In the middle of July, 2019, I was experiencing what turned out to be a blocked bile duct. I was not in pain, but I kept getting weaker than my usual self, but of course, I kept going. I had lost about 25 pounds, had darkened urine, jaundice and a tendency to itch a lot.
My doctor confirmed the diagnosis of a bile duct blockage, and was afraid it was connected to the pancreas. He referred me to a specialist who “couldn’t work me in” for a month. I was waiting patiently.
Next comes the story of my friend and vet, Mike Steward. He was at the farm, with me sitting there watching him work, when he abruptly said, “give me your phone. I’m going to call Jeremy because if he doesn’t get you to the ER right now, you are so weak you are going to die.” Well, I didn’t have to wait for Jeremy to cajole me into that, I said to Mike, “you close up when you get through, I’m going to do what I need to do to get to the ER.”
I called Ron Turner and asked him to take me (and Oteka of course) to the ER in Shawnee. They gave me a blood test, checked my medical record, and immediately scheduled an ambulance to transport me to the ER at OU Medical. That’s the second time that day someone took immediate action (Ron and the ER staff) that saved my life.
Because I arrived by ambulance, I was taken immediately to a room in the OU ER, and a doctor was examining me within 5 minutes. He told me I was “glowing yellow” from the jaundice. Wow, I didn’t see that coming. Within minutes they had me in the CAT scan tube, and then I was admitted to the hospital, because they could see that some kind of surgical intervention would be necessary to treat my problem. There we go, life saved again.
From the very beginning I was treated by a medical team consisting of several specialties, and an excellent nursing staff. I was treated with such kindness, and professional skill and knowledge that I never doubted that I was not only in good hands, but in the right place. The next day, I was scheduled for an “endoscope”, a magical instrument that (while I’m asleep) they can run down my “neck” and not only see everything that is going on, but also repair things as needed. I joked with them saying “It’s like a colonoscopy but for the upper part of the body.”
Dr. Maple, the head surgeon for this reported to me after the procedure that the blockage of the bile duct was a small tumor in the neck of the pancreas that was pressing on the duct and closing it off. He inserted a stint to allow it to drain, and then used his instrument to observe all aspects of the liver, looking for any indication that the tumor had spread and he found none. (People almost always die from pancreatic cancer because it has grown and spread before it is detected because it has no symptoms.) There we go, the jaundice which led to Dr. Maple, and the doctor’s brilliant work, saved my life again.
Now, I’m seeing Dr. Hatoum at the Stephenson Cancer Center of OU. My medical friends tell me that it is one of the very best cancer treatment centers in the United States. All of the doctors who have seen me are in the decision making for my course of treatment…it’s called the tumor board. My course of treatment will involve 6 months of chemo therapy. After about two months they will start doing scans to determine the size of the tumor. When it has shrunk enough to satisfy the surgeon, he will remove it. I’ll continue chemo through the 6 months. Dr. Hatoum told me, “the reason we continue chemo after the tumor is removed is to be sure that no little seeds got out and will develop tumors later. We are going for a complete cure.” I really like the sound of that!
Through this entire experience I have felt God’s love being show to me by everyone whom I encountered. God shows Himself to us through the deeds of others. There has never been a time in this whole experience that I have felt anything but joy and gratitude for the ways God has revealed Himself to me through the skillful and tender care of everyone around me.
Oteka refused to leave my side and slept as well as she could on the most awful recliner in the hospital room you can imagine. Jeremy flew in immediately from San Francisco and Oteka Lyn flew in from Eugene as Jeremy was flying out so she could care for her mother and me as we left the hospital. Friends assured us of their prayers and love, offers of help too numerous to mention. A special thanks to Ron Turner and Pastor Tiffany who brought us some clean underwear after 4 days…we arrived at the hospital with the clothes on our backs only. The entire medical staff, from the housekeeping to the most important doctors, showed me God’s love through their kind and loving deed and attitudes.
About the second night there, God and I had a very important and serious talk. It consisted of my being grateful for the long and loving life he had already given me. He was working to heal me through the people who trained in their own special areas to bring healing to others, me included. I didn’t have to ask fro healing, He was already working on that. If the healing didn’t work, what more could I ask for than the wonderful life of loving and being loved that He had already given?
“But, God, I do hope to get beyond this because there’s more loving I want to do and some projects.”
Nevertheless, however this episode of my life turns out, I have been blessed beyond measure, and I’m grateful for the life and faith you have given me. Thank you, Jesus, for showing me the Father and his love.
PS. I had to write this for you because I really wanted to share it, but I can’t talk about it without sobbing in joy and gratitude.