Thursday, July 18, 2013

The latest (or last) surgery

We wait, with coffee.

We have returned to New York, to do what we are hoping is Brent's last surgery.  We are grateful for our blessings, which I count like a rosary.  We have no oncology.  We are all together as a family. We have no oncology.  With Dr. Healey's help, Brent will be able to walk.  We have no oncology.  I cannot seem to repeat that one enough times.  

It has been a long hard slog these past two years.  But I feel, more than hope, that our world is going to open up, and that our kids will only visit the hospital once every three months for scans.  I feel, more than wish, that our family might be having a bit of a breather.  Often, as we approached such a point or potential before, I longed for such normalcy, and craved for time at home, but I didn't feel that it would happen, quite the way that I do now.  I have a calm about things, that I have not had in a long time.  I do not feel that I have to fight my circumstances.  I do not like to fight, incidentally, being more of a 'peace and love' kind of girl.

My alarm went off at 430, which was not nearly long enough after Vanco was finished.  Once I showered, I woke Brent so that he could take his second Hibaclens shower. As we left, I woke Alex to bolt the door behind us so that if Olivia should wake up, she would not wander, because I knew that Alex was going immediately back to sleep.  I am grateful that he is nearly 16 and can help look after the girls while we are at the hospital this morning.  Such a blessing!  

It was already hot and very humid as I pushed Brent the five blocks to Sloan Kettering.  Dan, coming from a hotel, would meet us there.  
First thing this morning, we bumped into our pre-op nurse in the hallway, who remembered Brent from his first surgery, and even came up with his name after a year and a half.  The nurses here are amazing, if I have neglected to mention it. The oncology nurses at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospitals are pretty awesome too, but we have not really seen them lately.  This is another blessing to count, duly noted.

We have come to the point that even here at MSKCC, we are considered veterans. They approach us a bit differently, much in the way that you are treated differently when having your second child. You will certainly have questions, but every last detail does not need to be explained.  We are not the nervous first time parents.  Brent is not the nervous first time surgical patient.  While we would prefer not to be doing this, at least we are familiar with the process, which is at least a known quantity among so many unknowns.  

I was interrupted here by a woman who struck up a friendly conversation with me. (A few weeks ago, Brent pointed out that this happens all of the time, strangers speaking to me out of the blue..and I have begun to notice that he was right)  She is alone, waiting for her step father to be done with surgery.  She is anxious, I think, in a way that we are not.  (I would return to the part of my mantra that says that we do not have any cancer to deal with right now, and we have comfort in the familiar process)  But cancer makes everyone here family in a way, and this 'cousin,'  if you will, needed reassurance, or maybe just someone with whom to share her hopes and fears, as we all do at such times.  Her step father happens to be part of a clinical study, and she shared with Dan and me, the promising ideas that are being explored here. It is exciting to learn about the things that they are able to do and are learning to do. 

We were called in to see Dr. Healey, who had good things to report.  I had shockingly few questions, thinking back on it.  We talked about the distant future for Brent.  There were not, I noticed, very many responses of "we will see," an oft given answer which had been the source of much frustration for me over the past year and a half as I tried to peer into the future and sort out the plan So many things had hinged upon the success of the very next step, that trying to see the likely eventuality and the road between here and there was futile.  There were too many variables, .  

I have finally become comfortable being very, very present, which might have been the point of this exercise, if I were to be so bold and speculate on one of God's purposes.   And so now, we have begun looking far ahead, lest I become too comfortable. Yes, I believe that God also has a sense of humor. 

In the PACU, we were visited by nurses of surgeries gone by, which was nice.  Brent woke to declare from a narcotic haze that "This is going to be the best admission ever!"  evidenced by the fact that he only had one IV that was soon pulled in recovery, and no catheter.  What more could a 13 year old wish for?  

We found out, when we eventually made it to the floor and he scored a single room...and furthermore, learned that age restrictions that would have made it difficult to get Olivia (at 5) in for a visit, have been lifted.  It doesn't get better than this.  Brent is right, this is going to be the best admission ever.

And, I am hoping, the last.

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