Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: TRUST (07/21/16)
TITLE: Trust Falling
By Al Boyce
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I awaken scant seconds later, my wife's concerned face swimming into view, 911 already dispatched and I think, "I'm OK. I can just lever myself back into bed, rest a second. It's nothing." I've always been healthy. I trust I'll bounce back.
I'm feeling almost normal by the time the paramedics arrive and find nothing abnormal with my heart, but the wheels of modern medicine are engaged and I'm heading to the emergency room. They find nothing alarming. Dehydration. Maybe a touch of anemia. And I trust their diagnoses and head home.
Things don't feel right and my wife is still alarmed and, what's this, a tar-colored stool? And we're back to the hospital, this time for more intensive tests. Blood work. Endoscopy. "Did you know you have a bleeding ulcer? ... And Barrett's esophagus? That's a strong predictor of esophageal cancer you know. We'd like to do some biopsies ..."
And I trust that this time they'll get it right. But I don't want that particular diagnosis. Barrett's can be treated with diet, anti-reflux meds. Cancer? Not so much.
I hear the biopsy results on a short vacation, by phone. It's esophageal cancer, stage 1. Amazing that we caught it this early really. Easily treated too. Just cut you open around the diaphragm and the throat and reach our hands in from both ends and rip out your esophagus and pull up your stomach and stitch it. Good as new.
Well, actually we don't promise that.
I'd like to trust them, but God, isn't there an easier path? I find a surgeon who will scrape out the tumor and that seems to go well. But he just can't get it all. It's a little too deep in the surrounding tissue. He recommends ... removing the esophagus.
While I procrastinate there are more tests and, "Oh, there's a 'suspicious' spot on your left lung we'd like to biopsy. Probably nothing. Never smoked did you?"
No. Never smoked. Did I mention I've always been healthy? Can't we just ignore the spot on the lung? I'm really pretty overwhelmed with the esophagus.
But it seems that if the lung spot IS cancerous and if it ORIGINATED with the espophagus then the whole treatment regimen changes. We call in chemotherapy. We invoke radiation. We start spiraling into realms nobody wants to explore. So, yes, let's deal with the lung spot.
A week before the surgery, I have a lucid dream: I awaken from surgery, breathing easily and look at the people gathered in the recovery room and say, "I guess it wasn't cancer!" And they all nod in agreement.
This particular dream is not prophetic. I awaken from the surgery minus the upper lobe of my left lung, in considerable pain. My breathing is labored. But I trust the surgeons have gotten all of the lung cancer.
I rally in the cancer ward. I set new records for the number of times I circumnavigate the floor in my flapping hospital gown. After 25 laps, an orderly shuffles up to me and says, "You inspire me to do my job better." How odd.
In the days that follow I learn how really miraculous it is that they found this lung spot, also stage 1. And how very unusual it is for someone to have TWO different stage 1 cancers that are NOT related to each other and that have NO symptoms. Clearly, God is in this. But what is He up to?
In three weeks, when I have the esophagus removed, I trust I will find out.
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