On Monday, July 31, 2017 at 6:30am, I checked in at Barrow’s Neurological Institute and awaited my 8:30am surgery time. I was surprisingly calm and had my husband by my side as they poked and prodded getting me ready for surgery. I met with my anesthesiologist, Marc McLaughlin, who insisted he go by Marc. He was pretty stellar, very down to earth, and as cool as a cucumber. I had no worries about his role in my procedure. I met with a nurse, whose name I wish I could remember, but it was a bit of a whirlwind, so he will be known as the salt and pepper haired, mellow male nurse. And a couple neurosurgery residents stopped by as well to make sure I was ready and that I was aware of what was going to be happening (you know, in case I forgot I was getting brain surgery). This whole morning should have been stressful and nerve wracking, but thanks to an absolutely beautiful and inspired blessing I had received from my husband on Sunday had me more than ready for this procedure.
We were getting together with Bryan’s family to celebrate a birthday, and all the men in the family were more than happy to join Bryan in giving me a Priesthood Blessing.
In this inspired blessing, Bryan blessed me with 2 very important messages that I never want to forget. 1. He let me know that my Father in Heaven would be present in the surgery to watch overme and to guide and direct the neurosurgeon in what to do throughout the procedure. 2. Iwas blessed with the comfort of knowing that I would be very pleased with the outcome of the surgery. These 2 things really helped me go into the surgery with faith and hope that things would turn out more than fine!
Back to Monday Morning
They wheeled me back at just about 8:30 am and had given me a relaxation concoction but I do remember being in the operating room, lots of white walls but disappointingly, no big window looking into the OR where everyone could watch my surgery. I may have even inquired about this but when you’re as drugged up as I was, you can’t be too sure what was said or done. I remember a couple people getting me arranged on the table, and the next thing I remember was waking up at 5:47pm thinking that the math was just not working out in my head.
Now, when we originally met with Dr. Smith, he had let us know it would be a 3-4 hour surgery. You can see why I’d be confused about this 5:47 pm time that they were talking about as I was coming to. I had been wheeled into surgery around 8:30am. Taking into account the 2 hours in recovery before I was back with reality, means my surgery ended around 3:50pm. So now, this 3-4 hour surgery turned into a 7 hour surgery to remove this teeny tiny 10mm x 7mm x 5 mm tumor from my head. So..why did this surgery take twice as long as I was originally told? Miracles. Straight up miracles.
Going in to this surgery, I had lost 100% of the hearing in my left ear. The Acoustic Neuroma/Vestibular Schwannoma was pressing my cochlear nerve against my skull, cutting off the blood supply, destroying my hearing. I am so fortunate and the tumor really had not made it’s presence known in any other way, sure a little bit of balance issues but I had written it off as just being kind of a klutz. The doctors really have no way of anticipating what is going to happen in surgery and recovery, and so they monitor each nerve to take as good of care of those nerves as possible while in my head. After closing me up and taking me to the Neuro ICU I was constantly, seriously every hour, being given neuro exams. 1. Smile. 2. Follow my finger with your eyes. 3. Squeeze my fingers. 4. Push my hands away. 5. Pull my hands in. 6. Lift your right leg, then your left. 7. Point your toes. 8. Flex your toes. I was doing really well each time they came in, and a lot of nurses and doctors would pop in to see my smile because it was truly a miracle in itself that I hadn’t woken up with any facial paralysis. I was in pain, but very grateful to be on the mend. I had been taken in for a follow up MRI, and everything looked great-they got the whole tumor out! They kept on top of my meds and I only barfed a couple times.
Tuesday late morning the nurses made me get up and I had to shuffle to the restroom, and they set up a chair for me to sit in just so I wasn’t stuck in bed all day. Shortly after sitting in that chair, in walks Dr. Kris Smith (my neurosurgeon), 2 students (St. Joe’s is a teaching hospital so this was normal), and my nurse Abigail. My mom was with me because Bryan had to be in school for the morning. Dr. Smith asked how things were going, gave me a neuro exam, and then….wanted to test my hearing. I honestly hadn’t given thought to my hearing because I knew it was a less than 1% chance that my hearing would return but the doctor was curious, so we tried it. He took a clicker and clicked in my right ear, “This is what you’ll be listening for”, he switches to my left side “Click, click, click”-I immediately teared up, I couldn’t even find words. “Did you hear that?”, “I think I heard that!”. “Here’s the true test, I can’t be sure what song is going to pop up but let’s try it,” as Dr. Smith pulls out his cell phone, he puts the speaker to my right ear to show me what I’m listening for. He switches to my left side and I LOST IT. I was a sobbing mess. I heard that. I heard the music. The students…crying. The nurse…crying. My mom…a mess. My neurosurgeon? Teary-eyed. The only thing that can explain this result, honestly, is that I experienced a complete miracle.
Even typing up this experience, I still cry. It is such a testimony builder to me that my Heavenly Father-He KNOWS me! He LOVES me! He wants me to be happy!
I will write more about recovery but people, I just wanted the WORLD to know that I. CAN. HEAR! (Sure, it’s quiet, but boy is it clear! And…it’s a fetching miracle!)