The art of patience

I didn’t know what to expect yesterday when I went to see the doctor about my biopsy results. But I didn’t expect this.

I thought this would be the end of the road, one way or another — that we would know for sure what’s going on, that we’d have a course of treatment. Instead, I have much more waiting ahead of me. The liver biopsy didn’t show any active disease or damage like the doctor expected, and yet the abnormal blood tests still prove that everything is not perfectly fine. I’m in limbo, as he said, waiting for something to happen, which means more blood tests every six months, maybe some more biopsies, to watch for change. I feel like a ticking time bomb.

In the meantime, we’re going to start looking into whether I might have colitis or Crohn’s disease by way of a barium follow through and a colonoscopy. “We’re dissecting you,” the doctor said. “We’re checking every organ.”

“Patient.” What an apt word. I am a patient. I am patient. Or at least learning to be.

To be honest, I’m a little discouraged. I really hoped that the biopsy would be the definitive test. Instead, we’re back to questions and uncertainty and waiting.

But God still has His hand in this. I’m continually amazed by what a miracle it is that I ended up with this doctor. First of all, the doctor I was seeing out in California wanted to perform the scope procedure at his hospital before I went home for the summer, but we weren’t able to get that scheduled. When I showed up at the hospital back home, however, the doctor performing the scope was, to put it simply, a jerk. Somehow, she hadn’t even seen my file, so she didn’t seem to believe that I even had a valid reason to be there (and she was quite rude about the whole thing). The scope did find some inflammation, though, which proved I wasn’t just a hypochondriac, but she didn’t schedule my followup appointment until more than a month later.

But over the next few weeks, the pain continued to get worse, so my mom called to see if I could get an earlier appointment. Dr. Jerk didn’t have any spots available, but another doctor in the practice did. I have no idea how that happened, because every time I’m in the waiting room, I hear his receptionist telling people that they have no open appointments until the end of September. And yet God opened something up for me.

This new doctor has proven significantly better than the other doctors I’ve seen for several reasons. First, whereas Dr. Jerk only has 3 years of experience, he has nearly 30. Secondly, the other doctors only ever suggested three possible causes for the pain: an ulcer, acid reflux, or irritable bowel syndrome. At my very first visit, this doctor listed off about a dozen possibilities and has been testing me for all of them, and based on what he’s found so far, he seems to be looking for the right things.

Finally, he told me that if the next few tests don’t shed any more light on what’s going on, he’s not going to just shrug me off — he’ll start “testing really aggressively” for something else. If we don’t come up with answers before I leave for school in less than three weeks, he told me he knows some doctors in the LA area who he could refer me to, including some at USC, where he did his fellowship. Assuming this saga does continue back out to California, USC would be a fantastic place to have doctors looking at my case, because at a university hospital:

  • the doctors are working with researchers on the cutting edge of medical science
  • it’s not just one doctor looking at any patient, but an attending physician, a handful of fellows and residents, and medical students all evaluating the case from a number of perspectives.

Lord willing, we’ll get this figured out before I go back, but if not, the prospect of being seen by other doctors as good as (or possibly even better than) my current doctor makes me hopeful. Right now, I’m really trying to cling to that hope rather than being discouraged by the latest turn of events.

God is so good.

The art of patience

One thought on “The art of patience

  1. Beggs says:

    Bethany! I will be praying so hard for you in these coming weeks. For how much you have already gone through, i am shocked by your steadfast faith and patience in this. Any time you need to vent, you know my number. And I’m serious about this.

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