I have been wanting to update my blog for some time now, but the reason for my prolonged absence was fairly depressing, and I didn't know how to write about it.
My sister-in-law, AllThingsBD, does a great job of encapsulating "the event" that took place and put my life on temporary hold. However, I feel like I should add some kind of Zen statement that can put into perspective my reality. But, right now I feel woefully lacking. I don't have the right words. All I know is that I made it out whole, and I have only God to thank for that. Otherwise, reality would have sat on my face and smothered me.
My Mom, the one who taught me tennis, to hate shopping, my greatest cheerleader, one of my best friends was on the precipice of death, and I had to make the decision on whether or not to gamble the rest of her life with the possibility of living brain damaged for its duration.
This was the singular moment during this whole crisis that was pinnacle. Do I believe in God? Do I trust in something beyond what I know? I certainly wasn't going to trust my Mom's life to this doctor who studied medicine. He's human. He's fallible. I'm human. I'm fallible - so what do I do in this situation regarding my Mom's life?
The doctor broke it down for me: We can either do nothing, and your Mom will die peacefully - or we can operate and live with the consequences.
Under normal circumstances, doing nothing would not be an option... but what if the consequence for doing something was far worse than death. I pictured myself sitting with my Mom who had survived surgery but who was only a shell with working parts inside. What kind of life is that?
Then the enormity of my questions hit me - who am I to judge the quality of my Mom's life? Who is to say that sitting around with no brain function isn't a quality life? Who is there to judge that? If I was to assume that there is no purpose to life other than the pleasure we get out of existence, then I might as well let her die. What pleasure is there in life by simply existing?
However, if I believe in God, and that there is a greater purpose to my Mom's existence, then I have to believe that making the "right" choice should be obvious. But there was no obvious choice. Until...
I remember babbling to the doctor asking me if he should operate on my Mom about my Mom. I told him how she is a Christian, how she believes in the miracle of science, and how she doesn't want to live life as a vegetable. The doctor kind of looked at me like, "That still doesn't tell me what your decision is."
I was, again, waiting for the obvious choice. I was just talking hoping that since I had sided with God that He would give me a sign. I'm waiting, God!
Suddenly I was stuck with an idea (was it divine inspiration?), "Doctor, can you open my Mom up, see what kind of damage we are talking about, and re-evaluate at THAT time?"
The doctor perked up, "Sure! If it looks bad, I'll come talk to you. If it is simple, I might be able to repair her."
Me, "Great!" That seemed like an obvious option.
One hour into surgery went by...
Four hours... My cousin-in-law, a former respiratory therapist, said, "The longer he's doing surgery the more likely it is that he's repairing her. That's good news."
Five hours later the Neurosurgeon came out with a smile on his face. "She's fine. I took about a 1/4 cup of brain matter out. I hung two units of blood that I ended up not needing. Now, we just wait and see how much she understands."
There is more drama to this story about the year and 1/2 of recovery and fighting for my Mom's care, but I wanted to record how I put my faith into God's hands - no matter the outcome. Some might consider this shifting responsibility from myself onto a God that doesn't exist, but words can't adequately describe the peace I felt after making that decision with the doctor. Sure, I lamented that choice during the months that followed, but the proof of God in my Mom's life never wavered.
Only my faith in God did.
I will continue to share what has been going on with me and my family this last year and 1/2, but I will not make you wait to see the good news.
Here is a picture of my Mom 7 months after the surgery (February 2010):
And here is a picture of my Mom Christmas 2010 (6 months after they put a shunt in her brain to regulate the fluids):