As I watched her lying there in the hospital bed, tears began to fall from my eyes. She was hooked up to several IVs, a blood pressure cuff, heart monitor, etc. Her mouth was partially open. Lips cracked and dried. She looked so gaunt, the skin seemingly pulled back over her cheek bones. Her short, spiky hair was mussed and stuck out at odd angles. Dry streaks where her own tears fell lined her cheeks. This was my wife. And my heart was broken for her yet again.
The hospital isn’t someplace that we dream of waking up Christmas morning. Sure, the nurses and techs do what they can to liven the place up and make it festive. But there’s only so much they can do. A few decorations lined the bulletin boards and hallways. There were even some in Lena’s room. But it’s just not the same as home. There’s no Christmas tree in the living room, presents spilling out from beneath. There are no smells coming from the kitchen in the morning where mom and dad (or more likely just dad) are making breakfast. It’s just alcohol and disinfectant. Lysol and Germ-X. This is where we found ourselves. Emory University Medical Center in Atlanta. They’re the ones that saved her life.
To set the stage, I need to remind you all of something. It took two years and a few months after Mia died, but Lena finally tried to move forward. That was two years and a few months worth of answered prayers. We decided to try to have a Rainbow Baby. And we were successful at getting pregnant…or so we thought. I think it was around the October time frame that we went to the doctor where we found out that she was about seven weeks. Two weeks later, she began bleeding. We found out that the pregnancy wasn’t viable, so it had to be terminated. A setback, and the news hurt. But we were confident that we could continue to move forward and try again. Or so we thought…
After two months of bleeding, four trips to the ER in Douglas, one trip to the ER in Douglasville (near Atlanta), pregnancy symptoms, fatigue, emotional drain, lethargy, and a near hemorrhage to death, we found out that Lena suffered what’s called a Molar Pregnancy. It happens to about one in one thousand women, and only fifteen percent of those have the complete invasive type. Which, of course, Lena did.
A Molar Pregnancy…we had to look it up online, too…is basically where the fetal tissue doesn’t develop into a viable pregnancy. If left unattended for a long period of time (i.e. two months!), it turns into a cancerous tumor. In this case, the 6cm culprit ate almost completely through the wall of Lena’s uterus. She was given two choices: A) start a year’s worth of chemotherapy to destroy the tumor. At the end of that time, there was still no guarantee that she wouldn’t have to have a hysterectomy. Or B) have a hysterectomy now and be monitored for a year to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back. Oh. One thing I forgot to mention. A normal pregnancy hormone level is around 20,000, or 40,000 for twins. When Lena presented at Emory, her levels were 750,000!!!
After a lot of praying and talking to each other, we decided that the best course of action was to have the hysterectomy. It’s a good thing we did. If we had waited any longer, the tumor would have ruptured the uterus. Lena was about 24 hours away from bleeding out internally. Thankfully, they were able to save her ovaries.
Suffice it to say, Lena was devastated. Her heart since she proclaimed that she wasn’t mad anymore about Mia’s loss has been to have another baby. That’s been taken away from her…at least by natural means. She cried so much in the hospital, and I couldn’t do anything for her to take it all away. I could only be there to hold her hand…wipe her brow and her tears…get her an ice chip…and pray. I did a lot of praying, both at her bedside and in the chapel when she was asleep. At this point, I have to admit that I was asking “why”. “How can this possibly be Your plan, Father?!?” I was more than a little angry as well.
When the smoke cleared, and the surgery was over, I finally focused on the fact that Lena was still alive. That was the main issue. The next thing was to get her home and start the healing…dejavu…both physically and emotionally. It was ground zero all over again.
Fast forward to today and the blessing part of all this.
We now live in Douglasville, temporarily with my mother-in-law. My in-laws, brother and his family included in that, have been AMAZING. I have to publicly thank them at this point. Without them, we would truly be in dire straights. I also need to thank our Covenant church family and all of our friends. And so many people we don’t even know! We would also be absolutely lost without your prayers, kind words, and support. Because Lena has to be monitored weekly to begin with, then monthly when her levels hit zero (they are at 44 now!), we felt it would be easier and less expensive than living four hours away from the hospital. I actually left my job not having one to go to. I know He has something in store for me here. I’m just praying that He opens the door soon and clearly says, “This is where I want you and what I want you to do.”
The biggest blessing was Lena’s job that she hadn’t yet started. She was hired by Mercy Care in Atlanta prior to all of her health issues. She was supposed to start on the Monday after her surgery. This is where we realize that it was His plan to bring us here. She called them from her hospital bed and told them what happened. The HR director said that she was sorry to hear that because they were looking forward to working with her. She couldn’t guarantee that they would be able to hold the job for the four to six weeks it was going to take Lena to heal (she had the “gutted like a fish” type of hysterectomy). She would have to talk with the directors and the doctor. By the way. Mercy Care in and of itself is a blessing to people. They provide free health care to the homeless in Atlanta!
We went back to Douglas, and Lena called them back a week later. The whole time, she was praying that, if God truly wanted us in Atlanta, He make a way for that to happen. She prayed that He show her clearly what He wanted for Her. I have to stop for a minute here and praise her. In spite of everything that she’s been through in the last two years and ten months…a pretty long season in our eyes…she still thanks God, prays to God and acts on that one mustard seed of faith she has left. I’m amazed at her strength and endurance!
So, back to the story. Lena called Mercy Care back to tell them that her healing timetable had been bumped up in case they still wanted her to come to work. The HR director told her that she was glad she called. She was going to call Lena that very day. She spoke to the directors and the doctor. They wanted her to let Lena know that they knew in their hearts that Lena was supposed to have this job. That there was NO ONE else they wanted for this job. And that they would hold the job for her as long as it took for Lena to get well. PRAISE GOD FOR ANSWERED PRAYERS!
I’m sharing this part of our story for a couple of reasons. Firstly, I want whoever is reading this that is in their own season to know that they’re not alone. God is right there in the trenches with them, even if they can’t see Him. Secondly, I want them to know HOPE- Hold On. Pain Ends. And lastly, given the opportunity, God can turn your tragedies into triumphs. I know it’s hard, but we have to trust Him that He knows what he’s doing. Lena asks me why bad things happen to good people. My reply is always the same…without our trials, we wouldn’t need to have a relationship with God. And without that relationship, we’d never see Him or Mia again. Thank You, Father, for strength and endurance.
“And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us. We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne. Think of all the hostility he endured from sinful people; then you won’t become weary and give up. After all, you have not yet given your lives in your struggle against sin.”
Sorry this is so long. He’s given me a lot to write about over the last few months! Be blessed, and always be a blessing…
This is one that I found for Lena after she came home from the hospital. Remember. There is no where you can go that He hasn’t already been. There is nothing that you can go through that He hasn’t already overcome. He is the Victor!