After a fun, rough-and-tumble day of sledding Thomas, an active, healthy 13-year old, complained to me of a pain in his side. Being a mother of six active children I told him to rest because he probably pulled a muscle sledding. The pain did not go away and after Christmas had come and gone and it was still there, I decided it warranted a trip to the doctor. My children rarely see the doctor because most ailments we take care of ourselves. I made an appointment, left my kids at my mom’s and headed to the doctor. The general practitioner did a thorough evaluation and concluded that Thomas most likely nicked his spleen during sledding. Thomas was sent for a CT and then we returned to the GP’s office.
As I walked into the room and saw the scan on the doctor’s computer, my first thought was, “Oh my goodness, he has a tumor!” I saw a huge growth hovering over his kidney and his kidney misshapen from the growth. The doctor responded that the kidney had been nicked, not the spleen, and what I was looking at was a hematoma on the kidney. Silly me, I thought, always thinking it is cancer. My sister is an oncology nurse and I tend to go that direction a lot. Relieved to have a diagnosis we returned home ready to hand out tylenol to help with the pain. After a week and still lots of pain, I decided to call back and set up another appointment. I kept wondering why he would have so much pain with a hematoma. His pain seemed to increase daily and he was having difficulty sleeping. The doctor prescribed Vicadin, a narcotic, for the pain. My children have rarely taken antibiotics so I felt uncomfortable giving him a full dose. I gave him half the dose and as soon as it wore off, the pain was enough to wake him up every night. We headed back to the doctor on Wednesday where he recommended an ultra-sound to see if the hematoma had grown. The ultrasound techs clucked and hovered over Thomas, asking if his pain only began after sledding. Had he felt well? Had he lost weight? I started feeling a bit scared as they kept reviewing the ultrasound and then brought another doctor to keep looking.
The ultrasound techs wrapped up and then the older tech came and said, “Would you like copies of your scan and ultrasound? It might be a good idea in case you go anywhere else…” In her thoughtfulness, she foresaw our journey and was preparing us. We headed back to our GP, still not knowing the results of the ultrasound. He immediately sent us to Children’s Hospital for consult on a surgery. We arrived in Thomas’ room and the urology intern entered the room and began a medical history of Thomas. The memory is surreal to me as he informed us that Thomas did not have a hematoma but a tumor and it required almost immediate surgery. The room spinning is not a cliché to me anymore. Flashbacks from TV shows like ER played in my mind and I thought, “This is not my life and it is not my son’s life.” But it was and quickly we were plunged into a whole new life and reality. But not a reality without the faithfulness of God. Cancer is our constant companion, informing our choices and options but still, God is our rock and our underpinning. He has not moved and because of that we have a rock to cling to in this storm. Truly, underneath are the everlasting arms.