Last Sunday, what an infinite day that was and will remain in the Newman household. August 17th: it doesn’t sound very ominous, but it’s quite a black mark on the calendar in my mind now. The day started out very typically normal. We slept in, even(!) I was getting ready for church and asked Jason to hold Will while I finished up. He said, “I don’t know if I can, my back is killing me.” I said, “Really? It’s that bad?” (I mean Will is only 16 lbs.)
But the pain really was that bad; so Jase headed over to Instacare where the doctor promptly told him he needed to make an appointment with a urologist, there was nothing he could do. Over the next hour the pain became unbearable for Jason. He turned pale white and looked faint. He had to be up and walking or else he’d succumb to the pain. He honestly looked like he was in labor, or the pain equivalent thereof. I called the Instacare doctor who concluded it was probably kidney stones and told us to head over to the emergency room. I told him as he left for the ER, “I know you feel like you’re dying, but there’s comfort in knowing you’re not really dying and its just kidney stones.” Famous last words.
The emergency room immediately gave Jason morphine in an IV. Unfortunately, it couldn’t even take the pain away. After a little experimentation with a few different medicines, they were finally able to control the pain. I’ve never seen a loved one in so much pain before. It was a very difficult thing to experience. I have a new respect for husbands who watch their wives labor through childbirth. Once his pain was settled down to a “4” on the scale of affliction he was taken in for a CT scan. I was told it would be 20 minutes, after 45 I began to worry. When Jason finally returned, he looked very worried. I asked him why it took so long. He said, they couldn’t initially find what they were looking for and had to inject him with dye for a second scan. I have very limited knowledge of medical imaging, so I didn’t realize the concern, but Jason knew why the dye was not a good sign. We waited for over an hour to get the results back. The whole time I kept thinking, “…what is all this fuss over a kidney stone?! They just need to blast it away and let us go home…” I had Will with me, so I decided to take him outside and let him roll around on a blanket for a bit. Jason needed to rest anyway.
I came back 15 minutes later and found a very pale Jason. The ER doctor had come to speak to him about his results while I was out. He relayed the info to me and though I heard the words, I don’t think I comprehended them. I just understood that it was not kidney stones. The doctor came back once he saw me and pulled up the images and gave us a better explanation of what was found. It sounded like:
“…mass.…this big (forms hand in circle the size of a softball)…on kidney…specialist…I had cancer…I’m ok, now…we’ll get you fixed up”
At this point, I was holding the barf bag to my mouth and dry heaving. I had tears streaming down my face; Jason too. I couldn’t stop my leg from shaking, I kept willing it to stop and it just wouldn’t.
“…don’t get worked up, it could be nothing…I see you have a little one…it’s going to be fine…we’ll get him fixed up…”
The ER doctor then excused himself to check on another patient. He left those darn images up on the screen and every time I looked over and saw the giant ball in place of a kidney, I felt faint. What now, what now, what now. It was a very out of body experience. Jason got another round of pain meds and was out like a light. I sat in the dark by his bedside, rocked my sweet little baby and watched all of our hopes and dreams slowly fade into the oblivion.
Jason had to be admitted to the hospital because his pain was unmanageable without IV medicine. He spent the night, I left for home at about midnight. I came back the next morning to find the urologist had already stopped by to chat about “the mass.” He told Jason he might have tuberculosis, or possibly an infection, or that horrible, awful, dirty C-word. To this day, I’m still not sure what TB had to do with anything but spoiler alert, it wasn’t TB, he tested negative.
I’ve decided that the hospital is a horrible place to be. Before this experience I’ve mostly associated the hospital with having a baby; bringing life into the world. These are very happy moments. I should have taken a field trip up to the maternity ward because in the medical/surgical unit, this was not the aura. I remembering hearing a nurse yell down the hall, 156 is available now, the patient died last night. Great, that’s what I wanted to hear. And while the nurse who was taking care of Jason was very nice, she kept throwing around the word chemotherapy and every time she said it, I wanted to shake her and say, “You don’t even now that he has that horrible, awful, dirty C-word.” I just wanted to take Jason home, tuck him in, and pretend like August 17th never ever happened.
Around 5 p.m. on Monday, his pain was manageable without an IV and we were finally able to go home.
Tuesday morning we headed to a hospital in Provo for his biopsy, which involved a CT scanner and a huge, hollow needle. Jason is deathly afraid of needles. So much, that when I’m getting my epidural during childbirth, he’s the one the nurses are holding steady and offering ice chips too. I was grateful for the wonderful medical staff who dosed him up with some very effective I-don’t-care-juice. Before the procedure the interventional radiologist spoke to us and for the first time a healthcare professional said, I think this thing is going to be benign. I almost leapt into the man’s arms for joy. He offered us a tiny nugget of hope and I feasted on it. We learned from the procedure that the mass was filled with some liquid and was fatty. The radiologist said these were possibly good signs but then also said he couldn’t tell what it was from these characteristics alone. Sigh…goodbye nugget of hope.
That evening I had a difficult time. I couldn’t get a hold of my emotions. I wanted so badly to be strong for my husband and my children but my heart felt as though it was broken into a million pieces. I walked outside onto the patio to find Jack stomping around in Daddy’s big black church shoes. Tears flooded my face at the sight. “…This boy needs his father. He has to have his father..” Jack noticed the puddles on my face and said, “My eyes get wet sometimes, too. You just have to wipe it off like this.” He then proceeded to wipe my tears with his shirt. Such a sweet, tender-hearted boy. Just like his father. Which made me cry more.
Wednesday was just the same. Difficult, challenging, overwhelming, emotional. I spoke with my mother in law that evening who recommended I read Jason’s patriarchal blessing. (For those of you who are not familiar with patriarchal blessings: https://www.lds.org/topics/patriarchal-blessings?lang=eng) I took her advice and read his blessing to discover several words of comfort. I immediately felt reassured that Jason would be just fine. President Monson said, “Your patriarchal blessing will see you through the darkest night.” And for me, that was so very true.
Thursday, like the past several days, was a day filled with prayer and patience as we awaited the results of the biopsy. I did my best to enjoy the children and their sweet ignorance to all that our family was enduring. And most of all, I clung to the words I had read in Jason’s patriarchal blessing and the wonderful embrace of the spirit that they brought.
Friday finally came. Our day of truth. I didn’t expect to hear from the doctor before noon, so the children and I spent the morning in the backyard while Jason rested. I was amazed at how calming it was to be outdoors, enjoying fresh air. After lunch I started to feel queasy again. We still hadn’t received that long anticipated call. Did this mean they found something and the doctor would have to bring us in? Did this mean they had to send the sample in for further tests? I couldn’t fathom waiting an entire weekend to learn the results, they just had to call by 5. At 2 p.m., I called them. The office manager said she would look into it and call me back. After an hour, I called her again. She hadn’t even looked into our request yet! I started to feel desperate. We needed to know and the day was almost over. 20 minutes later I get a call from the same number, I expected it to be the office manager needing more information for our request, but no, it was the doctor! My heart skipped a beat. I ran the phone up to Jason who was resting in bed. I wanted to know, but I didn’t want to know. The doctor first asked Jason how his recovery from the biopsy was. (It was fine.) Then he wanted to know how the medicine was working. (It was working fine.) Then he wanted to know if we were ready for the results. (Yes, yes, please!)
The biopsy showed that the mass was/is an oncocytoma. Benign. No cancer cells were found. Hallelujah! Thank you, Heavenly Father! Glory to God! And a big phew!
BUT…since the whole mass couldn’t be tested (remember, it is quite large), they can’t completely rule out that horrible, awful, dirty C-word just yet. It could be lurking somewhere else in the tumor.
On Sept. 9, Jason will undergo a 4 hour laproscopic surgery to remove his right kidney (bummer, I know) and the large tumor. Once it’s removed it will be tested completely and then we will finally know once and for all. Jason is still in pain (apparently the tumor is so large that it is upsetting/resting on his other internal organs causing the pain) so we look forward to the surgery so that he can have some relief and feel well again. We welcome any and all prayers for a smooth surgery and a completely benign tumor. Our family has so much faith in the Lord and his healing power that all will be well. I know many of you have already been praying for us and we have honestly felt those prayers. Like a warm hug straight to the heart. Thank you, thank you, thank you for that. Please keep them coming!