Closing a chapter

Iodine is a bluish-black, lustrous solid that mainly occurs in nature as stable iodine-127. A small amount of radioactive iodine-129 is produced naturally in the upper atmosphere by the interaction of high-energy particles with xenon. Iodine volatilizes at ambient temperatures into a pretty blue-violet gas with an irritating odor. (Argonne National Laboratory Human Health Factsheet, http://www.ead.anl.gov/pub/doc/IODINE.pdf)

At least it is "pretty"! I had my appointment for a second opinion regarding the treatment (or observation) of my cancer. The several doctors consulted this time feel that my cancer is aggressive, potentially still growing as evidenced by my latest ultrasound results, and needs treatment. I will be seeing the local endocrinologist, who travels from Mayo but is not part of the specialized time I saw there, on Friday to set up my treatment dates. I will require 1-4 high-dose treatments using radioactive iodine-131, which seeks out and destroys thyroid or tumor cells using radiation. Each of these treatments will necessitate a separation from my family, as I cannot be within 3 feet of children (or anyone else for extended periods of time) for 2-4 weeks after each treatment. I will be having full body scans to detect radiation levels, and will be allowed to return home when those levels are once again safe. The radioactive isotope can be found in breastmilk for up to 150 days after each exposure, so I also must wean Caleb.

I have been nursing babies for five years. I thought this season would last a lot longer - I didn't expect to have children so close together, nor did I expect the last two to be weaned before they were 3 (the age Katy and Rosy naturally weaned themselves). It is impossible to describe the utter gut-wrenching loss I am feeling at this moment, so I won't try. Please lift me up in prayer as I struggle through this. The incremental griefs of living and losing are so tangible, gritty, stark, heavy. I cannot get a handle on my emotions enough to describe them. I have been up most of the night savoring my baby, who I will soon leave for weeks. Who I will never comfort at my breast again. It is the end of such a precious, unspeakably precious time. Today I will go out to buy herbs to dry up my milk - clary sage, parsley and hibiscus, which sounds so lovely, reminiscent of the Simon & Garfunkel song - to buy bottles, sterilizers, fake nipples, powdered goat's milk, vitamin drops. And struggle to learn how to make something mundane back into the magic that I have shared with my babies while feeding them naturally. Write notes on the bottles to remind me to feed "on both sides" for eye development...warm milk to mimic my own...add maple syrup we made over the campfire this spring with Caleb just newborn...sing songs...praise God in spite of...pray for healing.

My heart aches.

My heart and flesh cry out to you the living God
Your spirit’s water to my soul
I’ve tasted and I’ve seen
Come once again to my
I will draw near to you
I will draw near to you
(Matt Redman, Better is One Day)

Evening, morning and noon
I cry out in distress,
and he hears my voice.
He ransoms me unharmed
from the battle waged against me...
(Psalm 55:17-18)