The Wait During Surgery


In the history of this blog, I have never told people about what occurred in that waiting room for almost 10 hours. It has taken me two years to process that day and be able to talk about it.

We were given a private waiting room. I never broke down once, I did not shed a tear. I simply prayed. All 20 of us, with a few pastors popping in and out prayed. We set a timer for every 15 minutes, when it went off, we prayed. We sang worship songs to pass the time. some people were quiet and contemplative, others engaging in conversation to distract us from the fact that a little boy we all knew and loved had his head open in a room with a surgeon, who’s hands I prayed over before he cut into my sons head, and were in my sons brain. Trying to dissect brain from tissue from the tumor and blood vessels could be clipped out without our son bleeding out on the table.

During discussions the day before with the surgeon, Dr. Storm had said that the biggest risk and obstacle were the amount of blood vessels interwoven into the tumor. It had created its own blood network to feed it, and had tapped into major veins in the brain. It was very risky, we were told he had a 50/50 chance of dying during the surgery.

One of the hardest things I had to do was sign the consent form with all of its listed risks for surgery. There was only one complication that jumped out at me, it was death.

At this point we had been told it was possibly cancer, and after the surgery and the preliminary pathology was back, we would know that day if it was benign or malignant. In other words, something that would not kill him as opposed to something that didn’t have the potential to kill.

In that room different people involuntarily cried and we all just kind of tried to stay together and lift each other. We knew it was going to be a long surgery and we had hours to go. None of us ate. Water was passed around, along with coffee.

The nurse was updating us hourly as to the progress of the surgery. The first time she said, Dr. Storm is trying to begin removal of a section of tumor. The second hour she came in and said 5% of the tumor has been removed. The third hour, she came in and gave a very generic answer. Things are progressing. And the 4th hour the same generic answer, and the 5th, and the 6th, and the 7th, and the 8th.

We all knew this could not be good. We knew that there was a reason the nurses updates were so vague. After 8 hours, I took to pacing the floors and staring into the windows on the double doors to the operating room hallway where they transported the patients back to the pediatric intensive care unit to see if I could see my son being wheeled by. I paced. I paced. Several people joined me. We were all waiting for the Dr. to show up and tell us the news of what had happened with our son.

At some point we went back into the private waiting room and I sat down. Now, I needed to be practical in this moment. When the Dr. came in, I needed to have my questions answered. I knew in the emotion of the moment there was no way I would remember what to ask. So I bounced off everyone in the room and created a list of questions to ask Dr. Storm.

We paced a little while longer and sat back down again. Then Dr. Storm walked into the room.

He said John was alive. Clapping all over the room ensued. The Dr. said, not so fast and shook his head. There was more.

John lost more blood than his body held and almost died several times during the surgery. He said at that point that our son really only had a 20% chance of coming out of that surgery alive. And there was a lot of bleeding, we needed to be prepared. I pounded out my questions and found out every spec of information I wanted. I asked about the pathology of the tumor. He shook his head and dropped his chin. He said the tumor was definitely malignant and the final pathology report would take a month to know exactly what kind of cancer he had.

The room was silent. No one said a word. there were silent tears. there were hugs. there were promises that they would be there for us.

If you would like to hear the sermon after one of the pastors present, please click here.

It was hard to walk out of that waiting room and into the new nightmare of cancer. I will never forget that those hours of waiting were my last hours of peace to this day.

That day changed me. I saw what community should look like. what Church should look like.

That day broke me in so many ways. It is life shattering and emotionally shattering and spiritually shattering.

I don’t think I can be unbroken from that day.

I have never looked at life the same.

Enough for now, Faith

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3 thoughts on “The Wait During Surgery

  1. You know our stories are very similar. I seam to focus a lot on trying to find someone to listen to me that something was wrong that she was dying. They told us her surgery would be thirty hours long. I couldn’t see how that would be possible, the surgeon a great surgeon that I researched a lot before signing those papers a few days later, But she was due to have a baby. I kept wondering if she gave any thought to her giving life to her first child as she tried to save the life of mine. She explained she would sleep for a half hour here and there and I had visions of my daughter laying on the table her brain and spinal cord exposed and the doctor sleeping. that hour after hour, my sister in law fighting cancer was so strong that day, she must have been tired, it was the only time so many people had been there for me since my first husbands death a seven years earlier, I was scared that all those people together the last time had been at his funeral. I also felt comforted that my first husband wouldn’t let me go through the pain of losing someone that had been as close to me as he had, it was to all to much to think about. I had decided to make small charms on ribbon with various sayings attached just to make the time go faster. Then like you, you can sense that it is getting close, one way or another it was getting there, she was scheduled for another 15 hours so no one followed me when I got up to walk, like you said staring down the hall, where we were they had to go past me to get to the PPCU. As I walked towards that hall someone walked towards me and it took me a moment to realize it was her surgeon because they wear such coverings when doing neuro surgery. I didn’t want to read her face because I was scared to see what was written on it, we sat down, and she let out a whew like my gosh I am tired, she told me that they had done a 90% resecction and that it was not without its hurdles that the tumour had grown into her spinal cords so they had to pick through the spinal cords, knowing each microscopic cord led to a major function, in that area her heart beat, temperature, blood pressure, ability to walk you name it and the one we had been warned the most of was her ability to breathe they had told us that she would require a breathing tube for I think up to three weeks but it could of been a week, the tube scared me. We had been left with the opinion that there was no way she was getting away from requiring a breathing tube. Suddenly as we spoke I heard a familiar sound “MAMMA” crying but hey that was what I was used to, ( I am in tears writing this) she stopped talking and I looked at her without saying a word she just nodded her head, (yes mommy that is your baby) i got up by now there were others that had joined us, I held my husbands hand, our other daughter asleep in our room with a friend. We went out in the hall where they were yelling at people to stand clear I saw her and the resident looked at me and said (its ok mom you will be with her soon) I hugged our surgeon who I love so much for what she has given to us, her honesty, her commitment that has to keep her away from her family, most of all I love god and all those thousands that were praying for her. That is why I will never give up trying to be heard. hugs

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