•    24 Days of Sprinkles – Day 17 – Healing   

    Tears fell quickly from my eyes and into my lap. I was overcome with pure joy – a feeling of tranquility and a feeling of deep, peaceful gratitude. I felt as if the air in my lungs was a treasure and that my hands folded neatly around a cobalt blue vase of purple tulips were absolute gifts from God. As my husband and I drove home from the University of Michigan Hospital, where I had spent the last five days, my heart felt heavy with a sense of pure thanks-giving. I had everything in the world to be thankful for and I have never been so filled with such contentment and also a brand new sense of joy-filled responsibility.

    My life as a mom aU of M - 2014 Courtnd a woman had been trucking along, business-as-usual, until one morning I awoke with a large, swollen gland on the right side of my neck. My 3-year-old daughter had just had her tonsils and adenoids removed the day before and my focus was on helping her through her surgery and the stress that comes with coercing a preschooler to eat ice cream and popsicles, after they have just left the operating room. It was odd, other than feeling quite nervous about my daughter, and a little sleep-deprived, I felt completely fine. I had no sore throat, no fever, nothing aside from the mass on the side of my neck.

    The next week was a whirlwind as we focused on keeping our daughter hydrated and rested, and I wore a scarf wrapped around my neck to mask the swollen gland. I had visited several doctors – urgent care and my primary doctor who both said my swollen gland should get better soon on its own. Time started to pass very slowly, days dragged on as my worry intensified and I decided to visit my daughter’s ear nose and throat surgeon. As I waited and prayed for this issue to pass, my swollen gland was appearing larger and her doctor, who graciously treated me, decided we needed more extensive testing.

    I have never felt so close to God as I did during my 70 minute MRI. I underwent this test safely enclosed in a very dark, tight tube with the sounds of a jack hammer banging in my ears, despite the ear plugs. While I was filled with worry and fear, I was also filled with God’s spirit of peace. I laid in the tube, completely still, and the machine took image after image. Very quickly into the test, as I prayed and asked God for his help, I felt a sense of peace come over me that can only be from his love. My mind was filled with fear and ache, yet, God provided me with comfort and reassurance, even in the midst of my angst. My worry never ceased – I was filled to the brim with anxiety as a human, yet I knew God was with me, and that he accepted my fears, and loved me in spite of them.

    Just an hour after my MRI, I received the call to return to my doctor’s office. This was not the call I wanted to get, but with my mom by my side, and my baby in my arms, we waited together. My husband had gone to work because I was simply planning on another office visit, not an MRI and certainly not the beginning of the chapter that followed.

    My heart pounded as I waited for the doctor to open the cold wooden door, knowing whatever words were going to come next were not going to be easy to hear. He entered the room and quickly explained that I needed immediate treatment –  several days of I.V. antibiotics in a hospital setting, or possibly, this could be something more serious. There was a mass in my neck that was severely narrowing my jugular vein. I had no other symptoms. He asked me to select a hospital and he would notify the emergency department that I was on my way. I quickly went home, packed a bag, and said goodbye to my normal routine of breastfeeding, laundry, time with my kids and husband, and my job as a recruiter.

    A few hours later I was checked into the University of Michigan Hospital and was seen by some of the best doctors in the world. As I was admitted, the clerk noted the mass on my neck to be the size of a baseball. I had further tests and every blood culture they could run. Quickly into my stay I met a wonderful, and very young doctor with a Texas accent who told me she did not think this was an infection, but was something more serious, such as lymphoma, thyroid cancer, or some other “crazy cancer.” As I sat in the room alone with this woman, who was several years my junior, and the fluorescent lights illuminated the ache in my heart, I felt a stabbing pain in my gut, but also a reassurance that whatever this was, God was with me. I couldn’t cry. I couldn’t begin to cry. This wonderfully kind doctor told me she would see me in the morning for a biopsy and we would come up with a plan.

    The next morning my husband was by my side as we met the same doctor and the attending physician from the Otolaryngology and Head & Neck Cancer department at the hospital. Both were wonderful, even offering to hold my hand during the biopsies. I felt so fortunate to have them as part of my team of physicians. I underwent 3 needle biopsies with a pathology team in the hallway, immediately ready to provide the diagnosis of my tests, robed in their pristine white coats. Each sample was taken and we waited alone in the clinic for the door to open and the news to poor from the mouth of these experts. Both doctors were more than kind to me and truly provided me with the most compassionate level of care that I have ever experienced in a clinical setting.

    All 3 needle biopsies came back non-diagnostic and the next step was a core biopsy, with results from this test taking 4-5 days to be available. It was suggested that we start immediate I.V. antibiotics while we wait for the biopsy results. The next 4 days I spent in room 4227 and this period felt less like days and more like weeks. I missed my children and husband deeply and my heart ached because their world had been turned upside down. They visited each day and those visits were wonderful, but also painful when the visit came to a close. I knew I was where I needed to be and that God was guiding my journey, yet this seemed almost surreal. How could this have all happened so suddenly?

    On the 4th day the sweet young doctor with a Texas accent returned to my room before she was leaving for the night. She had the news. My biopsy was not cancer. I could not begin to find the words to express my feelings at that moment – grateful, relieved, awestruck. I was given the best outcome possible. I was blessed beyond words and blessed beyond counting. The plan was to continue the I.V. antibiotics at home to complete a 21-day course, and that would be followed by a 30-day course of oral antibiotics.Dr Shuman - Court (2)

    The biopsy showed this mass was non-cancerous, and it was determined that it was some type of deep tissue infection. The specific type of infection is not known and is a bit of a mystery. My doctors believe it was likely caused by a strep bacteria that started in my throat a week or two prior to the swollen area developing. They also think that if left alone this could have developed into Lemierre’s desease. I was released from the hospital after 5 days and felt like a brand new being, fresh with a spirit of new life and more gratitude than ever in my heart. Before leaving I had a PICC line inserted that would allow my husband and I to administer the I.V. antibiotics every 8 hours at home.

    Today I see God’s healing arms wrapped around my life. I have completed my 7-week course of antibiotics and have made a complete recovery. I am thankful for the experience he guided me through and truly feel I was made better through it – not because of my own wisdom or strength, but because of his ability to teach me. God’s spirit led me through the fear and the pain and gave me people who held my hand and supported me every step of the way. I am blessed and know my life was made richer by this chapter. Today as the dishes pile up in my sink and my counters are cluttered, I give thanks for a family together to make such wonderful messes.


    • Whew!!!! How frightening….but wonderful outcome.

      • Thank you, Mrs. Godwin. Yes, it was very frightening for me. I appreciate your comment and feel so fortunate. I am celebrating the beauty in the simple gifts of every day. I hope you are doing well. I think of you often!

    • Now I know why God placed you on my heart several times over the last couple of months – I prayed for you, not knowing the reason why, but doing it because He asked me to.So happy that you are well and back to enjoying life in the simple abundance of God’s love and grace! Love and hugs to you, Courtney!

      • Thank you, Andrea! That is amazing and I am so glad I had your prayers. It was the most difficult experience I have ever faced, but I was encouraged every step of the way. I am thankful for my faith and the people that were given as helpers and friends along the way. It made a huge difference! Thank you for your prayers. Love and hugs to you too!

    • Thanks for sharing your inspiring story! I am always amazed how God works through the painful times of uncertainty and illness! I’m thankful that you are healed, and also thankful that your faith is even stronger! God is good!

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