That Day a year ago

Brain Surgery

This day a year ago when Dylan had surgery Life was transformed into something more.

We were remarkably calm considering the situation. Due to the fact that it was a long weekend everything seemed quite calm and quiet in the hospital, the Saturday we went into emergence flowed smoothly, we were seen promptly by a lovely doctor who was originally from Cape Town, questions followed, a cannula was inserted, blood was taken, and then the resident surgeon who was called in, an amazing Syrian doctor who throughout Dylan’s hospital stay visited him daily, got things moving smoothly and efficiently, after an examination, questions and a look at the first MRI we were taken to get another MRI, there was no one else in the medical imaging department, so the process to have the hour long MRI was quick, a few spots on Dylan’s head were shaved and little markers were placed on his head, he had the MRI and things from that point went quickly and are blurry. Essentially taking him in to emergency that day was the best thing we did. He was admitted and placed in the neurological surgery ward, we sat with the neurosurgeon as he explained the surgery and possible side effects, we signed all the release forms, the blood transfusions agreements, the medical insurance forms, whatever needed signing, we tried to absorb the copious amounts of information in a very unfamiliar experience. Marco went home to Josh and Dylan and I spent the first night of many in hospital.

Written in July 2016

“This time exactly a month ago, standing in the the tight prep room with the anesthetics team I was peering into my 13 year old sons beautiful blue eyes, holding his little hand gently as he peacefully drifted off to sleep, my heart filled with hope still ached with the pain of reality. It was just a few stollen moments of time but overwhelmed with powerful emotions from completely different ends of the scale, hope, gratitude, love, powerlessness…..

I’m not sure there’s a single word to describe the feeling of ones heart being so overwhelmed with love but at the same time the feeling of ones heart being torn from your chest.

The only thing I felt I was left to do was to accept and have faith.

I glanced up, still with his hand in mine, looking through the windows into the next room. The images of his brain filled the wall behind the bed in the surgery, I felt like I was In a completely different world.

I released him from my loving care, to strangers. To strangers that we had just met, but were trusting our sons life with, that I had complete faith in and trusted whatever they told me to be true. I walked away filled with hope, I released any fearful thoughts, and filled my heart with love, my mind only focused on the task at hand….get organized for his recovery. So we left the hospital and went home while the surgeons began the delicate task of removing the tumor that had invaded his brain.

There had been no time to work up a sweat with this surgery, we had gone to Royal Children’s Hospital emergency the day before, quite relaxed, considering a few days before we had the news that he had a mass of some sort on his brain. Things very quickly went from, ‘oh I wonder what will be done’ to, ‘surgery is prepped, the surgical team has met and are ready to go, these are the possible consequences of the anticipated 8hour brain surgery’….I leave it to your imagination….there’s pretty much no limits, it’s a very high risk surgery.

I function perfectly in a crisis, it’s something I am rather proud of actually, so when we calmly told the doctors that we trusted them with our son and would be going home to pack and prepare while they operated, they were pleasantly surprised, relieved that their usual chat about not hanging around the hospital for the entire day getting all worked up with the parents was not necessary. They told us they would call us when they were about to finish, that would give us about an hour to get back to the hospital so that we could be there when he woke up. They told us that the longer the surgery the better the outcome … So the anticipated 8 hours would be good. “

We were on our way back to the hospital when they called us, things were looking good and Dylan would be taken to recovery by the time we got there. The recovery ward was eerily quiet, surrounded by empty beds Dylan lay quietly, it was the most overwhelming feeling seeing him lying there, breathing through an oxygen mask, connected to a multitude of tubes and machines, just being able to hold his hand was comforting. Nurses, anesthetists, doctors spoke to us, I don’t remember much at all, I was just so grateful he had come out of surgery. He gradually began to drift in and out of consciousness, and then stabilized enough to be moved back to the ward. The neurosurgeon met with us to discuss the surgery, his excitement was visible, by all accounts it was a successful surgery, they were confident that that had taken out most of the tumor safely. Now we needed to wait for Dylan to recover from surgery while being closely monitored and wait for the biopsy results to see what type of tumor it was.

Surrounded by the buzzing and beeping of various machines, In the privacy of the hospital room, awareness of post surgery features become more visible. Dylan’s face, especially eyes were so swollen, his right arm was so swollen he couldn’t bend his fingers, he had a tube coming out of his skull draining the excess brain fluid, he was connected to a variety of machines to constantly monitor his heart rate and blood pressure, had a catheter, and three different cannulas for the drips and pain meds, the vision most etched in my mind is his eyes, his pupils were fixed and dilated, his eyes looked deep, dark and empty, it honestly frightened me, however the overwhelming relief that he made it through surgery was the predominant emotion.

That day a year ago was a very long day.


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