I woke up today to possibly the biggest storm I’ve ever heard. The thunder made it feel like our house was shaking. There was a lightning bolt so strong and huge that I actually shook so hard beneath my covers that I woke from my dream. The storm raged on and I carefully unplugged electronics and then hunkered down… just in case.
The whole thing seemed so appropriate.
There’s nothing like a bolt of lightning to explain this time in my life one year ago.
After all, it was one year ago that I woke up sick, only to get a call from my doctors office saying to come in as soon as possible.
One year ago today I found out that I had a brain tumor and that it needed to be removed. Not removed in a few months or even two weeks.
No. As soon as it could possibly be removed, that’s when it needed to go.
I remember that day so clearly. I woke up early that Wednesday morning because I was going to go over and help paint my youth pastors house with my senior class. He had just moved and we all wanted to help out. I got up early so that I would have time to get ready before heading over.
But as soon as I opened my eyes I felt sick. Just like countless times before, I woke up with extreme motion sickness… like I was seasick. It literally felt like everything around me was spinning while I was staying still.
All as soon as I opened my eyes, before ever moving or getting out of bed.
I ran for the toilet and tried my best to not throw up. Normally I just let it come, but I was dead set on going to help paint. I wanted to hang out with everyone while helping our youth pastor.
Some how I was able to keep it all down, but I still felt sick. About this time mom got a call from the doctors office. I had just gotten my MRI done the previous night and was scheduled to go to the doctors office the next day, Thursday. But when they called that morning they told mom that we needed to come in immediately.
Well, obviously something was very wrong with me if they couldn’t wait one day to tell me what the scans of my brain and neck had shown.
So I sent a quick text to the girl that basically said, “I woke up sick. I can’t come now, going to the doctor. Sorry! Tell everyone I say hi.” And then we left, me still trying not to throw up the entire ride.
Except for the music playing, it was a silent 30 minute ride.
We pulled in and parked on the right side, lower level, two or three spots from the end. (Which is really weird because that’s right where we parked when I went back for my latest visit.)
We walked up, mom checked me in, and then they called us to this back room that I had seen but never really been in. And I’ve been going to this doctors office since I was basically a baby.
Inside the room there’s a couch, a coffee table type thing, a desk, a filing cabinet, and a picture or two on the wall. I sat on the left side of the couch, mom took the right, and the head doctor sat on the edge of the coffee table.
He looked straight at me and said, “I don’t really know how to say this except to just say it. You have a brain tumor.”
At that moment I looked past him, a little to the left, to a piece of artwork on the wall. I could hear him still talking in the background, my mom asking questions and him answering them, and I could hear details being shared about my scans from the previous night…
…But my mind wasn’t there.
I wasn’t thinking about surgery or the pain it would bring. I wasn’t even to the point where you inevitably think ‘I may never see anyone again.’
No, I was praying.
I don’t say that to sound high and mighty, but because it was my gut reaction, my first thought.
And truthfully, that fact – still to this day – shocks me.
But I prayed basically this: Huh. It makes sense now. God, it makes sense. I have a brain tumor. Wow God…I don’t even feel scared. I trust You completely God. Whatever happens. Thank you for this Peace. I wonder what will happen to me next. Either way, no matter whether I live or die, I feel complete Peace. Thank you, I’ve never felt anything like this.
I came back around as he asked me if I had any questions. I looked at my doctor and asked the only thing I really wanted to know at that point.
“Can I see the scans?”
Eyebrows raised, full of anticipation, I waited for his response.
In return I got a surprised look and a little bit of stammering as he explained that of course I can, but right now they only have the report, not the actual scans. But when they arrived I could see them.
He stammered because he was surprised. I wasn’t worried or crying.
Not a single tear fell from my eye as I learned of my brain tumor.
I felt nothing but peace.
My mom began asking questions and this time I paid more attention to them. We learned that I should go to a hospital in Miami. There was a good place in Texas, too, but Miami was much closer and highly recommended. My doctors office had already been in contact with them, and we were told that we would need to go home and pack whatever we needed. We needed to be ready to leave for Miami at a moments notice. Once there I would undergo more tests and I would meet with my neurosurgeon. From there we would figure out when I would have surgery.
The bottom line was that it needed to come out as soon as possible. They didn’t know if it was cancerous or not, but it was big and couldn’t stay.
The doctor left the room, I think mom asked if I was scared and I just said no. She kept crying and then stepped out to go call dad. He works near the doctors office, so she was calling to tell him to come there.
The doctor came back in, sat back down, put his hand on my knee and asked if I had questions (again) and how I was doing. I just said I was fine. I didn’t have questions. I think it was at this point that he said something about how my mom was taking it, and it was then that a single tear fell from my eye as I thought of my mom sobbing. Other than that, though, no tears.
Dad showed up and mom and I briefed him on everything and then the doctor came back in and explained in more detail. Dad went back to work and mom and I drove home in silence, both of our minds all over the place.
We walked inside, I went to the kitchen to get a drink of water, and mom called the boys inside. They knew we had gone to the doctors. As soon as they walked in they knew something was wrong. Mom opened her mouth to speak, but she couldn’t and she started crying.
So I looked straight at my brothers and said, kind of in a monotone, that the doctors had found a brain tumor and it needed to be removed as soon as possible, and we were now waiting to hear from Miami and then would leave to go there.
As soon as I finished saying that I went to my room and just sat on my bed for a long while. Not doing anything really. A little thinking, a little praying, but mainly I just sat there.
We heard from Miami and were told to go there Friday morning, which we did. The story continues of course, but today I’ve been thinking on all those details I just went over. Those were one year ago yesterday.
One year ago today was the in between.
The time in my life where everything had been turned upside down, I didn’t know whether I would make it through surgery…and I couldn’t even tell anyone about it.
I could after Fridays appointment, but on Wednesday and Thursday mom asked/told me to not Facebook or email or whatnot about it… not until we had more answers.
It was the time of In Between. All on my own, but complete Peace from Him.
The storm from earlier today was perfect. It felt so…right. I feel like it was from God, just for me.
A way of Him saying ‘I remember. I remember what this time was like for you last year. I was there, and I’m here now. I’m angry for the pain you experienced, the people that talked about you behind your back saying that you were making it all up. I felt it all, too.
I’m angry that you ever had to go through it all, and I will show that anger today in the form of louder and more powerful lightning than you’ve ever seen. But you must remember that lightning, in all its power and strength and danger, even, is beautiful. It lights up the dark sky, and amidst the clouds and rain it can guide a path. It shows where the storm is moving. It is beauty in the midst of a raging storm.
That’s what this time last year was for you. One of the hardest times of your life, one of the darkest times from an outsiders perspective…but there was so much beauty inside the storm that only you experienced. And so much beauty that has come BECAUSE of the storm. These lightning bolts, this storm, it’s all for you. I remember.’
Thank you God for this day and that I am here to tell of it. More importantly, thank you for one year ago…when You showed up more powerfully than anyone could dream…to hold my hand when I needed a friend, to carry me when I couldn’t walk, to provide Peace in a raging storm, and to prove Yourself Faithful for the world to see in my meager words. Thank you for the Story You have provided me with, let me bring You glory from it always.