As I sat at my desk in staff development preparing a class, suddenly I saw flashing lights through wavy jello with clear floaters. My ophthalmologist told me at my last eye exam that I am high risk for retinal detachment because my nearsightedness makes my retina paper-thin. I knew the flashing lights could be a sign of detachment, so I called immediately for an emergency exam. They told me to come right away. My director told me to go at once.
The doctor dilated my eyes with drops and then carefully examined my retina. I struggled to keep my eyes open from the excruciatingly bright lights as tears streamed down my face. He said he could not find any holes in my retina, but that my vitreous was peeling off my retina, much like when you peel wallpaper off a wall. (The vitreous is the clear gel inside our eyeballs.) He said it would take about a year for my vitreous to totally detach. During this time, whenever I see flashing lights, I need to come immediately for an exam. If a hole develops in my retina, I need emergency surgery so I won’t go blind. My uncle has been totally blind for about 20 years from detached retinas.
I told him about my nursing tour of China in June and asked him if I should cancel it. I also told him I have trip cancellation insurance and emergency evacuation by plane. He said if I could get to Hong Kong if I needed emergency eye surgery, I should be able to go. How I thank God for the precious eyesight He has given me. I’ admit I take my eyesight for granted all too often.
The phone rang about 5 pm. My Dad said, “Pam, I’m afraid your mother isn’t doing well. She was swimming laps today at the indoor pool when she suddenly she turned yellow and started vomiting. They called the ambulance and took her to the local hospital where they admitted her. They did many tests and think something is blocking her bile ducts so they are going to do exploratory surgery first thing in the morning.” I said, “This doesn’t sound good. I’m going to take the day off and come down tonight so I can be there tomorrow.”
I called my director, packed my bag, and jumped in my car to drive 100 miles to my parents’ home. The next morning, I went with Dad and my brother early to the hospital where I said goodbye to Mom before they wheeled her into surgery. The hours dragged as we waited for news. Finally, the surgeon walked in and said she had very fast-growing tumors everywhere. He debulked the tumors as much as he could, and then attached her gall bladder to her small intestine to bypass her blocked bile ducts. It appeared to be cancer of the pancreas, but they would know for sure in a few days when the biopsy results came back. My Dad asked how long he thought she had to live? The doctor replied, “Possibly a few months.” We sat there in stunned silence and wept together. How could Mom go from swimming laps to being at death’s door in 24 hours?
The Lord is near unto those who are of a broken heart. (Psalm 34:18 KJV)
My biggest heartache is that I do not see any evidence that she has received Jesus Christ as her personal Savior. My sister and I have shared the gospel with her so many times over the years and have tried to be a good testimony to her, but it seems like our words fall on deaf ears.
Dear Father, Thank you that you love Mom so much more than I do and that You want everyone to receive your dear Son as their Savior. How I pray Mom would have the joy of knowing You and being forgiven of all her sins. I commit her into Your hands and thank You that You do all things well. Amen.
A few days later, my Dad called me and was jubilant. “The biopsy results show your Mom has lymphoma rather than cancer of the pancreas. It is Stage IV and growing rapidly, but should respond well to chemotherapy. They will give her chemo monthly for six months.” After we hung up, I got down on my knees and thanked God for His mercy. Having treatable cancer like lymphoma was so much better than the untreatable cancer of the pancreas.