Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Wait For It...The Rest of the Story

Right after I finished yesterday's blog post about Mark's surgery, I looked up to see a dear friend of mine walking in.  Holly and I taught together MANY years ago in Little Rock.  She had been watching my posts on Facebook and came to sit with me.  There is a lot more to the story about why it was so special for her to come but I won't share that for now.  I will just say that her being there was a huge blessing; we were able to talk on and off for the next couple of hours. It was a good distraction for me.

I can't say that I was overly nervous or worrying the whole time. I honestly was so tired I didn't have much energy to be anything.

However, one thing kept me a little on edge.

Since we sat in the waiting room for so long (we were the last family to leave), I started to figure out how the whole thing worked. The phone at the front desk would ring, the receptionist/hostess would answer, then she would call out information to the waiting families.

After we had been waiting for about 40 minutes, we had our first call.  Surgery had started.

Then an hour and a half or so later, we had another call.  "Cloud?  They are working on him; he is doing fine."

A while later the phone rang again. I found myself holding my breath every time it did (though at that point there were still other waiting families).  "Cloud?  They are still working on him; he is doing fine."

I learned from watching the others that after the appropriate time, the doctor would walk in. Some doctors took family to the family room (which I was sitting next to) to share surgery news.  Others would just meet with the family in the waiting room.

So after the 2 1/2 hours I had been told the surgery would take, I expected the doctor to walk through the door.

But he didn't.

And more time passed.

I still wasn't really nervous (again, thankful for Holly and small talk).  But I was ready to see that doctor.

Then the phone rang again.  Except this time,  the hostess said, "Cloud?  Phone." 

I will not lie. My heart stopped for a minute. Or two. Or three. 

I had not seen one other family go to the phone.

It took all I had to say, "Hello?"

"Just wanted to let you know that we are closing him up.  It was a hemangioma like we thought. He is doing fine."

Big deep breaths.

I know I was shaking. And starting to cry. (You know, happy tears.)

So then I waited for the doctor to walk through the door again. They were closing him up which is when the other doctors usually walked in.  So I waited.

And waited. And waited.

Then the phone rang again.

And again, I was called over to the phone.

I was pretty much on edge by that point.

I even asked the hostess if this was normal.  She only smiled.


"Hi, just wanted you to know that he is fine and the doctor will be out to talk to you."

I turned around to tell my in-laws, but they were gone.

While I had been on the phone, they were ushered into the family room. Then I was too.

I was feeling pretty good since I had just had the phone call, but then we waited some more.

And waited.  And waited.

Finally my father-in-law went to the front desk to make sure we were really supposed to be waiting in there.  The hostess said she would find out.

Shortly afterwards, the doctor and his team (he had two students with him) walked in.  He assured me it had gone well, that he was 99.9% it was a hemangioma (I don't think he is allowed to say 100% until there is a pathology report), and that the bone had fit nicely back in place (now held with titanium plates).  He told me what to expect for a while and then answered a whole lot of questions.  Then he was gone.

I walked back into the waiting room and said good-bye to Holly (who spent more than enough time in a waiting room with me!). 

Finally a nurse walked in and told me I could come back.  I took Mark's clothes with me and walked into the post-op area. 

When I walked in, Mark was sitting up but his eyes were closed (and of course, one was bandaged up). 

I walked over and touched him.  I got a half-smile. 

When he talked, he pretty much kept his eyes shut.

And he talked really lightly.

And when he talked, it didn't always make sense.

In fact, today we have relived some of the same conversations because he doesn't remember a word of what we talked about yesterday.

I did not get any fun videos that will go viral on youtube. In fact, I didn't get any fun videos at all. There were times he made funny comments but overall, he was just so groggy and a bit grouchy.

(One little funny though was when I told him that my friend Holly had come to the hospital.  He quickly told me that he didn't remember her being there at all.  I had to tell him that was because he was in surgery.  :)

I helped Mark get dressed (which was an experience) then listened to all of the instructions from the nurse.  The doctor stopped by to check Mark's eye movement (which was really good) and his vision (still fuzzy).  He reminded me of some of the instructions, then we were told we could get the car while they got the wheelchair.

Thankfully my father-in-law got my car for me so I could wait with Mark.  Except I had to wait for him first. 

And I waited.  And waited. 

Finally a hospital attendant asked me if I was the family of .....  I am still not sure what name she said. When I said Mark's name correctly, she nodded and told me that he was sick.  I rushed back in only to find that he needed to use the restroom before we left.  (He had been sick though earlier)  I escorted him into the bathroom because he was a bit unsteady.  While in there, his head started bleeding.  It was like a comedy of errors, me holding all of our stuff, his belt which he insisted he did NOT want to wear then, and his "barfbag" for the ride back to the hotel, while trying to clean up blood in a men's bathroom. I went back out to tell the attendant who just stared at me. I suggested they might want to get someone to clean up the bathroom.  She disappeared.  Then we waited again.

Finally my mother-in-law went to look for her (I really wanted to push the wheelchair out at that point but figured it was against policy plus I had full hands).  The attendant returned. I told her we were the gray/silver van.  When we got outside, she turned the opposite direction, looking for a red vehicle.

Finally we got Mark into the van. My in-laws had driven separately which turned out to be a good thing. They went to pick up prescriptions while I drove back to the hotel.

The drive back was an experience.

I should know how to drive in Little Rock but it has been 18 years since I lived there. 

And as luck would have it, there was construction.  Like come to a screeching halt construction.

Meanwhile, Mark (who usually drives) is trying to get me back to the hotel. But he was pretty out of it. He was also a bit whiny (which I understand). I couldn't get the temperature right. We kept hitting potholes which hurt.  He just wanted to be at the hotel.  (So did I!)

Finally we got there, somehow managed to get him up to our room, and I began the process of caring for the wound, doling out medicine, helping with clean up, fetching ice, etc.

In all, we had been gone for over 8 hours. 

It felt like 3 days to me.  To him, it felt like 2 hours.

Oh, by the way, I didn't sleep any better that night.  The hotel bed was not comfortable for me.  And my poor husband slept sitting up.  

Fast forward, we are home now.

Mark's appetite is back.

He can walk around fairly well (as long as he doesn't look down).

We kept his eye patched all day.

He is in minimal pain.

However, his eyelid is three times its normal size. And it is quite colorful.  He looks like he was in a brawl.

I am pretty sure he is counting down the hours until tomorrow when he can take a shower.

We still don't know about vision (his eye is too swollen right now). We know he can see (sometimes double) but will have to wait a few more days to find out for sure where he stands.

Now we will finish up spring break in "recovery" mode.

Then I may need a spring break to recover from this week. :)

Mark goes back next week for a follow up. I may or may not need to take him depending on his vision.  So I guess it isn't really the rest of the story. Just more of it...

More later,

Monday, March 23, 2015

Eye Love Him

I haven't done a good job posting lately.

And I definitely haven't done a good job posting since last spring when I shared the story of the tumor that had been discovered behind my husband's eye.

At that time, we were told to seek a specialist's opinion and keep an "eye" on it. 

Which we did.

Until the end of the year when we told it was probably best to get that tumor removed.  (Test revealed that it was affecting Mark's vision since it is resting next to the optic nerve)

And here I am.

In a waiting room.

 The doctor wanted to do this surgery in January.  It was a bit of a shock to us since we had just been told we would just watch and wait.  We asked to wait until March when things wouldn't be as crazy. I mean that in relative terms since our lives are always a bit crazy...
And suddenly it is March.

We drove over (Little Rock) yesterday since we had to be here bright and early this morning. I still don't know why we had to be so early because we just did a lot of waiting once we got here. I suppose it really doesn't matter anyway. I didn't sleep. I don't think I was nervous about the surgery as much as nervous about oversleeping. It is my spring break; I am not used to being up before the sun!

Mark's parents joined us here (mine are at home, manning my kid crew and pup).  We went out for a nice dinner last night.  Then we tried to sleep.

We arrived right on time, they did the pre-op assessments, and had him change. Then we waited. A lot. 

One thing I have learned is there is no privacy in those pre-op rooms.

Or cubbies.

Or whatever they are called.

We heard all kinds of stories and health issues while waiting.

I finally got to meet the surgeon (nice guy) and hear all of the risks and possibilities.  That is not fun.  The possibility of an overnight stay was not welcome news either. 

And though none of that was really fun, I can't help but be thankful.

Other than having babies and one very quick outpatient procedure for me, we really haven't dealt with medical issues.  Or hospital visits.

So this is new to us.

Like the "compression" socks he had to wear.  Or being asked over and over if he had dentures or any loose teeth.  Or meeting a whole team of people (who all asked if Mark takes medicine and when he last ate).  I am thankful that is new to us. 

Finally, we were told it was time.

I have done fine.  Stayed strong.  Smiled a lot.

Until they told me I had to leave.

Then I cried.  (Very thankful for the nurse who sweetly hugged me on my way out)

And now I am just waiting.  Holding my breath each time the phone rings.  And sending messages to our kids.

There are always risks, especially with anesthesia.  For some reason the 1 in 200,000 chance of death from anesthesia complications seemed a bit daunting.

And a chance of blindness.

Or double vision for the rest of his life.

Or that we are dealing with something different than we were told.

All real risks.

Though my heart aches and I will admit to being a bit fidgety, I also know I have a real God.

It doesn't mean things will go just like I want.

But no matter how they go, I have a real God who is here supporting me.  Supporting him.

One more hour to go...

 Oh, how "eye" love him.


Friday, March 20, 2015

Counting the Blessings...

I am really not planning on turning the blog into a "gratitude only" blog.  Nor do I want it to be a "post once a month" blog. Life has just been extra busy, extra tough, extra challenging. When I finally get a minute to st down, I seem to fall asleep. :)  Maybe with spring break coming up next week, I can catch up on reading and writing blogs...

But since I have just a few extra moments of energy left, I thought I would catch up on some of gratitudes for the past few weeks.  Trust me, I will only share a small portion.

I am grateful for...
  • watching my former students (now first graders) perform in their Dr. Seuss program
  • a cold Coke after a long day
  • reading a Bible verse at just the right time
  • a husband who goes to the grocery store for me in the snow
  • the legacy of my grandparents
  • dancing freely around my bedroom to my favorite songs
  • afternoon naps
  • the friendship of co-workers
  • a peanut butter chocolate shake made by Child 2
  • seat warmers in my van
  • watching Child 4 crack open eggs for dinner
  • waking up with the dog stretched out next to me
  • a snow-covered lawn
  • late breakfasts
  • new recipes
  • the prayers of friends for my children (and me)
  • a snow day with my husband
  • yoga pants
  • Scripture cards
  • sunshine
  • the Psalms
  • a day in the woods
  • a butterfly
  • a partial rainbow in the sky
  • waterfalls
  • large icicles hanging next to a waterfall
  • large boulders
  • a new friend
  • an encouraging e-mail
  • reminders of God in the hard times
  • a surprise cupcake from my love
  • Chocolate peanut butter ice cream (Haagen Dazs)
  • late night shopping with my children
  • time to talk to my mom (rare)
  • snacks in the lounge
  • watching birds play in a puddle
  • the messages on our new message board (at home)
  • the gift of Google maps
  • friends who take pictures for me when I can't be there
  • a surprise McDonald's Coke from a co-worker/friend
  • three days of peace
  • mercy and grace
  • bunnies hopping across the lawn
  • the sound of tree frogs
  • the opportunity to serve others
  • a friend who truly understands
  • beauty from ashes
  • lobster tails dipped in butter
  • new devotion books
  • the sweet spirit of a child
  • renewed friendships
  • parents with generous hearts
  • cooking time with child 3
  • a work out in a light rain
  • the trees budding
  • a husband who gets up early to fill my car up when my gas light is on
So...what are you grateful for today?


Sunday, March 1, 2015

More Gratitudes...

Oh, goodness. I have not shared any gratitudes for 2 and a half weeks.  I have written down approximately 75 in that amount of time.  Don't worry...I won't share them all. I will just share some highlights. :)
  • picking Marley up from the Doggy Hotel on a recent trip
  • room service
  • chocolate covered strawberries
  • getting lost in a good book
  • a toddler's crooked grin
  • watching cousins hang out together
  • a Valentine Prezi from my husband
  • freshly fallen snow
  • staying in pj's all day on a snow day
  • birds singing outside the window during my quiet time
  • the sound of ice melting off of the roof
  • a child's fervent prayer for salvation
  • a newly painted bathroom at school
  • story time with my students
  • hugs from sweet students after snow days
  • a daughter who steps in to help
  • a tear-faced apology
  • seeing my students all grown up
  • a God who loves me and is there in the hard times
  • a family night out for pizza
  • a teacher who goes above and beyond
  • a puffy coat on a cold day
  • a stranger that lets me (and my car) in during busy traffic
  • a friend who thinks of me and brings me a treat 
  • shakes and popcorn night
  • my daughter getting up and going to church even when feeling exhausted
  • a warm pup curled up at my feet on a cold day
  • an unclogged toilet
  • baked potato soup in a bread bowl
  • watching snow drift across the street as I drive
  • an empty Goodwill box
  • looking through old pictures of my kids
  • working out right after school
  • blueberry pancakes
  • glimpses of the sun on a cloudy day
  • a clean sink
  • child 4's creativity with his Legos
  • a happy dog when I come home from work
  • a love note on the mirror from my husband
  • dinner out with a friend
  • watching the eagle cam
What are you grateful for today?