Monday, September 15, 2008

It Is Brain Surgery - Part 3

D-day...or should I say S-day?

Not much sleep at the Travelodge the night before the surgery. I never sleep well when I know I have to get up at 5:30am. Jaimie had a girlfriend sleeping over at her place and it was decided that I would be the one to drive her to the hospital, where she had to arrive at 6:30am for a pre-op MRI, and Jaimie's friend would pick up Tyler and bring him to the hospital around nine.

When I woke up, Tyler was already up...actually he never went down. I guess he couldn't sleep and decided to spend the night researching his sister's surgery online. By morning he knew everything - definitely more than me, probably more than Jaimie (Miss Research herself) and maybe even as much as the surgeon. He decided he wanted to ride with us, so we checked out of the motel and raced up the hill to Jaimie's.

Of course, we were late. And, of course, it was all my fault. She insisted that I drive (her brother drives too slow) and haul ass across the Golden Gate bridge, into the city, up the gigantic hills, to the hospital. During the drive, Tyler asked her a technical question about the surgery - something about the kind of procedure she was having, whether it was the invasive or the other kind. She didn't know the answer but was happy he had taken such an interest and had done so much research.

I said practically nothing on the way there. I didn't mind that she was royally pissed at me. I knew it was just her way of dealing with her fear of what was to come. The least I could do was let her have at me. It was even okay when she didn't want me in the room where they prepped her for the surgery after she had her MRI. She only wanted Tyler. I stayed out in the waiting area until she gave in and sent Tyler out to get me. On our way back to her room, Tyler just had to point out this:

How crazy is that? What kind of hospital were we in? Did I really want my daughter operated on here? And what kind of mother names her kid Frank Stein?

I got in her room just in time to help her with the white stockings they make surgery patients wear. I took a picture of her putting them on but I can't post it here 'cause it's just way too sexy. It wasn't long after that the surgeon showed up. I hadn't met him before so it was really nice that he took the time (separate of Jaimie) to explain to me and Tyler what was going on and exactly what he was going to do.

The downside to the conversation was its dose of reality...this was a very serious thing that he was going to do and at that point I had thoughts of grabbing my little girl and running for the hills. It didn't matter that this guy was supposed to be the best at his job. The idea of him drilling through my daughter's skull and brandishing foreign objects into her brain did not sit well with me. What if he missed? What if he sneezed while he was guiding the shunt through the center of her brain? Unlike most of us, Jaimie actually uses her brain. Then there was the thought that the stuff he was putting in there was actually going to stay in there...for the rest of her life. Ugh.

I had hoped that the conversation with the doctor might offer some sliver of information that I could use to argue for a less invasive form of treatment. Like a vacation on Maui with rest and relaxation. Or even some untested medication. How about a dude with shrunken skulls on a stick? Anything besides the image I had of a Black & Decker drill busting through my kid's cranium. But then he said something that hit me like a Mack truck on a rainy day... "Generally we like to see the brain fluid pressure at 0. The highest acceptable pressure is 20. Jaimie's brain fluid pressure is at 25." I had to accept it. There was no turning back. The train had left the station.

Surprisingly, they let Tyler and me follow Jaimie into the operating area, after dressing up for Halloween, of course.

My son the doctor.

The real doctor checks her out.

The kids are alright.

I'm all looked like this to me.

All too soon, they booted us out of the inner sanctum and took back our scrubs. We were sent downstairs to the information desk in the hospital lobby, where we registered with a volunteer and were given a notification device that made me think we were waiting for a table at The Cheesecake Factory. We found some open seats in a back corner of the room that had a television running the Olympics. Not much of a distraction knowing that Jaimie was going through her own marathon. Tyler eventually got one of the love seat sofas and promptly passed out. I waited. And waited. And waited.

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