My first hour was dark. It was 4:30 a.m., and my eyes were closed a lot as Bill, Michele, and I headed to East Jefferson Hospital. After we were ushered to a holding area, my eyes were still mainly shut as Michele regurgitated her personal info to a blurry, nice lady. This lady’s main job seemed to be assuring the surgeon that Michele was indeed the correct person and that surgery was intended for the right (not left) lung problem. Michele was as sleepy as I, but all the activities quickly energized her as the minutes ticked down towards surgery. Bill, on the other hand, was alert from the start.
When the doctor came in to mark Michele’s right lung, my eyes were suddenly wide open. It was time. When the orderly came to roll her into the OR, Michele and I looked at each other and simultaneously told him to wait. There was no way she was going into surgery without our “Goodbye, I love you” kiss, hug, and hand clasp. Bill and I followed her until the orderly opened a door forbidden to us, and she and I threw out louder “I love you’s” in each other’s directions. Bill and I watched her go through the door.
By this time, I was wide awake. My daughter – my little girl – was going to have lung surgery, a procedure that could last 4 1/2 hours. Each day leading up to that moment, I followed my regular routines and spoke only with a positive mindset about the upcoming operation. But at that moment, I could feel my heartbeat, and my breathing became shallow. As Bill headed for the surgery waiting room, I asked him to stop. All the tears that had been building up inside ever since she called to tell me that she – my young, healthy, active child – had a mass on the lining of her lung — all of those many, many tears just flowed like a waterfall as Bill whispered, “She’s going to be fine.” As many tissues served their purpose, I pulled myself together (with Bill’s help as always), and we walked together to meet Dave and await the results.
Fortunately, the surgery was half the time anticipated and also less invasive than it could have been. Michele did fine and continued to improve dramatically throughout the day – going from freezing and shivering from the anesthesia and in great pain in her back and throat to eating mashed potatoes, rolls and pudding, wanting her phone and visiting with her kids. I relaxed a lot as I watched her slowly return to herself.
This stressful experience has punctuated the importance of family and friends. Thank you Jeff, Dave, Bill AND Michele yourself for being strong and positive. My strength came from yours. And may God bless all of our many family members and good friends who have walked every step of the way with us and continue to do so. Let us FINISH STRONG !!