Thursday, November 15, 2018

Freedom from the Calendar

This post is #136 in a year-long series ... Through this series of posts I plan to share our family's experiences during our 17-year-old daughter's year-long battle with brain cancer, which began in February of 2008. My desire is to process through the events of that year from the perspective that a decade of time has brought ... for myself, really. But if you'd like to follow along, you're welcome to join me.

November 15, 2008

My name is Jill Sullivan ... and I have a calendar problem.  I like calendars.  A lot.  I love filling in all the little boxes with appointments and special dates and activities.  (Not that I want to do all the activities -- as an introvert, I enjoy writing them down much more than actually doing them, ha!)  In fact, I just got a new 2019 planner/calendar today and I'm downright giddy about it.  I even keep my planner/calendars from year to year ... in fact, the picture accompanying today's post is from this week in November 2008.   

If you look at it closely, you can see that it's full of activities -- basketball practice, cheer practice, a deacon's meeting, dog grooming, a haircut, a pep rally, state football playoffs, and my sister-in-law's birthday.  It also includes appointments at CARTI and at Arkansas Children's Hospital.  We didn't keep those two appointments because we were already inpatient at ACH.  And as for those other activities -- it was up to Brad to get Bethany, the dog, and himself to all those places -- because I wasn't going anywhere.  That carefully planned schedule meant nothing to me.  Instead of being consumed with what I had to do, I was able to focus on God and what He was doing in my life and in the life of my daughter.  I found it remarkably freeing, even from within that tiny hospital room.

My email from ten years ago today ...

Well....It looks like we will be in the hospital for a few more days. Last night, Hannah suddenly spiked a fever...she's been staying at about 99 or 100 since we've been here, but they don't consider it significant unless it hits 101. Well, last night she hit that mark, although it quickly came back down with Tylenol and has stayed down ever since. This has set off a new round of blood cultures (the last ones were negative) and more waiting for results. Her oncologist came by and visited with us, and he recommended a new medicine called Neulasta. It is given as an injection, and its purpose is to encourage the bone marrow to produce more white blood cells. He said it is generally used after chemotherapy-induced neutropenia (low white counts), but he is hopeful that it will still be helpful in Hannah's case, which is radiation-induced neutropenia. He says it does not work immediately, but should start producing some results in a few days. So, she got a shot in her arm this afternoon, and we are hopeful that this will be just the nudge that her bone marrow needs. She also received another infusion of platelets today.

You know, I've always been a schedule/calendar type of person. My mother teases me about how many calendars I have hanging up in my house (yes, I even have one in the bathroom)! I keep my weekly schedule of all the family's activities on my kitchen counter AND on my cell phone, and I check them frequently to make sure we're not missing anything. But cancer does not follow a schedule, and there is no place for it on the calendar. 

Our hospital room does not have a calendar, and it's hard to even keep track of what day it is...and if not for the red neon clock over the door that shows the time, it would be hard to keep track of that too...our room overlooks an inner courtyard, and we cannot even see the sky to judge the passage of time. And that's okay....sometimes God has to strip everything else away to get my focus back on Him, and not on my schedule and activities. I've actually come to be thankful for this new freedom from the calendar....realizing that I am not in control of day-to-day (or even hour-by-hour) events, but that God is. And it's even more of a reminder that He is good, all the time....


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