Ah, but that's not the "good report" I have titled this entry after. The good report has to do with my back pain. Let me just give a quick recap of the story of the pain since I really don't know how much I've shared up until this point. I apologize if I'm repeating a lot of what you already know.
Over the past 6 or so weeks, up until the day of my chemo (Friday 6/21) my back pain had gone from slight (almost just an annoyance) to fairly severe. It was keeping me up at night and more than once I'd get out of bed to spend some time on the massage pad or with a heating pad. I went from taking Ibuprofen just at bed time to taking it throughout each day. Two weeks ago Wednesday, I found myself literally watching the clock to see when I could take my next dose. When I saw the doctor the next day (Thursday, the day before chemo) and told him about my pain, he wrote me scripts for Vicodin and Morphine. The one part I hadn't told anyone yet is that if I ate too fast, I felt like food was getting caught in my throat. I don't know how everything is connected in there, but it felt like whatever was pushing on nerves and causing the back pain was also causing this difficulty swallowing. (I would have told the doctor had it persisted.) I also felt full when I ate even just a little bit. There was a point toward the end there where I told Matt "I don't think I can hold Eva against me anymore. It hurts too much."
Dr. Varadhachary at M.D. Anderson had explained the reason for the pain. There was a lymph node in my abdomen swollen from cancer to about 4 inches in diameter.
Two weeks ago Wednesday (the day where I was watching the clock to take my Ibuprofen) is when I went to Madison to visit my old boss and friend Jacque who was miraculously healed by God last summer. I spent a wonderful afternoon with her catching up, and then we went to meet her friend Roger at church. Roger had prayed for her through her health issues last summer, and refused to believe that she would die even when the doctors said they had done all that they could. Not only did she not die, she is in amazing health now! Well, Roger, an elder at Lake City Church in Madison anointed me with oil and he and Jacque prayed in faith for my healing (meaning they prayed that I would be healed and believed that it would happen). I drove home that night in some pretty bad pain.
One thing Jacque had told me is that during her health struggles, she had a low point where even though she believed she would be healed, numbers from her blood work all came back with negative results. She asked God to show her that He was working. She had a vision of her kidneys unshriveling and her arteries opening. She believed God for what He had shown her, and her health was restored.
So on that Thursday two weeks ago - the day after Roger and Jacque had prayed for me - as my pain persisted, I prayed that God would show me something like He had shown Jacque. Now, I'm not one to say God told me this or God told me that just because I get an idea, but that day God told me that my 4 inch lymph node was now 3 inches. I'm not making this up. I told a few people about this (my mom and brother I think) but no one else, because duh...they'd think I was nuts.
That same day, I saw the doctor. That's when he gave me the scripts for Vicodin and Morphine. I didn't get them filled. Trust me, I'm not anti-medicine. I still had pain, but somehow I just didn't think I needed them.
That night, the night before chemo began, I had pain like never before. I was up during the night for a couple of hours, writhing on the couch. I put on some channel that shows scripture verses and pretty pictures from nature, and I just tried to get to sleep. I kept telling myself that God was healing me, but it sure didn't feel like healing! My physical pain was causing me to have some real anger, and I am pretty sure I punched the couch a time or two.
The next day was when I got my port put in and started chemo. While I was laying in the hospital being prepped for the surgery (by the amazing Polly and Kim) I noticed that my pain was different, even though it was still there. It had moved...shrunk. It had previously been engulfing my entire back and wrapping around to the front. Now it was centralized in one spot on my back, on my left side. It was still intense, but the fact that it wasn't everywhere was a relief. I hadn't taken any pain meds that morning because of the surgery, so it wasn't medicine that was making it better.
That afternoon I had chemo. At one point during chemo I had them bring me a warm blanket for my back (the pain was still only in that one spot). After that, it went away completely. That was while I was still there, in the hospital, with the chemo going into my body. I didn't think too much of the pain being gone because I figured I'd probably gotten all kinds of crazy meds for the port placement. But at one point I realized that my neck/chest hurt where they had put the port, but my back didn't hurt. I took some Tylenol for my neck. I think I took it one other time for the pain at the port site, but otherwise I have been completely off of pain meds since that day. I have also been completely free of the back pain, the difficulty swallowing, and the pressure.
Okay, well that was quite the recap. I'm glad I did that. It helped me organize some of it in my own brain. Hopefully you're not too bored. The best is yet to come. :)
Obviously, I've been grateful for the pain relief. I thank God every single day for it, multiple times a day. I had been hoping this meant His healing had begun in my body, but I just wasn't sure.
I have told my medical team about my pain being gone, and they seemed happy about it. I still wasn't sure though if it was something they expected to happen so soon. I know Dr. V had told me I would know before anyone else if the chemo was working because the pain would lessen, but I didn't expect it to happen so quickly. And to have it change to that one spot even before I started the chemo seemed so weird. I wanted some clarification about that.
So today I explained the whole thing to Melissa, the NP. I wish I'd had a tape recorder there so I could share with you verbatim what she said. My mother-in-law was with me, and just so you know I did ask her to verify that my recall of the conversation was correct. :) Melissa said that first of all, there is no way that the pain would be gone without the shrinking of the lymph node. That is the only way there would be pain relief. She also said that when she heard my pain was gone last week, she ran immediately to tell Dr. Johnson. They were very happy to hear this. She said it was beyond what they expected. She explained that with chemo, they usually expect pain to get worse before it gets better because things will get more inflamed before they shrink. She said it would normally be about 10 days before they'd see any pain relief. The instant relief that I had, she said, was "miraculous." Miraculous!!!
So here's what I know now. God's healing has begun in my body!!! I had to share with you all, because I'm so excited. I just can't wait for more miracles to take place. I hope you're as encouraged by this as I am.
1 Praise the LORD, O my soul;
all my inmost being, praise his holy name.
2 Praise the LORD, O my soul,
and forget not all his benefits-
3 who forgives all your sins
and heals all your diseases,
4 who redeems your life from the pit
and crowns you with love and compassion,
5 who satisfies your desires with good things
so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.