SHOWERS OF BLESSINGS
My walks around the nurses station were getting longer and more frequent. I began to feel very proud of myself that I seemed to be getting stronger and stronger. The very best part of the day, however, was when the OB department nurse would come in and check my baby’s heart beat. “Strong and fast,” she would tell me. “Sounds like a girl!” My sister, Barbara, gave me a scripture to lean on. Ezekiel 34:25-26: “I will make a peace pace with them, and drive away the dangerous animals from the land so that my people can safely camp in the widest places and sleep safely in the woods. I will make my people and their homes around my hill a blessing. And there shall be showers, showers of blessing, for I will not shut off the rains but send them in their seasons.” That scripture, along with a dream I had of a darling little baby, toddling down the sidewalk in front of me, and all I could see was a little sun suit and a little ruffled butt, gave me all the peace I needed to keep on going. Somehow, through that peace, I knew that the baby I was carrying would be just fine.
The doctors came in and told us the news that they hadn’t been able to remove the entire tumor from inside my spinal cord during the original surgery. The procedure had lasted too long and they hadn’t wanted to endanger my baby. So they had sewed me back up and were planning to do laser surgery to get the rest of it, after I had given birth. Hooray! I thought. I get to have another surgery! I can truthfully tell you that I wasn’t looking forward to that at all, but I guess I would have to do what the doctors told me to do. Here I go taking another giant step of faith.
SO YOU WANT TO CALL IT FRED…HUH?
Greg and I asked the doctors what kind of tumor I had and the Neurosurgeon said, “we’re going to call it Fred”! Gee, I said, that’s a funny name for a tumor! He said that the reason we might as well just call it Fred is because they just didn’t know the real name for it. They had asked doctors all over the United States about it and no one could determine exactly what kind of tumor it really was. It was either a malanomamastenemalanoma or an apendamonamastenemalanoma. In other words, it was a bad, malignant tumor pretending to be a good one, or it was a good, non-malignant tumor pretending to be a bad one. After that explanation, we decided that Fred seemed to be an appropriate name after all.
We asked him how rare this kind of tumor was and he said about 5% of the entire population of the world ever get spinal cord tumors. About 1% of that 5% ever get tumors inside the spinal cord. (Usually they are on the outside). Then about 1% of that 1% are ever pregnant and are operated on while they have the tumor. Well, I said, Sounds like I’m the rare one! He said that I was the only one that they knew of to have this condition. Is this the beginning of my fame and fortune?
OUR ANGEL BABY
VISITING BY GURNEY
When I came out of the anesthesia, in the Kaiser Hospital in San Bernadino, I had a headache to end all headaches. I thought that the laser must have slipped or something. Actually my neurosurgeon said that it was quite common after the kind of surgery I just went through, to have the fluids in my head become imbalanced. He said that the pain in my head would eventually go away. (Going away in the next hour would be fine! I said under my breath). Unfortunately it took a lot longer. Two and a half days later they shipped me back to Kaiser in an ambulance. Well, let me tell you, riding in an ambulance isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be, ESPECIALLY as at that point my head didn’t tolerate noise very well. (Luckily, they didn’t leave it on all the time). I had a nice nurse who loaded me up with pain medication before we left because she didn’t know how long it would be before I would be getting any more.
When we finally arrived at Kaiser, they loaded me up on a gurney and started off to take me to my room. Somehow, they took a wrong turn and we ended up in the wrong building. But not all was lost, as I got to say hello to somebody I knew, along the way. A friend of mine, a co-worker from the school where I taught, was in traction in that particular part of the hospital, and, since it was so nice to see a familiar face, I made them stop a minute so we could chat. The attendants must have thought that I was totally crazy. Like…this lady wants to stop and visit, now?! That pain medication must be working better than we thought. When we finally found the right building and the right room, my Sister wanted to know where in the world we had been? I told her that were were lost, but that it was ok, since I’d had the opportunity to stop and have a nice visit with a friend.
RULE NUMBER TWO
Once I was settled in my room and on another egg crate. I immediately began asking for pain shots. That’s when my second rule was developed. Always ask for your pain medication at least one hour before you actually need it! Sometimes I thought my sister was going to run out to the nurses station and get the medication herself. She had never given a shot to anyone in her life but at that time I was willing to let her try it on me. The main problem with the room that I had been assigned to was that it was next to the storage closet containing all the cleaning supplies for that ward. Early in the morning the orderly would rattle his (or her) buckets and brushes and the noise would send my head into orbit. It was because of all that noise that I began sleeping and spending the day with my down pillow wrapped around my head and ears. I would sleep on my side and hide in my cocoon, which I still do to this day. The headaches subsided many years ago, but, unfortunately my husband’s snoring hasn’t. Whatever works!
After the laser surgery the neurosurgeons informed me that they were unable to remove all of the tumor. It was so entwined inside my spinal cord that they were afraid to do more with the laser. They could have gotten the tumor but it would have left me with a head that would move and a body that wouldn’t, and not much else. They said that they would go back in a few months and get the rest with radiation. Oh great! Will they ever just leave me alone? After having three surgeries in four months it was difficult to bounce right back as I had with the other two. Thankfully my sister and my mother were able to bring my baby in to see me. Now listen to this.
THE GREAT SNEAK!
My mother carried Lindsay up to my room, all wrapped up in a bundle under her big coat. Fortunately, Lindsay was quiet and my mother didn’t meet anyone on the way up, so no one stopped her. In the meantime, my sister was in the elevator with the stroller all full of the diaper bag, blankets, bottles and other paraphernalia that they had brought along. A nurse saw her and said, “I’m sorry, but you can’t take a baby up there!” Barbara could honestly say, “I don’t have a baby in here,” and showed her what was really in the stroller. (Luckily the nurse didn’t ask just where the baby was). I called it THE GREAT SNEAK! It worked as I was able to see my angel baby. I don’t remember my head hurting at all while I was playing with her, and I even got to give her a bottle which was probably the best medicine I could have had.
During my stay there I remember one time when I needed a heating pad. THey only allowed the water circulating kind and the nurse said they were all being used at the time. The doctor told her that I really needed one right away. Now I had a perfectly good heating pad at home, but they would only allow me to use the REAL heating pads there in the hospital. My doctor suggested that my sister wait until one of the other patients was asleep and then steal their heating pad. We thought about it for awhile and actually thought it would be fun to try to do. But we decided that Jesus wouldn’t be too happy about that and I would just have to wait my turn, which I did.