God Offers Comfort in Affliction

After my experience with God’s hand on my shoulder, I returned to Pedro’s hospital room, comforted and ready to face whatever came next.
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A few days later, the doctor came in to announce that the chemotherapy regimen advised by Pedro’s California oncologist, Dr. Mirda, would have to be put off for two days while the hospital waited for additional medicine (there wasn’t enough methotrexate in the state to give Pedro the prescribed amount) to arrive, we realized that as much as we loved Bozeman Deaconess Hospital, maybe Pedro needed something more.

I called Dr. Mirda in Napa and asked him to PLEASE help me get Pedro in to a different facility—perhaps where he’d done his residency?

Thus began a very confusing time. The days seemed to drag by while I waited to hear back from Dr. Mirda, who worked diligently on his end to help us find a place for Pedro at a teaching hospital where cutting-edge research and experience would help tackle Pedro’s unique type of lymphoma (the non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma had crossed the blood-brain barrier and entered his spinal and brain fluids).

Pedro received his high-dose of methotrexate, and the results showed that nothing had changed.  The lymphoma cells continued to multiply in his spinal fluids and freeze his facial muscles.

Dr. Mirda called and gave me the name and number of the program coordinator at University of California, San Francisco. I anxiously dialed. “Hello, my name is Anita Ojeda, and Dr. Mirda should have gotten a hold of you?”

A Glimmer of Hope

“Yes, we’ve spoken with him and we’ve set up an appointment for Pedro to see Dr. Daemon on Tuesday at 3:30.”

My hope soared.

“How do I get there?”

“We’re located across from the Parnassus campus of UCSF on the 5th floor.”

Hope plummeted.

“No. I mean it. Literally. How do I get him there?”

“I’m not sure I understand.”

“Well, Pedro can’t walk more than a step or two. He needs IV morphine constantly, they won’t let him fly like that, will they?”

“Oh.”

The coordinator’s flat voice slapped hope to the cement.

“He really needs to see someone,” I babbled, “the doctors here in Bozeman don’t know how to help him. I think they’ve kind of given up on him.”

“I see.” Such a noncommittal statement of faith—I’d better make sure she did.

“He’s 6’ 2” and weights 135 pounds. He’s lost 30 pounds in three weeks. His face is starting to freeze. He vomits all the time and he’s in constant pain.”

“That changes things,” the voice had regained its efficiency. “We’ll get back to you, Mrs. Ojeda.”

A God-Sized Problem

The line went dead before I could even think of a response. Did they know my phone number? How would they contact me? Meanwhile, I’d try to figure out a way to get Pedro, morphine laden or not, to UCSF.  It seemed like our only hope to help Pedro with his current affliction.

I started on the Internet. Angel Flights? It sounded nice, but Pedro wasn’t some smiling little kid who could walk on his own. I checked the airlines;  airline didn’t accommodate someone in Pedro’s condition. He needed a liter of morphine every 12 hours just to keep the pain at a slightly-less-then-excruciating level (think of the headaches that come with spinal meningitis–only worse).

I wanted to burst into tears at the enormity of the responsibility. I left the room and snuffled my way to one of the public restrooms where I managed to mingle a few loud sobs with toilet flushings.

Winging a prayer heavenward, I put on my happy face, (God was with me, I knew it without a doubt), and shouldered out the door, ready to take on the nightmare of getting my husband to UCSF—our last hope.

I almost ran over a nurse on my way out the door.

“Are you o.k., Mrs. Ojeda?” she asked.

“Just a little worried about getting Pedro to UCSF down in California,” I mumbled.

“He’s going down there?” she asked.

“If they can find a bed for him.” My eyes filled with tears and I struggled to keep them in.

She patted me on the shoulder. “I’m sure something will work out,” she assured me.

Comfort in Affliction

Three hours later I sat in the waiting room, trying to find out from an airline company what we had to do to get Pedro on a flight (it didn’t sound promising). A women stepped into the room, glanced around and walked toward me. “Mrs. Ojeda?” she held out her hand. “I’m Darby Zelwigger and I’m the patient liaison here at BDH.”

“Oh.” My mind couldn’t wrap itself around why a liaison would be looking for me. What had I done wrong?

“We’ve arranged for your husband to travel by air ambulance to San Francisco just as soon as a bed opens up at UCSF.”

Just like that? I didn’t have to do anything? All my worries whooshed away with a magic wand wielded by Ms. Zelwigger? I burst into tears.

“Thank you!” I had no idea how everything worked out, but I knew that God in his compassion had orchestrated a miracle to help us in our affliction.

And you, Dear Caregiver, God will comfort you in your affliction, too.  He has great compassion for those who are downtrodden and oppressed.  He longs to comfort you.  He may use one of His children to bring the comfort, or a verse from the Bible may speak to your heart.  Listen and watch, your comfort awaits. 

Drop by these posts for more comfort:

31 Days of Comfort for Caregivers

Anita currently teaches English to 7th-12th graders. She describes herself as a 'recovering cancer caregiver' who gives thanks daily that her husband has been cancer-free for ten years.

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