point and reason for this blog, it is for me to survive Walking in the Valley of the Shadows of cancer. Sounds selfish, maybe, but is doesn’t change the reality. In the midst of the valley of death, there is life.

Is God Hiding in the Shadows or am I?

On Chimerical Mind’s post, he sited a post of a post. Again, I wish I knew the proper way to give credit to the orginal mind that produced this nugget, but I don’t.  The title was “Why is God Hiding?”. I think the guys name was Les Newsom. He related a conversation with a skeptic that was attending his Bible Study. The skeptic bluntly stated that if God wanted faith, why did he play a “cat and mouse” game and hide Himself from us. Why didn’t God just come out and become so obvious that the question of faith or God’s reality was answered. Mr Newsom asked the skeptic the question, “Is God hiding or are you”.

The original idea of the blog was stating that God isn’t hiding, but we are the ones who hide ourselves from God and sometimes from ourselves. He also stated that we often overlook the foundation of faith which is coming to the realization that before faith, we must come to the understanding that we must have utter dependence on Someone or Something other than ourselves. I agree with all of what Mr. Newsom stated. However, the idea of God hiding opened up my heart to some of the hidden thoughts that hide in the shadows of my mind. One of which is the feeling that in the midst of waiting for this miracle of healing, it seems that God is hiding from my heart. And the proverbial question is “Why?” Why must these tumors grow and steal the faith in God’s healing? Why are the tumors not “disappearing” as we have been told by the “Word of Faith” that so many, even two of our doctors, say that is Dan’s destiny? Dan doesn’t verbalize this question as often as I see it in his eyes. Dan is asking why God is hiding Himself and this Miracle that we believe is coming?

The Psalmist poetically puts the words to the feeling of crying out to God with every fiber that is in within him and asks God why has He gone deaf to the prayers of His servant. And we echo that question. Maybe, not in words, because we would have so many well intentioned friends that would tell us that our faith must not be strong enough for God to perform His Word. That may be the case. I don’t know, nor do I understand. I have no trouble saying that I am without understanding. I do not have the faith of a giant or some days, not even faith the size of a mustard seed.

But I do have utter dependence. In every area of our life, financial, health, daily bread etc. we are not able to effect very much of a change. I know the helplessness of dependence. It isn’t a state of comfort especially if you have ever known independence in these areas and that was the case with us. We have gone from owning and operating three businesses, having enough money to do as we please,  and doing as we pleased to not knowing if we will have enough food before the next disablity check rolls into our account. From a human standpoint, independence is preferrable, however it requires little faith. And, as usual, I find that “independence” is an illusion at best. We still need and depend on relationships with family and friend to bring satisfaction to our independence.

You would think that being utterly dependennt would cause faith to grow by leaps and bounds. It definately promotes faith to be dependent, but I find that, instead of faith, I am more grateful because of knowing I cannot effect things at will like I once did. I find a capacity for awe for the small things that I was once too busy to take notice. Every day that Dan wakes up and says, “Good Morning” that I find a miracle in having him with me one more day. Because I know how precious that day is, I don’t want to miss any part of it by sharing it with outside worries and problems. But, that isn’t reasonable because the day is full of outside pressures i.e. money, food, etc.

So, is God hiding? No. It is up to me to look and really see the miracles that are in each day. What about the tumors? We are utterly dependent on God to undertake and remove what the doctors say they are unable to remove. If utter dependence is the foundation of faith, then we are on a sound foundation and we will have faith that those tumors will become shadows of the past. To balance this blind faith that comes from utter dependence, I have matured past the need to believe in a “Santa Claus” kind of God. That child-like faith has grown into a abiding trust. I don’t believe that if you say “Three Hail Mary’s and do 100 hours of good works” that you will recieve that answers to your prayers. I do believe in a sovereign God that knows around any corner in my life. I will say “Yes, and Amen” because I serve this God and He doesn’t serve me.

God is not hiding. Yes, in my foolishness and in my fear, I do hide from Him.  I may not know everything about Him, not can I say that I have the capacity in my finite being to know an infinate God. But, that is why I trust in God. I am limited and He isn’t.

This is the light in the midst of the Valley of the Shadow.