I thought I’d made that up, but actually, Wikipedia says I didn’t. The Ides of March is the one we have all heard of – the date of Julius Caesar’s assassination – but the word could refer to the approximate middle of any month. For us it refers to tomorrow.
Today is the 21st and last day of my fabricated framework – my 3 weeks ‘journey with a purpose’ since returning from holiday. I have hinted at it a few times but for various reasons didn’t want to come right out and write about my reasons so far in advance… it is enough of a ‘set up’ without creating public speculation. But hey, we’re there now – and I am clearly not one whose natural reaction is to keep things secret!
So if you are one of the people who clocked this, I have in fact been aiming and preparing for 3 significant Sam events over this past week – because apparently things come in 3’s – and they were/are: Sam’s final move into his house last Wednesday, his 25th birthday on Saturday and, last but not least, at 4pm on Tuesday 15th March a hospital appointment for brain scan results.
Groan… D-Day is definitely looming now – but none of us are talking about it; we carry it silently, as if it is of no moment. But… what kind of birthday present will this be? The MRI scan was done a couple of weeks ago – non-urgently, by request, after a very long gap of all going very well – so we couldn’t exactly insist on hurrying the results. Since Sam opted out of the system we have to wait for the next available clinic appointment, like everyone else on the NHS. We had to specially email his very nice young consultant and ask for a review…and it’s because Sam wants to know whether his alternative approach has yielded any improvement.
It’s a brave move: he hasn’t been near the hospital for… I don’t know how long! Over a year I think. He hates going anywhere near it – it reminds him of illness and stinks of despair. When we went for the MRI we had to return to Queen’s Medical Centre in Nottingham, to the ‘scene of the crime’, where he was operated on back in January 2010 and a week later called into the surgeon’s office and told his diagnosis. Unlike that shocking day (see the poem Manoah’s wife) he took that most recent visit in his stride – I guess January 2010 seems a long time ago now and the MRI dept is right by a door to the outside. However, while he was in the scanner and I was waiting, I did stand just along the corridor at the place where Sam sat – in a wheelchair because he had lost the ability to stand up through shock – while we waited for his dad to bring the car round for him. Yes… a long time ago now and I still do as I did then – go numb and detached. I know it happened to us and I know we are living in the wake of it now and always will – it was a watershed moment in our lives that changed everything forever; a strange horror surrounds the memory.
Tomorrow’s appointment is at a different venue, the City Hospital, where Dr Griffin’s oncology clinic is held. It is on the floor above the radiotherapy department – which we all remember all too well – and will probably be harder for Sam than a quick in and out of the scanner, being surrounded by cancer patients with whom he feels no affinity at all, waiting his turn. I do hope we don’t have to wait too long… the smell of the place, the elderly and infirm – and even worse, the young people: no wonder he hates it – even I have to try to stop my stomach knotting itself up. Beyond that, what news can we expect when we do get invited into the consulting room?! It’ll be just Sam and mum – no famille en mass this time… and God knows, I’ll need lots of grace to cope with whatever we are told and however Sam reacts to it.
Martin insists it is impossible there would be any shrinkage of the tumour from using cannabis oil, while those who advocate it wait with bated breath – because if there is it can only help to prove their point. I have hope… but I hardly know what for; surely the mass cannot have grown? He is so well! He is so convinced he’s getting better… and he is! Any empirical evidence and scientific measurements must be a good thing, grounding us in the true status of the hidden enemy, but in so many ways we would rather not know… The most likely result is that absolutely nothing has changed – and of course that would be both a relief and a disappointment!
So I hang on, walk it through, present the ups and downs of my 3 week life prayer-offering – all that I have been able to intentionally give to the Lord in time and song and fasting – along with all the times I have been taken over by busyness and weariness and failed to meet even my own expectations of a ‘Daniel fast’. It’s been pretty patchy and not a patch on Daniel, so it’s a good thing I am trusting grace and not my own efforts. I do usually manage to set my sights beyond what I can really manage (as in, “I really need a gin and tonic right now!“) I’m not beating myself up about it and nor is Father God. I just didn’t know how else to pray…
… I still don’t. All I can say is ‘I am the prayer’ – and I’ll let you know next time where we find ourselves now. It’s not as if the result isn’t already known somewhere on the hospital campus – and in heaven.