Last week, Scott began having some mild pain in his lower left abdomen. Within about twelve hours, he was running a fever, fighting with terrible body aches, and experiencing intense nausea. We assumed he had caught a stomach bug, which was shocking since he never, ever gets sick. About twenty-four hours later, the fever was gone, but the pain in his abdomen was worsening. He saw our family doctor who immediately diagnosed him with diverticulitis, restricted Scott’s diet to only clear liquids for the next four days, put him on two antibiotics, and ordered a CT scan to confirm the diagnosis.
Scott moved through those four days like a rock! I would’ve been weeping my way through them. He is on the mend and responding well to the antibiotics, but the CT scan revealed some surprising and unpleasant news.
The report stated that there were some abnormalities in the bladder and a number of spots scattered throughout Scott’s liver. The bladder abnormalities seem to all be explained by the cancer in the prostate, and are consistent with the severe symptoms Scott was having initially (symptoms currently subdued by medication).
The liver questions are more mysterious. Scott’s dad died from liver cancer, so this was immediately very concerning for us. In fact, I will be honest and say that we both (especially I) hit a very low place Sunday morning when we got this news. God has, graciously, set us on our feet again, and we are moving forward. We want to trust God with the next day and the next and the next, believing His promises to love us and bring only His best to us even when our path doesn’t seem best to our human minds and hearts.
“It is often true that the experiences we dread, in which we seem to be left without help, when the darkness appears most dense about us and we cannot see the way — even a step before us — are really fullest of God. We cry out then for deliverance, not knowing that it is God who is leading us into the shadows. We cry, ‘Show me the way,’ thinking that we have lost the way, and crying to be led back into it, when lo! The clouds part and we see Christ close beside us, and know that He has been beside us all the time. God’s way does not always lie in the sunshine; sometimes it runs into deep glooms. We are not always out of His way when we find ourselves facing obstacles and difficulties. He leads us many a time, away from the path which we would have taken. When we pray for guidance, we must surrender our will to God. If we ask Him to guide us, we must yield our own preference, and accept His. We need never doubt that God’s way leads always to the best things, to the truest and to the most real good. Let no one ever think that the way of the Lord is a mistake, however disappointing to our hopes and schemes it may be. One day we shall know that every divine leading, whatever it may have cost us to follow it, is both wise and good.”
~ J. R. Miller (1840-1912)
No one knows what these spots are, and there is some concern that they may be too small to biopsy. There is still a good chance that they are benign, but we want to know, of course. Scott is scheduled for an MRI this afternoon (Tuesday) @ 4:00. We don’t know when we will get the results of that MRI.
We have also written to our radiology oncologist in Knoxville to make sure he is kept up to speed and to see if he wants to offer any input about testing. We are praying that this will not interfere with treatment plans, but we don’t know anything yet.
Besides the human fear of what we could be dealing with, the added tests and appointments are enough to undo us at the moment. I was so thankful that God seemed to have cleared out these next few weeks so we could focus on the monumental task of preparing for the family’s temporary move to Knoxville. But gradually, orthodontic emergencies, new testing for one teen who is having some possible seizure activity, dental emergencies, leg braces that keep breaking and have to be addressed, and now Scott’s new illness and questions are consuming these days that are so essential to our being able to get ready for this move.
We also have five birthdays to celebrate before we leave. We will be combining these into two celebrations and will share photos once we manage to pull them off.
Our schooling is a tremendous challenge at the moment, but we know that we will be able to accomplish much in this area during our time in Knoxville. And we will school through the summer to get everything finished up. So I’m trying hard not to stress too much over this area of life right now.
We also have a new development for Nathan, who has suffered for eighteen months with pain in his leg and been unable to wear his prosthesis with any regularity (which has resulted in often intense back and hip pain because of the imbalance of his gait). The specialist we have been seeing in Indianapolis has suggested a theory that makes a lot of sense to us based on Nathan’s symptoms — a condition known as Exertional Compartment Syndrome (ESC). Unfortunately, there is no way to know for sure if this is a correct diagnosis. The treatment is a relatively simple surgery that will involve opening up one side of the entire length of Nathan’s lower leg and then opening the fascia of the muscle in his lower leg. The fascia will be left open; the skin will be stitched closed. This will allow the swelling that we think is taking place in his muscle to do so without the pain (we hope). Even though there is no way to know for sure if this will work, Nathan is desperate enough to give it a try. He is scheduled for that surgery here in Cincinnati on March 21, with a post-op appointment just a couple of days before our move. Please pray with us that this will finally take care of the pain he’s been having for so long.
After he heals, he may need to be fitted with a new prosthesis, depending on how much this changes the shape of his leg. Unfortunately, there won’t be enough time between his post-op appointment and the date we move to get that done. So we are also praying that his current prosthesis will actually still work for him, and that he will be able to wear it and be on two feet during our stay in Knoxville.
The most overwhelming task at the moment is the kids’ seasonal clothing switch-out, inventory of usable hand-me-downs, and shopping for needed new items. As I’ve shared before, this is a massive undertaking, and I dread it with every season change. Because we are moving south, I am doing this early this year — with our daughter Kristie’s help as always. She and I are doing our best to complete this project this week while also squeezing in Scott’s new appointments.
Friends have stepped forward to help with errands to free us up as much as possible. They are picking up new completed leg braces for us, driving to Springboro for our weekly milk/egg/butter pick-up, and delivering groceries that friends leave at church each week for us. Our son-in-law Greg is doing his best to keep up with his duties as Executive Assistant for The Shepherd’s Crook while also trying to get kids to some of their appointments for us. We are all stretched past anything we thought we were capable of.
How do we ever thank everyone who is stepping up to help? Others of you continue to ask how you can help, and I’m sure over the next couple of weeks, we will have ways for you to step in, too. We promise to reach out to you and let you know. Thank you!
We are just astounded by the number of people praying for us, and we cherish these prayers more than we can ever say. We will continue to keep you posted as we learn more and as we move through these next few weeks.
Financially, we have been able to pay all of Scott’s unexpected medical bills, so far, thanks to gifts that have come in. We are continually at a loss for words to express all that we feel toward those of you who help and help and help some more.
One of our adult children said to us recently, “You guys are loved by so many people.” I tear up again even as I type those words. I remember a time years ago when people who had been following our adoption journeys suddenly dropped by the wayside, some even responding with statements like, “You’ve gone too far now; we no longer want to be a part of this.” This story is shared in our book in more detail, but we wondered if God was asking us to continue on alone, without the support system around us that we had come to lean on. We promised Him that we would do that if this is what He was asking. But now we look at the incredible support system He has built up around us. And we marvel. And we thank Him.
We are so incredibly blessed.