A Loving Touch (Part 5)

Posted: September 19, 2011 in Uncategorized

The night before surgery, I left late and came home. I ate without tasting. Just for the motion. Showered and crawled right into bed. It was hard to sleep, no matter how tired, in an empty bed. Omar and I complained everyday how we need a bigger bed. But, having him absent from the bed made it seem enormous and too large. I wish I could saw it in half. I was awaken by Omar calling me on my cellphone. He was all worked up and upset saying some doctors woke him up to lecture him about surgery. They said he had a 50/50 chance of survival. And of that he had a 50/50 chance of coming out brain damaged. I talked him down, told him not to worry, I would be there soon.

My brother drove me to the hospital very early morning. I practically ran into the room to be with him. And was practically ushered back out. The day before they already shaved some of his hair and drew markers on him and put receptors on his head and wrapped his head up. He even went for a MRI. But Omar was off again for another MRI to map things out for surgery. They did xrays and CT scans by his bedside. We finally couldn’t take it anymore so I stood outside his room by the glass window and we spoke on the phone while they worked on him.

A doctor enters Omar’s room and after seeing me and seeing Omar on the phone and couple of back and forth looks like in a tennis match, he leaves the rooms and approaches me. Before he even said anything I said “ Yeah, we’re speaking to each other”.
“Awe” was his response.
“They won’t let me in the room”
“Well, I’m the last guy needing to prep him so come on in”
I didn’t believe him and didn’t hang up the phone until I was by Omar’s side. This doctor’s job was to put receptors all over Omar, on his feet, on his hands, and other sensory places. He explained to us his job is to stimulate certain points throughout surgery and monitor the surgeon to make sure he doesn’t cut anything they are supposed too.

After he left, we had some quiet time. It was short. Cut even shorter cause I was called to the Medicaid office, then called by the social worker. But, time was time and it was with him. Omar wasn’t upset no more. He wasn’t worried or concerned. I gave him his ipod and he was air guitar-ing from his hospital bed. He was incredible.

It was getting harder and harder to keep a strong face. And Omar seeing me upset was comforting me. ME. He was the one in a hospital bed and he was comforting me. Then he said the most amazing thing. “Don’t worry about me babe. I’m in the hospital and with doctors. I’m not scared and you don’t need to be scared for me. Whatever happens is going to happen. I’m just going to sleep. And then I’ll wake up later. And if I don’t wake up, then I’ll be okay because I was sleeping. But I will be okay. I’m just going to sleep now. And I’ll wake up later.”

I would always worry. Nothing can stop it. The what ifs. The uncertainty. But I still believed he was going in for a biopsy. In retrospect, it’s obvious now. But at the time I still assumed biopsy meant it wasn’t invasive. Maybe I was coping through denial. But that’s what I thought.

I did pick up a few tricks of the trade going through my dad’s illness. So I made sure to ask all the “timetable” questions but the staff was well trade in the art of evasion. I was told it takes a hour prep alone so it could be 4 hours till 12 hours. I knew where I had to go to wait. And Omar’s personal nurse said I could come back to her if I don’t hear anything for a while and she would let me know any reports they get. So I mentally prepared myself for a day of waiting while my fiancée was having surgery.

I walked with Omar as they rolled him out all the way to the elevators murmuring things to him. I couldn’t broad the elevators with him. But I stood there staring at him with a smile on my face and water in my eyes until the elevator doors closed.

And I kept standing there fighting a panic attack. I couldn’t stop the thoughts “what if I never get to hold his hand again? What if I never get to feel his touch?” I was in inner turmoil. And I did the only thing I knew how to do. I pushed the button for the elevators.

I took the elevators to the floor I would be waiting on. I signed in and was given a beeper. I left promptly afterwards. I went to the Main Entrance lobby and called everyone I was supposed to call. I got coffee and ate. Used the rest room. And then I went back to the waiting room a little over an hour later. I camped out by a tv, charging my phone. Helped myself to some free coffee. And I shut my mind down. for almost two hours sitting in a waiting room watching morning talk shows while listening to a family complain about waiting… I was being there without really being there.

Then, I moved and I sat directly outside the waiting room on a bench and fought back tears. I called my friend. We chatted for over an hour. Suddenly, I see Omar’s surgeon, Doctor C., walking into the waiting room. I practically hung up on my friend and left my bags on the bench and approached the doctor expectantly. Unable to suppress and deny my emotions, “How is he” I stammered out.
“He’s okay” I breathed for what felt like the first time. “He’s in recovery.”
“Can I see him?” I asked in a manner that was almost demanding. I didn’t really care about anything, just seeing him with my own eyes. Touching him to know he was here. Nothing matter, as long as we were together.
“Sure, soon, he will be going back to his room in ICU shortly to recover there” Dr. C. said. “Surgery went well” he continued, probably knowing I was about to walk away he rushed on. “It was a tumor. I removed everything I could, 99.9% of it. Whatever I could get to and see with the human eye”
“That’s great.” I said truly happy and naively thinking this could all be put behind us.
“It appeared low level, low grade but we have to wait for the pathology reports to come back”
“When is that?” I asked already knowing the answer but being dutiful in asking.
“Tuesday” he said to my surprise.
“Oh, that’s fast” I said skeptically, knowing pathology reports take a week and then usually, they send you to a doctor’s office as an outpatient for the diagnosis.
“Most important,” Dr. C. says “Omar will be sleeping now, but he will be waking up soon. And since you know his regular personality and behaviors you’re going to be important part of the analysis”
“Most important, his speech. The area of the brain the tumor was located controls speech and understanding, so that has to be closely monitored the first day.”
“Okay. Not a problem. Thank you so much. Thank you for taking care of him” I said and he smiled and said his team will be with us throughout the process. I walked up to the desk in the waiting room and returned the beeper. Grabbed my bags and pressed the button for the elevators like a mad woman.

I thundered into Omar’s ward and was presented with an empty room.
“He’s not back yet sweetie” his nurse told me.
“But, Dr. C. said he would be returning to his room”
“He will. Why don’t you go wait in the family room and I’ll come and get you when he’s back”.
Unhappily, I go to the family waiting. I sit with a clear view of the door and start up the phone calls and text messages. When I finished, I sat there and I was staring idly at the doorway.

Then, I seen some nurses pulling a stretcher and I saw a flash of red hair. Omar’s hair.

I jumped and ran to the doorway and one of the operating doctors saw me and said, give us 10 minutes. Pouting, I stand there and watch them pull his stretcher into the neuro-surgical intensive care unit. In exactly ten minutes, I gather my stuff and creep into the ward. When I get to Omar’s room, I see him there, asleep and alone. Stifling my anger at not being gotten right away, I rush to his bed and grab his hand.

With his touch, everything started to melt away and a calming peace started to settle over me. My fiancée just had a craniotomy and a tumor the size of a ball was removed. But, with his touch, and together, I knew we could get through anything. So, I stood there holding his hand awaiting for my love to awake

  1. Re-Reading all this
    I’m mesmerized by spirit/
    & humanity/


  2. Reblogged this on Corner of Confessions and commented:

    Turns out yesterday was World Cancer Awareness day. It also happened to be Omar’s Brain Surgery Anniversary Date. Reblog of an old post I wrote about his surgery.


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