Phase One of Brain Surgery: Day 3

Read the previous evening’s adventures here.

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Saturday, February 7

I woke too early, feeling like I hadn’t slept.

While I had uninterrupted quiet to think and pray, I read my Bible and did some writing. No one disturbed us that morning, so Tarica didn’t stir until 9:00. When she awoke, we ordered breakfast, and then I got her up and dressed.

I’m not sure when I first noticed her fidgetiness. She was decidedly not the girl of the previous evening. She wiggled and squirmed, a body in constant motion, and her attention span was—well, she had little to none. Her orneriness had returned, too.

But why, if she wasn’t on medication?—and then I remembered the Ativan. Two doses within two hours. I remembered also her behavior in the hospital eleven months ago. We had blamed Dilantin—and certainly Dilantin had caused the hallucinating and fighting—but it looked like Ativan might have contributed to her agitation and inability to relax.

Tarica made a nice-sized dent in her breakfast and was still nibbling at it when our visitors arrived.

My sister Cassondra and three of her friends drove out to spend a few hours with us. Never was I so happy to see a crowd. (Yes, for introverts like me, four is a crowd.) They helped to entertain Tarica and gave me adults without badges to talk to.

I can see the photo in my mind: four smiling young women gathered around a small girl. It’s the photo I didn’t think to take and wish I could share with you now.

And if you will allow me to insert a mini-sermon here: Never hesitate to give what you can. The Lord can multiply it in the heart of the receiver until it fills every crevice with gratitude.

I deluged our visitors’ ears with more information than they likely wanted or needed; they listened politely and even asked a few questions. It felt delightful to unload all that was rabbiting around in my brain from the last two days.

Like this: In the last month, Tarica had complained about her eyes. Her vision would blur, and she couldn’t see for a while. When I had mentioned this to the PA, she said it was likely seizure activity, a simple partial seizure that didn’t spread to affect more of her brain. Her seizures have always affected her vision. In fact, Tarica told us once it’s how she knows she’s going to have a seizure: She stops seeing.

As I was speaking, Tarica said, “My eyes are blurry now, Mom.”

I looked at the event button. Should I push it? But what if it wasn’t a seizure?

Feeling self-conscious, I stepped outside the room in search of a nurse. None was in sight. Sheepishly, I pressed the call button.

When the nurse came in, I explained what had happened. She said to push the event button for any future episodes. As if I expected any other answer. Why had I bothered asking?

While our guests were with us, we received two more visitors that made Tarica’s eyes shine. Her anticipated canine friends were no sooner in the room than they were crowding Cassondra, who drew her skirt about her, rejecting their attention.

“I don’t know why it is,” she said, “that I can be in a group of dog-lovers, and the dogs always find me.”

The Labrador Retrievers, one yellow, one black, cheerfully unsuppressed, soon moved on, and once Tarica recovered from her initial shyness, she petted them.

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After our visitors—human and canine—left, the hours dragged. Nothing was planned for Saturday or Sunday, beyond waiting for a few hoped-for seizures. We opened another gift, played a few games, read a few books.


In his daily round, the doctor said, “Her seizures travel so fast within her brain, it will be difficult to determine the starting point. Ideally, it would be nice to see three to five more seizures, but we may have to settle for what we have. General anesthesia tends to suppress seizure activity, which is why we use it only if absolutely necessary. We are fortunate to have gotten the seizures we did.”

“What about the seizure cluster down on floor two?” I asked. “Will you be able to use that?”

“Maybe, maybe not. The battery-powered EEG is often not as clear as it should be.”

After he left, I thought about his words, piecing them with other information I had been collecting.

If general anesthesia generally suppresses seizures, then her four seizures last night were unusual.

I had decided, going into this hospital stay, that if anything out of the ordinary happened, I was going to attribute it to God. Why not see God in the unusual? Dare I call the unusual not a coincidence but a miracle? Of course I could, no matter what others might call it. God makes even the commonplace a miracle. Look at the unfolding of a crocus, the first squall of a newborn, the sinner’s prayer of repentance. Ordinary events, all of them, and extraordinary miracles, all in one.

If I couldn’t lay claim to miracles in Room EP4 at Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh, then I had no business praying to the God Who provided them.

And if I was looking for miracles, I didn’t have to search long. Seizing in Phase One is in itself worth celebrating. Several nurses told me that many patients who seize daily at home won’t have a single seizure during a two-week hospital stay. “The parents can’t believe it.”

I would claim that miracle, too, the miracle of seizures.

And not only seizures, but perfectly timed ones, as well.

Did you know it usually takes until the sixth or seventh day of Phase One to capture a seizure while hooked up to that machine for the SPECT scan? The patient has to seize on a weekday between the hours of seven and three, and seizures are not that easy to schedule.

Sometime over the weekend, the doctor told me, “We have the hardest test behind us. You’re on the downhill stretch now.”

I did not know, when Tarica had that seizure just before one o’clock on Friday afternoon, the second day of her stay, that a miracle was happening, but I knew it now—and my heart nearly burst with thanksgiving. I wished I could personally thank everyone who was praying for us. If only they could stand here and see the miracles happen.

I didn’t want to be anywhere else in the world at the moment. I had a front-row seat, and I was afraid to blink, for fear of missing something.

Tarica had no seizures that day, and it took her until after ten to fall asleep. With her constant fidgeting, I felt as if I had been on a trampoline all day, but though my senses were battered, my heart was quiet.

God was at work. I could rest in Him.

3 thoughts on “Phase One of Brain Surgery: Day 3

  1. Truly amazing! God bless you as you continue your journey. Our daughter was asking me if we could have your address so she could send something to Tarica since she knows what it’s like to have seizures. Would you mind e-mailing us your address?

  2. Pingback: Phase One of Brain Surgery: Day 4 | Stephanie J. Leinbach

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