After a quick cup of coffee and a hug from Jim, I drove to the hospital to be with Jenney before the surgery. When I got to the room, curled up in the hospital bed with her and we held each other and cried. At 6am they came in to prep for surgery, then wheeled her down to the pre-surgery area. I remember an area where there were lots of lights and alcoves. In one of the alcoves they placed us and put a monitor on the baby to get a read on his heartbeat. The quick pulse was comforting to our ears. Jenney mentioned double vision, and they noted it during another eval.
Then the OB came in to terrify us. She starting going over worst case scenarios and talking about what sort of decision needed to be made for terrible eventualities. Granted, these were things that we should have thought about. Neither of us have wills and thinking about such things has always been hard for us to talk about. But was this the time and place? Jenney started becoming agitated, her face flush and red, scratching her head. I started getting angry and asked the OB if it would suffice for Jenney to say I have power of attorney in these matters and to stop talking about this right before surgery. She actually argued with me for a minute and then backed off. She left and we started to relax a little bit. I tried to lighten the mood with some small jokes and talk of how healthy the baby sounded, doing karate in there every time they hooked up the machine to listen. The OB stopped back one more time to give me a power of attorney paper and said we could fill that out if we wanted, and some reading material. I thanked her and she left.
The anesthesiologist then came in to introduce himself and when it was time, administered a very fast-acting drug that started making Jenney sleepy. Then they wheeled her out and showed me to the OR waiting room. A nice older gentleman gave me a buzzer, like you’d get from a restaurant and I found a place to sit, and cry.
For the next couple of hours I received tons of emails from my co-workers of well wishes, prayers, good vibes, and offers to help in so many different ways. They kept me from thinking of the dark what-ifs, and I responded to each one trying to give the same care and consideration those who wrote to me gave their messages. The timing of it all was perfect. One friend sent me links to youtube videos he thought might distract me. Another, a long heartfelt prayer of gut-wrenching proportions (I doubt my response was as powerful). Offers of food for my family, gift cards, or and ear to bend for a while. Every bit helped.
After 3 hours of surgery, Jenney’s brother Jim arrived just as the Dr. stepped through the door. He said the operation was successful, and that he tried to remove as much as possible without scraping too much of the sensitive areas of the brain. He had to leave some small parts so as not to damage those areas, but it was really stuck in there. He didn’t feel like it was malignant, but it was of course being sent for testing to make sure. She would be in recovery for another hour or so, and then we could see her. He asked if we knew anyone named Deborah. It seems she knew her own name when they asked, but when he asked her what his name was, she said Deborah and kept saying that. He said it wasn’t surprising as he was near the speech centers of her brain and she would most likely have some expressive aphasia, mixing up her words. The baby’s heartbeat was still going strong, thank God.
I shook his hand, and laid my head down on the table, exhausted. Then hugged Jim and cried with some relief. So many terrible scenarios had been going through my head, so much effort of distraction, so much that could have gone wrong was now off the table and past. We still were not done with other possibilities, yet I had some relief.
Jim and I went to the cafeteria for a little food, and to get out of that room for a while as Jenney recovered. Then headed back and sat for a while. When the buzzer rang, they said I could go wait in her room and they would have her up shortly. Jim headed out to move his car, and then would meet me up there.
When they rolled her in and I saw her smile, my world brightened again. My heart had returned to me, and I was whole once more. I waited outside the room until they had her settled and then went in to hold her hand. They explained about the tube coming from her head in order to drain any excess blood and CRF, and that while it was in, she would need to be in the ICU. The drain level is very sensitive, like a spill gate, using gravity to draw any excess fluid build up in the skull and they constantly are adjusting it, her, and measuring to keep it level with her head. It could be 3 to 5 days before being able to leave the ICU and then we’d see. Jim came to the room and we hugged and cried some more. Then he left to go get their mom who was just arriving at the airport.
Jenney’s mother Jeanne and Jim arrived about an hour later. More hugging and crying ensued. My neighbors took the kids as they got off of the bus at the end of our lane, and then Jim drove Jeanne to he house to be with the kids. She got them dinner, off to bed, and then ready for school again in the morning while I held Jenney’s hand. Trying to sleep in a recliner with beeps and boops and nurses coming in and out through the night is a harrowing challenge.