Saturday, January 10, 2009

It Is Brain Surgery - Part 4

I waited for the pager to do its little buzzy dance and flash its red lights - I still can't get over that the hospital hands out restaurant pagers to family members to alert us when there's news on the surgery front. The least they could do is include a free piece of cheesecake with the notification. Or maybe during wait so I could pretend I was at the Cheesecake Factory enjoying a leisurely lunch.

I started getting nervous when we hit the two and three quarter hours mark since the surgery was supposed to be only two hours. I checked. No word yet. "But don't worry," she said, "it shouldn't be much longer." Sure enough, it wasn't much longer when the pager finally did its little happy dance. I beelined back to the information desk and was informed that Jaimie was out of surgery, in recovery, and the doctor would be down soon to talk to us.

Okay. That's good news. She's alive. But what about her brain? Is she still intact? Can she think? Can she read? Will she know her name? Or did the supposedly best-neurosurgeon-within-a-few thousand-miles miss when he stuck the shunt through her brain? The nice elderly volunteer lady at the information desk couldn't give me that information.

I wasn't back in my waiting chair two minutes before they called me to the desk again and told me I was to go up to the recovery room. Why? She didn't know, other than to say it was very unusual for a family member to be summoned to recovery. How do I get there? She directed me to go back to where we went into the operating room but not to go in the operating room double doors...instead walk past it and right in front of me would be a door. She went on to tell me there would be no indication on the door, or anywhere in the hallway for that matter, that this door opened into the recovery room. The only sign on the door would be AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY. She said I could press the little button next to the door and someone would show me in. I've been in hospitals before and gone through the operation scenario with other family members but I had never experienced anything like this. I began to think the nice elderly information lady with very little information was sending me right into The Twilight Zone.

I rushed to the bank of elevators and kept pushing the elevator button - as if it was going to come any faster - until the elevator doors open. I banged the floor button too. It didn't speed up the ride at all. I was through the elevator doors before they finished opening and speedwalked down the hallway to the secret door. Forget what I said about the eldery information lady not having this instance she was spot-on. The recovery nurse greeted me with, "When she woke up she asked for you. We never let family members in here but kept insisting that she needed to see you, until we finally had to give in." Really? My daughter was insistant? I can't imagine where she picked up that trait.

The nurse cloaked me in my second scrub gown of the day and ushered to Jaimie's bedside. I don't know what I expected to see, but this wasn't it. They had close-shaved the half of her head where they made their incisions and she had a square gauze bandage taped on the top right side of her head and another above/behind her right ear. That was all abit shocking, but what really got me was the expression on her face as she turned her head toward me. As she opened her eyes I could see it. She was sad. Not normal sad. Little girl sad. Which broke my heart.

The first words out of her mouth were spoken in a little girl voice, "Mommy, I'm sorry I yelled at you this morning." I was immediately relieved. She remembered what happened earlier in the day. Her brain was still working. Then she said, "Mommy, it really hurts." I felt helpless. There was nothing I could do to make it better. Which I believe is near the top of the task list a parent is expected to perform. She didn't seem to notice my parental inadequacy as she went on to tell me how she had told the nurses over and over again that she wanted her mommy even though I was not allowed to see her. She told me over and over again that she loved me and thanked me for being there. All the things she probably would not have expressed without whatever designer drugs they were pumping into her arm. But I chose to believe what she said, going as far to decide they were actually injecting her with truth serum. Or maybe the surgeon had actually installed that 'nice chip' I requested just prior to the operation.

I don't even think I was there for three minutes of her sweet nothings before the recovery nurse had had enough of my presence and shooed me out of the room. I went back to the lobby waiting area to let Tyler know all was well and wait for the surgeon to show up for his "everything went well" speech which he did indeed deliver. From there we met up with Jaimie in her room, where she was greeted with flowers sent all the way from the UK by Cucumber Rob.

I know she looks a little out of it in this photo but she was surprisingly alert and joyful. Kind of like the way I was after I gave birth to Tyler medication-free within an hour of going into labor. Jaimie was calling friends on the phone, taking visitors right and left and at one point sending me out to get her an iced mocha at the Coffee Bean. She was full-tilt into some kind of post-op euphoria. On one hand I was thrilled that she was doing so well. But there was also this little voice in the back of my head telling me it was too good to be true.


Steve B said...

Wow, that's quite an experience! I'm glad the surgery went well, and I hope everything is working as it should now. So, did you take her to the Cheesecake Factory after her recovery? ;)

Chesher Cat said...

Thanks, Steve.

More to come on how things are turning out.

We did go to the Cheesecake Factory at some point while I was there but haven't since, except for cheesecake to go. She has a new neighbor who happens to work there and found out how their food is made. :(