Good news everyone, after trying to go number two in my hospital bed I could not feel any dripping of cerebrospinal fluid down my throat or out of my nose. Crisis averted. Dr. J told me to hang in there, everything looked great and Dr. M would be by later to give me the details of my surgery and our next steps forward. He also handed me the house phone and a menu and told me to eat something. The mention of food woke up something primal in my stomach. I realized I hadn’t really eaten anything for 36 hours except a few saltines. I picked up the phone and ordered from the menu. Surprisingly the things that sounded good to me were things your mom packed for your school lunch. I wanted a banana, peanut butter sandwich, milk, chicken soup, and a brownie. It’s tough to eat when you can’t breathe through your nose. I’m sure everyone knows this feeling if you have allergies or have ever had a sinus infection. You don’t want to chew with your mouth open but otherwise you have to hold your breath. After half a sandwich I was panting like I’d just run a mile.
After eating I sighed and laid back against the bed, feeling almost comfortable for the first time in quite a few days. I had just started to sink into a food coma when Dr. M breezed into the room. I mentioned earlier that he is serious and efficient. He saves the lives of many people with extremely serious health issues every day and he does it multiple times a day. When he speaks it is with a quiet confidence, no other emotion. He doesn’t use ten words when two will do. I like his style.
I’m also intrigued by him. For someone who does not show emotion very readily he radiates intensity. I remember the first time we talked about my tumor I was sitting in the exam chair and he was in the rolling chair at the desk across the room. When we began talking about my surgery he rolled the chair closer to me. He was perhaps only one foot away. He looked me square in my eyes and told me what his plan was. We discussed the risks and the unknowns. He never downplayed them or gave the impression of “don’t worry girl, I got this.” I knew how serious the procedure was and I was very nervous about it but there was something about the way he presented his ability as a surgeon. I knew that if there was a way he would find it and if he could fix it he would.
I also took his serious demeanor as a challenge. I totally wanted to crack him. Too bad I wasn’t on Versed then, I’m sure I could have gotten him to smile. He still had scrubs on and stood at the foot of my bed and leaned casually against the wall as he spoke. He told me that the surgery could not have possibly gone better. Bleeding had been kept to a minimum, my optic nerve was still intact, my dura had not been compromised, and he had been able to remove all of the tumor endo-scopically. Once my black eye healed and we took the packing out of my nose I would have no visible scarring from this surgery. My parents slumped against each other with relief and exhaustion and Matt squeezed my hand. We had done it. We had gone through the looking glass and we were going to make it back in one piece. I looked Dr. M in the eyes and then motioned my head towards the door, “So when can I, you know, get out of here?” (if he had said right now I would have bolted for the door right then.)
“Very soon. I will have a nurse come in and advise you about at home care, we will write a prescription for pain relief, take out your IV’s and you can be on your way.”
“When can I fly home?”
“Tomorrow if you like. It will not be comfortable though. The pressure change in the cabin will hurt with all that packing. You have five gel packs in your sinuses as well as the packing in your nose right now.”
“When can I pull this thing out?”
“Patience is a virtue Miss Fahs, you will need to leave it in there for three days. You can have your ENT at home remove it. But prepare yourself, the next three days and the removal will also be uncomfortable.”
Yeah yeah yeah, pain, discomfort, “be patient” none of that was new. But I was building up to the most important question of all,
“I have a very important race coming up. When can I start training again?”