November 18, 2013

The Red Devil and the Red Bull


It’s Sunday afternoon and he should be turning the corner, teeing off on Number Ten. That is what he was doing on Sunday a month ago. Instead he sits across from me leaned back in a waiting room recliner in his short sleeve half-zip windbreaker---his red one. His feet, in his brown loafers, are crossed on a small stool. 

His eyes are closed and he naps breathing into the mask that protects him and others from the enemies we cannot see. His catnap won’t last long. 

I wish he could sleep through this waiting.

We pushed the pumps on the antimicrobial bottles and rubbed the bug killer into our empty hands before we came up to Infusion 4. There are six elevator doors and we push the button and try to guess which one will open. We are never right. It’s good that we didn’t put money on it. We’d be in the hole.

The doctors are throwing everything and the “kitchen sink” at him tomorrow. We are seven days into a three-week run of coming down to the clinic everyday. 

It sounds crazy but it’s true: the doctors (and nurses) are in the process of getting my dad’s bone marrow to a place were it can grow healthy stems cells. Once that happens, they’ll harvest the babies.

We will pray they grow up healthy.

He’s going to have a bone marrow transplant outpatient. Mind-boggling.

He sleeps in his bed every night.

When he gets up the morning he can look out the front windows, out to the field, past the white fence where the Black Angus graze on the last fragments of summer’s Bermuda. The giant bull is easy to spot wearing his red coat among the girls.

We don’t know what the week holds.

The nurse warned me the steroids he starts in the morning will make him restless and moody, not to let him go out and buy everyone a car. I quipped, “Why not?” And we all laughed.

Dad will be popping pills morning and night, two bags of chemo, three treatments in all, one of them they call the “red devil.” The devil will be running through his veins for twenty-four hours a day for four days. 

The “devil” may be running through his veins but I’ll be running to the Savior. More than we need the incredible knowledge of medicine and science, we need the grace and strength to endure it.

Dad needs the grace and strength to endure-- and I need to grace and strength to witness the perseverance that will be required as he bears under the weight of treatment and moves forward in the days ahead. 

The preacher said that word perseverance in the New Testament means to “stand firm.” I am sure he is right. I haven’t been doing word studies lately. But I learned a long time ago that to persevere, or endure, is “to bear under.” It is to move forward even as you carry a great weight.

The bag with all the chemo drugs and battery operated pumps will be heavy the nurse warns. 

He will carry it, bear its burden, move forward in hope.

My sister went with us to the clinic yesterday. It’s a seven-day a week regimen. Yesterday was an easy day and we laughed a lot. We were thankful. Dad is tired, but he is a warrior…

Linking today with Laura at Playdates with God at The Wellspring

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