It has been a full week since my exploratory surgery. Dr. Roses said they would have my pathology reports within a few days. I am ready to hear answers and make some plans. When it comes to my cancer, patience is not one of my spiritual gifts.
On the day of surgery, I felt pretty good. A few Tylenol kept the pain at bay. I slept the night away. Wednesday found me home alone. The house was just the way I like it, still and quiet. I was focused on resting and recovering. Thursday, it felt like the bottom fell out of everything. I was hopeful this was nothing more than “the third day is the worst” being realized with my recovery. Friday morning, I woke up a new person and headed off to the office by mid-morning.
A GOOD DISTRACTION
I was distracted most of the day, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. We had a great conference centering around the issue of Substance Use Disorder and the role Faith, Hope, and Love plays in recovery. While I was not functioning at one-hundred percent, I was present and able to participate.
Monday, I was sure the doctor would call with my pathology report. NO NEWS.
Tuesday, I waited until noon and then took matters into my own hands. I called and arranged for a follow-up appointment and questioned the lack of any pathology reports. We set my appointment for Thursday, October 31 (yes, Halloween), and I was promised a call regarding the pathology report.
Later in the afternoon, I missed a call from my surgeon. Their message?
“The doctor has seen your pathology report and developed a plan moving forward. We look forward to discussing it further with you at your appointment on October 31.”
STRUGGLING TO INTERPRET THE MESSAGE
Does that mean my pathology report is great, and we are going to operate? OR Does that mean my pathology report is bad, and we are having to come up with some secondary plan moving forward?
The message was nice, but basically – NO NEWS
For the next few hours, I was in a worse place than before I got the message. My mind was doing mental gymnastics trying to interpret the message on my phone.
REAL NEWS ON THE HORIZON
Once again, I picked up the phone. After the usual pleasantries one undergoes when calling the office, I said, “IF, the doctor has the results from my pathology report, and IF the doctor has a ‘plan moving forward,’ I can be there this afternoon to discuss it.”
The office worker just started laughing, laughing in a friendly, kind, understanding way. I explained my appointment was not for another week or so and that if the doctor was willing I would take the next available appointment. “No use waiting for the news.”
Wednesday morning, I received a message that my appointment had been moved up till tomorrow! There may be some news soon.
WHEN STORMS RAGE
The events of the past few weeks have caused me to see that I struggle to be patient. Last Monday, the day before my exploratory surgery, I was in my office trying to focus. My mind was wandering, and it felt as if my heart was racing. I was an anxious, worried mess. How would the surgery go? What would they find? Would I recover in time to help with the conference that weekend? The worries and questions raged on.
At noon I left my office to meet with my friends in AA. As the meeting begins I identify myself as “someone who is not an alcoholic, but there to witness a meeting.” Monday’s meeting was focused on stress and anxiety. Imagine that. For an hour I listened as those seeking long term sobriety shared stories of dealing with anxiety in their lives. The longer I listened the calmer I became. Their testimony and witness spoke healing and life into me. Each meeting closes with everyone standing in a circle reciting the serenity prayer. Standing shoulder to shoulder I was reminded of the deep truths within that simple prayer.
WISDOM TO KNOW THE DIFFERENCE
Tuesday morning, I arrived for my surgery. I was scheduled to be there in the morning at 11:15. As I checked in, the nurse said, “You are awful early for a 3:45 p.m. appointment.” My mind immediately went to the prayer we said at the close of the AA meeting. This moment called for serenity. For much of the afternoon I sat quietly in the waiting room. I often thought back to the serenity prayer and realized there was nothing I could do to change my reality.
On my way home, I was relieved that in the midst of anxiety-causing situations, I had a level of peace that often eludes me.
I was reminded of Paul’s words in Romans 12, “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”
As the waves crash, storms rage around you may you find serenity and peace.
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