- Posted April 22, 2013 by
Fort Myers, Florida
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
A Loving Touch-Faith & Family
We at some point in our lives are given a loving touch be it from a friend, family member, caretaker, or stranger. How many say “I was touched by God” or “There but for the grace of God (go I).” I am sure there are quite a few who can say just that. This is my story…
Sunday November 20th, 2005. I was working protecting my community. Later that day I started to have lower back pain. I did not think much of it. Who among us has not had back pain at one time or another? As the day went on the pain had a grip and tenacity around my mid section I have never felt. I go to bed that night and the following Monday night absolutely miserable. I wake up around 3:00 am Tuesday morning. I was punch drunk, the pain beating me down like a washed up fighter. It felt like a knife in the back the pain radiating…not unlike the outward expanding ripples caused by a pebble dropped in the water.
The darkness is making the pain sinister, evil. Or is it? Now it’s light out on Tuesday morning, two days before Thanksgiving. The day is a normal day, started out like any other day in November. It would not end that way.
I tell my wife Angela I just can not bear another day like this. She suggests we go to the emergency room. I say nay nay, for I do not like doctors for all the reasons most do not. I know they fix injury, cure illness, save lives, etc but what if? Finally she insisted and my being irrational was no longer a justifiable option.
So off to the emergency we go. We get there and go through the obligatory ritual of filling out endless forms and answering endless mundane questions. As we sit in the waiting area I look around and see a cornucopia sitting there. Hmm…some Thanksgiving this is turning out to be. People sitting, walking by some are sneezing, some are coughing, some with mere slits for eyes due to pain. Me too? Wonder what their stories are?
Finally we are put in an exam room. The doctor comes in and I explain my problem. She gives me a shot and…aw! What a relief. No pain. “Let’s get a CAT scan just to make sure you do not have kidney stones,” she says. Off I go. The test is completed and as I am sitting on the edge of the exam bed I look over towards the nurse’s station and see the ER doctor talking to another doctor and looking at me. I have a bad feeling.
The doctor comes back in the room and says “I have good news and bad news. You do not have kidney stones.” Whew…what a relief. She continues, “You have, what the radiologist believes is, kidney cancer.” The HORROR! At that moment my life, our lives, changed forever. The look on my wife’s face crushed me, far worse than the doctors’ news, to the very core of my being. My legs started to shake. My mouth felt as if someone had poured sand in it. I could not speak or swallow. Breathless! “Is it fatal, “I asked? “Not if it hasn't spread, and it does not look as if it did but your surgeon would be better to answer that.” YOU HAVE CANCER… three of the most feared words in any language.
I vividly remember thinking at that moment...If I had 50 million in the bank right now it wouldn't mean squat. Never did it mean more now...'If you've got your health you've got everything.
I eventually come to grips with the situation. It is what it is. I sit on the edge of bed at night and help but cry. “I do not want to die,” I stammer. “Of course you don’t, and you will not,” consoles my wife as she gives me a loving touch. Many more tests later my surgeon is confident it has not spread. I hug him and say thank you. Fast forward. As I lay on the bed awaiting transfer to the operating room I wonder what the outcome will be. My wife holds my hand strong as rock. I told her “All I want to hear is that it has not spread.” I think I hear…”lets do another chest x-ray make sure his lungs are clear.” Do I hear the sounds of machinery clanking, footsteps scurrying to and fro? Not sure. A gentle whisper in my ear…”Hi Pappi, it did not spread”. I know that voice. Of this I AM sure. “Love you Swirl,” (my wife Angela’s nickname) I hoarsely croak out.
My surgeon checked all my organs visually and found no other signs of cancer. The pathologist did a slice and dice on my right kidney, tissue, fat, etc. All test indicated that no cancer cells escaped and chemotherapy was not needed. I lost a kidney, adrenal gland, muscle, fat, tissue, lymph nodes and a rib. I gained my life. My priorities changed in an instant back in November of 2005. No more yelling when a driver cuts me off, etc. I am most grateful just to be in traffic.
I had a bout of survivors’ guilt for quite awhile. Why am I so fortunate? Who am I so blessed? Babies and young kids die because of cancer. They have had no time to sin. I remember my surgeon saying, after conferring with the pathologist, that... "we don't like to say cured, but for all intents and purposes..." I had a whole lot of whys, but no answers.
What? I had it…kidney out…cancer gone…no chemo! My wife Angela set me straight: She said “you could ask why until the end of time and never be satisfied. Accept that you survived and embrace it. When you finally arrive in heaven ask God. You will finally get your answer.” Indeed.
I am now at peace with my survival. My surgeon was confident that the back pain was not caused by my cancer. He said it would have eventually faded and I would have gone about my life until serious symptoms would have appeared. But then it would have been too late. God’s touch?
I am now cancer free (cured?) for just about 7 1/2 years. From the depths of evil the finger of fate reached up and tripped me off my feet. I stumbled terribly hard but did not fall for I had the best support of all…a loving touch from my wife Angela and a loving touch from my God. I am now alive and living the dream. Thanks with all my heart to all of my family and friends for their love and support!