At times it felt like this day would never come but now it is finished. It was early in March when the surgeon decided that the only option left for Dad was urgent surgery to relieve the pressure on a nerve that was causing persistent and excruciating pain.
After a month in hospital and several bouts of life threatening complications, we were happy to have him moved last night to the Neurosurgery Unit, looking much perkier than we have seen him in several years. He had a rough night as they were unable to give him painkillers preoperatively. In spite of severe pain, he made it through a 7 a.m. MRI to map out and mark the key areas of his brain.
At 9 we met with the Anesthesiologist who spelled out that 50% of anesthetists would refuse to do this but they agreed there was no other solution for his pain. He stated that he would be pushing the surgeon to simply go in and cut the nerve and get out as he felt keeping dad under for more than four hours was too risky. He said if things went well dad would go to recovery and then to the floor but if his heart failed he would go to ICU and it would be a matter of days until he was gone. He asked dad if he had any questions and dad’s response was, “Let’s get this underway” and then it was off to the OR.
Dr Parent had estimated the surgery would take six hours but the OR was booked for seven, until 4 p.m. By 4:30 we had not heard a word and were beginning to be very anxious. Fortunately a Porter came by who happened to be a friend of my brother and had access to the OR suite. She returned soon to let us know that dad was in the recovery room and showed us were to stand so we could see if they moved him.
At 5 the surgeon arrived and explained that he was able to insert a teflon pad between the 9th cranial nerve and a blood vessel which was pressing against the nerve thus saving the function of the nerve. It is very uncommon for this particular nerve to be affected and in fact it is only the third time he has performed this surgery, in spite of the fact that he is one of only two surgeons in Ontario who perform this particular procedure.
By 7 p.m. we left Dad in the Neuro Observation Unit on his floor, heavily sedated but stable. It will be at least 48 hours until we will have an idea of the full impact of the surgery but it is a wonderful relief to have this part behind him.
It was a long day and I sat for hours in the waiting room where I saw some people waiting all alone for news of loved ones and others who were obviously of a faith that offered no relationship with a loving God or clear hope beyond this life. I, on the other hand was with three of my brothers and a wonderful sister-in-law, often taking solace in my faith in a God who loves and cares for Dad and for us and an assurance of an eternity with God beyond this life.