My husband isn't well. Last week before he and Ethan left for a marathon two day trip in Sacramento with school, he made some passing comments about some discomfort in his neck. To be honest I didn't pay a whole lot of attention.
After flying home Thursday night it was after midnight Friday before they got home. I asked about the trip and helped shuffle the very sleepy Ethan off to bed and then Neal mentioned his neck again. This time he put my hand to his neck where I felt a lot of swelling and a "lump" I could move around inside. It scared me. I drew my hand back and anxiety began to fill me.
We went to bed, but I didn't sleep well. Neal, on the other hand, exhausted from his trip crashed. When morning broke, I woke and just lay waiting till I could call a doctor's office. When 9 am finally came, I made the call.
Currently we are "between" doctors. Our doctor of more than 20 years is converting into a "concierge" medical practice. If you don't know what that is, basically it means you pay $1800 a year just to have a "membership" with the doctor. It's supposed to bring about better care and attention. For us it meant finding a new doctor. Fortunately I had started to do some investigating when we found out about our doctor's change, but we are the kind of people who don't go to a doctor unless we need one, which hasn't been very often.
Friends had recommended a doctor they liked, so I called him and made Neal an appointment. He was able to fit him in just a couple hours later. We were met that morning with car trouble, Ethan was still asleep recuperating from his trip, and my Victoria, who was suffering from strep, was still sound asleep late into the morning as well. So I armed Neal with his medical card, our medical credit card and a check to pay the doctor and sent him in his way.
It was not long after noon before Neal got home and I asked him what the doctor said. All the doctor told him was he had no idea what was wrong with Neal. It could be an infection, but he didn't know. Swollen lymph nodes can be caused by infection, virus or disease. He had let the doctor know we had strep in the house, but the doctor said definitely "no." Could be infection, and the fact that there is pain and tenderness in the area is actually a good sign. But bottom line, the doctor didn't know. He told him to take a prescription of antibiotics and return a week from Monday.
Neal's been on the antibiotics since Friday, but so far, no improvement. I keep catching him reaching up and fondling at his neck. He actually says he thinks it might feel a little worse, and he's concerned that the tenderness seems to be spreading up the back of his scalp. I've been watching him be preoccupied with it, and started to realize it was "metastasize" from concern into fear. As I have watched his fear grow, I've felt mine increase too.
Yesterday we were in the kitchen together making sandwiches, and with his back to me he said, "Are you afraid." I admitted I was, and he said the words, "I'm afraid too." It buckled me a little, because my Neal isn't one who struggles with fear.
Last night we were busy with Jacob and his friends. It was a fun busy night, but all throughout I keep watching Neal's hand go to his neck. Every time it did, I felt my fear increase. At the end of the night after all Jake's friends had been picked up or delivered home, Neal wandered back to the office. After a while I went back to check on him.
I asked him if he was OK, and he said to me, "I just want to see my daughter get married." There was something in his voice and in his eyes that actually buckled me. It was like all the fear I had been pushing back suddenly flooded the room, and flooded both our hearts. Once again, as many times in the 48 hours since Neal had gotten back from his trip, I laid my hand on his neck and I prayed and asked the Father to just take this invader away.
Neal and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary this week just before he and Ethan left town. We've been talking a lot about how blessed we are for the 20 years of marriage we have shared. I adore my husband, and of all the things in the world that frighten me, losing my husband is at the very top of my list. More than losing a child or having something happen to myself, the fear that I struggle with is losing Neal. And now it's like something is tugging at the darkest hidden place in my heart.
When I woke up this morning, Neal was already gone to church. He was playing worship for the children's ministries. As I got up and spent my morning time with the Lord, I poured my heart out about this situation and our fears, just as I did as I sat with the Father last night. I prayed first for God to heal, but even more, I prayed for God to conquer the fear. Then I sent out a text message to friends I trust and people who I know love and care about my hubby, and asked them to pray for it too.
I keep thinking about how much the Word of God speaks against fear. "Fear not!" He told Joshua (repeatedly.) Timothy tells us that God hasn't given us a spirit of fear. Neal came and sat with me after playing worship this morning in big church. I shed a few tears before he got there during worship and repeating the words he said to me last night to a friend. I almost can't utter them out loud. When service was over I pushed Neal to the front of church to ask for prayer. A good friend and godly man prayed for us, and as we bowed to the Father others came up alongside. I watched as my husband shed a tear or two as well.
My pastor's wife prayed out over him the verse I have been meditating on, 2 Timothy 1:7 "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind." I yes'd and amen'd because I know, that whatever Neal may be facing in his health (and we have certainly run ahead in the possibilities) the fear is a dangerous enemy in the fight. Fear grips and chokes. Fear is like a cancer that tries to weaken our faith and hope.
This morning as my Facebook status I wrote, "The "unknown" taunts, while "what if" and "could be" tries to chase you down a dark and scary path. It's why you can never let go of Daddy's hand, He sees all. He's then close enough to focus on. It doesn't make the dark any less scary, but it keeps it from having all the power it longs for."
I'm trying very hard to hold to this truth and and hold on to what we DO know, God is big. God tells us not to be fearful or anxious. God is for us. I keep repeating the word of God to my fears, silently praying them over my husband. But I'm not going to lie, it taunts me. In between the prayers and scriptures I find myself watching Neal, trying not to imagine what life would be like without him.
If you think of it, say a prayer for us. Pray for healing in my hubby, and for God to cure the cancer that is fear that is trying hard to grip our hearts. I hope to report back soon with how silly we have been when everyting turns out to be just fine - in Jesus' name.