Friday, July 04, 2008

The Year - Part 1

A year. Birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, 4th of July. But for our family, this year also included much, much more than the everyday life that goes along with the changing of the seasons.
I am just now feeling like I can write about the events of this last year. The 4th of July is especially significant to us this year, and I really wanted to write about it, but a little recap is necessary.

A general timeline:
1/3/07 - We receive our long awaited referral from China for our daughter, Xiu Fu Zhu(8.5 months old)

2/26/07 - Scott and I travel to China and meet Piper Grace for the 1st time, same day, adoption is complete!

3/8/07 - The 3 of us return home, and introduce Piper to Hunter, Ella, and my parents

3/10 - 4/26 - We struggle to get our bearings while Piper endures jet lag, Giardia (which leads to dehydration), ear infections, 2 strains of the flu, an allergic reaction to an insect bite on her eyelid, and allergic response to an antibiotic shot, and gets the measles from her MMR shot!

4/27/07 - And then, the unexpected. My parents tell us that my dad(66 at the time) has had a CAT scan and they are fairly certain he has lung cancer. This hits me really hard. I was already emotionally, physically spent from the prior month. I love my dad. My kids love their Papa. I'm glad I didn't know the worst of it was yet to come.

5/07 My brother and I attend several doctors visits with my mom and dad to find out if my dad is a candidate for surgery, his only real medical hope for a cure. After many tests, the surgeon gives us some hope he will be able to remove the tumor. He cautions us that the tumor is near the main artery in the lung and it will not be easy. All I hear is that my dad is candidate for surgery.

5/21/07 Surgery Day-I felt a lot of stress/guilt for any time spent away from Piper during this important bonding time, so Piper came with me to the hospital for the first half of the day. She was a sweet distraction while we waited and waited and waited some more for my dad's surgeon to arrive from an emergency he'd had to go to at another hospital.

We spent the morning in a little curtained off surgery prep. area just talking, laughing, and waiting. My dad had several visitors which kept us somewhat distracted, but as the hours went by, my dad began to get more apprehensive about having surgery so late in the day. Would the surgeon be tired after such a grueling day? This was my dad's only shot, he wanted it to count. He asked us several times if we thought he should cancel the surgery and do it another day. He decided to talk to the surgeon when he came and voice his concerns.

The surgeon finally arrived and told my dad it was his decision, but that he did this everyday, and felt completely confident in preforming surgery that afternoon. This would be the first of many times I felt helpless to provide relief to my dad. He really struggled with whether to go ahead that day, but finally said, "Let's do it.".

I hugged my dad and told him I loved him. Once he'd gone into surgery, I decided to run Piper home, so she could get to bed on time that night, and so I could be fully with my mom as we heard from the surgeon. For every minute of my 30 minute drive home, I prayed. I was afraid to believe that the tumor could be removed, but as I drove, my prayers shifted and I began to believe that it was possible. I prayed all the way back to the hospital, then found my way back to the waiting room where my mom, brother, and a few friends were waiting. It was now about 6 p.m. or so, and my parent's very good friend Wanda arrived. 3 years earlier, at this exact time of year, the situation was reversed and it was Wanda who sat and waited to hear how her husband, Jack (my dad's best friend), had made it through the same exact surgery. Jack's tumor had been successfully removed, but 6 short months later a complication unexpectedly took his life.

Wanda suggested one of us have some paper ready to take notes when the surgeon came out, she volunteered to do it for us. As the minutes ticked by, the anxiety in the room increased as we waited. We all considered it a good sign that the surgery was taking as long or longer than the surgeon had told us. He must be at least doing something. If he'd gotten in there and it was inoperable, he would have sewn him back up and it would already be done by now. By this point, I had convinced myself that an all out healing was a real possiblity.

My mind is fuzzy on how long my dad was in surgery, but I think it was around 4 hours. Sometime around 7 p.m., the surgeon walked into the waiting room and took took a seat. I desperately tried to read his face as he took off his surgical hat and crumpled it up in his hands.

Somehow, I was not prepared for what he had to say.

To be continued...


Somewhere In The Sun said...

This is such a touching post. I know it must have been difficult to write but I hope it is helping you to put it into words. I'm praying that today and the coming days will be filled with God's peace.


ThreeGirlyGirls said...

Oh wow!! What a journey!! I can't wait to read the rest!!