Heavy Anticipation

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble (or tight places). Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change and the though the mountains slip into the heart of the sea: though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains quake with swelling pride. 
The LORD of hosts is with us. 
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. 

I've been reading and rereading Psalm 46 quite a lot the last few days. There are a lot of "thoughs" in the opening verses. I think Liza and I feel the weight of the potential "thoughs" ahead of us on this third, Lord willing FINAL, trip to California for urgent medical care. 

It's been a while since I've updated you. Forgive me. Since my last post, when the date was moved up to August 19, there has been a scurry of planning and organizing - and there are several MORE great gifts God has granted - several more great prayers He has answered. First, yet another private flight was provided by kind and generous friends and members of our church family. The depth of pain, lasting discomfort and anxiety that this gift removes from Liza's body during travel is hard to estimate. She still is flat or nearly flat in bed for probably 23 or more hours a day. It's just too painful and nauseating to sit up or move around much at all. This flight will save her a massive weight of pain simply because it is half as long (with all the regular needs of a commercial flight through a large airport with TSA etc.) and she is able to lay down flat for the full duration of the flight. What a gift. What a blessing. 

We have also arranged stay in the same place we stayed last time, a hotel just a stones throw from the hospital, this time for twice as long. The staff there were so kind and helpful to Liza and me while we stayed. We feel like they became friends and understand why we are in town. We finally worked out a rental car, which was unusually difficult to do. Again, thanks to a great and enduring friend, another blessing comes our way. 

Since the last post we have been working to get all of Liza's pre-op forms and tests complete - something we've had to do for each visit. This time, Liza's incredible primary care physician - a wonderful believer in Conroe - was right in the middle of moving her practice to a private location whilst taking a much needed vacation. Thus it was impossible to get in to see her. But after some side work, we were able to get in to a new clinic in the same building as her new office and get everything done. In fact, the phlebotomist that cared for Liza actually attends Faith Bible and works in our nursery. All the scans and tests came back and were sent to Cedars Sinai in Beverly Hills. I made a phone call to confirm. 

Liza has also been having ketamine infusions for her pain on a different schedule than normal. Last week she had two, and this week one but later in the week. The effect is much less and shorter lasting these days, but it is still greatly helpful. We are praying that they are completely unnecessary in the near future. 

We've also had some communication with the hospital scheduler in Beverly Hills and the PA for Dr. Schievink. Here is our schedule as it now stands: 

Sunday, Aug 16 - Liza and Scot fly to CA
Tuesday, Aug 18 - COVID test for Liza
Wednesday, Aug 19 - Digital Subtraction Myelogram #1
Thursday, Aug 20 - Digital Subtraction Myelogram #2
Wednesday, Aug 26 - Various fixes employed according to DSM results. 
Monday, Aug 31 - CURRENT scheduled flight to return home, although this may change 

You'll notice a long break between the DSM tests and the fixes. This is unfortunate, but due to scheduling, it was the "price" we had to pay to move up to August 19 from our previous date of September 23. We will gladly wait a week in between to save a month. 

We've also had several rounds of online-portal question and answer with Dr. S and his PA. These have been helpful, even though they are very brief, to ensure our expectations are not as off as they were on our first visit. We seem to be on the same page. 

HERE'S THE BIG PRAYER REQUEST. The way this trip is forming, much of the weight of the time falls on the results of the DSM test. This is the most specific and advanced test to search for CSF leaks and fistulas. HOWEVER, in the past, doctors in Houston and doctors in California, as well as radiologists here and there, seem to disagree on whether the previous tests (just regulars MRI) showed "leaks" or not. This hit us hard on the first trip. So, in a late night, private prayer time I had with the Lord the other night, lying in bed, staring at the ceiling, He blessed me with some hope when I was struggling to find some. I began, at that moment, to direct most of my prayers on one specific point - the DSM test. I am praying and fasting that the two DSM tests - one for Liza's right and one for Liza's left side, as we understand it - reveal the cause of her pressure issues and pain. That the doctors there see it clearly. There is agreement. There is a clear plan forward. That the plan works. It's all about that test. Please, please, please pray with us. That flashing neon signs pointing to the problem areas - ALL of them - are the result of the two DSM tests. Perhaps the week of lag time in between will turn out to be another unexpected blessing - and it will allow Dr. S and his team to approach Liza's case and the fixes with some time to think, plan, consider and up their surgical game for the benefit of my bride. That is the prayer. 

The "fix menu" of options, as I'm calling it, which will happen on August 26, include another blood patch, an injection of fibrin glue directed at leaks and a microvascular surgical option for any fistulas that are identified. This is our current understanding, verified by a past phone call and several correspondences with the team in CA. 

Finally, at the end of a long post, I must say that this trip has an unusual and heavy sense of expectation to it. Most likely because it this step - the test and fixes - that we have been hoping for and looking for since February when it was first suggested by the Houston neurologist that sent us to Beverly Hills. Also, if this step does not provide healing and improvement, we are unclear as to the possible steps available afterwards. So, in our hearts, it all comes down to this. Our heaviness is only matched by our sense of Hope in Jesus. 

God is our refuge and strength. A very present help in tight places...
He makes wars to cease to the end of the earth...
Cease striving and know that I am God...
The LORD of hosts is with us.
The God of Jacob is our stronghold. 

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