Remember how I said that there were things that are vivid memories and some things that are a complete black hole when I start thinking about these things?
Four hours after finding out that my daughter had a brain tumor these are the things I remember:
We had a nurse named Julie who got us checked in to PICU who explained more than the neurologist did. Teagan wanted “Tiger Cereal” (Frosted Flakes) when she got to her room. Dr. Potts and the doctor assigned to PICU came and talked to us and told us that they had to wait for the neurosurgeon to return on Monday before anyone told us a course of action and next the floor doctor took Dave outside and showed him the MRI with the golf ball size tumor sitting deep into her cerebellum and dangerously close to a major blood vessel.
What happened to Dawson? I have no idea….. I don’t remember talking to him or if I explained anything to him or if Dave did. When Teagan decided that she wanted her daddy to stay with her at the hospital that night I remember taking Dawson with me. That was nearly 4 hours after we found out what was wrong. He was nine years old and his sister was in the hospital and every nearly every family member we have was at the hospital and I don’t remember talking to him for four whole hours. I can’t imagine what was going on with him. He had to be scared — terrified, and there was no mom.
Once I found my car — St Vincent was a giant maze at that time for me and the car was on one side of the hospital where we entered and she had been admitted to Peyton Manning Children’s which was attached but on the other side — Dawson and I climbed in the car. “I can’t even look at her little car seat.” he said. (Sigh) “Do you want me to put it in the back?” I asked. “Yes.” So I got out, took the car seat and put it in the back. I vaguely remember telling him that everything would be OK. At some point I agreed to get him a cell phone so even if he was with a relative he could call Dave or me at any time.
When we got home he asked if he could sleep with me and we climbed in bed. He fell asleep right away. I watched the Disney channel until the news came on, then Jay Leno, then Conan, then poker, then the news replay. It was 3 o’clock in the morning. I wanted to call Dave but I figured he was asleep. I ended up sitting in the middle of Teagan’s room holding Waffle (her stuffed cat) surrounded by little pet shop toys and her soccer uniform she had gotten out and sobbed until I about threw up. I know that the doctors and nurses who we talked to that night had reassured us that having a brain tumor didn’t mean that she was going to die but obviously as a parent that option was still lingering in my head. That night, the first night was the only time I let myself think about what would happen if she died. From that point on I never let myself think about that again. It was there in the back of my head but I shoved it back there and buried it. I’m pretty good at that because I’m married to a firefighter – you know the danger is there when they go to work but if you think about it the whole 24 hours they are gone you would go nuts. (Of course now he drives the “Fire SUV” so there is less danger – unless the A/C goes out 🙂 — oh you know you think I’m funny honey)
I finally did sleep. Dawson had to be at football in the morning and I was dropping him off at Dave’s parent’s house before going to the hospital. The family had decided that everyone would go to Dawson’s football game that morning before anyone came to the hospital. Before I dropped him off I bought him a pay-as-you go cell phone at Wal-Mart. I went to the hospital and left Dawson at Dave’s mom and dad’s house. I really think I would liked to have seen the scene (and I’m sure it was a scene) at the football game. Grandparents and aunts and uncles and cousins all there to be supportive for Dawson — some were telling all the other parents what had happened (I know because after the game is when my email started blowing up). There were 3 grandparents, 4 aunts, 2 uncles and 3 cousins – twelve people all vying over Dawson. He probably loved it. I wonder if any of the parents from his team has a video of that game….. I should’ve asked.
One of the most important things for me that happened that day was once I got to the hospital we got a phone call. It was one of the police officers that I worked with asking if he could come and visit. When he got there I suddenly felt good or at least hopeful. This particular officer had been shot earlier in the year on a traffic stop. Not once or even twice, but five times and one of the bullets struck just under his vest and went into his abdomen. He spent weeks in ICU. One of the shots had gone into his leg and he spent months in physical therapy and had to use crutches or cane for a long period of time. That officer and his wife were the fist visitors we had at the hospital. He walked in to Teagan’s room. Let me say that again for emphasis. He WALKED in to Teagan’s room. He – who had been shot 5 times including to the leg and abdomen just 6 months ago – walked in on his own power with no crutches and no cane and no assistance and no feeling sorry for himself about what happened and came and talked to Teagan. Seeing him made me feel hopeful that this would all turn out OK one day. Seeing him reminded me instantaneously that strong-willed people are survivors — and anyone who knows my daughter knows she is strong-willed. I don’t think I’ve ever told him thank you — because he made the biggest impact on changing my attitude.
Next: No doctor is better than three ~ German proverb
(PS I’m running out of proverbs!!)