Friday, April 10, 2009

Phoenix - Part 2 - Day of Surgery

We awake at 4:30am. No one is speaking as we are all afraid of the day to come. Mom, Dad, Tim, Barbara and I have made a pact that we are NOT going to cry in front of Katie. I find this easier said than done and I bawl my eyes out in the shower. I am so scared. Scared for my sister. Scared for my family. And selfishly, scared for me. I know that this doctor is the best, but what if something goes wrong? What if something happens to my sister? What if she is in the 1% that are not successful?

We drive to the hospital in silence. No one speaks for fear of losing it. After all the fighting with the insurance company to get us here, none of us want to be here. We would rather be anywhere else. Anywhere, but here.

Katie checks in at pre-op and they tell her that they need another MRI. Apparently the one they did 12 hours ago wasn't good enough. Mom goes with her and Dad, Tim, Barbara and I wait in pre-op. The place is filling up fast with lots of people having surgery today. All for some type of neuro surgery.

After they bring Katie back, things start to move fast. All kinds of doctors and nurses come in. They ask questions, take blood, ask her to sign release forms, etc.

The anesthesiologist comes in and begins to explain what is REALLY going to happen in the operating room. This is when I started to lose it. He starts out by saying that they are going to attach electrodes all over her body because they will need to shock her every few minutes. When they do this, all her muscles will react and become rigid. They are going to strap her to the bed and clamp her head down. They will stick a towel in her mouth so that she doesn't bite her tongue because if she does, it can swell to ginormous sizes and turn black. OH. MY. GOD. I had to turn away because I could see that Katie was starting to cry. I could feel my heart pounding and my tears could not be stopped. I thought I was going to be sick. So much for not crying in front of her. We all lost it.

The hospital chaplain came. He told us that they have clergy on staff 24 hours a day if we need them. He spoke with Katie and tried to calm her nerves. They finally gave her something that they said would relax her. And then they said it was time to go. NO - we weren't ready! We all prayed over her, hugged and kissed her and told her that we love her. We reminded her that so many others are praying for her as well. And then they wheeled her away.

After standing in the hallway, all of us crying for what seemed like a long time, we went to the neuro waiting room. They gave us a pager and told us it would go off if there was any news from the operating room. We began to call, text and email family and friends to let them know that she was in surgery and to ask for their prayers. And then we waited.

It was amazing to receive so many emails and text messages from people that were praying for Katie. All day long people were checking in with us. People we knew, and people we didn't. We kept our family and closest friends updated via email. They forwarded our emails and then those people forwarded our emails. I can't even begin to imagine how many people, prayer groups, churches, etc. were praying for her at the very moment that she was having surgery.

Since surgery started at 9am, we knew that it could be 3pm before we heard anything. At about 2:30pm I started to freak out. I was pacing in the waiting room. I went out to the hallway because I felt like I couldn't breathe. I started to cry and couldn't stop. Dad and Tim both tried to calm me down. We were all stressed and just wanted to know about Katie.

We went back into the waiting room and noticed that one of the doctors that we met was in there calling families one by one to give them updates on their loved ones. After about three families were called, my Mom couldn't take it any more and asked about Katie. They brought us into a smaller, private room and when we got in there, Dr. Spetzler was there. He told us that "Katie did great and the surgery could not have gone any better"! Once again, we all lost it. She was in recovery and we would be able to see her within the next two hours. Praise God!!!!!

They let us in the recovery room for about a minute to see her as she was waking up. She was pretty out of it but looks GREAT!!!! They took her for a CT scan and then moved her up to ICU at about 5:30pm. She is in a lot of pain and they are trying to get it under control. She will be in ICU for at least one day, maybe two and then they will move her to a regular room. During the few moments that Katie was aware that we were there, she was asking questions like how long did the surgery take and did we keep our family and her friends updated!?!?

They said the next six weeks were going to be rough on her. Much worse then after she had the initial stoke. The worst is over. We can deal with whatever comes next!

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