An update on my Mom
First, I want to thank everyone for their prayers for my mother. With family, friends, church family, friends of friends, kind strangers, and untold others, I think there were a good three hundred people praying for her, at least. I really, truly, deep in my heart do not think the results would have been as spectacular without all of that prayer, covering a dear and needy woman, guiding and perfecting the movements of the surgeons’ hands, sustaining and inspiring everyone involved.
Her spinal surgery ended up being a 14 hour ordeal… 30 pins, an unknown amount of rods… she has extreme — EXTREME — scoliosis. Her upper back was hunched over, her whole upper body was tilted to the right, most of her lumbar are fused into a lump, her entire trunk had collapsed so thoroughly that the bones of her ribcage were resting ON her pelvis — her waist was entirely gone.
Dr. John Ehteshami was her main surgeon, and man! I want to hug him. I didn’t, but maybe I should have. After he came out of surgery at 10:15 last night to update those waiting (four family members and four people from her church), he was almost giddy, the fruit of a successful job, I suppose. 🙂 He was also excited about making a real difference in her life, and talked with the family for a good 20 or 25 minutes, answering questions, detailing the improvements he was able to bring to my mother, and discussing difficulties, including the road ahead.
Dr. Ehteshami said that everything went as well or better than expected, and that peripherally — everything outside of her back, like lungs, heart, and arteries and veins (she has extremely weak veins and arteries from Marfan Syndrome, and has already had three major aneurysm surgeries) — was great. He straightened her thorax nearly completely — no more hunch. The fused lumbar, he couldn’t do anything with. But, he was able to bring her into vertical alignment; she won’t lean over anymore. He was able to reconstruct and raise her whole trunk so that it isn’t sitting on her hips any longer. Once she can stand, she will be numerous inches taller — height regained.
That is fabulous. As recently as Friday, one of her doctors (there are a good six or seven involved in her care) was adamant that she not have the surgery. He told her flat out — mincing no words — that she would die on the operating table. Bless God, though that was a possibility, she did not!! My Mom just did not think that her path was to sit back and just exist as best she could (“two years, at most” was this doctor’s estimation), simply seeking palliative care, waiting for death, when there was something she could DO, even if it was risky. Though the real risk of losing her in surgery loomed over the heads of all of her family, we just knew that she was right — she had to try. We had to let her do all she could. And, she was feisty enough to prove that negative pronouncement wrong.
She has a long road to recovery; she is still in ICU, intubated, right now, and will likely be in the hospital for about six weeks. It’s still a serious business. But, she is over at least one HUGE hurdle that some said she shouldn’t even try.
My stepdad, sister, and myself were finally able to see her close to 11:30 last night. Our visit was brief, and my mom was completely unaware. But, it was reassuring just to see her face (VERY swollen from being face-down for 14 hours), kiss her brow, and see her frail frame — thin and STRAIGHT and appearing very long under the sheet, with her feet bumping up the covers in a line entirely perpendicular with the rest of her body. It was surreal.
I am very relieved, very pleased, very happy.