Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Series: Becoming Debt Free...The 10th and 11th Years

Here are the previous posts in this
Becoming Debt FREE series...
The 1st and 2nd Years
The 3rd and 4th Years
The 5th and 6th Years
The 7th through 10th years

We were so glad to be in our new house.  It was so much bigger than our old house and we found that our furniture looked so small inside the big living room.  One of those furniture stores in town was running a deal where you could buy a whole living room set "with no money down and no interest for a year!"  This attracted us since we get a big tax return every spring.  We thought to ourselves..."oh, we'll just pay it off next year when the tax return comes."  So we went shopping and got our new furniture in the spring of 2003!  Around this time Brian also got a new job and increase in pay come with it.  We thought we were set!  :)  Little did we know what the future was about to hold.

Later on in the year my stomach continued to bother me so I was referred to my Gastroenterologist.  He thought I probably needed an upper endoscopy to check out what was happening inside.  It was scheduled and showed that I had a large stomach ulcer.  Guess how much that cost?????  Almost exactly what we owed on the furniture!  We chose to pay the medical bill off instead of the furniture since the furniture was on a credit card anyway and we could make payments.  Little did we know that we could have made medical payments at a much lower interest than the furniture.  :(

My Dermatologist had been giving me a strong Hydrocortisone cream for my rash.  He diagnosed it as Psoriasis previously, but by August of 2004 the rash had spread to my face.  It was in a distinct pattern called "The Butterfly Pattern" which is a sign of Lupus.  My doctor was concerned so decided to run a simple blood test which would show if in fact I had Lupus.

I had a late afternoon appointment that day.  My parents were babysitting the boys and Brian was just about to clock out at work.  I waited for the lab results to come back.  My doctor came back in the room along with another doctor.  I could sense that something wasn't right before he even spoke.  He proceeded to tell me that I did not have Lupus, but that my white blood count was extremely high indicating that I probably had Leukemia.  Those words hit me like brick!  I was NOT expecting that at all.  How could a rash bring a diagnosis such at that???  The next few moments are a blur from my memory, but I do remember him saying that he had already called an Oncologist and set up an appointment for the following day.  He handed me the appointment papers, told me how sorry he was and sent me on my way.

I wondered down the hall and got on the elevator.  I took it down to the main floor where the cashiers had already left for the day.  I guess they could just bill me for my co-pay later.  I didn't have a cell phone on me so I used the phone in the now deserted lobby and called my mom.  She answered the phone and I broke into tears.  After I finally got it together I drove to my parents house and explained what had happened while the boys were off playing in another room.  I just couldn't tell Brian and the kids.  Nothing was conclusive anyway.  Thankfully, my parents offered to keep the boys a little longer so that I could meet Brian at home and give him the sobering news.  We cried, we prayed and then we went back to my parents house and picked up the kids.

The following day I went to see my new Oncologist.  The whole thing was very surreal.  Sitting in the waiting room with cancer patients that had scarves on their heads, some with oxygen tanks and others that were so sick they just slept while waiting for their name to be called.  I noticed that I was also the youngest patient.  As I observed deeper I noticed that they were looking at me with a look on their face that said "she's so young..I wonder what she has?"  I still get the "pity stares."

My name was called and I went back to have my blood taken.  After that I was put in a room to wait for my new doctor.  Dr. G. came into the room, introduced herself and talked about my blood tests.  Sure enough, my white blood count was extremely high.  There are three types of cells that make up the white blood cell.  One of those is the Eosinophil.  My eosinophil count was 1500 times of what it should have been.  There is a type of Leukemia called Chronic Eosinophilic Leukemia (CEL) and that's what they thought I had.  The doctor said the only way to know for certain would be for me to have a bone marrow aspiration done.
We scheduled that and I went home.

A few days later I found myself in the hospital getting the bone marrow aspiration.  It hurt!  The marrow was sent to Mayo Clinic and I waited for my results.  In the meantime, I had to start getting my blood taken routinely so that it could be monitored.  There were times that I was at the doctor 3 times per week!  This was taking a toll on me physically, emotionally and of course, financially as well.

Mayo Clinic finally contacted my doctor and we got some good news.  The good news was that it was NOT leukemia.  The bad news is that they still weren't sure what I had and requested more time. We waited some more as they continued to test my blood over the next several weeks.

In November I was watching a television program about adoption.  I felt the Lord tugging at my heart so Brian and I started praying about adopting a baby.  We thought we were crazy, but the Lord kept speaking to both of us and we decided to continue to pray about it even in our unknown circumstances.  Christmas came and went and we celebrated a new year...It was now 2005!

In January of 2005 we got a phone call early one morning.  It was my mother-in-law telling us that she was at the hospital.  Our 23 year old sister-in-law, Kara, had been admitted over night with bleeding.  They had taken her into surgery only to come out minutes later informing the family that they had found a tumor and that Kara had stage 4 colon cancer.  We were stunned.  Kara made it through surgery, but her cancer had already spread to different parts of her body and several lymph nodes.  She would begin chemotherapy immediately.  We joked with each other taking chemotherapy together.  We waited to see what I would be diagnosed with.

A month later, in February of 2005 my phone rang.  It was my Oncologist telling me that Mayo Clinic had a diagnosis.......

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