I reached over and grabbed the timer setting it for ten minutes; this was for a much needed but limited pity party. Ten minutes gave me permission to grumble then I would choose joy again. So, I would whine, plead and shed a few tears at my pity party and God would listen as he felt my pain. I wanted desperately to unload my dark, gloomy mood… so with my heart, I laid it all at His feet just as the buzzer went off.
I came off my knees lighter, knowing I could face the next couple of days of the unknown…all I had to do now was find a brown paper bag….
Tears, however, still hugged my eyes as I turned to search for the elusive paper bag in my kitchen. My drawer was full of plastic bags from Wal-mart because cashiers never ask paper or plastic anymore…it’s just plastic. I sigh and head to my closet to rummage through my Christmas and birthday bags. Ah ha…I found one. Not entirely plain brown, but it had handles and seemed big enough to hold my things I needed for the hospital.
I was embarrassed to take a paper bag full of my personal items for the two nights; however, everything that I took, even the clothes I had on would be incinerated. I had the distinct feeling I would taste a tiny morsel of loneliness the lepers felt 2000 years ago. My instructions from the Radiologist were to bring items that I would not mind being destroyed due to radiation exposure.
“Hmmm… Is a teenager an item?” I wondered giggling. Humor always helped.
“But boy, I’m in trouble,” I thought. “Dr. Talman obviously did not know how much a woman needs for a two-night stay!”
I gathered up my blush, mascara and lipstick…I HAD to have lipstick, I certainly did not want to LOOK dead. So I threw those in the bag along with my oldest underwear, T-shirt to sleep in, and a pair of old jeans. I also packed magazines, an older Bible and lots of hard candy to keep me swallowing (per the doctor) too bad it wasn’t chocolate!
My husband came in and asked, “Are you ready sweetheart?”
Putting on my ‘happy-face’ I replied… “I sure am…right after you pray.”
With hearts, heads and hands together my husband prayed for protection, for no nausea, and for complete healing of this disease. Amen.
When we arrived at the hospital, I was told to plop into the wheelchair so we could head to the leaded room. At the door, my husband was asked to leave…I would only have communication with him by phone. In fact, after the first few minutes I would see no one for 48 hours. We kissed goodbye.
Upon entering, it looked like any other hospital room, except, it somehow kept the radiation I received contained. I sat on the edge of the bed and waited for the next step. A young man dressed in radioactive gear came in with a very heavy lead container. He asked me to open it…which I did. There was another lead container…I took it out and opened it again. A third container awaited me. I opened it and there were two pills I had to take. I knew I had to swallow them but I sure did not want to put those in MY body. But I did.
The nausea slowly crept in. I barely read or spoke on the phone, I talked to God and I slept. My meals were on trays pushed in by way of the floor. No one could come in. I was ordered to drink a lot to flush the radioactive iodine out of my body. This was the third time that I had to deal with thyroid cancer; surgery was performed the first two times.
I called out to God for comfort….…I just felt so terribly alone. At the end of my stay a man came dressed in his radioactive gear again but this time with a Geiger counter in hand. He went over my body hearing only one or two ‘clicks’. That was good. He asked me if I wanted him to go over all the stuff I had in my brown paper bag.
“Absolutely,” I said.
With each piece he took out…magazines…clicked, clothes…clicked, make-up….clicked, shoes….clicked,
The Word of God was the only item that would not be destroyed.
God was there…. in my brown paper bag….the whole time.
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