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					God, Leukemia, & Me
I was 19 years old in 1979 and I knew something was terribly wrong with
my body. I despised college and moved my belongings back into my parents
home without them realizing it by March of my freshman year. In the
coming months, I began to play church softball which I loved with a
passion. At one game, a girl hit me and I flipped over and landed on my
back. (Yes, I did say CHURCH softball.)
Nothing was the same after this event. My back hurt so badly I could
never get comfortable. I began to find bruises all over my body for no
apparent reason. I knew the bruises were a sign of leukemia from a book I
had read in my early teens. My mom took me to different doctors here in
my hometown. She finally even took me to a chiropractor. The chiropractor
did relieve the pain for a time. When I was at my worst, my family doctor
had been unavailable and the other doctors never found anything wrong
with me.
I had a summer job and my routine was to get up in the morning, go to
work, come home for lunch, take a 40 minute nap, get up, go back to work,
come home and sleep until the next morning and then repeat the schedule.
I was so exhausted, this was all I could manage to do.
My nose began to bleed uncontrollably and had become somewhat of a
nuisance. Finally, my family doctor was able to see me and put me in the
local hospital immediately after checking my hemoglobin. Along with the
nose bleeds, the bruises, and the exhaustion, I was now crying. I knew
being in a hospital did not mean anything positive and I was scared to
death.
I spent one night in the hospital and the next day the nurse was trying
to get me to eat something, when my doctor burst into my room and told my
dad and me that I had to get to Greenville Memorial Hospital immediately.
This particular hospital was much larger than the hospital I was in at
the present time.
Let me explain something. I am an only child and when you tell my dad and
me something of this nature, we are not the best two to tell of gloom and
doom. I lost all reasoning and my dad called my mom at home. He probably
lost it too, but I was too involved in myself to notice. We left the
hospital, picked up my mom and grandmother and headed for Greenville with
me crying uncontrollably and my nose bleeding.
At this time, I must also explain something else. I am not able to ever
remember a time when I have not been a Christian. My mother had me in the
Central Methodist Church each and every time the door opened and I have
always deeply believed in Jesus Christ. But, at this time in my life, I
began to believe I was invincible. Nothing could touch me and I really
cared about nothing but myself. With that said, I will go on with my
story.
We arrived at the hospital and I had to wait in a waiting room because
there were no rooms available. I never thought of it before, but baby
Jesus had the same problem. I am not comparing myself to Jesus, but it
has just struck me odd. Finally, I got a room and the doctor came into my
room. He was not the doctor I would be seeing because that doctor was out
of town. The doctor I saw this day was Dr. Holt and he had a practice
with Dr. Smith who I would be seeing when he returned. Dr. Smith was a
hematologist, a blood doctor.
Dr. Holt said I would have to have a bone marrow. This meant nothing to
me. The nurse, Ethel, came in the room for me to sign to have this done,
since I was considered to be an adult. I did not feel like an adult. I
asked her did it hurt and she said yes. And I said then I am not going to
do it. She told me she did not blame me. I liked her immediately for
telling me the truth. I was in that hospital for 21 days and Ethel was my
very favorite nurse during this time. I cannot at this time remember why
I considered to have the bone marrow test done, it may have been Ethel's
honesty or the lost look on my parents' face, but I had it done and it
did hurt.
In the next several days, blood was taken from my body several times a
day. I had blown veins and must have looked just like one big bruise. I
do not remember how many days elapsed, but my bone marrow results came in
and Dr. Holt, along with my parents, my grandmother, and my minister told
me what I already knew.
Dr. Holt said, "You have leukemia, but you already knew that, didn't
you?" I just nodded and began the crying thing again. In the meantime, my
nose had ceased bleeding because of my grandmother's knowledge of the
Bible and a shot of Vitamin K.
Remember, at this time, I am the most important thing in the world to
myself. I began to think, "WHY ME?" I had a cousin who was really bad and
always in trouble, why wasn't it him? WHY ME?
Something, I say 'something', but I know it was God had just kicked my
legs out from under me and I looked up at my minister and said, "Where's
the chapel?" And he took me to the hospital chapel.
Let me inform all of you who do not know what an actual hospital chapel
looks like. It's not like the one on 'Days of Our Lives'. This is really
what I thought it would be like, but it' not. I was in a wheelchair and I
had to go into the 6 X 6 room and back out when I finished.
But, while I was in that room, the only thing that resembled anything
about God was the Holy Bible on a table. At that time, I knew it was all
I needed. I read scripture and I prayed for God to heal my body. It was
at this time that I knew this was not a problem Mama and Daddy could
solve. This situation was about a relationship that I had let lapse
between Jesus Christ and me.
This was the day my body began to heal spiritually and physically.
At some point and time, I was in the hospital room alone, which was
really odd, and a nurse came in my room. She walked with a limp. She told
me to stop feeling sorry for myself and decide to fight this thing. She
told me that if I didn't fight it, I would die. What's really strange is
that for 21 days I never saw this nurse again. I never changed rooms.
Nurse or Angel?
Finally, Dr. Smith appeared the next day and let me tell you, he is and
was the most caring individual I have ever come in contact with and I
know God worked through him to get me where I am today. Dr. Smith began
my chemotherapy. Every time I urinated I could smell that chemo and it
made me sick. Mama used some kind of powder after she took a shower and
that made me sick. Any strong smell just made me sick.
My room was right beside the nurses station and I just loved all of them.
In fact, they had me spoiled rotten. They brought me doughnuts, tickled
my feet to wake me up, and told me all about their families. They were
most precious to me. When the head nurse was looking for her nurses, they
were usually in the room with me.
I must tell you about my parents.
My father drove a truck for a glass plant in our town. As I said earlier,
I am an only child and I was the center of my parents' life. The reason
I'm not now is because I have children and they are the center of my
parents' life. My father drove his truck all over and would park his
truck near the hospital, walk to the hospital, and sleep on a cot in my
room when he wasn't working. He was never in the best of health because
he suffered from kidney and heart ailments. Everywhere he went, he told
everyone all about me. I've been told as an adult, that if anything had
happened to me, they are sure that he would have committed suicide. I
like to think that he wouldn't have done that. I remember his tired body
and especially his wrinkled face and know how fortunate I was to have had
a father who was so active in my life and who loved me so much and I him.
He passed away in 2004.
My mother was a beautician and the day I was transferred to Greenville
Memorial Hospital, she left her career behind and stayed with me all but
a few hours of one day of the 21 days in the hospital. Now that I'm a
parent, I cannot understand how she faced me day after day knowing I may
die. How she stayed with me and didn't cry every time she looked at me?
Sometimes, after she had walked out of my room she would come back in and
I would ask her if she had been crying. She would always say no. She and
I knew she had been lying. She knew it was the answer I needed to hear.
And, it was the kind of lie you tell because you love someone so much you
don't want them to hurt. I believe we are forgiven for those kind of
lies. I thank God for a Mother who loves her child and doesn't want to
see her child hurt.
During the time I was in the hospital, I had two vivid dreams. They were
both the same dream. I was walking through the most beautiful meadow,
green grass, babbling brook, birds chirping, blue sky, sun shining, and
someone was walking alongside of me. We both had on long, flowing white
gowns. I never looked up to see who it was because I knew Him. There was
no reason to look up. I walked twice with Jesus Christ and there is no
doubt in my mind about it. I call the visions dreams because I don't know
what else to call them. I don't know if God was giving me a choice to
make or He was just giving me the peace I needed. Not only did I never
look up at Him, we never once spoke. There was no need for that either.
I always loved to drink Pepsi, Coke, etc. at breakfast. Mama was getting
dressed because this was the day I was going home. Mama had stopped using
the powder that me sick and this was a blessing. I yelled to her that I
didn't have any more to drink. At that time, someone knocked on the door
and I told them to come in. It was a guy who worked at the Coca-Cola
Company and he was delivering me a case of Cokes. Delivery guy or Angel?
I came home from the hospital. I went through five years of chemotherapy,
six weeks of radiation, three more bone marrow tests, lots of depression,
and a visit to Duke University to save my 'good' bone marrow. I don't see
the nurses or Dr. Smith anymore, but I strongly believe they were all a
part of God's plan to see me to this point.
I am married to a most wonderful man for 26 years and have two children
who are 21 and 18 years of age. My mom is living her life to the fullest.
Life has never been perfect for me, but I always know the only strength I
have is Jesus Christ. If He brings you to it, He will bring you through
it.
Lea Pitts, after 29 years of being in remission, I am very thankful to
God and to my family for their love and faithfulness. My blog:
http://godleukme.blogspot.com

				
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posted:10/11/2010
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