July 27, 2016
7am pierces from my phones speakers naggingly, urging me up. Sleep and I never did come to an agreement during the night, nonetheless, I stir begrudgingly out of bed, forced into the reality of the day ahead. I watch as my lovely parents work tirelessly to make sure we “have everything.” My father seems content, pleased even; it’s evident his relief comes from Doctors having identified the cause of my unexplainable falls, lack of sensation and difficulty walking. It is clear to me, that he is resolved simply in the realm of knowing. His trust in God and in the surgeons resounds with me, calms me, and reminds me that his strength has always been a part of my internal compass. Similarly, I observe my mother as her mood fluctuates between excited and apprehensive. She would do anything for me within her control, but this, this is something she can’t do for me. Her tension is noticeable but her bravery extends from a place of choosing to trust that I will rest safely in the hands of Christ. On the way to the hospital the car is quiet with only the echoes of my phone singing alerts of well wishes from friends and family. I clutch my phone anxiously, overwhelmed by the magnitude of my support. I want their words to reside within me, but my soul longs for something else. Something more tangible, present, and peaceful. I begin to pray, simply yet earnestly. Grace meets me and the promises God made me leading up to this day penetrate my fear. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and remind myself that this is my reality. I am not afforded the luxury of choice. Not taking action would result in paralysis or death…and grateful as I may be for the hard work of brilliant hands it saddens me how many times and in how many ways they have to remind me that death and paralysis are risks of this surgery. I know the chances aren’t terribly high, but it weakens my spirit a bit every time they repeat it. No sooner do I catch my breath and gather my thoughts do I arrive at the Hospital. We pull up and they wheel me through the corridors, periodically speaking cheerfully about how incredible Dr. Hitchon is; and let’s be clear, he is, incredible. His resume stands tall with national awards, success stories, and research publications in elite magazines such as TIME. Important as those qualifications are they aren’t what give me confidence. Instead I find his compassion, attention, and humble reverence for human life not only inspiring but essential. I have no doubts that he cares as much or more as me about how my 7 hours in surgery effect my future. We move to pre surgery where I change, give vitals, meet the team, and discuss what will happen next. Every 10 minutes feels like an eternity, and as my time to begin grows closer my anxiety steepens. Tears fall and my breath shortens. Then an incredible thing happened. The nurse who had put in my IV, kneels down, takes my hand and begins to pray with me. A stranger to me, in that moment became someone I will never forget. Just as she finishes the surgical table is wheeled in and I stand, trying to avoid eye contact with my parents. The tears fall harder and my chest grows heavier. I’m surprised at my own level of fear. It’s as if all at once, it clicked. They are going to cut along my spinal column 10 inches, remove 3 vertebrae, and remove a tumor surrounded by spinal tissue that if damaged is irreversible. I get on the table. It is cold and unfamiliar. My parents pray with me and my words fall short. I’m sure in that moment they felt a bit helpless. Soon I was surrounded by my team in a room that looked like something out of the X Files. They ask me more questions and ask that I sign for consent to be a case study. There would be 20 people in the room and about 80 watching. Apparently, I found out later, I am considered a “rare case”. A male nurse came and gently injected my arm with anesthesia. Instantly all was calm, and I asked the team to pray for me. The same nurse that had been in my pre surgery room came in and assured me, she would pray the entire time. I know to some who don’t share my beliefs they may believe that prayer is stupid, naive, and unnecessary. In my next blog I want to delve further into what I believe about prayer and why it matters. For now, I sleep soundly, unaware, and unconcerned as to what lies ahead. For now the lights fade, and I let what is, be. For now, I trust in my God, creator of heaven and earth, who made me in his image and loves me more than anyone I know on earth. For now, I just rest in knowing that this is my reality.