The Lord goes before me

Deuteronomy 31:8

The Lord goes before me; He will not fail me; therefore I will not fear neither become broken (in spirit – depressed, dismayed or unnerved with alarm)

As I left hospital today Judy Chapman sent me this verse. How did she know my despair? I am uplifted and encouraged to not be on my own in this journey.

I didn’t sleep at all last night. I lay awake in fear. All night long I turned over in my sheets as thoughts turned over in my mind. The memories of the last time we stayed in 12D were haunting me; the sounds, the images and the seemingly helpless desire to escape. (see my blog from last week)

I woke again last night from all the noises in my dreams: hospital trolleys, curtains being drawn around beds, people talking about their diagnosis to friends, doctors questioning their patients about the last 24 hours. These sounds compete with the voice in my head concerning my Sam and her prognosis. My heart becomes restless and anxious within me.

I remember my God. Reid wakes up to pray with me.

Psalm 16

5 Lord, you alone are my inheritance, my cup of blessing.
You guard all that is mine.
6 The land you have given me is a pleasant land.
What a wonderful inheritance!

7 I will bless the Lord who guides me;
even at night my heart instructs me.
8 I know the Lord is always with me.
I will not be shaken, for he is right beside me.

9 No wonder my heart is glad, and I rejoice.
My body rests in safety.
10 For you will not leave my soul among the dead[
or allow your holy one[to rot in the grave.
11 You will show me the way of life,
granting me the joy of your presence
and the pleasures of living with you forever.

I am still awake when the alarm goes off. I drag my tired body into the shower. Exhausted, I iron my ear with the GHD when I straighten my hair. I joke with Jack that I have no rim around my ear now. He buys me a coffee before he catches his bus. An SMS arrives from Bronte, she is praying for strength and boldness to keep going. I feel so blessed. I drop Emma to her bus and return home to wake Sam, do dressings, drugs and pack for hospital. I make Sam breakfast of buttermilk pancakes and rhubarb. I pack a healthy lunch. Food is the highlight of the day when Sam isn’t vomiting so I make it a high priority. She feels like salad, so I wash the baby rocket thoroughly and pat it dry. I choose beurre bosc pears and wrap them so they will not bruise in transport. I shave parmesan and mix a dressing of verjuice, Dijon mustard, olive oil and a dash of honey. I include china bowls, cutlery and paper serviettes. I pack a tin of ‘Oops’, Coco Pops, raisin toast, Nutella, Chunky Soup for one, an Up and Go, some little packets of chips, a brunch bar, apples, passionfruit and some Tim Tams. These will be her emergency meals if she is up to eating this week after chemo.

Sam takes her times to get ready. Making sure her makeup and wig are just so. I am getting edgy, aware that our appointment for bloods was at 8:30am. We arrive to hospital at 10:30am instead. No one is in a hurry.

Sam Chapman is there in 12A and we greet him like an old friend. He is sitting on the edge of his seat looking as if he is hoping to be out as soon as possible. His transplant took place in December and he is in receiving drugs to help him be strong. He is the brightest I have ever seen him. His eyes no longer look sore, his hair has grown back. He has heard about Sam’s transplant and is encouraging. “Cassandra will have you sorted in no time.” he says. It is lovely to have him there. It is out of place for there to be another young person in 12A.

I check my emails. Rozzi is praying for God’s hands over each step. “Let me know anything, anytime you want me to join with you in prayer.” It lifts my vision.

We wait until 11:30 for the nurse to take Sam’s blood. Then we fill in time at admissions, eating our salads, putting her things in drawers, reading, chatting, checking our emails and SMS. By 3:00pm we are still waiting. Yvonne pops her head in asking if we definitely took blood. Her results have gone missing or her blood has gone missing or something.

We wait. Sam locates her brand new thongs she left here on our last visit. A nurse had labeled them for her and put them in the equipment room. I am relieved, not used to my new forgetful daughter who prior to chemo never lost anything in her life.

My phone beeps through an SMS from Tracey. Her and Sue are praying with the pastoral staff. These are the things that keep me strong. Help me move on.

We are so bored. “I wonder if we could pop down to Chatswood to buy a game?” Sam suggests. She goes to ask Yvonne if we can. Yvonne comes and sits on the bed with Sam. She is tender today. I ask her about the new protocol. She has studied it in detail and is extremely sympathetic that it is going to be a challenge. “You know they’ve been talking about you Sam in this conference in Italy,” she says in her thick Scottish accent. I ask her has she followed the procedure they are about to do with Sam with another patient before. “No, never!” she remarks discussing each drug with Sam and trying to gauge her response when she has had them in low dose before. I can see that Yvonne is going to make Sam her priority this week. She tells Sam what she will do to try to avoid the nausea, the vomiting, the rigors etc this time. I don’t think you’ll be going home this week Sam. I can’t see you going home before Wednesday of next in fact.

After our chat she tells us a new shortcut to Kmart in Chatswood and we head out to buy ‘Upwords’ and some DVDs.

I drop Sam back at the car park so that I can be home for Jack before dark. Reid is working back and Emma has Night School after Uni, after work. I feel guilty about all the time Jack is spending alone. I am not sure what to do about it. I phone him and suggest we eat dinner out since it is just us two. He seems pleased with that and asks how Sam is, sends her his love.

By the time I am home Sam has sent me a text so I call her. Her neutrophils are 0.4, too low to start chemo. So she is having a transfusion of red blood, GCSF and maybe platelets tonight. Grant is there with her. Tomorrow she will need to have blood tests and reassess the chemo. At 2:00pm she will have her lumber puncture then lie flat on her back for four hours.

Luke 2:16-19 (Amplified Bible)

16So they went with haste and [by searching] found Mary and Joseph, and the Baby lying in a manger.

17And when they saw it, they made known what had been told them concerning this Child,

18And all who heard it were astounded and marveled at what the shepherds told them.

19But Mary was keeping within herself all these things (sayings), weighing and pondering them in her heart.

Deep in the core of my being I hear the call of the Holy Spirit reminding me of who I am. It is ferocious, it doesn’t back down. Enormous arms envelop me. He restores my soul.

The anthem of a great organ rises, I stand to sing. I find strength in the quiet places. I pay attention to the voice of my God.

I ponder again all that ‘has been told me concerning this child.’

People will be astounded and marvel. I know what my God has poured into her life. I watch over her, praying, seeking strength from Heaven.

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