This coming Tuesday, July 26, I will have my 3rd infusion of Rituxan. I am doing one infusion each week for the first month, and then another infusion every four weeks for 6 months. I knew the doctor wanted me to give it 6 months, but thought it was just the 4 weekly infusions and then waiting. It will most likely take 4-6 months to see any results, if there will be any to notice. In the meantime, we wait. So far, the worst side effects have been some nausea, mild body aches, and overwhelming fatigue. (Oh! and too many tears!) The biggest danger of the medication is being exposed to someone who is sick, because my immune system is compromised. I am being very diligent to ask people if they are sick, wash my hands frequently and sanitize everything.
I tend to over-analyze everything. I am definitely a "can't see the forest for the trees" kind of gal. While this trait can be a gift if you are trying to fix a problem or evaluate the effectiveness of something, when you are just trying to live life, it can be a real detriment. Thinking and re-thinking about everything can lead to worry and fear.
I have been going through some tough stuff lately, as I am sure you are aware. I am trying this medication after a long list of drugs that haven't worked and/or caused serious side effects. There is very little else for them to offer me. The doctors feel the benefits outweigh the risks, but the risks are real. Like any chemotherapy drug, getting an infection that you can't fight off, can be a serious and even life-threatening situation.....and that scares me a little. Perhaps, even more so, I fear that the treatment won't work, and I will end up never walking again.
Lately, when people ask me how I am doing, I respond by saying "I'm hanging in there" and that is true, I am hanging in there. You have all watched a movie scene where someone is hanging off a building and holding on for dear life. They are clutching the ledge or another person's hand with all their strength, but over time, they slowly start to slide. One finger, then another, and then just one arm is holding them up. Those fingers start to slip, and the camera zooms in to see the fear in their eyes as they lose their grip and start to fall. I feel that tension. I am slipping. I have just have a couple fingertips still on the ledge.
"Trust falls" have become a popular team building exercise to establish trust in a group. You may have seen them done or tried it with friends. One person stands with their back to a group of people, and then they fall backwards and trust the others will catch them. Why is this so hard to do, even with people you know? I think it is a control thing. Trusting others to catch you, knowing you are vulnerable and that you may not be able to catch yourself if they fail, is very difficult. It is a complete loss of control. For control freaks like me, it is an unsettling time, even fearful. I have gone through one trial after another, and each time I learn this lesson a little better: I am NOT in control. I never was. I never will be.
I am reminded that I am not alone on this ledge. Most days I still strive to hang on in my own strength, when all I really need to do is let go. "For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind." (2 Timothy 1:7) He has given us HIS Spirit. 1 John 4:18 says that "perfect love casts out fear" and that perfect love is found in Jesus Christ. That perfect love was pictured at the cross, as Jesus took the weight of all our sins upon Himself, and as the wrath of God was poured out upon Him. Jesus laid down His life for us and the "love of God has been poured out in our hearts" (Romans 5:5). Fear is replaced with His love. His light casts out the darkness. Despite our struggles and sufferings, we are able to rejoice, and to trust. We can finally let go. We know we can fall into His perfect, loving arms, and He will catch us. He will hold us up. He alone is trustworthy.
So, today I am letting go. Perhaps it would be more accurate to say, "Today I am letting go again, hoping I don't climb back up just to be 'hanging in there' in my feebleness." Maybe, just maybe, I have finally learned to trust and not fear. I don't know what the future holds, but I know where I will land when I do my "trust fall"........into the arms of my loving Savior, right where He wants me!
Where will you land when you fall?