He’s Back!

I’ve been up since three this morning, so if this is not my most lucid and lyrical post, forgive me. But I have good news to impart and I wanted to share it before exhaustion overtakes me.

Richard’s in the Surgical Intensive Care Unit at the VA Medical Center tonight, cranky, uncomfortable, exhausted and in some serious pain. But he’s here, and I mean that in all senses of the word. He’s present in these very uncomfortable and painful moments, he recognized Molly and me right away, he can articulate his needs–a mite slowly sometimes with pauses to gather his thoughts, he can see out of both of his eyes, hear and move all of his limbs. That may not sound like an impressive list, but after almost six hours of rigorous brain surgery where his surgeons carefully took out most of his right frontal lobe, plus two hours on either end in pre- and post-surgery prep, it’s a big deal. (I shot the photo of him above before the surgery, one evening last week at Carpenter Ranch. Was that only last week? Oh. my. )

Dr. Brega, the lead neurosurgeon, was very pleased with the job
they did. A clean incision, she said, reaching deep in the brain, not
taking anymore brain tissue than necessary but not leaving anything
suspicious at all. “Good thing he’s left-brain dominant,” she said, “because we didn’t leave much of his right temporal lobe.” Oh.

But over the three and a half hours that Molly and I spent with him in the intensive care unit, he progressed from being disoriented and almost panicky (anesthetics are hard on him) to being ready to sit up, have his wonderful nurse, Sarah, put his hospital gown over all of the various tubes and wires emanating from his body, and eat some dinner. That is practically miraculous. (And I might add, it’s quicker progress than he made after his previous brain surgery, which was much less extensive.)

He’s making stupid jokes, and already trying to negotiate removal of some of the tubes and wires (Sorry, said Sarah, you keep those as long as you’re in ICU. That’s just not negotiable.) And he’s already talking about maybe going home on Monday. 

I think part of his amazing recovery from a surgery that ought to have left him in pretty rugged shape is that he’s been visualizing how it will go for the last week, as in “Next Friday by this time, I’ll be out of surgery and recovering in the ICU. Next Saturday, I’ll be moving from the ICU to the regular floor…” “Practicing” like that, setting intentions for what you’ll do, can be a very powerful tool. Part of it is having Molly here to cheer him along. (Bless you, Sweetie, for taking the time to be here. That’s the two of them above in a photo shot last fall, on a different hospital stay.) And a huge part is all the prayers, good wishes, healthy energy, Light and love sent by all of you. Thank you from my heart.

Not all of the news is good. That’s the ending I’d like, but life is just not like that. This surgery took a big chunk of brain real estate, as the neurosurgeons put it, because there were more tumors. Tumors that didn’t show up in the April MRI, but appeared like shadowy ghosts in the MRI three months later. There sudden appearance probably means the cancer is really aggressive. So there’s a good bit of “what next?” ahead. But that’s for another day.

Tonight, I want to say thank you for walking with us, and sending your love. Together, we’ve made a miracle happen. Good night, and bless you all!