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January 22, 2010

They’re In

Filed under: Lessons on Medicine,Neurosurgery — Tags: , , , — Mom @ 11:37 am

Colin went down for surgery at around 7:00 am and I left him in the OR about 45 minutes later. We got a call from the OR nurse at around 8:45 saying that Dr. Boop had just “gone in.” An hour later, they pulled out the microscope. For Dr. Boop’s team, the real works begins. For our part, waiting.

I will head back to St. Jude for an aptly timed seminar on ependymoma. This is an opportunity for me to learn the latest thinking on Colin’s disease from the researchers and clinicians here, minus Dr. Gajjar, who left for India and will be gone for a fortnight (hey, he’s going to In-dja, so I’m allowed).

On his way into the pre-op “bunny” (no relation to Easter or Harvey) room, Colin got to pick out a toy. Unsurprisingly, he selected a truck with trailer and enjoyed playing with it literally until we put him on the operating table. I geared up, though they hadn’t been told that I would be taking Colin to the OR.

Hospitals vary considerably in their pre-op policies with parents coming into the OR. Evidently, this is a relatively new practice here at Le Bonheur. At Maria Fareri in Westchester, it was encouraged and I actually got to physically carry Colin into the OR and place him on the table.

There is inevitably a moment once he is successfully sedated that there is an “OK, Mom [get the hell out; we have a job to do].” Surgical nurses are especially fastidious. They don’t like when the colors on the EKG leads don’t match up properly, even if they will read correctly otherwise. Everything is in its place, and parents are the most temporary of interlopers, like a mote that accidentally flies toward the sterile field of the operating theater and is quickly ushered back from whence it came.

The Sacrament of Surgery

Yesterday, I saw Dr. Boop while we were picking up last-minute supplies at the clinic. He gave me a hug and met Colin for the first time, sitting on the floor closely watching him play with a strongly neurological eye. I described his recent neurological improvements and physical progress over the time since we met him on Christmas.

We discussed complications, which we are already well versed in (obviously!) and I reiterated that we are prepared for neurological issues. However, we are also prepared for the possibility of residual tumor that we will have to treat with radiation.

Our next encounter was downstairs in the pre-op area. Dr. Boop was in his surgical zone and, while willing to address any last-minute questions, looked serious and focused.

We thanked him, and he responded, “Thank you.”

It would be easy to imagine that elite surgeons like Dr. Boop or Dr. Wisoff would become arrogant. However, as we have seen in the past, the practice of pediatric neurosurgery is humbling, and anybody who does not hold onto and live with that humility will hurt a child thoughtlessly.

Taking a child from the arms of loving parents is a sacrament. The best surgeons consider it a privilege to receive that child and to be in the right place with the right set of gifts, skills and experience to do what very few people could do.

The gravity of the moment is palpable and sacred. For us, seeing Dr. Boop’s focus and reverence for his vocation is reassuring, although it seems that people around us expect us to be more of a mess.

How could we fall apart when we have these tremendous medical resources available to help Colin and amazing support from all quarters? We have more to be thankful of than we could possibly iterate.

15 Comments »

  1. My thoughts and prayers are with you. I’ve been thinking about Colin since I woke up and as I was falling asleep.
    Love to all, Diana

    Comment by dinetzer — January 22, 2010 @ 11:50 am

  2. ……praying……
    waiting for the next update

    Comment by bjmeola@att.net — January 22, 2010 @ 11:52 am

  3. You all are in my thoughts and prayers today.

    Angela

    Comment by aeftink — January 22, 2010 @ 11:56 am

  4. I’M ON MY WAY OUT THE DOOR TO DR WATSON’S OFFICE; WILL CHECK THIS POST WHEN I GET BACK IN A COUPLE OF OURS. MY THOGHTS, PRAYERS ARE SHARPLY FOCUSED ON EACH OF YOU.

    DICK

    Comment by Dick Hayward — January 22, 2010 @ 12:05 pm

  5. I met Colin at the recent Country Cares event in Memphis. Just wanted to say you have been in my thoughts all morning and we sent a shout out this morning to your family on the air. Prayers are with you today.

    Comment by djnorgard — January 22, 2010 @ 12:21 pm

  6. Every one of us is there with the three of you, focusing our love and all the positive energy we can generate in your direction.

    Comment by nancinct — January 22, 2010 @ 12:37 pm

  7. we’re all here with you.
    Karen

    Comment by kgraubar@nd.edu — January 22, 2010 @ 12:38 pm

  8. We have been singing Colin lots of songs throughout the day. I also sent him and Dr. Boop’s team the bright white light I just received from the sun when Kenji and I were playing outside. Perry and Kiyoshi were singing all kinds of songs for Colin on the way to school this morning. Love and hugs to you and Ian.

    May the force be with Dr. Boop and his team.

    Riye

    Comment by riye_aoki — January 22, 2010 @ 12:45 pm

  9. Gratitude is the key. We wait with you. Tara, Turner, Nat, Brennan and Christopher

    Comment by tara — January 22, 2010 @ 12:48 pm

  10. Hugs and more hugs.
    We wait with you 🙂

    Comment by buppyson — January 22, 2010 @ 1:41 pm

  11. praying hard today for all of you… Love, Larissa

    Comment by absolutelarissa — January 22, 2010 @ 1:51 pm

  12. Thanks so much for taking the time to send this the update and we’re thinking of you and sending our prayers!!!
    Tracy

    Comment by kulikowski — January 22, 2010 @ 3:23 pm

  13. Most anxiously awaiting to hear he’s safe with you again… thank you for the update — love, judyz

    Comment by judyz — January 22, 2010 @ 6:11 pm

  14. “Sacrament” is indeed a good way to describe the moment you hand that limp bundle containing all your love off to the anesthesiologists and the surgeons. It’s heartening to hear that your team is attuned to the trust that is placed in them – it bodes well.

    Comment by Wark — January 22, 2010 @ 10:41 pm

  15. Hey there,
    Just a note to send love and continued prayers your way! I hope things are continuing to move along smoothly. Will look forward to talking with you soon!
    Brendan

    Comment by bbmckinney — January 25, 2010 @ 12:54 pm

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