Radiated: Hospital Time Lapse Day One


8:55 a.m.

I’m eating Oreo cookies for breakfast this morning. Why not? We’ve been at the hospital since 7:30 a.m. We’re officially admitted. Now we’re waiting. The chaplain’s already been in to visit. Just so happens he’s brother-in-law to Seth’s fraternity brother. Seth admits to the chaplain that he feels unusually strong, perhaps it’s because he’s being carried by a strong support system of loved ones and prayer warriors. As I continue to chomp on the familiar chocolate and cream, I stare at the pain assessment scales in this PRE-pre-op waiting room. A female patient sobs across the way. I try to listen in to determine the weight of her burdens, but I can’t hear detail, only cries. She’s in waiting, too.

1:14 p.m.

Seth and I were separated at 10:11 a.m. when he was wheeled in to pre-op. I joined Seth’s parents in the family waiting area, and shortly after, we were directed to the hospital room where Seth will be staying for the next five days. While we were eating lunch in the visitor cafeteria, I received word that Seth had gone into surgery. Surgical placement of the gold bottle cap plaque (that will deliver radiation to his right eye for the next five days) was an hour shorter than we’d been told. So we were a little surprised when a nurse called us to join Dr. G for a post-op family consult at 12:50 p.m.

Dr. G had two images of Seth’s eye and the cancerous area printed and ready for us. He said everything “went really well,” that the gold bottle cap plaque is “perfectly placed and perfectly positioned.” The resident doctor will change the eye patch and shield, and is the only one allowed to do so. Dr. G will be in every day to visit. Seth is allowed to go walking around the hospital every day after 3:00 p.m. as long as he’s accompanied by one of us. We need to hold him by the hand or arm, and he’s to look front and straight ahead. No scanning allowed. No reading is allowed this week either. Seth can watch TV from a distance, but nothing up close that would require his eyes to scan. He’s to remain well hydrated, and the doctor wants him to eat a lot of APPLES while he’s here. Apparently my titling of this series, “The Apple of My Eye,” was right on for more than one reason.

So now, we wait again. Seth is in recovery. Seth’s dad is napping in the room. Seth’s mom is getting coffee. And I’m here in a family waiting area. The family next to me is here for cancer, too. They’re discussing a kind 80-year-old woman who was up praying for their family first thing this morning. They comment on her kindness, her sweetness. Seth’s mom returns and we talk about health, wellness and nutrition until Seth’s dad returns and notifies us that Seth should be on his way to the room soon.


3:05 p.m. 

Seth was just brought into the room from recovery. He’s clearly still waking up from anesthesia, but persisted that he was “starving,” so the nurse got him some peanut butter toast. The nurse gently reminded him he’ll want to eat a lot of apples. Seth’s reported more than once already that his eye is “more irritated than he expected it to be.” And now, he’s sleeping. I have a whole pile of tasks I brought to do while we’re here this week, but I can’t imagine getting my brain around any of it right now. So I think I’ll read a mindless magazine.

4:33 p.m. 

The nurse recently administered Seth some pain medication at his request. His eye is throbbing. “Like daggers,” he said. Seth said it’s “not good to open [his] eyes.” Unless he “keeps looking straight ahead it hurts. The scratchiness is painful like gravel or sandpaper.” It feels better to keep both of his eyes closed, so for now, he’s continuing to sleep. Seth’s youngest brother is on his way for a visit, and Seth’s parents found him a DVD player so he can watch movies in the room once he’s up to it.


5:07 p.m. (random deep insight from Amy)

I’m near the end of Jennie Allen’s book, Restless. I’ve been plodding through it since the plane ride home from the writing conference back in October. I’d just begun chapter 21, When Women Dream, and suddenly became keenly aware of the steady beeping of machines in the background of the hospital room. I looked at Seth sleeping, his right eye covered with a patch, bandages and a screen. I thought about everything that’s transpired in my life, even in just the past six weeks. And I have to believe that ALL of this is part of God’s plan. There’s mystery in not knowing. But if we allow ourselves to live aware, the threads start lining up and weave together into fabric that makes complete sense.

The machine keeps on beeping. Life keeps on ticking. We breath in. We breath out. We cling to our way. Or we surrender to God’s way. We choose. And what I’m learning is that if we refuse God’s way, He prods us gently, sometimes not so gently. Go this way. This is the way. Sometimes it takes a major meltdown in the midst of a dream come true. Sometimes it takes cancer or some other unexpected, unplanned life-altering set of circumstances to turn us in the right direction. But when we surrender to God’s beat, to His plan for us, life is better. It just is.

7:59 p.m. (random deep insight from Seth)

Around 7:30 p.m., Seth began complaining about his eye again. He wasn’t sure the pain medication they administered shortly after 4:00 p.m. was really working. He was having a hard time imagining lying around the hospital room with his eyes closed, in pain and discomfort for five days. His brother and I suggested that maybe they could administer a stronger pain medication, so when the nurse came in, we made the request and it was granted. Within 15 minutes, the newer, stronger pain medication had clearly set in and Seth was chatting away, the most energetic he’d been all day. He talked with his brother about beards and how he looked like an “albino seal” when he shaved his off at Christmas. And he joked about his eye post surgery. “When I snuck a peek in the mirror, I was expecting a horror show, but all I saw was an eye patch.” Yep, that’s my man.

We walked two laps around the unit. It was the first time he’d been up and out of bed since he sat in the wheelchair at 10:11 this morning. Then we turned down the heat, got him snuggled up in bed with his fleece blanket from home, and prepared to leave. He was clearly fading fast, but still in fairly good spirits.

10:32 p.m.

I’m finally back in the hotel room finishing up the day’s post. I might not make it through the five books, February budgeting sheets or anything else I brought to do this week during waiting hours, but we made it through the day. And that is a good thing.





  1. Cindy L Meester says:

    My heart and prayers are with you all.

  2. Lisa Barber Pack says:

    Sending love and prayers to you all. Love your writing.

  3. Sandra Heska King says:

    You’re into the thick of your second day now. Sending love.

  4. Tom Baunsgard says:

    Great post Amy! God does prod us along to do his will. It is a wonderful counter to that free will thing that works against us much of the time. We are Blessed that God is patient with us wandering sheep and continues that gentle and as you say “not so gentle” prodding. ” Thy rod and thy staff they comfort me!” Happy to hear the surgery went well and that Seth is getting the right pain meds… Patients who have properly administered pain meds heal faster. So it’s okay to ask for more if you need it. 🙂 Continued Prayers for you all!

  5. Tara Dorn says:

    Continued prayers for Seth, you and the family. You are such a wise woman, Amy. It is so clear that one of your gifts from God is writing. Thank you for sharing this difficult journey with us.

  6. Beth Fenwick Boysen says:

    Sounds like the surgery went well. Have Seth and you all in our thoughts this week especially!

  7. Alison Miller Murphy says:

    Prayers to you, Amy.

  8. leeann heidt says:

    Sending love and prayers to all of you. LeeAnn Jeff and girls.

    • Amy says:

      Thank you, LeAnn. I received your text, but haven’t had a chance to respond yet. So glad you found out the news, and we are just grateful for your prayers and support.

  9. Beth Delvaille says:

    A hug for you, and a prayer for good rest for all of you tonight.

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