Part 6, Medical Connections

Discovering medical connections when you’re going through health issues like cancer can make you feel less alone, that another person understands because she’s faced what you’ve faced, and that God has blessed you in a personal way. Part 6 of my Cancer Journal reveals several medical connections that gave me new perspective last April, right after I’d had lung resection surgery.

But first, do you know how therapeutic it is to curl up with a cat when you’re sick or tired or down? We no longer own a cat, but the timing was perfect when our daughter asked me to watch her elderly Siamese kitty while I was recovering from surgery. Thank you, Bekah.

From an email to my sis-in-law on 4/6/17:

Bekah brought Sebastian, her “senior” cat, over to our house this week because we’re watching him while she et al are in PA. His eyesight is bad, and he meows this throaty complaint whenever he can’t find his food, water, or the litter box. Poor little guy. His eyes are filmy, maybe with cataracts. Anyway, he kept me up half the night wanting one thing and another. He’d like to go outside, but he wouldn’t stand a chance if other cats picked on him, so we’re keeping him in. If I sit in front of the TV, he might sit in my lap for a few minutes. Or even more. I’m enjoying having a kitty padding around the house during the day.”

Unfortunately, I finally let him go outside, and he never came back. We called him day in and day out as we walked the neighborhood. Posters brought a lead, but it didn’t pan out. So sad. I felt terrible, especially for Bekah and her family. But I’m hoping he’s in a better place, where we’ll see him again someday. (To read about God’s care for animals, see Job 39.)

Medical Connections
Many amazing people have encouraged me by telling me about their cancer journeys. For example, at a meeting of the Northwest Christian Writers Association, I bonded with writer Mindy Peltier when she told me she also had thyroid cancer. We texted back and forth, and she said she’d never intended to become a cancer blogger, but “when you are a blogger and you get cancer, you become a cancer blogger.” Click here to read “10 Things I Hate About Cancer,” one of my favorite posts, followed by “10 Things I Love About Cancer.” Thank you, Mindy.

From an email to my sis-in-law on 4/14/17:

The last week of March was particularly miserable I had 5 medical appointments in one week. On top of that, I had to limit my intake for the scans, which made me dehydrated and made it hard for the technicians to find a vein for administering the IV contrast stuff. They poked me four times before finding a good vein. Ouch!”

Delivered by C-Section
by Dr. Lee, Taught by Dr. Phil

But one appointment during that week turned out to be delightful. Before I went to see my surgeon for a follow-up visit, I got curious about where he did his training. I looked online and learned he went to UC Davis near Sacramento. In his office after he listened to my lungs, etc., I mentioned that we knew a surgeon who had worked at UC Davis. When I told him it was Phil Dirksen, he lit up and said Dr. Dirksen had been his attending physician during his surgical residency, meaning he oversaw his training. I told him that we had worked with him in Africa in the 1980’s and that he’d taught my husband how to do C-sections. Who could have ever predicted that a fellow missionary would help train the surgeon who would one day operate on me? I was so blessed.”

A Medical Connection

“On the way to my appointments, I listened to “I, Rhoda” in the car. Valerie Harper not only wrote the book but also read it herself. One day as I was driving south on I-5 over Lake Union on my way to Capitol Hill for a CT scan, I got to a chapter where Valerie said her doctor found a suspicious spot, which she called a “little shining dime” at the top of her right lung – the same size and location as mine was. Her doctor said it was cancer and had to come out. Yet she’d never smoked – same as me. So she went to a top-notch surgeon to have it removed by a technique known as VATS, Video Assisted Thoracic Surgery -the same technique my surgeon used. When did she have it removed? On St. Patrick’s Day – same as I did. What are the odds? Gave me a warm feeling for sure. (By the way, if you want to read her funny version of the story, it’s in Chapter Fifteen of her book.)”

Everyone likes finding unexpected connections, right? Why do you think that is?

Thanks for reading!

Previous: Part 5 – Wedge Resection of Lung
Next: Part 7 – Lobectomy of the Lung
Part 6 posted on March 13, 2018.

12 thoughts on “Part 6, Medical Connections

  1. I love hearing about your connections! I couldn’t get to sleep until I put words to my thoughts about this: I like to think that we all know deep down God is the designer of those “connections” and once in awhile we are given pieces of those “gold threads” that are part of the tapestry of our lives He weaves from above, and we can usually only see the underside that is tangled and confusing. When we are blessed to snag one of those gold threads (those unlikely connections you talk about), our hearts light up and we smile about it! even when it has to do with bad or sad news because the LORD has graciously given us a piece of Himself in that gold thread.

    1. Thank you very much for your colorful description of the tapestry analogy, Marilee. How comforting that our lives are not a mass of tangles but rather something meaningful and significant!

  2. Feels like I am reconnecting with a high school friend and fellow retired nurse when I read your blog! Blessings on you, Norma.

    1. I love reconnecting with you, Sandy! If only we could sing together again! (Yes, in heaven for sure.) In the meantime, thanks so much for reading my blog.

  3. Norma—your story causes me to weep and praise God at the same time. Thanks for sharing it with all of us.

  4. Mary and I just read your blog, Norma. Transparency is a beautiful thing – sometimes costly but not without rewards. Never did I (Glen) imagine I would be blessed with such a beautiful, godly, encouraging daughter!!

    We’ll discuss the Caldwell and Tish picnic and get back to you.

    1. Thank you very much for reading my blog and commenting, Dad and Mary! I’m looking forward to seeing you one of these days.

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