Throughout the Old Testament we read the words “…and God appeared.” Among the most familiar recipients of these appearances are Abram, Moses and Hagar. Since "no man has seen God at any time," I take it these Divine Interventions were through His still small voice, an audible voice, or a Christophany, an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament.
August 29, 2011 was a God appearance for me. After a night of chest pain, my husband Robert insisted that I go to the ER, concerned I was having a heart attack. After the initial testing, the EKG and blood work concluded there was no “cardiac event” going on. The doctor continued to try to find the source of the pain, which had subsided greatly by then. I remember looking at them and saying "It's my lungs.” I had had a cold that had turned into an asthmatic bronchitis the previous couple of weeks. I had been treated with antibiotics and steroids, but I thought maybe this was pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining around the lung that can follow an infection. They came and gave me a GI cocktail, a mixture of stomach meds, designed to calm down an angry digestive track to see if that are was the culprit of the mysterious symptoms. No real change occurred. The doctor came in and said that the blood test did reveal an elevated enzyme that is usually present when clots are somewhere. Suspecting a pulmonary embolism, he ordered a chest X-ray and a CT scan.
I remember waiting for the results and thinking to myself “this is no big deal," and having an extraordinary sense of peace...so much so it seemed to flood the room and Robert and I even nodded off. Once I stirred and looked at him and thought how much I love this man who was still clutching my purse after being handed it by the nurses on my arrival. Truly, he is “my favorite” and I have been so blessed by his faithful care for me for the last 29 years.
Soon, the doctor came in and said “We didn't find a blood clot, but we did find a mass."
He went on to ask me some questions and said he was calling back the pulmonologist on call to take a look at the test results. After a bit, they both came in and began to ask more questions, beginning by saying they thought this was valley fever. It made sense. We had just been forced out of our home for 6 weeks due to a monsoon ripping our roof off. During the first few days after that disaster, there was a lot of dust etc, floating around and they said that that was about right for the incubation period for valley fever. They sent off some of my blood to be tested for that and said it would be 5 days.
That night when I got home I remembered that about 5 years ago, I had gone to the ER with a very irritated cough and chest discomfort. They also had done a CT and discovered a small nodule. The doctor said it looked like a valley fever nodule, but that because it had been discovered, I needed to have follow up CT scans every few months to monitor it. This was 2006. In late 2008, they noticed a very, very slight increase, so they sent me to a pulmonologist. He looked at my chart, told me this was no big deal and to go live my life and forget about it, (he was NOT a good doctor) but I had no symptoms, so I followed his advice.
Remembering this history, I went to a file I had, and found that last CT result page. What jumped off the page to me was not the info about the node, but another line that talked about an area of opacity (shadowing) that had enlarged in the exact same area where they had found the mass. A small increase from 8 mm to 10 mm, but now (Aug. 29, 2011) it was 3 cm or 30 mm…3 times the size. The next day, I felt worse and went to an allergy asthma doctor I know who gave me some stronger antibiotics because I just kept thinking, "why didn't they treat this with antibiotics if they think it could be an infection?”
On my way home from that appointment, the ER doc called and asked how I was. I told him worse, he asked if I wanted to be admitted and I said no but he agreed that it wouldn't hurt to try antibiotics. I told him about the CT scan page I found, and he asked me to call him back when I got home and read it to him. I did. He told me he was going to get all those years of CT’s copied and over to the pulmonologist by the time I saw him at the end of the week.
On Friday, Sept 2, Robert and I went to the pulmonologist. He met us and told us the initial valley fever test was negative. He then took us to three different computers and showed us this questionable area beginning with 2006. A tiny shadow, then a tinier bit bigger shadow, the last screen revealed a golf ball size shadow. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and I started to cry. The next few minutes were blank as he talked about cancer…different kinds, treatments etc. I snapped to and asked what the next step was. He said a PET scan and then a biopsy. I asked if we could do those that day. He and his staff swung into action and the soonest they could schedule me was the following Tuesday for the PET and Thursday for the biopsy. I later rescheduled the biopsy until Tuesday the 13th, because I realized I would not be able to be mobile at our Women's Retreat Sept. 9-11.
The PET scan revealed a glowing mass (this kind of glow is not good as malignancies glow). Next came the needle biopsy, done Sept. 13. Two days later, the doctor called and confirmed it was cancer; the type has yet to be determined and will take a few days.
We have appointments with oncologists next week.
You might be wondering what this has to do with a “God appearance.” I see God's fingerprints everywhere. I am stubborn...it took pain (that was unrelated) and a persistent husband to get me into the E.R. The hospital I asked to go to was not the closest one, but I totally see God's hand here. First, I got in right away. Secondly, the doctor is one of the nicest, most conscientious physicians I have ever met. It's been a long time since a doctor called me the next day to see how I was doing. This mass would have laid undetected had I not gone then. Also, the pulmonologist that happened to be on call has been referred to as the best. He also is so, so kind.
We are never out of the Father's sight. We may think we are protecting ourselves or controlling things, but He appears at distinctive moments in our lives to intervene and direct or redirect…to show us His love...and His power.
Many thoughts have swirled in my mind these past few days, but when I am quieted, I hear His still small voice assuring me that He is my Father. Tender, strong compassionate, loving and ever faithful. He is watching over me, and you- His child, of this I am confident.
"How great the Father's love for us. How vast beyond all measure. That He would give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure."