I was awake early today sitting on the bathroom floor while Andrew and the kids slept. At first it felt like I had hours until we would be leaving the hotel for MDA at 9am. And then time compressed – Lang got up and wanted to visit (she has a lot to talk about from the moment she gets up each day), and then Chase appeared with her precious sleepy eyes looking for her brush (she loves to brush her hair these days). Andrew was up quite a few times, attempting to clear his sinuses and expressing a lot of concern that this cold/sinus infection was still lingering. I just focused on calmness, and a peaceful energy in our room. And then, Andrew had a big cry in my arms. It was deep from his core…and real and I was so glad he was weeping with me. He has cried quite a few times in past weeks, yet this morning was a real deal cry from his heart. He is such a very sweet and tender man. Its really quite beautiful, if you ask me.
Then, before we knew it, it was time to go to MDA. Andrew hugged the children and off we went down the hall. Very strange, very surreal, and very out of body. There is something very wild about a planned surgery. We have known about this day for weeks now, we have been planning for it, basing our days around it, planning all events around it, and today it was here….and we were slightly terrified. As much as I was trying to be a rock for Andrew, I also think he could see deep into my eyes that I was very scared.
Andrew’s brother, Hamilton, was waiting for us in the lobby wearing a bright red shirt (GO BEARS!) and cowboy boots. That was good for a light moment — why didn’t I think of that?!!! Oh, that’s right, I don’t own cowboy boots. But I love his!
We arrived at MDA at 9:15 and began the check in process. The three of us were taken back to the surgical holding area. It was there that we spent a good 90 minutes, meeting all of Andrew’s different and respective nurses for the day, all of whom we loved. And, let me tell you, they loved Andrew. Hamilton and Andrew were making jokes, keeping the atmosphere light and easy, despite the intense and sterile nature of the holding tank. At about 10:45am, Dr. Swisher came in with a blow of wind and asked if he was ready to go…this was our first bump of the day. Andrew’s day was to consist of two parts – 1) interventional radiology was first up with a hookwire placement in the tumor to act a marker for the thoracic surgical team, and 2) then the big surgery would occur with Dr. Swisher, Andrew’s thoracic surgeon. #1 needed to occur before #2 could start. Ugh. We were taken downstairs to IR and waited for another 1.5 hours before Andrew was taken back. During this time, we giggled quite a bit, I rubbed Andrew’s legs and feet, and just tried to keep him calm. Waiting…waiting…waiting.
I think he went back for his interventional radiology piece of today at 12:45ish. Hamilton had gone back to the hotel to be with the kids, so I was alone with my tears and my iPad and music in the IR waiting room. Before I knew it, 2pm rolled around and I was called to the hallway to join Andrew for the walk upstairs to the OR for his next surgery. While this walk was brief, it was so much harder than I expected it to be. Andrew was lucid, complaining of pain and pressure in his chest, where his hookwire had been placed and I could see that he was scared. I wondered if he would remember this time together (he later told me he did)…and before I knew what was happening, Andrew’s nurse Stacy who I was pushing the gurney with, announced that as soon as the elevator doors opened, I would be walking off one direction and she and Andrew would be going the other. It was a quick and rushed kiss goodbye. The doors shut and it very quickly became the strangest most surreal moment. I felt scared, sad…and yet, I also had this feeling of “get over yourself, Brooke”. You see, SO many people at MDA have far more severe cases than Andrew. SO many people at MDA have true reasons to feel scared and true reasons to feel sad. I felt like an imposter or an intruder in their space. I mean, Andrew’s case is clear (we hoped), and Andrew’s prognosis was excellent (we prayed). SO, why was I so scared and why was I so sad. And yet, I was. Big time. I found a bathroom, locked myself inside and fell to pieces for a short while. A wise friend told me recently that if I really, truly let myself cry, it will only last 90 seconds, and who can’t let go for 90 seconds….I did. And I felt better and ready to take on the next few surreal hours of waiting.
The surgical waiting area at MDA is very nice and very accommodating. I was told that I would have an update from the nurse liaison in about 2 hours, so I rushed back to the hotel to check on the kids and mobilize the gang to head back to the hospital to hold the space while Andrew was in surgery. As much as I thought I was going to like having a break from the hospital, I didn’t like the feeling of being far away from Andrew. I rushed back to the hospital and Hamilton kindly followed with the kids when everyone was ready.
We waited for our 4pm nurse update with great hope, and at about 4:30 (?) were told that the doctor was ready to talk to us. I was concerned that it meant bad news if he was coming out in the middle of surgery to talk to us. However, it was Dr. Swisher (I could kiss him) letting Hamilton and I know that surgery had gone well, Andrew was on his way to recovery and the cancer was out. Not only did he get the cancer out with clean, generous margins, yet Andrew’s lymph had also biopsied negative. GREAT news. Best possible outcome, in my opinion. I didn’t need to hear anything else and asked if he could spare 30 more seconds so I could run and get the kids, who were dying to meet this infamous man. I walked the kids into the room and introduced each of them, and Dr. Swisher, said, “Hi, I’m Steve”. Followed by, “You kids get your dad back out on his bike soon, ok?”. Good stuff. I love this man….and will forever be indebted to him.
Andrew is doing great. He is exhausted, and in quite a bit of pain, yet as of 9pm tonight was in his own room for the duration of his hospital stay. At 10:30pm, we took his first walk together around the nurses island. He made it two laps and broke out in a massive sweat. Its so hard to have your lung cut out. But who cares. Andrew is cancer-free. He is sleeping now, and I am going to do my best to do the same.
THANK YOU. xoxoxo