Saturday, March 31, 2007

Medical Update

It’s not my decision. I don’t want to be responsible. I may know what I think I want him to decide, but I’m overcome with relief that I don’t have to choose myself.

The options: try a new medication or schedule surgery. There is a possibility that the new medication might stave off another attack. The surgery will remove the entire portion of his digestive system that is causing the problem.

The medication has no side effects (no, really – it’s basically a set of digestive enzymes designed to do the work for his pancreas so it doesn’t have to work so hard), but because none of the literature our doctors have seen notes anything like what S. is harboring in his gut, they can’t say it will work for sure.

The surgery will be four hours long, repeat the same 7-8 inch incision he had in September, require a week’s hospital stay and 8 weeks of recovery time at home. He’ll be on pain medications and suffer through the same healing process he did six months ago. Understandably, he’s not eager to go there again. Neither, I imagine, are his co-workers eager to have him gone for two months again so soon.

Purely selfishly, I am in favor of surgery. Assuming the medication prevents another attack for a few months, we get another prescription. Going month by month, stealing days and weeks feels like walking a tightrope above a swirling sea. I envision myself holding my breath and watching my husband vigilantly for any signs of impending doom, curling my toes around this rope and holding my arms out just so as if I could stop the fall once it starts. Thinking about him traveling overseas for work catches my breath in my throat. Waiting and watching, watching and waiting.

Surgery feels proactive. We haven’t escaped the raging sea, but we’ve built a raft. Perhaps we can make it to solid ground with this. I am no longer quite so interested in the biomechanical reasons for his illness. I just want to be done with this. Get me off of the high wire, already! Removal of the offending portions of S’s intestine will very likely prevent any more symptoms. At this point I am willing to remain mystified forever so long as we can solve the problem.

S. has opted to try the medication for a few months, if only to buy himself some time. He has a business trip scheduled in May. I will not attempt to influence him to have surgery at this point, respecting his right to make this difficult decision for himself. For now, we will wait and watch some more. And I will read Sue Monk Kidd’s book “When the Heart Waits” thanks to a recommendation from fellow writer Jenny Rough ( and hope to find some peace and balance up here on the rope…


Deb said...

What amazing love you are giving your husband. To give him the freedom to choose without pressure from you even though the surgery would give you relief. Your description of the high wire of this difficult time is perfect. I can feel your tight toes and catching breath.

Continuing to hold you in my heart and prayers. Admiring the grace with which you're living this. Honored to be traveling the road with you.


Carrie Wilson Link said...

You're doing all you can do, and all you can do is enough! I'm proud of your wisdom and strength.


Michelle O'Neil said...

Hard to allow our loved ones to make decisions when those decisions affect our lives so much! Good for you for stepping back.

Jerri said...

Dearest Kari--this must be so difficult. "a high wire over a raging sea." What a great description of a terrifying feeling.

I am holding you both in my heart. Blessings be.

Kim said...

I'm so sorry you are still having to deal with this fear and uncertainly, but your strength is formidable and your willingness to let him choose his own path on this (even as it determines your own) is extremely loving and kind.

Prema said...

You handle this with amazing grace. What a gift. Maybe being taken to your own depths and navigating your way to find your own 'medicine' allows you the strength to give him the space to find his way. Blessings to your family.

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