September 2, 2008
20 months ago, on January 2, 2007, they shaved a strip of hair on the top of the patient's head. Other little spots around his head were also shaved. "Targets" (described to him as looking like little Life-Saver candies) were attached to the little shaved spots.
An anesthesiologist put the patient to sleep. A bright, youngish surgeon cut out a small portion of the patient's skull, on top of his head. The doctor separated the two halves of the brain. An MRI machine worked along with the targets to help the surgeon get to just the right spot, where he made a small incision, then drained the abscess that had been growing in the patient's brain, affecting his motor skills. The piece of skull was replaced and reattached with small titanium screws. The skin was sutured neatly.
The patient slowly came out of his drug-induced sleep and was transported to the ICU, where he was surrounded by other patients, most of whom were probably at least twice his age.
A little while later, I met the surgeon in that ICU room and was told that my husband The Engineer's surgery had gone well. But when it's brain surgery, recovery can still be a bit dicey. I remember The Engineer waking up the next day, unable to move most of the right side of his body due to swelling at the surgery site. I vividly remember my heart racing as I called a nurse into his room a day or two after the surgery, when The Engineer's smile suddenly was lopsided and for a couple of minutes he had an odd numbness on the right side of his face and body.
I remember the frustration of finding out that he'd be in a rehabilitation hospital for three to four weeks, working on walking and using his right hand, and all other sorts of things that should be easy for a 37-year-old man to do. I recall his frustration, as he realized that the trauma of the surgery itself meant that his body was far less mobile than it had been the day before the surgery. I think how amazing it was that the day after The Engineer had taken his first post-surgery steps, Chickie took her very first steps. I remember the elation and pride when my hard-working, determined husband was released from that rehab center after only 13 days.
And mostly I am joyful, remembering how incredibly supported I felt during the most difficult time of my life. I couldn't afford to doubt God; I needed Him too much, and He was so real to me. Friends became family as they fed us, cleaned our house, took care of our one-year-old, and encouraged me every day. Family became so precious as my parents dropped everything to fly out for the surgery, then flew directly to my sister to meet their brand new grandbaby.
In the midst of the crazy stress of an unexpected health crisis, I felt more loved than I had ever felt before. I was joyful even as I was going a little bit crazy.
As I look back on that time, 20 months ago, I find myself wanting to recapture some of the positives. Think God could spare me the stress but give me some of that intense love? I bet He could. I know that I sought God deeply during that time, and He was there. I bet if I sought him that deeply now, I'd recapture some of the miracle of His presence. I was amazingly touched by friends who were there when I needed them most. Maybe if I can put a little more effort into my friendships now, then I and my friends will reap joyful relational rewards.
I've decided to try to journal every month as we approach the second anniversary of The Engineer's surgery. For almost a year and a half, life has been back to normal. The Engineer's healthy without lasting physical effects of the abscess in his brain--the brain's capacity to recover is truly amazing. He doesn't even have to see the neurosurgeon again; the abscess shouldn't ever return.
We've added a child to the family and honestly, most days we're just in that rut of living our everyday lives. I experienced the miraculous during our time of crisis--miracles of love and support and healing. As we get closer to the two-year milestone, I want to learn to see those miracles more in my every day life. I wouldn't think it was fair if I emerged from such a crisis without being changed permanently, without actively seeking to hold onto the gifts I was given during that time.
I'll post about this again at the beginning of October. Let's see what God can teach me in the next four months. I'm excited.
Oh, and my goal of making my blog posts shorter? Consider that suspended for these monthly posts. Just thought you deserved fair warning.