No one likes to wait, especially when a loved one's life is on the line. But waiting gives us time to sit in expectation and hope. The outcome may not always be the one WE would choose, but the waiting gives us time to accept what HE chooses. #caregiver #cancer #hope
No one likes to wait, especially when a loved one's life is on the line. But waiting gives us time to sit in expectation and hope. The outcome may not always be the one WE would choose, but the waiting gives us time to accept what HE chooses. #caregiver #cancer #hope

No one likes to wait, especially when a loved one’s life is on the line.

Time Crawls while We Wait

Each second ticked more slowly than the one before. I stared at the black hands on the sterile white face of the critical care unit room. Pedro tried to sit up in bed, thrashing against some unknown foe or memory. The monitors squawked and bleated. I gently pushed him back, and he swung his head from side to side, mumbling.

I waited, a pen poised over a yellow legal pad, for something he said to make sense. But nothing made sense. I glanced at the clock again, noted the time on my pad of paper, and wrote, “tried to sit up, mumbling.”

He calmed down, and his breathing evened. My eyes felt heavy from lack of sleep. I’d spent the night before bedded down in the hospital waiting room. Pedro had had mid-afternoon spinal tap and intrathecal chemo dose (chemo drugs injected at the spinal tap site). Shortly after supper his condition worsened and his body convulsed with seizures.

No one likes to wait, especially when a loved one's life is on the line. But waiting gives us time to sit in expectation and hope. The outcome may not always be the one WE would choose, but the waiting gives us time to accept what HE chooses. #caregiver #cancer #hope

Neurologists came and went, along with interns and fellows. I waited for answers, but none came. The hospital moved him from a shared room to the critical care unit for closer observation. I shot out an email requesting prayers from friends back home and sat down to wait.

For some reason, I thought writing down each symptom, action, or word would help the doctors figure out what had happened. While he alternated between mumbling nonsense and jerking upright, I alternated between incoherent prayers and repeating Bible verses.

“Those who wait upon the Lord will renew their strength,” kept cycling through my head. Wait. Wait. Wait. I couldn’t remember the rest of the verse.

Wait

And so I waited through the interminable night, keeping track of every move. Watching with eagle eyes for any change—for better or for worse. His rare cancer presented itself in unique ways—even for a big, well-known teaching hospital staff.

Around midnight, I remembered the entire verse.

 But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.”

Isaiah 40:31 KJV

And so I waited. I stayed in place in expectation. Hope filled the room while despair filled my yellow pad. Nothing looked hopeful, but I had hope. My strong, intelligent husband looked like a skeleton and could only mumble nonsense. But I waited.

I shared my legal pad observations with an intern that dropped by in the early hours of the morning. By ten, when doctors made their rounds, Pedro had calmed. The machines beeped out a steady stream of good news.

“We think the rapid die off of lymphoma cells in his spinal fluids caused the seizures,” the attending physician told me.

“Die-off is good,” I said, “as long as it’s not him.”

The doctor smiled briefly. “We’ll put him on an anti-seizure medicine, just to be safe. We’ll move him back to Eleven Long within an hour or two.”

I grinned and said my goodbyes. I had only slept six hours in the past forty-eight, but I felt like soaring through the hallways and pumping my fist. Yes!

I had no idea where I’d sleep that night. But I knew I could wait in expectation and hope. Everything would turn out all right. I could wait, and I could trust.

I've learned to wait in expectation and hope–no matter what the outcome may be. #cancer #fmfparty #trust Click To Tweet

Follow up Note

This happened eighteen years ago, and God has proven Himself faithful over and over again. The doctors call Pedro a ‘walking miracle.’ I learned to wait.

6 Comments

  1. ‘Tis a harrowing and hopeful tale,
    the waiting and the worry.
    Danger close, who will prevail?
    Did God really write this story?
    Time crawls on little turtle-feet,
    and sometimes it reverses,
    letting future and the sore past meet,
    deaf to cries and curses.
    If we could gaze beyond the wall
    we’d see solution in God’s holy hands,
    but we’re not meant to ken it all,
    and, still less, to understand.
    But now that beyond the night
    lies the Love of warming light.

  2. Thank you for sharing your stories from this challenging time in your life. Hearing how you came through it encourages me. Though my own journey is different, stories like yours give me hope.

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Anita Ojeda

Anita Ojeda juggles writing with teaching high school English and history. When she's not lurking in odd places looking for rare birds, you can find her camping with her kids, adventuring with her husband or mountain biking with her students.

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