Friday, November 26, 2010
The Road That Led Us Here
But after two years of fighting, she won the battle and heard that wonderful word-- "remission". And friends, thirty-six years later she is still in remission. She kicked lymphoma's rear end to the curb and it has never returned.
Fast forward to February of 1998.....I was a junior in college. Mike and I were dating (and were soon to be engaged). I had just returned from a fabulous trip to Spain when I got a phone call that I will never forget. My mom had been rushed to the emergency room with shortness of breath and an irregular heartbeat. I immediately came home, and after a week in the hospital it was determined that my mom had dilated cardio-myopahty. Her valves were not functioning properly and would only get worse with time. There was no way to reverse the damage to her valves. She could take medication to help treat the symptoms, but eventually those valves would have to be replaced. Why? We all wanted to know the answer. Was it genetic? What would cause this? The answer came in time....radiation. It was the high doses of radiation that my mom received back in the early 70's that ruined those valves. So the thing that we praised for ridding her body of cancer actually did more damage than we ever realized. Radiation turned out to be a double-edged sword.
Over the next twelve years many things happened: Mike and I got married, we welcomed three wonderful children, my mom retired from her job as an elementary school librarian, Mike advanced his career, while after eight years I quit my teaching job to stay home with my kids. Vacations were taken, holidays celebrated, and time marched on. But this year, as my parents celebrated 40 years of marriage, it became clear that my mom was going to need that valve replacement surgery soon. She was tiring out easily and having difficulty breathing. Her cardiologist put it this way, "She is basically walking around in congestive heart failure all the time." So after much thought, family discussion, and prayer, my mom elected to have the surgery now before things got any worse.
One hopes that when a major life decision is made that it is the right decision. We are on day 25 of my mom's hospital stay, but we still feel we made the right decision. Her recovery has been harder than we ever dreamed it would be. We didn't foresee pneumonia sneaking in and causing such problems. But looking back over the road that led us here, we don't regret our decision to have the surgery done. It needed to happen. And when my mom kicks this pneumonia to the curb like she did with cancer over thirty years ago, we will look back on this difficult season and know that we are stronger as a family for having gone through it.