“Here then is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiners fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong.”~James E. Faust
It's as though things work out the way they are supposed. At least when you take a step back and look from the 50 Thousand foot level and can see the many miracles and tender mercies that are happening all around you.
But why isn't that enough sometimes? So often we see things only at the base level. Only seeing what is right in front of us and often just the difficulties at that. This last weekend was rough and hard to see how it all fits together for our good. But we are starting to see it. We think.
Friday, July 11th, 2:00 am. Tiffany's Birthday. She awoke with some major pain from her knee to her ankles. She took some pain medication and went back to sleep.
Friday, July 11th, 3:30 am. Tiffany's Birthday. She awoke again, the pain continuing to build. The pain medication not touching the pain.
Friday, July 11th, 4:00 am. Tiffany's Birthday. She woke me up to help her (up until this time I had been sleeping soundly, not aware of the concern within her).
Friday, July 11th, 4:02 am. Tiffany's Birthday. After awaking from my sleeping stupor, I came to, trying to understand what was causing so much pain in her legs. Tried many things from massaging (which helped slightly for a while), to trying warm and cold packs on them.
Friday, July 11th, 4:45 am. Tiffany's Birthday. She took some additional pain medication, prayed, gave her a blessing and waited for it all to take effect.
Friday, July 11th, 5:15 am. Tiffany's Birthday. We called up to Huntsman to talk to the doctor on call. He had her take some additional pain medication, which we did, which did not work.
Friday, July 11th, 5:45 am. Tiffany's Birthday. Pain medication was not kicking in, so it seemed, and as I kissed her on her forehead, it seemed warm, we took her temperature and found it at 101.5. Called back up to Huntsman, talked to the same doctor on call, and let him know we had a fever. He told us to go to the ER.
Friday, July 11th, 6:00 am. Tiffany's Birthday. We took off to the ER. Tiffany opted to go straight to the University Hospital, though we did question if we should have gone to Davis instead. Next time, we will go to Davis and once any pain is under control, get her ambulanced to Huntsman. The 45 minute drive was made a bit quicker than normal, but the whole time she was in anguish and in such excruciating pain that made the drive seem like an eternity.
Friday, July 11th, 6:40 am. Tiffany's Birthday. We arrived at the ER, and with her fever (spiking at 102 when we arrived) and pain, got her back quickly to be checked out.
Friday, July 11th, 7:10 am. Tiffany's Birthday. Pain relief was finally on it's way in the form of additional drugs. The pain would go away for about an hour, she would fall asleep during that time, and then the pain would come roaring back. They would again give her the drug, take the pain away, she would fall asleep, then after an hour or so, the pain would wake her back up. This happened for a few hours, all the while being interrupted for an EKG, Xray, blood tests and blood draws, urine samples, and on and on.
Friday, July 11th, 10:30 am. Tiffany's Birthday. Having been in contact with her doctors up at Huntsman (just a building over), they decided to admit her into the hospital to wait on confirmation on blood tests (concerned over the fever) and to continue to manage the pain.
Friday, July 11th, 12:30 pm. Tiffany's Birthday. Finally, a room was ready up at the BMT (bone marrow transplant) floor in Huntsman and she was moved.
Friday, July 11th, 12:45 pm. Tiffany's Birthday. Arriving in Huntsman room 4546. Pain came back and there seemed to be some miscommunication from the ER to the BMT, as the pain medication they started to give her at Huntsman was not working. They continued to pump drugs into Tiffany, but the pain was not being managed as good as they were using a different kind of drug that seemed to have no effect. We continued to call the nurses in trying to explain but it seemed to take longer than it should have to get the right drugs coming.
Friday, July 11th, 4:30 pm. Tiffany's Birthday. Finally they got the right drug, but the dosage they were giving was too low. They would give her a boost from time to time, that would take the edge off for an hour or so, but pain management was taking a while to figure out. The doctor on the floor promised the Acute Care team would be in to help evaluate the pain and how to control it. They didn't come in until the next morning. The rest of the night was mostly having pain, waiting for the nurses to come in, nurses having to go get orders from doctor to give a booster of the pain med, get the pain med, and repeat, every hour or two throughout the night. I have to admit, it was frustrating.
Friday, July 11th, 9:00 pm. Tiffany's Birthday. Our Bishop had texted me earlier to see how things were going. He asked if he and his wife could come up for the evening and visit. Tiffany and I left in the morning without an overnight bag, so I agreed - if he would bring up the bag for us. Tiffany's mom and grandma had come to our house earlier in the day to help pack kids up (more on that below), clean and put together an overnight bag for us.
So they came, but Tiff doesn't remember much of it, or really of the day itself. The drugs had caused her to be very groggy and sleepy. When she wasn't in pain, she was sleeping. The bishop helped me give her a blessing, and we had a short discussion on spiritual things. This whole journey has been very spiritual. In some ways, much more than a physical journey. There are so many things we have learned through these experiences. We were grateful for their visit and we continue to hope and pray that good things are to come.
Saturday, July 12th, ~8:00 am. The acute care doctor came in to talk about the pain management. She set Tiff up on a better system and that seemed to be all the difference in the world. She was still groggy, but the pain seemed to not come and go to the degree it had for the past 24 hours.
Saturday, July 12th, 9:30 am. The doctors, making their rounds, came in and let us know that one of the cultures they did with her blood tests came back positive for a bacterial infection. They had already started a series of antibiotics before the test came back positive, so we were already fighting it, but confirmation lead to understanding the fevers, or at least possible explanation. However, the doctors cannot confirm if the pain in the legs are related to the infection, the treatment she started this week, or the cancer wreaking havoc.
Saturday, July 12 10:00 am to Monday July 14th, 2:00 pm. We go through a series of days with Tiffany having a bit of pain, getting enough medication to help her through it, fevers coming and going, with continued antibiotics combating the infection. She can only walk with a lot of pain, generally not walking at this time. She was on oxygen, mostly because she was on pain medication and when you are on pain medication, your breathing slows when you sleep.
Monday, July 14th, 2:30 pm - Doctor Glenn comes with about 8 others into the room (I know it is a learning hospital, but three or more people is a crowd, especially when they are giving you news on your health). Dr. Nguyen, who works for Dr. Glenn, played 20 questions with Tiffany as the rest of the doctors looked on. Ultimately, no new news. However, above all other concerns they are wondering why when they talk to her, her blood oxygen levels dropped when they took away the oxygen mask. No coughing, no wheezing, no gurgling in her lungs when they listened for it, causing a concern. According to the docs, the oxygen levels should only drop when sleeping when on pain medication. The fact that they were dropping while she was active seemed to be a new concern. So a CT scan was ordered to see if anything was going on.
Tuesday, July 15th, 10:00 am. CT scan came back negative on anything (good news) but they decided to do another CT scan with contrast to see if there were any blood clots.
Tuesday, July 15th, 4:00 pm. CT scan with contrast came back negative (again, good news). Tiffany continues her 4 year status as a mystery. MRI was scheduled to check her legs out later in the day. Meanwhile they decided they needed to continue with the chemo treatment. As they were about to finish, Tiffany started getting chills and shivering and spiked another fever (she had a similar response last week on her first treatment). They were going to wait for her to recover before they continued the treatment, likely later in the evening.
Tuesday, July 15th, 9:00 pm - Tiffany goes off to get her MRI done on her legs to see if they can find anything. Docs are really thinking they won't find anything - but they don't want to miss anything.
And that brings us to now. We won't know the results from the MRI until tomorrow sometime. We were hoping only to be in the hospital for maybe 24 hours, perhaps 48, but we are going on to day 5 and not quite sure where we stand and when to expect her home. We are grateful for her sister and her parents who have helped me stay with her. My goal all along is to be sure that she is never alone. And so far we have had no problem making that happen.
Sorry for the book and perhaps TMI (so many people ask what is going on - there you have it). But here is the kicker...
We sent our kids away to Colorado on Saturday to stay with my parents for a time (Dallin is off to scout camp for the week, then will fly out next week to meet up with his siblings). When this was set up a couple of weeks ago, Tiffany wasn't sure she wanted her kids gone. We want our family time to be special and close through this crazy stint of life, but she relented. Knowing the kids were going to be gone, we took the opportunity on Thursday to take them out, have a weenie roast and make s'mores. We then took the opportunity to walk around the Bountiful temple and sat the kids down. Tiffany then took a moment to talk to them, to let them know what was going on with her treatments (remember, this was Thursday night - no pain at this time) and gave her testimony of the Savior. It was a tender moment that we as a family will never forget. And the timing couldn't have been any better as she never had another chance to see them when the pain started. She is now glad that they are being taken care of and in a place they don't have to worry about what she is going through.
Things always work out. We even believe what she is going through now will have a purpose, a purpose we don't yet know. (Although, we are hoping that a miracle is under way where her body is purging the cancer. We are hoping, anyways.) The refiners fire creates amazing things. During the hard moments, we don't see it, but the after effect has a powerful effect on how amazing things really can become. Our views become so much more understanding and truly understand what is important and what is not. I wouldn't wish the refiners fire on anybody, but at the same time, there seems to be no better way to grow and gain understanding.
That all said - I cannot tell you the love and support that continues to pour out from our family, friends, neighbors and church members. We have been blessed by the goodness of so many that our burdens are made light.
To which we will always be grateful. Thank you.
Let's just hope tomorrow brings good news. We need some.