Come on, Verlander!!

When Mark bought our gigantic TV, we both suddenly became sports fans. Who knew how fun sports are to watch in high def?! So, as a newly minted baseball viewer, I understood quite well the sports analogy Dr. Campbell used with us yesterday.

When we met with Dr. Campbell a week ago, my blood tests had shown that my tumor marker numbers were creeping up. Not sure what to make of this, Dr. Campbell ordered a CAT scan. We had the results yesterday. According to the CAT scan, the cancer is either stable or shrinking. This is great news.

However, my neuropathy from the chemo drug Halaven is becoming bothersome. My fingertips are numb which leads to more kitchen accidents and difficulty typing, but not much else. My feet and legs up to my knees are also affected. I often feel as though I have to consciously lift my left leg in order to walk. I’m slower on stairs and feel clumsy in my gait. Dr. Campbell’s concern with my neuropathy is not so much that I have it now (it’s not wrecking my life) but that if we do the Halaven too long, the neuropathy might not reverse when I go off of it (not a fun lifetime issue).

So here comes the sports analogy…is it time to pull the pitcher? For those of you who are about as big a baseball fan as I was at this time last year, pulling the pitcher means taking the pitcher off the mound for the rest of the game. The manager can do this any time and replace the pitcher with a relief pitcher from the bullpen. Once a pitcher is replaced, he can’t pitch the rest of the game. And, due to the toll pitching takes on the body, likely won’t pitch for another 4 games. Pitching a full 9 innings is actually rather rare. It takes a savvy manager to know when to pull the pitcher or when to leave the pitcher in–trusting that even though he let a few walks go by he still has some 90 mile an hour fastballs left in his arm. Taking him out too soon can mean the waste of a good pitcher for the rest of the game.

Dr. Campbell, our savvy manager (I’m picturing him as Tiger manager Jim Leyland now), is not ready to pull the pitcher. He thinks that Halaven (now known as Tiger pitcher Justin Verlander) still has a few fastballs up its sleeve. Until Halaven/Verlander hits a batter (my neuropathy gets worse) it’s staying on the mound.

OK, sports analogy over.

For the most part, I am happy with this. I struggle with the limitations I have because of the neuropathy and the pleural-drain-that-won’t-give-up, but I’m happy that life has gone back to what we know as normal and that the CAT scan showed good things. I’m glad we’re not picking up the phone to the bullpen just yet.

Cheer on Verlander with me, won’t you? This 7th inning is really dragging on, but we know he’s not American League MVP for nothing!

they also serve who only stand and wait

My favorite English teacher of all time made us do lots of memorization. Dad taught English Lit, a course for 12th graders, and I was the only kid at home when I was his student. So, he and I would often recite to one another. He was helping me with my assignment, but also the two of us rather loved the sounds of poetry. We would talk to the dog, “little lamb, who made thee? Dost thou know who made thee?…” while Pepper looked at us quizzically.

One poem that Dad had us memorize that year was John Milton’s “On His Blindness.” In it, Milton explores what it is to serve God, envisions the power at God’s behest and concludes, “who best bear his mild yoke, they serve him best” and then, “they also serve who also stand and wait.”

I can remember quite clearly Dad’s passionate explication of this poem. Relating it not only to Milton’s own blindness, his dependence on his daughters to read and write for him, but also to us. We were hale and healthy high school seniors, but Dad assured us that this would not always be the case. There were times we would only be able to “stand and wait” and this was service to God as well.

There may be a bit of irony that the man who fervently taught this lesson is also the man who is half of the pair who gave me my very dominant ABD gene. Always Be Doing. If I am not actively doing something, I get a little nuts. I walked in on Dad vacuuming the underside of my living room rug this winter. It’s a darn strong gene, that ABD.

But this winter has been a lot of waiting for me. Lying and waiting. Sitting and waiting. Sometimes standing and waiting. Even now that I’m more active and back to a more normal schedule there is waiting. I’m more tentative in my actions and certainly not as productive. This is hard for me and I end up feeling guilty that I’m not doing more.

It’s in this guilt that Milton’s line comes to me. And while I usually attribute this only to the recall of Scripture when I least expect it and most need it, I think this is the work of the Holy Spirit. That, too, felt strange. Does the Holy Spirit speak to me in poetry? Isn’t that the work only of Scripture?

My question was answered on Easter morning. A gorgeous service at church and the sermon based on Mark’s account of the resurrection. Mark’s account is spare and differs from other accounts in that it describes a man dressed in white. The man is not identified as an angel or Jesus, but bids the women to tell the good news of the resurrection. The sermon focused on his clothing which the pastor called “resurrection clothing.” She had much to say about it, but what struck me most was her conclusion, her challenge to us. What, she wondered, did our resurrection clothing look like? Could it be an apron, a 3-piece suit, a lab coat, a hospital gown? “Hospital gown,” I thought, “she just said hospital gown. When I am wearing a hospital gown, I too am serving God. I, too, am wearing the clothing of the resurrection. They also serve who only stand and wait!”

This makes the waiting and the standing easier. It calms me for my two significant doctor appointments this week. It allows me to curl up in the chair reading Percy Jackson book one while Zoe sits on me and reads Percy Jackson book four. It gives me wonderful time with my mom even if it is at the cancer center. It gives me the patience to empty my drain one. more. time.

I’m waiting. I’m serving. I’m thankful.