At 3am they woke us to draw blood, and to prep us for one last CT scan of Jenney’s head to compare it to the first one taken post-op. We woke up a while and by 3:15 they had a spot for Jenney in radiology. I stayed in the room, telling her to “smile pretty” for the camera as they wheeled her away. She was back in about 20 minutes and we tried to get back to sleep.
The oncologist came in bright an early at 7:15am, inspected Jenney’s vitals, looked over the drain and where it intersects with her scalp and said everything looked fine. The CT had come back already and looked pretty much the same, which was good. He said he’d be back later this morning to remove the drain. We smiled to each other and thanked him.
At 11:40 he returned to remove the drain. I was fascinated to watch. The doctor did it right there in the room with us and the nurse to assist. He first poked her a couple times with some lidocaine at the site, then clipped away the bandage and some hair with it, then clipped some of the stitching, joking with us and nurse the whole time. It was a light mood with laughter and eye rolling. I was actually having fun. Then he pulled the tube out of her head like a worm. I’m sure many would balk at the sight of about 10 inches of anything being pulled from someone’s head, I was still fascinated. Then he stitched up the opening and was done. He said he wanted to watch us for one more day, and if all went well, he’d discharge us. We were very excited :) He left and I pondered naming the baby after him.
Around 2:30pm the nurse came with a wheelchair to take us outside. We’d asked the doctor earlier and he said it would be fine. Jenney hadn’t been outside in a week and a half. As we wheeled her around the building, many folks stared at the scar and stitching running left to right along the top of Jenney’s head like a slightly crooked headband. She didn’t notice a thing, excited to be outside in the fresh cool air. We sat outside for about 20 minutes with an overcast sky, watching the traffic go by the front of the hospital, making small talk with our nurse. Then back up to the room where the nurse washed, brushed, and braided Jenney’s hair once again.
A surgical oncologist came to see us at 3:52pm to talk about excising the subcutaneous nodule in Jenney’s back that had been found to be cancerous. He said that in all his years he’s seen no benefit in excising such a spot. If it were bleeding or enlarged and uncomfortable, then maybe, but there is a benefit to keeping it. By comparing the size during treatments, we would be able to tell if treatments were working if the size were to shrink. They were unsure if this was the origin of the melanoma which had then migrated to the brain, as melanoma is known to actually heal on the surface and then still grow under the skin. Then I asked the question that had been on my mind since the night before: “What are the chances of the melanoma spreading to the baby,” I asked in a wavering voice. “I’ve never heard of such a thing happening,” was his solid response.
Not only did it seem we could forgo more cutting, but one of my greatest fears had been allayed as well. I shook his hand and thanked him for his time. He seemed a sturdy and kind man.
At 4:30pm my mom brought Viola for a visit. She laughed and talked and told us about her day. I told her a little of the procedure to remove the drain when she asked. She’d brought another book to read and asked if we were coming home tomorrow. We told her the doctor thought we could.
Jenney had another small headache around 5:45pm, received her meds and a Tylenol, and then took a nap.
7:00pm brought the nurse shift change. We watched some Harry Potter on TV. Under the movie a new headline scrolled: 11 dead from coronavirus in Washington. The thought of a premature birth. The thought of Jenney having chemo. The virus attacks those with compromised immune systems. I asked Jenney to turn it off and we tried to play cards, but I couldn’t hold it together. I had another panic attack. I remember the vision of myself just running, running through the streets, to the forest, and running until I collapsed. I paced in the room while Jenney watched me trying to compose myself, telling me it’s ok to break down, I’m human - I don’t want to be human - and I cried holding her hand, telling her my fears.
The nurse brought me some warm milk, and tried to reassure us, telling us how we needed to trust in the love she could see and feel we have for each other, to trust in God who would not give us more than we could bear. She was so kind. Then I remembered my martial arts training, meditation, and some basic forms. I did some calisthenics and practiced for a while in the room with Jenney, and felt much better. We finished our card game, then fell asleep beside one another holding hands, I on the chair and she in her hospital bed. The nurse had put a sign on the door saying labs were not necessary this night, as we would be discharged in the morning. No vampires allowed.