Tuesday, September 11, 2012

One Step At A Time

Yesterday was a day filled with ups and downs. It all began with my alarm waking me up at 6:00 AM. After weeks of walking and running on the treadmill, today was the day that I was going to attempt to run the three mile route I have run so many times in the past. It was dark and the air was cool as I walked out the door. I set my iPhone to the Nike app that tracks my pace, route and calories burned. I selected a new playlist I recently made for Jason. Songs from the 80's otherwise known as "Power Ballads". I decided the songs like Something to Believe In by Poison, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen or TNT by AC/DC would be motivating as I knew this run was going to be a challenge. As usual I set shorter goals for myself throughout my run to make getting to the end easier…the corner, the hill, the stop sign or the end of the song. By the time I finished, I had run the full three miles without stopping and at a faster pace than I had run since being diagnosed with cancer. It was an amazing feeling! This was a run I had been looking forward to for quite sometime and it brought me the courage I needed to face a day that I had been anticipating for quite sometime.

After getting the girls off to school I spent the morning preparing myself mentally for another doctor appointment to discuss more surgery. My hope is that this will be the last and final surgery giving me the opportunity to FINALLY move on with my life and leave it all behind. But there was more at stake. We have met our annual insurance deductible. It starts over on October 1st. Needless to say I have been anxious to have this surgery done by the end of September. I have been pushing the doctors to move forward with this surgery so that we can meet this deadline. And this is taking into consideration whether or not insurance will even cover the surgery. I would give anything to alleviate the financial strain these surgeries have put on my family. Scheduling the surgery in September would also give me enough time to heal so that I would be able to attend a dear college friend's wedding in Palm Springs at the end of October. I have been spending a lot of time in prayer asking God to help me let go and let him work everything out for the good of all of those involved. Asking God to help keep the insurance bills minimal. But most of all I have been asking for peace.

After lunch, my gracious husband came home from work to come with me to the appointment. He knew how anxious I have been lately and came to the appointment with me to be a support. While driving to the appointment I was sick to my stomach and had to make an effort to keep myself calm. Luckily I was the one driving so I had to somewhat concentrate on other things like keeping the car on the road. I did miss an exit.

 Once we arrived, Jason and I sat down in the waiting room and immediately began joking about the music that was being played...it was very loud and sounded like the music from The Phantom of the Opera. It lightened the mood for the time being. Soon, my attention was diverted to watching the doctor visit with another patient that was clearly there for cosmetic reasons (face lift). I envisioned myself jumping up and telling the woman to look at my face and be appreciative of the beautiful flawless face she already had. Instead I just sat there paging through a magazine.

The first half of the appointment went really well. My doctor and I came to an agreement on what needed to be fixed. He explained the procedure which will involve making an incision at the corner of my eye allowing them to access the transplanted bone underneath my eye. The bone will be cut down to allow for my eye to come down. Tissue will be transplanted again from my stomach to fill in areas that are still sunken in. Fortunately, the healing time will not be as long and intense compared to the last surgery. I was feeling pretty good at this point until the discussion turned into timing and insurance. I felt my body tense up as I attempted to let my doctor know the urgency of scheduling this appointment as soon as possible and asked him whether or not insurance will be covering this next procedure. He understood, but was unable to make any promises or give me any answers.

I was then shuffled to another room to have some photos taken of my face not only for records but to accompany the letter that will be submitted for approval by insurance. I thought to myself that once the insurance company sees the pictures they will have no doubt about covering the surgery. However, the woman that was taking the photos is also responsible for coordinating the surgery and insurance coverage. When my doctor explained to her the necessity of scheduling the surgery in September, she immediately looked at me and sharply said "no chance". Little did she know that at that moment her words and negativity drove a knife through my heart and my hope was gone. Jason kindly reminded me that her experience involves scheduling face lifts or nose jobs…all surgeries with no urgency or limited budgets. My case is completely different.

On the way home, I broke down crying. I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders. The appointment did not go as I hoped it would. Unfortunately, our chances are not good. My heart broke knowing that our trip to Palm Springs may need to be cancelled and that our medical bills will be filling up our mail box once again. Should I choose to wait to have surgery after our trip to California then it affects the holidays, a time of the year that I look forward to and so desperately need to experience the joy it brings. If we get no insurance coverage, I may have to face looking like this for the rest of my life. No words can express the NEED and DESIRE I have to finish this journey and move on....to be able to look forward to trips, holidays and events without hesitation. Now we have to wait and hope for the best. Later on in the day, I was feeling pretty down.

To occupy my mind, I decided to get my daily dose (to be honest the 2nd or 3rd dose) of Facebook updates. I came across a friend's status update that meant so much more to me than she probably will know. It read: 

Running is such a great analogy for life. If you think about it too hard or try to look too far down the road, it's easy to get overwhelmed and discouraged. Instead, you have to focus on getting to the end of the block, to the next road sign, to the next mile marker. One step at a time, with belief in yourself (and trust in God), and you'll eventually get to your destination. Just take one more step. You can do it!

It was so ironic that I had successfully run the three miles this morning using this analogy…taking one step at a time and believing in myself. Yet, when it came to my appointment this morning and worrying about the potential financial burdens of the upcoming surgery and its timing I lost complete focus. I was unable to trust in God to get me to the final result I have so desperately wanted for a long time - a fixed face. Instead I was depressed, defeated and angry…unable to see any hope. Reading my friend's Facebook status helped me to realize I need to change my focus. Getting to the end result…a fixed face…is going to take baby steps. One step at a time. To not get overwhelmed and discouraged. I can do this and I will get there by believing in myself and trusting in God. In other words, letting Go and letting God. A saying I seem to have to constantly remind myself over and over and over and over. Another lesson learned throughout this journey. And just when you think Facebook can be at times a negative influence, it also can be a positive one as well allowing users to bring encouragement to others. Thank you Jen!

Beware in your prayer, above everything, of limiting God, not only by unbelief, but by fancying that you know what He can do. Expect unexpected things, above all that we ask or think. Each time you intercede, be quiet first and worship God in His glory. Think of what He can do, of how He delights to hear Christ, of your place in Christ; and expect great things. --Andrew Murray

I am going to continue pray for the best and for the ability to trust that God's timing is the best timing.  I know he will provide for our financial needs in one way or another.  He made it happen with the last surgery and he can do it again with this next surgery.

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