Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Neverendingness

 Being happy-go-lucky around a person whose heart is heavy is as bad as stealing his jacket in cold weather or rubbing salt in his wounds.[a]
~ Proverbs 25:20, TLB ~

For over 13 years I have slogged my family to a combined hospital clinic.  It may be any mix or arrangement of the 5 of us.  Although, there is usually only one of us they want to see.  I remember our first visit.  It seemed like an eternity sitting in that small exam room with my husband, a 3 year old daughter, and our  newborn son for 5 hours.  

I was so scared, overwhelmed and ignorant back then.  I had no idea that the hematology kids were treated on the same unit as the oncology kids.  Over the years, I saw so many hairless children, battling cancer of every kind, as we sat alongside them waiting for treatment.  It was there that I first learned that children with Down Syndrome were predisposed to a certain type of leukemia.  Such a difficult double diagnosis always made our troubles seems small.

Until those kids started graduating out of the clinic.  To God's glory, at least 80% of those children diagnosed with cancer are cured.  However, 100% of the children with my son's diagnosis, will never be cured this side of heaven.

That's what hit me at our most recent visit to the hematology/oncology clinic.  There is a "neverendingness" to my son's chronic illness, as there is to the battle that so many others like him fight.  Hanging hope on a cure in this life can be utterly frustrating and futile.

So we celebrate milestones, hurdles overcome.  There is this bell mounted on a wall near the check-in desk of the clinic.  On the last day of a cancer patient's treatment, much fanfare is made by ringing this bell loudly, declaring a proclamation, and posing for pictures to remember this victorious occasion. When our son learned to administer his own every-other-day intravenous medications this summer, I asked, "Hey!  Can he ring the bell?"  

"No," I was told by Patty at the check-in desk.  "That bell is only for the cancer patients."

If I weren't so sad and humiliated, I would have given her a snarky reply.

"I'll ring her bell!", I angrily told the psychologist we met with after that encounter.

If it were up to him, the doctor told us, we could have rung that bell.  After all, our son has been jabbed with IV needles nearly 3,000 times in his 13 years on earth.  That is no small thing!  Yet, we never get that conquering joy.

Don't get me wrong.  I wouldn't deny that victorious celebration to the child overcoming cancer.  EVER!  What they have overcome is monumental.  All I wish for my child is something to help us get through our neverendingness.

This week we had yet another visit to that clinic.  As my son was in with the psychologist, discussing ways to overcome all of the anxiety he faces in his difficult treatment, I sat reading in the waiting room.  Another cancer patient graduated, hair fully restored and all.  While he loudly clanged and made his proclamation, I looked away, swallowing tears.  The entire staff and waiting room were applauding as I dabbed my eyes, praying I was unseen.  I was also praying my son didn't hear all of the commotion of celebration, inside a room where he was busy trying to slay demons.  My heart broke in a million pieces again realizing that we will never have "arrived" with this disorder.  My son never gets to graduate.

O how I hate this neverendingness!

PRAY:  Abba, Father!  Nothing is too big or too small for You.  Strengthen us to persevere through the unrelenting battle with chronic illness.  Remind us to celebrate small victories as they come.  Confuse the plans of those who would derail our small landmarks, because we need those celebrations to give us hope and keep us going.

Footnotes:

  1. Proverbs 25:20 rubbing salt in his wounds, literally, “like vinegar upon soda.”

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