Who we are resides in spirit, that’s a thought worth holding onto. But modern science thinks the brain is where we reside. Our intellect, personality, emotions, memories.
I’ve never faced anything more terrifying than consenting to our baby girl to go under the knife for brain surgery.
While most of the world was celebrating the most symbolic new year in decades, the first week of January 2021 was the longest one of our lives.
We had hope though, this surgery had a 75 percent chance of making her seizure free. Life back to some kind of normal.
January 6, 2021
We all put on a brave face at 5 am on the way to the Stollery. But Vera was truly, impressively brave. I recognized then that this young girl of mine is a force of willpower and strength.
Kelly and I spent the day in the Stollery atrium, and it was an eternity.
They told us the surgery would be about 5 hrs. That time came and went by an hour and then an hour and a half without updates.
When one of the two surgeons finally came to see us, he said they had spent an hour and a half waiting on a test to rule out a very rare tumor that would determine the way they handled the removal.
And it was negative.
And, he said, they got it all out. The tumor was the size of the end of his thumb. It all went well.
We breathed a huge sigh of releif.
That night Kelly stayed with her in the ICU. Because of Covid, only one of us was allowed. And three ICU units were condensed into one to make room for Covid beds. He tried to get some sleep in an office chair next to her bedside with his legs up on a garbage can.
She was speaking, fairly lucid. All the machines and beeping, but she was still here, and she was still her.
We spent 5 days in hospital. They were hard because she was in trauma, anxious, coming off anesthetic and narcotics. Her fear and discomfort in those days was so hard for us to take.
And then we were allowed to go home. Thank God, on the mend.
But one morning, a day after her staples were removed, she woke up and her swelling looked worse. She had a big emotional meltdown, went downstairs to vent and came back out with leakage out of the top of her suture.
Back to the emerge. Again, Kelly, the braver of us, took her in.
They admitted her and the next day she spiked a high fever. Shit. An infection? Near her brain?
After a couple days of antibiotics and drawing off fluid, no improvement.
Back into Surgery
The surgeon had to open it all up again, remove the bone, scrub it, clean the whole area. F**k.
The labs came back. MRSA, and antibiotic resistant strain.
A new IV antibiotic and more time in hospital.
The Worst Case Scenario
I don’t want to tempt fate with this statement. But the pathology on the tumor came back while she was in hospital fighting the infection.
When a team of 6 or 7 people streamed into the meeting room, we knew the news was not good.
Vera’s tumor showed a specific mutation. Cancer.