Thursday morning, Grey and I made the track to the other side of the lake for She-Beats second round of surgery. Like her brother, her first set of ear tubes had fallen out and she was once again experiencing chronic ear infections. To resolve this, the doctor wanted to place a more secure set of ear tubes called T-tubes hoping they would last longer.
The work up to the surgery went smoothly, with all of us now very use to the routine. After she was wheeled back for surgery, Grey and I went to the recover room to wait. Normally a very fast procedure with quick turn around.
Except this time it took longer.
Grey went to find coffee, assuming that he would return to find the doctor giving me discharge instructions and comforting a groggy She-Beat. Instead when he came into the room, he found the doctor sitting with me, attempting to explain what he had unexpectedly found. The look on my face made him drop the coffee and immediately grab for my hand. The doctor popped up and went to the whiteboard in the room, drawing and explaining the growth they had found.
What they found in She-Beat's ear is a chlolesteatoma. It's not malignant, but it is a serious condition that left untreated causes hearing loss, vertigo and can lead to brain infections and facial paralysis. Because of the seriousness, the surgeon wants to move fast and schedule a more extensive surgery involving a CT scan and operation within the next month. He seemed hopeful based on it's size (it's small) and location (not too close to the bones in the middle ear) that hearing loss would be minimal. Still, we won't know until the day of surgery exactly what we're looking at.
Following getting a very upset She-Beat home and down for a nap, Grey broke down. He sobbed in a manner I haven't seen in 3 years. 3 years ago following our miscarriages and failed third IVF. Wrapping my arms around him, I felt completely powerless.
I've watched friends live through diagnoses for their children that involve extensive surgery. Trending carefully to be supportive but also being aware that one can't promise a positive outcome. In addition, I've seen others given diagnoses or face trauma that turns their lives upside-down and inside-out. In every case, there's that moment where the decision for how to approach the news is made. In some cases, the depression and numbness takes over, but in others a decision is made to fight for life, crawling one's way out of the darkness and demanding there be light. Even if they stumble or encounter new barriers along the way. In every case, the simple fact they are choosing life is inspiration and impressive.
Following a long nap, I took She-Beat out on a walk. Exploring one of the alleys with her, I watched as she stopped to smell the flowers, poked at rocks and happily hummed the whole way. Half-way down the alley I saw a suspicious looking man twitching as he sucked on a cigarette. Initially he glared at me, making in clear he was not to be trusted. It was as I reached for She-Beat to turn around that she began to wave and cheerfully call "Hi" to this person. Startled, he jumped up and dashed away.
It was in that moment that I realized that She-Beat was going to make all of this okay. Because this little girl has more fight and life in her than most people I know. From the day she was born, at 3 lb 7 oz, she's demanded to live. And every day since, despite the stumbles, the delays, the scary moments and even the barriers, she's found a way to overcome. And this new challenge will be no different.
Despite my faith in She-Beat, I'm still scared. The more I read the more I know what is to come. And I wish with my whole being that it was me that would be on that operating table. But for now, all I can do is prepare, making sure I'm the support both she, her brother and even Grey need during this time. To become the rock they need me to be.
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