When I married my Rodeo Queen, I understood horses and tack were part of the deal. However, I had no idea as to the magnitude of cultural and language barriers to be overcome for effective communication.
On Monday, December 14, 2015, my doctor informed me the CT-scan of my neck showed a tumor-like mass. Appointments were scheduled for PET-scan and biopsy surgery later that week. We did not yet know whether the tumor was malignant, but my medical team was working under the assumption that it likely was.
In the course of one afternoon, Sherri and I were required to adjust our thinking from expecting my swollen lymph node to be a minor concern to realizing it was a huge concern. It was a lot to try to wrap our minds around and emotions swirled. We weren’t sure, yet, exactly what we were facing or how timing would play out, but we began to let employers know our work schedules would need to be flexible for a while.
Tuesday afternoon Sherri’s name popped up on my ringing phone. I pressed the answer button with, “I love you!” “I love you, too,” Sherri responded, “What did you think of that clinic I texted you about?”
I hadn’t received the text, but the mention of a clinic left me wanting time to process…to review, think, and pray. Sherri had mentioned second opinions the night before. While that sounded like a good idea, I wanted to get a diagnosis before we started soliciting more professional input. My response to Sherri was brief, “I haven’t seen a text.”
“I sent you a text about a clinic. I want you to look at it and tell me what you think. I’ll send it again, so you can look at it.”
“Okay, I’ll look at it. What’s the name of the clinic?” I assumed we were talking about a clinic within reasonable driving distance, such as UAMS in Little Rock or MD Anderson in Houston, but wondered if she was thinking something further away like Mayo Clinic.
“I don’t remember the name,” she responded, “but it’s a two-day healing clinic in mid-January. I think it might be really good for us if you’re able to travel then.”
What? I wasn’t sure exactly what a two-day healing clinic was…nor why Sherri was looking into it. Sherri is very level-headed…not prone to rushing to try the latest health fad. She also tends to have a healthy dose of skepticism toward spiritual things requiring more open-mindedness than her Baptist raising. Of the two of us, I am the one more open to natural remedies and miraculous intervention. Although I knew Sherri was upset about my impending diagnosis, this was totally unexpected.
And a two-day clinic? What was supposed to happen in two days? Was this two days of Pentecostal-style name-it-and-claim-it preaching with a five-step plan to claiming your healing in two days or less? Or was it two days of charismatic info-mercial-style lectures proclaiming benefits of expensive herbs with an abundance of anecdotal testimonials combined with limited scientific study? Either way, I was skeptical.
That’s what was running through my mind, but all that came out of my mouth was a stammered, “What? Two-day healing clinic! I don’t…I don’t even know what that means. What are you talking about? What…what is a two-day healing clinic?”
“It’s just a clinic…a two-day clinic to learn about healing. I’ll resend the text explaining it.”
“Okay. I’ll look at it, but we don’t even have a diagnosis yet. I really think we need to focus on the PET-scan and tonsillectomy this week.”
Long pause…followed by a stifled giggle…
“Oh, Joe! I’m so sorry! It’s not a medical clinic. It’s a team roping clinic….for Dawson. A heeling clinic, as in roping a steer’s back legs. It looks really good, but I don’t know if you’ll be able to travel by then.”
We both laughed out loud! Some much needed levity in the midst of a confusing situation.
That’s life married to my Rodeo Queen! 🙂
One more small detail…
One week later I had a second surgery to remove the tumor which biopsy had shown to be cancer. Coming out of anesthesia, my mind was focused on one thing, “I have to learn to team rope! I want to team rope with Dawson, and I have to learn to rope!” When Sherri came into the recovery room I greeted her with, “I have to learn to team rope!”
I’m not sure what that means.
People say some crazy things coming out of anesthesia, and maybe this was just my own craziness coming out. Or maybe it was my subconscious giving voice to some deep seated desire. Or maybe it was a subconscious recollection of the prior conversation with Sherri and the word play on healing and heeling. Or maybe it was God, Himself, taking advantage of the quiet of anesthesia to get my attention.
I’m truly not sure.
But, as I’ve had time to think about it, the idea appeals to me. I know I’ll never be competitive, but it would be pretty cool to learn to rope…and finding another activity to enjoy with an adolescent child is always a good thing. Right now, I’m still recuperating from surgery and my right arm lacks the strength to twirl and throw a rope. But maybe that’s exactly what I’ll need for physical therapy a few weeks from now.
Maybe I’ll find healing in heeling!
Sounds like a good goal, at any rate. 🙂