I’ve struggled with how to put this story into words. If you grew up in a house like mine, you learned never to talk about good news because bad news was usually just around the corner. The bottom was always just about to fall out. So you treaded lightly, were told “don’t get your hopes up…” and stayed on edge. Maybe that’s why this is hard for me to share. Maybe, somewhere deep down, I’m afraid if I share this story, it will come back. That I’ll have a whole new horror to deal with. But that’s no way to live, my friends. We need to celebrate the victories. And God is the one who gets the glory in this story, not me. So, let me tell the story of what He did in my life in this past year.
Just before the world shut down in February 2020, I had my annual MRI at my local hospital. As I typically do, I picked up my MRI report and CD of my scan to take to my next Neurologist appointment. As always, I took a peak at my radiology report and I read these words:
Brian was terrified. I was calm. (Major role reversals for us, if you know us well). I just believed my neurologist was going to look at this scan and see something different. That she was going to tell me not to worry. I patiently waited for our appointment with her so we could discuss.
Much to my surprise, my neurologist looked scared. She pulled up the scan on her computer and together we looked at this mass. We measured it, we looked at it from all available angles. It flared with the contrast. She performed her usual neurological exam, but spent extra time checking every one of my reflexes and the movement of my eyes. She questioned me about headaches and couldn’t believe I wasn’t having any. She told me she was going to run some extra blood work to check my hormone levels, that I needed to watch out for sudden blindness as this thing grew and put pressure on my optic nerve. That this thing had popped up suddenly since it wasn’t on my scan from the previous year. But beyond that, we would need to consult a Neurosurgeon to discuss surgery.
We left that appointment pretty defeated. If memory serves, I believe we both decided to take the remainder of the day off work and we went to buy a coffee pot and just talk about what we had just heard. The neurosurgeon’s office called while we were out and scheduled a Pituitary MRI and consultation with him. Now we just had to wait…
Fast forward to mid-March and the shut down and COVID and hospitals cancelling all non-essential appointments. My MRI was put on hold as was my appointment with Dr. Sun, the Neurosurgeon. Part of me was relieved to be putting it off, but another part of me half-expected to go blind while I was driving down the road. I cried to and from work for all of March and April. I have video diaries of those drives (that will never be seen by anyone, ever… I mean, ever) where I processed all that was happening to me health wise and to the world. I was on harsh restrictions from my doctor at that time to not go anywhere but work and home. No shopping. No visiting with family or friends. I didn’t know if I would get to hug my mom again. The gravity of it all was just too much. Too much for all of us really, but I had the added bonus of a tumor in my head.
The drives to work were spent processing and lamenting what I was going through. The drives home were spent in prayer. Bold prayer. Prayer for this thing to disappear. Not for God’s will. Not for the strength to face whatever was happening to me. I wanted it gone. I typically don’t pray those types of prayers for myself… I feel selfish. I ultimately always want God’s will for my life, no matter what I have to go through. I know His plans are greater than mine. But this time, I just couldn’t see how this could be His plan. I knew what I had seen on the scan with my own eyes. I saw the terror in Dr. Ganesh’s face. But I wasn’t accepting it. And I prayed for it all to go away.
In May, I received a call from a colleague of Dr. Sun. He had reviewed my case and thought we might be able to “clear this up” with a telehealth visit. This surprised me. Was this good news? Or was it so evident I needed major surgery that they were going to push it through in the middle of a pandemic???? We met with Dr. Sun via our laptop on a bright sunny May day in the backyard. Dr. Sun was very nice and took the time to do a neurological exam over zoom (Yes, this is a thing! I’ve had two of them now and it amazes me what they can tell by just walking me walk and stick out my tongue on a zoom call!). Then he said, “I’m not really worried… I would like to get a detailed look at the pituitary on your next MRI in February 2021, but I don’t foresee us having to do anything prior to that. That sound good to you?” I couldn’t say yes fast enough. More time to put it off :). He was also happy that my labs had looked good and I wasn’t having any headaches or vision problems. He added that he felt the tumor was far enough from my optic nerves that he wasn’t concerned that I would go blind suddenly–just to keep an eye on vision changes.
I prayed hard for God to give me the ability to focus on other things. I didn’t want to worry about this potential tumor or potential neurosurgery anymore.
Summer came and went. We lost a family member to COVID. The fall came and went. I had COVID and then found out I was going to have to have surgery to remove a small breast tumor (turned out to be benign). I really did forget about the little tumor on my pituitary. That is, until my MRI was scheduled and I was told to prepare for two hours in the tube. If you remember, that experience was NOT FUN.
Here’s where I’m at a loss for words again. I’m sure doctors could find a scientific reason for this. I’m sure you all may be reading this and thinking there’s more to this story. There’s not. I sat at my neurologist appointment and stared at these words on the report:
The 9 x 4 mm mass we saw on my pituitary in February 2020 was gone in February 2021. My neurologist’s panicked face in February 2020 was all smiles in February 2021. The neurosurgeon who I had to see via Telehealth in the middle of a pandemic, just released me as a patient.
That’s all I got, guys. It’s gone. Poof. Disappeared. The thing that caused me to cry daily last year doesn’t exist anymore. This is where people like to say, God is good. But hear me say this… if the tumor were still there and now the size of a grapefruit, GOD WOULD STILL BE GOOD. He is good. And He wastes nothing. If nothing else, this past year has reminded me of the scripture 2 Corinthians 4:17:
“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.”
It’s all “light and momentary”, friends. Let’s keep our eye on eternity and not let the troubles of today distract us from the joy set before us.
To God be the glory.