November 13th, 2012 | Posted in » Christian Living, My Life / Family
Over the last three years, this blog has received quite a bit of web traffic on a topic I’d really rather not know much about… cholesteatoma. For those of you who have no idea what that word even means, let me fill you in.
According to wikipedia, cholesteatoma is:
a destructive and expanding growth consisting of keratinizing squamous epithelium in the middle ear and/or mastoid process.
I’m sure that really helped.
Basically, a cholesteatoma is a tumor that grows inside your ears. It’s not cancerous, but can be life-threatening if untreated. Basically, it’s a tumorous skin growth. As it grows, it funnels infection to the middle ear. Over time, the infections degrade the bones of the middle ear and adversely affect hearing. The tumor itself can spread throughout the mastoid bone (located behind the ear)… if left untreated, the infection can actually spread through the thin lining of bone between the middle ear and into the brain.
So yes. It can be a big deal.
In my case, we’ve been fortunate. We discovered my first cholesteatoma in 2008, in my left ear. I’d had a major ear infection, ruptured the ear drum, and after a few weeks of medical treatments, discovered the cholesteatoma. Two surgeries later, I was cholesteatoma free, but left with hearing loss as a result.
I should be thankful it’s just that.
Today, though… I’m not. I’m having a really rough day. You see, I’ve been battling chronic ear infections in my right ear over the past two years. As part of a routine follow-up visit regarding my original cholesteatoma, I had my doctor look at the issue again. My thought? Just a little hearing loss… wasn’t even thinking about anything more.
His response? Well, after a thorough examination, it included words that shook up my world again… “indicative of cholesteatoma”.
Recap? Left ear… cholesteatoma in 2008. Surgically repaired to a “new normal” in 2009. Right ear… potential cholesteatoma.
Simply put, this sucks.
I know it’s POTENTIAL cholesteatoma. And having been through this once, I know it’s not the end of the world. But my mind has been racing nonetheless, and my emotions a bit of a mess today. The idea that I may no longer have a good ear. The thought of degraded hearing in both ears. The likelihood that hearing aids will be my only hope of “normal” hearing at some point.
It’s a crushing blow in a lot of ways. Even knowing nothing has been confirmed, and that cholesteatoma may not really be a reality for me again.
Nevertheless, my normal optimism has been gone today. I’m trying to prepare myself for the worst case. I’m trying to come to terms with the possibilities. I’m trying to swallow (once again), a simple fact of life.
… that we don’t always get what we want.
As a follower of Christ, I know that fact. Life isn’t about us. We don’t always get our way. God doesn’t give us life, with all of its ups and downs, for OUR benefit.
We exist for His purposes and pleasure, and our lives should be lived to bring glory to Him.
And I’m okay with that, except when I’m not (how’s that for deep).
I’m human. Full of emotions. Hurts. Pains. Questions. Selfishness. My own desires and wants and wishes.
I question why. I struggle with the possibilities. I wonder if it’s all really going to be alright.
Even though I know (and believe) better.
The “Christian” response to times like this is to quote Scripture. Real comforting ones like Romans 8:28:
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
And then we beat ourselves up because we DON’T feel at peace with things.
I guess my point in writing all of this is to let you, who may be finding your way to my site because you’re dealing with cholesteatoma, or you, who may be struggling mightily with something else entirely… it’s to let you know this:
EVERY Christian struggles with worries, fears, and doubts. If any Christian you know tells you otherwise, they’re flat out lying.
And know that this fact does NOT negate the truth of Scripture.
Our doubts, worries, and fears do NOT change the fact that God is in complete control.
Our doubts, worries, and fears do NOT change the fact of His love for us.
Our doubts, worries, and fears do NOT change the fact that He is still working for our good.
God is STILL there.
So today, if you’re struggling… quit beating yourself up.
And today, if someone comes to you with their hurts and pains… don’t be trite with your responses.
In both cases, the goal is a Scriptural one… to cast your anxieties upon Christ, because He cares for you. There’s no one else that can truly bring us peace.
For more readings on my battle with cholesteatoma, check out these posts:
- “Life Update”, November 2008
- “Surgery Update”, December 2008
- “Cholesteatoma Update”, March 2009
- “Cholesteatoma Surgery, Round 2″, December 2009