Signs and Wonders

Friday wasn’t supposed to be significant. It’s my friend Pat’s birthday so that makes it special, but other than that, it was only slightly important because my long-awaited doctor visit had finally arrived.

     When I lost my job in January of 2013, I also lost my healthcare. Up until that point in my life, I had never experienced life without healthcare. I was out of work for nearly eight months, got a job in August (insert Hallelujah here), and got a urinary tract infection in September. The job was a temporary appointment and I still had no healthcare. At that point, my finances were somewhere between “please stop calling me” and “my stellar credit report has died a terrible death.” So… the doctor visit was not an option.

     In October, I bought a UTI kit from the dollar store and the results were positive. In November, I called my doctor’s office and inquired about UTIs and the cost of treatment. The “oh-so-friendly” woman told me I would have to come in for a visit because they could not diagnose me over the phone. I said, “I realize that. I’m just trying to get an idea of what the visit will cost me since I am currently uninsured.”  She informed me that the visit would run me $100, antibiotics around $300, and there might be more tests needed at an additional cost. And…I decided I could live with the discomfort.

medical     In late February of 2014, I started to feel a little more uncomfortable, I began talking with women about my symptoms – even though it was awkward and slightly humiliating – and I started to feel a dull pain and became a little concerned the UTI might have moved to my kidneys. My temporary position became permanent (insert Hallelujah here) so I decided to wait. Thankfully, on March 1st my health coverage became effective (insert a choir of Hallelujah’s here). I immediately made an appointment. When it looked like my medical cards would not arrive in time for the appointment, I called to let the doctor’s office know. Oooooh! Not good news. After 14 years with the same doctor’s office, they wouldn’t consider back-billing my insurance, so I had to cancel the appointment and wait until I had the cards in my hand. Those beautiful plastic cards arrived and I called to make an appointment. I was told the only female doctor was no longer accepting new patients. Did I want to see a nurse?

     I looked around for a new doctor in town and made the appointment. The night before the appointment, I went to bed and dreamed I was lost, couldn’t remember where the doctor’s office was located, and arrived so late the appointment had to be rescheduled. Needless to say, Friday morning, when I was reminded someone was borrowing my car for the day but would drop me off at the doctor, I felt a wave of anxiety run through me. Later that morning, I left my office and stood at the curb watching for my car. When I got the call to say my car wouldn’t start, I was less than gracious. With just a few minutes to spare, my Mom picked me up at the curb and dropped me off at the doctor’s office. The reception area was empty (insert cricket sounds here). The receptionist informed me I was seven minutes late and just stared at me.  I reached deep, down in to my heart and pulled out an ounce of kindness and asked, “Will the doctor still see me or will I need to reschedule?”

     The self-diagnosed UTI turned out to be cervical cancer. Somewhere between “your cervix looks bad” and “You have cervical cancer,” I lost a little piece of myself – the piece that needed to go in order for me to grow. When I realized I was holding my breath, I exhaled, closed my eyes, and found the courage to tell God I was thankful and would follow Him wherever He wanted to take me. I actually can’t remember much of what the doctor told me: stages, treatment, hysterectomy, and waiting for the results.

TheKing     The last few days have been raw, cold, and numbing. I’ve suppressed more emotion than I ever thought possible, though I’m quite sure it’s been more difficult for the people who love me. I’ve said and thought some silly things, gazed into dark spaces in my mind, and googled things that sent me on a roller coaster ride of emotion. I’ve discovered there are things in my life I need to be rid of – the unnecessary stuff that serves no purpose. I’ve grieved for the hundreds of women and children that aren’t being loved right here in my town. And I’ve thought about how much of a fight I’m willing to endure, if any.

     On Sunday morning at church (insert Hallelujah here), Marty Solomon (Real Life on the Palouse) delivered a sermon, “New Beginnings,” that reminded me why I need to fight to be alive.  I am a ruler chosen by a king who reigns in righteousness. I am a shelter from the wind and a refuge from the storm, a stream of water in the desert, and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land. And loving and serving people is the most effective way of reaching a fearful, hardened heart. I have no other reason to be here if I’m not going to do what Jesus commanded.

     Today I learned that my cancer was caught in the early stages of its destruction and will be treatable. And I am thankful. I’m not altogether sure what that means right now; nevertheless, I am ridiculously happy! No matter what happens, from here on out, I will continue to love the people He sets in my path and I will expect Him to perform signs and wonders through me. I am loved by an awesome God. And even if He chooses to take me home, I will gladly follow.

 

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