This week has reminded me of one of the most dreaded and frustrating aspects of cancer diagnosis and treatment…waiting. I went in last Monday for my scheduled oncologist check-up (I am still getting those every three months until November) and I mentioned that I have been having pain in several locations of my spine. Now, first of all, the last thing you ever want to do–if you don’t want more tests run, that is–is to mention bone pain (or any other pain, for that matter!) to your oncologist. She scheduled me for a whole body bone scan to be performed yesterday.
So yesterday, bright and early, I headed over to the hospital to have my bone scan run. First, they take you back and put an i.v. needle in your arm. Then they walk away, and come back with a little thick plastic cup with a metal covered syringe…filled with radioactive tracer. The tracer is injected into the i.v., the i.v. is flushed with saline and then removed, and then you are sent on your merry way with the instructions to drink lots of water and come back in three hours.
When you arrive back at the appointed time, they lay you down on a flat, hard table (not very pleasant for those experiencing back pain, mind you!) and tell you to lie very still for twenty minutes while the machine takes pictures of your body. Once the whole body has been scanned, the technician looks over the scan and decides whether there are areas of interest that need to be rescanned…in my case there were two–the neck and the tailbone. These are two of my three painful areas. The other area is the spine in between the shoulder blade region. After these scans are completed, the technician takes the scans up to the radiologist who will be reading them and makes certain that he has all that he needs in order to make a full report to my doctor…which apparently he didn’t in my case, because I then had to go and have an x-ray of the pelvic region for comparison. When the x-ray was completed, they double-checked with the radiologist and then allowed me to go home.
And now comes the part I started all this about…waiting. There’s a ton of waiting involved in medical procedures–waiting in line to sign in, waiting to be “processed” for insurance paperwork, waiting to have the procedure done, and in this case more waiting to have the scan AFTER the injection is given. And the most crucial–and painfully horrible–part of the entire process…waiting for the results. Yes, waiting develops patience (supposedly!). Yes, patience builds character (hopefully!). No, I still don’t like waiting! It’s painful. It’s horrible. It’s just plain awful.
I’m currently “counting 1,000 gifts.” A book I’m reading teaches you to count gifts in order to more fully focus on the love of God for you. It’s a wonderful book and a wonderful journey that I have entered in this counting of gifts. The author, Ann Voskamp, tells you that ALL things are gifts from God…even those trials and troubles that enter our lives bring us closer to our Heavenly Father. She can–and DOES–explain it much better than I, but the point of all this is that while I was having my morning coffee and trying not to stare at the clock and the silent phone sitting next to my cup, I was counting gifts…even the gift of waiting. “Waiting develops patience develops gratitude develops grace.” This was my gift of waiting. This IS my gift of waiting…and still I hate it.
I remember the seven days of waiting for the original phone call back in August 2009. Waiting to hear those awful, life-changing, earth-shattering yet simple little words, “you have cancer.” The waiting was agony. The words transformed my life of everyday dull routine into a whirlwind of confusion, pain, fear–and faith…but the waiting for the words was sheer agony.
I have no idea what the phone call I’m waiting for holds in store for me. Maybe nothing more than strained muscles from over-exercise. Maybe a compression from said over-exercise. Maybe arthritis. Maybe something I’m not quite ready to name again…just yet. But I am praying that whatever the answers will be, that somewhere in all this waiting I really can learn to develop patience develop gratitude develop grace. It would be nice to actually have something lastingly good come from the agony of all this waiting!