Wednesday, May 31, 2017

How to Make Your Husband Go to the Doctor

My Norman H

Our primary care physician said this to my husband:

"It's the best thing in the world that you ran that 5k in April, otherwise who knows how long it would have taken you to finally come in for a checkup."

My Norman had been complaining of pain since sometime in March, but then he'd joke about it. "This must be what it feels like to be 65," he'd say. And then we'd both agree that getting older has not been our favorite life task. I mean really--you go to bed age 25 and wake up age 65! Still, we have been active and in recent years, we've really seen the value of taking good care of these soul carriages called "bodies," so most days we feel younger than our years.

But Norman kept saying, "My bones hurt." I had never heard that before.

Hot Choc 5k
Fast-forward to the Hot Chocolate 5k, where a 59-year-old wife dragged her 65-year-old (almost 66) husband to run in the the clothes-drenching rain. Norman looked like he was having a good time, and we survived the crazy idea well enough to be able to shower and go out for brunch later that same day, so it seemed like we were going to be no worse for the wear. So it seemed.

But now Norman was saying, "My bones really hurt." When you're married to a man who never whines, this is cause for concern.

How many wives have a hard time getting your husband to the doctor? I wish I could see the raised hands joining mine. Norman's symptoms seemed urgent to me, so I called our doctor's nurse directly. When I described the places Norman said he had pain, the nurse was certain that our doctor would want to see him that same morning. 

"Can you get him here by 11:20? And don't let him drive."

It was 9:00 a.m.

My strong man Norman H had gone to work in excruciating pain, so I was going have to use this appointment as a summons. I think I heard relief in his voice when I called and said, "Dr. Koch wants to see you at 11:20am, and she said I am supposed to drive you to the appointment." I used my official "Dr. Said So" tone of voice. Mission accomplished.

Our doctor has known our family for years, and we believe that God has used her multiple times to help us in various health crises. When Norman described his "bone pain" in her office that day and pointed to locations on his body," she turned her back and started typing into her computer, but not before I saw that look on her face.

She later told me that she already suspected what she was going to find. When the results came back from the various scans, there was a large mass on the right kidney, as well as multiple suspicious spots known as "lesions" throughout the body.

My Norman has two forms of cancer: renal cell carcinoma (kidney cancer) and multiple myeloma (bone cancer). 

According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, Norman is one of the 1,688,780 new cancer cases estimated to be diagnosed in 2017. That means he is one of over a million and a half people who are receiving phone calls from their doctors saying, "I need you to come back into my office..."

Epic Selfie Fail

Incredibly, the "bone pains" Norman had been describing are in the very spots where the cancer has mestastasized. Norman ran that Hot Chocolate 5k race like a serious competitor, aggravating the cancer symptoms to an unbearable point, which was why the doctor called our race adventure the "best thing in the world."

So what's next? I'm grateful that we only get the answer to that question in small doses. Norman will have some very intensive medical procedures in his future, and our lives will be directed less by our planners and more by the cancer treatment schedule. Truly, only God knows "what's next." "Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away." (James 4:14) Life is a vapor regardless of any diagnosis, so in reality, this did not change the number of days that Norman will live. That number was already known to God; it's just not visible on our calendar.

Pro Selfie by Norman H
So we only know what we're allowed to know, step by step, moment by moment. Next on the medical agenda is surgery, followed by aggessive treatments to battle this stage-four cancer. And we are taking this one day at a time, knowing that our lives have been dramatically altered. We don't pretend to understand all of this, but we trust God. His goodness is not changed by a diagnosis.

We have unfortunately had to cancel the remainder of the conference calendar for this year, and there may be additional changes that we'll need to make here at Keep the Heart as we focus on navigating our "rough patch," but we will trust God to guide us. As we've said before, God is never surprised by the events of life. 

We may count our age in years, but Scripture reminds us that we actually have numbered "days."  "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." (Psalm 90:12) We deeply desire to live our numbered days wisely. Pray for our entire family as we embark on this journey.

By the way, if your husband has symptoms that concern you, make your husband go to the doctor. And if it's been a while since you've had a checkup, make an appointment for yourself, too.

"Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, who is the health of my countenance, and my God." (Psalm 42:11)

Pic by Taniya's Photography

A very important P.S.
If I sat in front of my computer and replied to every note until I was 85 years old, I wouldn't put a dent in the Facebook Messages Inbox. Please, PLEASE do not message me on Facebook. Keep the Heart is already flooded responding to our daily business emails, so we simply cannot reply to private notes (try to imagine what it looks like to have hundreds of messages and then maybe you'll stop typing). Please honor this request.

If you have a question related to your order, write to us at [email protected]. Customer service will respond, but there may be delays due to the changes in the health of our Norman H. We will do our best to keep operations running.

Finally, while we know that we have many treatment options, we are not seeking medical advice or alternative medical advice from the Facebook community. We have access to all of this and more, so please, PLEASE do not attempt to contact us with remedies. Honoring these requests would be such a kindness. Thank you.

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