Phase One of Brain Surgery: Day 4

The story of our Saturday can be found here.

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Sunday, February 8

There are no Sundays in a hospital, other than a lack of scheduled testing and a non-denominational chapel service for all those interested and I wasn’t. Tarica and I created our own service. With half the congregation being five years old, plus missing a minister to read the text, we settled for Sunday school.

I had saved a specific gift for this day. Someone had given us a pair of dry-erase activity tablets, one on David and Goliath and one on Noah’s Ark, and a pack of markers. (Thank you, Ann!) Tarica picked Noah’s Ark, and we had ourselves Sunday school in a hospital bed.

When class was dismissed, Tarica opened the dolly package marked “Day #4.” Pleased to find socks, a pair of tights and a bottle, she promptly gave her baby a long feeding. “She was very hungry.” With serious eyes. “It’s good I have a bottle now.”

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Shortly after noon, Linford, Jenica, and Micah arrived at our door, bearing a packed lunch from my mom. Home-cooked food! and Mom’s chicken corn noodle soup at that. My stomach thought it was standing at the gates of Paradise.

While I was in the family pantry heating up the soup, a woman walked in. I recognized her as the mother of the other child in Phase One. (Children’s Hospital usually has two patients simultaneously going through Phase One.) I asked her how it was going.

No seizures for her son. Nada. None. Zilch.

We talked until the soup had cooled in the microwave and she needed to hurry back to her son. As I re-reheated the soup, I considered her words.

She had so much to say about thinking positive, being strong, not letting herself get discouraged, making the best of it, and so on. It hurt to hear her, and I wished I had been able to speak more clearly of trusting God. But our daughter had seized and her son had not. The victor must be careful how she speaks of courage to one still in the battle.

I had told her I would pray for her and her son. That would have to be enough.

I carried the steaming soup back to room EP4 where we ate in the expected chaos of not enough chairs or table. But chaos was a small price to pay for family togetherness.

Tarica’s new treasures kept everyone occupied and quiet, other than sporadic outbursts from a small man who wanted to try out all the buttons in the room.

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I told Linford the latest news from the doctors. “It looks like we might be able to go home early. We still need to do the inter ictal SPECT, the PET, and the MRI. They can do only one test per day since the dyes used in the scans would interact with each other. Brynna said if all goes well, we’ll be done on Wednesday.” I rescued the event button from Micah. “They’re starting her back on her medication tonight and will build her up slowly, so she’ll be on her regular dose by Wednesday.”

Wednesday. Yet one more potential miracle, all because Friday had gone so well.

“Did they see enough seizures?” Linford asked.

“The doctor said he wouldn’t mind seeing a few more,” I said, “but they’ll start her back on medication tonight regardless. If the boy in the next room has had no seizures, and Tarica had six plus the cluster down on two, then I guess it could be much worse.”

While Tarica was preoccupied with her siblings, I said to Linford, “I am worried about the next three days. All three tests require sedation, so she’ll need to go without food or drink.” I rubbed my hand over my eyes. “She’s been a real trooper, but going hungry for three days straight would test the hardiest soldier. It also means I won’t be eating either.”

“Carmen’s coming tomorrow, isn’t she?” Linford asked.

“I think so. She said she’d call me tomorrow morning with specifics. I hope we can make their visit work with the scheduling of the scan. It will help to distract Tarica from her empty stomach. I don’t know when the scans will happen until the morning of, although Brynna told me that MRI is always done on the last day at the end of the day.”

Perhaps Micah wanted to punish me for abandoning him at Grandma’s. He rejected much of my affection, preferring instead his father’s. When it was time to go, he marched out of the room and down the hall ahead of Linford and Jenica, with scarcely a backward glance.

I ordered a late supper for Tarica—no food or drink after midnight—and what was left of our day disappeared. Because of her recent late nights, I hoped Tarica would fall asleep in good time. But the night nurse came in shortly before nine with an IV pole and announced she was hooking Tarica up for her first dose of medication, this one to be given by IV.

Tarica wasn’t having any of it. No one was getting close to her IV port, no one. I hated this, hated the flat-out bribery I resorted to. It defied all my parenting principles. “We’ll open a gift after you’re hooked up,” I said. “Which one do you want?”

None of them.

Doing this in front of a witness made me self-conscious, awkward. When the nurse was called away briefly, Tarica and I talked unhindered, including one grumpy complaint from her: “Why is she so loud, Mom?” This nurse was a little brusque; without her presence, Tarica’s resolve thawed. When the nurse returned, Tarica submitted to the flushing out and hooking up with only minor protests.

“How long will this take?” I asked.

“About an hour,” the nurse said. “It’s a slow drip.”

After she left, we opened a gift and tried to pass the time. Tarica’s IV was hurting her, made worse by her tiredness. I soothed and distracted; I may have even resorted to a second gift.

The nurse returned just before ten to unhook her. She frowned and examined and reexamined Tarica’s IV port.

“Is there a problem?” I asked.

“It’s leaking. Doesn’t look good. I’m going to get an IV tech up here to replace it.”

No.

The nurse left to place the call. When she came back, she said, “It’s going to be awhile till the tech gets here. They have a number of patients on the list.”

But the day had been long enough, and Tarica succumbed to sleep sometime around 10:40. I tried to stay up with a book, but when I could barely keep my eyes open, I gave in and went to bed myself.

But I couldn’t fall asleep, tired as I was. I kept visualizing the battle to come, the struggle to find a vein, the tears we both would shed.

The door opened at quarter past midnight, the tech full of apologizes for making us wait. She was worth the wait. Tarica, half-sleep, wept only a little, and the needle found a good vein on the first try. Perhaps the tech succeeded because Tarica was not fighting.

My imagination had run away with me this time. But being wrong once didn’t suppress my concerns for the morrow. I prayed the scan would happen sometime in the morning.

“Not at the end of the day, Lord,” I pleaded and wished that nurse wouldn’t talk so loud outside our door.

3 thoughts on “Phase One of Brain Surgery: Day 4

  1. My girls and I are tracking your “progress”. Sophia never allows us to forget to pray for Tarica and all of you before bedtime…

    • Tell Sophia we are so glad she remembers us. You can also tell her that Tarica talks about Sophia now and then, especially about maybe going to visit Sophia again sometime. 🙂

  2. Pingback: Phase One of Brain Surgery: Day 5 | Stephanie J. Leinbach

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