Monday, November 11, 2013

Immortality and Other Second Chances

"Look toward Him and be radiant and your faces may not blush for shame.
This poor one cried out and the LORD heard and from all his distress He saved him."
Psalm 34: 6-7

This past week I received a diagnosis that I was sort of expecting. After extensive testing my doctors have discovered two nodules on my thyroid gland. We already knew it was big, but now there are nodules on it and it has to come out. The further threat is that these nodules might be cancerous. The blood work looks good, but there are other biomarkers that don't look so good.

Usually, people with overactive thyroids are given radioactive iodine to kill the thyroid and then they are monitored for new lumps and bumps over the rest of their lifetime. But not so with me. In the course of my testing, we discovered that I am very allergic to the iodine. So surgery is the only option for me.

So, out it comes!

The thyroid gland sits at the base of the throat and surrounds the windpipe. Just behind the thyroid are the vocal nerves. In order to get at the gland, they will have to cut an incision in my neck and move all the muscles aside so that they can see what they're doing. Everything is so tightly packed in there, that they don't do laparoscopic surgery. This means that for the first several weeks of recovery, my speaking voice will be hoarse. My singing voice will be out of commission for about three to four months. If it is not damaged by the surgery (and there is no cancer - please, Lord, no cancer!) I should be able to sing again by the summer.

I'm worried.
Okay, I'm terrified.

There have been times, in the depths of my depression that I have wished for some deadly disease to take me quietly. Something that I wouldn't have to explain to God. I have hated my life - and that is a very sad thing. There is so much joy in my life, but all I could see was the suffering.

And that's the dark part. But that's not the end of the story.

This is old hat, but here goes: You never appreciate what you have until you might lose it. 

I have always appreciated my voice. Maybe I've appreciated it too much, in fact. While I have been off chasing my muse, everyone else has had to stand by and wait for me. My husband put college aside for me. My children have done without me for large expanses of time. My faith is intimately connected to my voice and my ability to sing for Mass.  It is an exercise in humility for me to NOT sing (and to ignore those who sing poorly) during Mass.

So many, many times I have bristled with the idea that I could do something so much better than someone who already had the job. I have harmed friendships and careers with my ambition. And where has that left me? Busy to the point of a breakdown. Lonely, though I have many friends. And frightened that the thing on which I have built my life, (and in many respects, my faith,) is going to be taken away.

But, there is hope. There is always hope - because we have a Savior. And he is so good to us.

For me, that hope came to me while singing for the funeral of a woman who was just a little bit older than me. As I sang the familiar parts of the Requiem Mass and listened to the readings I had heard a thousand times over I was reminded of God's great generosity.

The first reading was Isaiah 25:6-7, 9:
On this mountain the LORD of hosts will provide for all peoples. On this mountain he will destroy the veil that veils all peoples, the web that is woven over all nations; he will destroy death forever. The Lord GOD will wipe away the tears from all faces; the reproach of his people he will remove from the whole earth; for the LORD has spoken. On that day it will be said: "Behold our God, to whom we looked to save us! This is the LORD for whom we looked; let us rejoice and be glad that he has saved us!"
I know that I need to trust that God has a plan for my life. I have no idea what that plan is. Maybe that's why things have rolled out the way they have over the past several weeks. There have been many new doors opened to me - and some closed, too.

I may have years left or I may die tomorrow. There is no way for me to know when I will be called. The best I can do is to live for God in the time I have - however long that time may be.

So, in the midst of all this Sturm und Drang, I found a prayer today while beta testing an app that I thought fit the bill pretty well:

Prayer Against Depression
by St. Ignatius of Loyola

O Christ Jesus
When all is darkness
And we feel our weakness and helplessness,
Give us the sense of Your Presence,
Your Love and Your Strength.
Help us to have perfect trust
In Your protecting love
And strengthening power,
So that nothing may frighten or worry us,
For, living close to You,
We shall see Your Hand,
Your Purpose, Your Will through all things.

(via Catholic Short Prayers App -


  1. The hyperfunctioning nodules can be treated with PEI procedure (far less damaging than surgery)!

    1. I checked into this procedure, but was told that they only recommend it if neither the surgery or RAI are an option. When I tlak to more surgeons, I will bring it up again, though! Thanks for the tip!

  2. Oh my Katie - you are absolutely in our prayers!! Sending strong hugs and good wishes for a speedy recovery. Blessings!