Wednesday, July 6, 2016

On the Other Side of Despair

It was a day of joyous surprises on the recovery from my second mastectomy surgery. My beautiful daughter came in the morning to spend the day with me, since I would otherwise be alone and had had a really rough day the prior day. As it turns out, I didn't feel awful, other than lingering nausea.

She came with me to the doctor who, joy of joys, removed my drainage tube! Major feel good event! Then he told me I didn't have to wear the compression knee-socks anymore! Now, I will use those adorable compression socks with their fun colors to run in as they are very good for runners, but what a joy to be able to ditch them in the 100 degree heat wave!

The nurse told me I need to take the anti-nausea meds once a day. Nausea is very common in this surgery, and it would be best to control it. So I did, and felt instantly better. With all that good news from the doc, my daughter and I celebrated with Chick-fil-A. I have been very careful to eat only a cancer-fighting prescribed diet, but my oncologist told me it was ok to cheat now and then. So I got fries. Yum.

Bonus: Asherel's adorable dog, Ragnar, spent the day with us as well. I took him on two of my shorter walks. He is the best trained four month old puppy I know. He is also very friendly. When a dog passed us by without stopping to say hello, Ragnar sat down and wistfully watched the dog walk away. He would not pay any attention to my tugs on the leash till the dog was out of sight. With a sigh, he turned and followed me home.

I have had a rough time the past couple of years. It went from bad to worse with the breast cancer diagnosis. I didn't handle the despair well in the beginning. I almost lost my sanity wallowing in how the burdens upon me were far beyond my ability to bear.

Then slowly, far too slowly, I began to notice God. Sparks of light in my darkness reminded me He had not left me. They were sometimes little things. Sometimes they were big things, like incredible numbers of mamas choosing life at the abortion center where I volunteer on the sidewalks.

If God is blessing that endeavor, then surely He had not abandoned me!

Despite being certain I could not survive all the terrible things happening to me, I did survive. It was clear that Someone was shoring me up, holding my arms when I could not lift them on my own.

One of my favorite images in the Bible is of  Moses, with the staff of God in his hands, when he is told to fight Israel's enemies. Moses stood atop a mountain overlooking the battle. As long as Moses held up his arms, Israel was winning. When his arms tired and dropped, Israel was losing. His friends, Aaron and Hur came to the rescue and held up Moses' hands. A friend stood on each side of him, while Moses clutched the staff of God tightly. Victory was secured with God, and the help of friends.

This is the picture of how I survived. My hands and my heart were raised to God, but there were many times I grew too weary and too overcome to continue. I often lost hope. Friends and family came alongside me and helped hold me up when I was ready to collapse in defeat.

So now, I have finished the last major surgery of my cancer career. (I hope.) I am recovering beautifully. I walked five miles just four days after surgery. My beautiful daughter spent the day caring for me, as I had cared for her for so many years. It is a blessing indescribable to begin emerging on the other side of despair, especially when for so long, I was certain I could not.

Then Amalek came and fought with Israel at Rephidim. So Moses said to Joshua, “Choose for us men, and go out and fight with Amalek. Tomorrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the staff of God in my hand.” So Joshua did as Moses told him, and fought with Amalek, while Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill. Whenever Moses held up his hand, Israel prevailed, and whenever he lowered his hand, Amalek prevailed. But Moses’ hands grew weary, so they took a stone and put it under him, and he sat on it, while Aaron and Hur held up his hands, one on one side, and the other on the other side. So his hands were steady until the going down of the sun. And Joshua overwhelmed Amalek and his people with the sword. (Exodus 17)

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