The day passed in varying grueling layers of pain, fear, exhaustion and desperate hope. More blood draws, more screaming, more drugs to dull pain and lull to sleep.
6PM. When the doctor introduced himself as an oncologist and asked to speak with us in another room, I knew our lives were about to change. He talked and talked. Blood cells very concerning. Leukemia. Bone marrow extraction. I didn’t cry. I just looked at his hands. His gold wedding band. I needed something to focus on. A long needle would pierce Justin’s hip bone and take out a tiny piece of bone as well as his marrow. This would give definitive results. This would happen first thing the next morning.
I spent the night in Justin’s hospitable bed by his side. His fever had risen to a frightening 104 degrees and drops of blood stained the blanket. My clothes. His nose was bleeding. I tried to make him as comfortable as possible. I demanded pain meds. I sang softly in his ear. “Jesus loves me, this I know.”
8AM. I stayed in the bed as they wheeled him to surgery. I stayed while they administered anesthesia. I stayed until he was asleep.
We were escorted to a nearby room to wait. I hadn’t slept in thirty-six hours. My mom had brought a change of clothes but I hadn’t bothered with that yet. My dad arrived with cheese steaks and I managed a few bites.
We were told the procedure went well. Justin was awake. We went back to his room. His pain under control, Justin’s anger turned to despondence. All he wanted to do was play a game on Jeff’s phone and we let him. All day.
7PM. We were led to another conference room. I excused myself from details I’d never remember anyway and walked out. I found a corner by myself and cried and cried and cried. Then I wiped my face and stood up, resolute with an insane amount of God-given courage, and walked back to my crucible. This was the night I’d begin to experience the deepest kind of anguish paired with the sweetest kind of Divine nearness. I thought about what a friend had said to me earlier that day in the lobby. “You need to blog this.”
I took a deep breath and began. Acute Leukemia. I have no other words. January 17, 2016. One year ago today.
Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee. For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling. Psalm 116:7-8