Unanswered Prayers

This week has been a particularly hard week.

If you work with special needs children, you understand. There are wonderful, rewarding times. There are times when you wonder if a child recognizes you because they can't see but respond to your voice and touch by offering a sweet smile. There are times when you see them overcome an obstacle that you have never had to face, all the while wanting to give up and call it quits but they just keep going.

And then there are the hard times. These are the times when you can't figure out what is wrong, or how to fix it. These are the times when you call their doctor, brainstorm with their other therapists, research on the internet, post messages on listservs, and still you just can't figure it out. Sometimes we are lucky and the problem fixes itself; the body's way of correcting itself can be amazing at times. Sometimes we are lucky in that the child ends up in the hospital or at the doctor's office but the doctor discovers the answer.

And sometimes, they don't.

It is particularly hard when you work with a patient, day in and day out, and you wonder if they will make it. There are just some children that you just wonder...even though you try not to think that way, you still wonder if - and how - they will overcome what has happened to them. You wonder what God's purpose is for keeping them here to begin with, but trust that they are here to show you strength and courage and give you the push to go to work again the next day. And then, the patient gets sick, and you wonder again if they will make it. Sometimes they do, and sometimes God decides, for whatever reason, that the struggle has been long and hard but that it is the end.

We wonder how these are fair. How crack addicts can have healthy babies who wind up in foster care, but a loving mother who faithfully takes her prenatal vitamins and cuts out all caffeine ends up having a stillborn.

A few months ago, I was diagnosed with adenocarcinoma. This sounds incredibly scary, as it did when I first heard it and was assured that it is "not as scary as it sounds." Basically, I have precancer cells on my cervix that did not resolve with my first surgery. I remember sitting in the doctor's office after my first surgery, and seeing my doctor frown and shake his head, and say "we just didn't get it all like we wanted to. You're just so young." I remember the distraught look on his face and then him saying that he would refer me to an oncology specialist. I remember the words "It is NOT cancer, but precancer." And then, I remember him saying that the oncology specialist would most likely talk to me about my plans for having children and possibly, a hysterectomy.

Andy held me as I cried uncontrollably in the parking lot. I thought on the way home that day about plans. The doctor would want to know our plans for having children. Of course we had a plan, as most newly married couples do. We wanted Andy to finish school and us to buy a bigger house, we wanted him to get a good job and then I could get pregnant next summer and maybe, just maybe, not have to work when the baby was born. But as I drove home that day, I realized that there was a chance that this was something bigger than our plans. You make plans, you think about them, you pick out names, you prepare, you dream...just as you work with a patient day in and day out and you see them pass a goal and you see them regress a little but you have hope for the future and so you make a new treatment plan...but in the end, they are just plans. And our plans are not always God's plans.

To some, this sounds cruel of God. I've heard comments before, questions concerning why an innocent little baby would die, or why God would let a child live until four years of age and overcome so much just to take them away, or why a 24 year old develops cancer. But to me, this thought is comforting; we may not know why, but God does, and He did it all for a reason that we can only trust in.

Isaiah 55:8
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD."

1 comment:

Science Bear said...

Most of the women in my family have gone through this at various times (some multiple times for the same reasons you have). One relative had the same, "possible hysterectomy" talk that you received and is now the proud mother to a little boy.

If you need anything don't hesitate to ask (it's Amanda, I changed my profile name).