From an mail to Matt, my pastor, 7/15/17 (Saturday):
Just news, not good or bad particularly, but I am going to lose a kidney. My urologist called me after 5 yesterday and said that I had a mass on my right kidney.
I had blood late [Saturday night] last week, and, in God’s providence, when I called Monday a.m., the doctor had had an appointment cancelation for that afternoon. My Co-instants Log entry:
7/10/27 [Monday] Having developed a significant bleed, I had just tried to call the urology clinic. The line was busy [What?! No voice and answering system menu?!] so I picked up the nearby Joy & Strength* for today and read, "MOST GLADLY, THEREFORE, WILL I RATHER GLORY [BOAST! ] IN MY INFIRMITIES, THAT THE POWER OF CHRIST MAY REST UPON ME. 2 Corinthians xii.9 Wow. [The words jumped off the pages at me. “LORD, I HAVE AN INFIRMITY!!”, I immediately said.]
Then I called back and… the doctor had had an appointment cancellation this afternoon at 3:15. [Talk about co-instants! Otherwise it would have been three weeks or more!] My reply when she told me: “Perfect.”
So he scoped me Monday in the office and didn’t find the source of the bleed, and I had a CT on Tuesday. The former didn’t reveal anything about kidneys, but the latter is pretty definitive for kidney cancer. That is something particular to this affliction – a biopsy is not really needed, I guess. I don’t know anything about size/stage or grade yet, but I expect to be asking next week.
The very first thing I read [after clicking on the first online search result] when looking for info online was, “Your doctor has just told you that you have kidney cancer. Your mind whirls with emotion. Your spouse begins to cry.” Jeanne and I have both failed. [My mind wasn’t whirling with emotion and Jeanne did not begin to cry. We trust our Father. What he does is good – good for me, even if it is hard, and good for his name and honor, which is my desire more than my comfort.]
Our times are in his hands [Psalm 31:15], and that’s a good thing.
*Joy & Strength is a classic daily devotional that my mom, my sister and I used to read regularly. I don’t read it regularly so much any more, but it was within arm’s reach after the busy signal on the phone.
8/1/17. Right radical nephrectomy – only 22 days from phone call to surgery, sooner than I otherwise might have been able to get even a first appointment!
Of course, I have reflected on that verse and its meaning, “‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
One of the things that power means is the ability not to be afraid. Ever. In ALL circumstances, including sickness and death. “You can’t kill a Christian, all that you can do is change his address.” The most frequent mandate in the Bible is “Don’t be afraid” or one of its several variations – “Be anxious for nothing”, “Fret not”, and others. So it is the power to obey that mandate, and the power to obey it gladly. It means to be glad and cheerful no matter what the circumstances, even cancer. Father is in control and whatever he does is good for both of us. The doctor and his office and nursing staff and the hospital have never had a more cheerful nephrectomy patient.
Studying a little further, I discovered that the “rest” is to rest as in a dwelling. So that means that the power is the strength of God over me as a strong shelter.
As I quipped on Facebook, “My only complaint about my recent surgery to remove a kidney was that, while he was in there moving furniture around to gain access, he failed to leave me with six-pack abs. THAT was a total failure! ”
A kind of funny and a co-instance footnote to the kidney account, showing that I was being taken care of in another way, too:
My recovery at home was so free of pain that I did not take ANY of the prescribed analgesic, Norco 10mg, an opioid. I was distinctly uncomfortable more than once, but never in severe pain at all, so that extra-strength Tylenol was all that I ever took. (I did look up the street value of the Norco, though, both here and in Omaha. )
But three months later, the week of Thanksgiving, I caught a relatively bad cold. I have had worse coughs, in that they were deeper and harder coughs, but I had never before had a cough like the one with this cold – I just could not stop coughing. I was coughing continuously and cough drops were not helping at all. I knew I needed a heavy duty cough suppressant if I going to get any sleep, and we did not have any codeine cough syrup. It was Wednesday night before Thanksgiving about 10:30, and there would have been easy way to get any.
I knew I had the Norco, so I looked on online for what the codeine content of a prescription cough syrup was, and it was exactly the same as the Norco, 10mg! So I was able to sleep, and was thankful!