Saturday, 13 August 2011

Anaesthetics and answered prayers

Morning, Lord. 

So here we are again.

Two days from now my little girl will be going into hospital again and she'll be having another operation. A different surgeon, this time, and a different operation involving the dissection of the posterior triangle of her neck (it says on the consent form) and the excision of a tumour which is wrapped around one nerve, right next to another and possibly involved with a third. Not the third one, please, Father God. The third one is the Phrenic nerve and it controls movement of the diaphragm, which means her breathing, and makes it a more serious proposition to go near it with a sharp scalpel. We'd just as soon opt out of any complications in that direction if that's all the same to you.

I can feel the knot in my stomach again. Recently I've been thinking I've not been doing too badly this time; less anxiety maybe. Perhaps all the stuff that's happened since the last operation has taught me something; or maybe my head is in a slightly better place this time. 

Or not.

Today I'm feeling heavy and weighed down by it all.  Yesterday we went to the pre-op appointment at Nightingale ward and so Katy had to find out about the new operation. Strangely out of the blue the other day she started talking about how sad she'd been when she'd needed all the dressing changes and Elizabeth piped up, 'Well, Katy, that's all over and you won't need to go to the hospital again, will she, Mummy?'  I replied that she did need to visit the hospital again and we had an appointment on Thursday, and Lizzie said, 'Never mind Katy, at least you won't have to have another operation.'

Oh dear. 

I couldn't think what to say and the moment passed as they saw something out of the car window that distracted them. I thought that another couple of days without the weight of it on her mind was a good thing. Later on in the week when we had to go for her pre-op ti was time to tell her and never has she looked so small and her eyes so big and welling up with tears.

I know how she feels. This time round I know how awful it is to walk away from her in the anaesthetic room. I know how awful it is to see her eyes roll back in her head as she goes to sleep. I know how awful the wait is until they tell us we can go and see her in the recovery room and this time it will potentially be five times as long.

Oh Lord, take care of my daughter because I love her so much. Please give her back to me healed of this illness and still the same little girl as she is now. Please protect her from anything harmful; accidents, mistakes, miscalculations or problems. Please wrap her in your Holy Spirit like the Ready Brek man so that nothing can harm her physically, emotionally, developmentally or spiritually. Or any other way.


It was funny, the things that she immediately thought about when she learned she was going to have another operation. It wasn't the anaesthetic, or even the being sick afterwards that scared her, it was the sticky electrodes on her chest that were hard to remove. It was the plaster on her hand to keep the anaesthetic cream in place so they could put in the cannula, not the cannula itself. On the plus side, she is still liking the idea of a ride on a bed (to theatre - only a child could appreciate the journey and block out the destination. We so often do the opposite, don't we?) and bizarrely, she still likes the idea of hospital toast.

As the Americans say, go figure.

It's hard that as a parent you can't make all the bad go away. It's hard when you want to say that you won't let anyone hurt them that all you can promise is to be there with them when it does hurt. Do you find it that way? Is this the whole life-thing? That it's in our interests for life to hurt us and while you can't (don't) stop it, you promise to be there with us? There are masses of analogies available to me as I think about my lovely daughters and the turns life takes; probably more than I care to explore at the moment. The only thing I want at the moment is for Katy to be well again and free from this thing that's been plaguing us since we found it in March.

I'm trying to block out the voices that tell me what might go wrong with this operation. I'm trying to drown them out with positives. You love Katy more than I do (so that's going some) and you don't want her to be hurt either. It's like sitting on a plane at 37,000ft and experiencing turbulence, having a panic and then thinking that the pilot has a vested interest in getting us there safely too. The surgeon doesn't want anything bad to happen to Katy, even if it is for a different set of reasons.

Other stuff is happening, Father. Financial worries, health worries, those unanswered questions about the future that I started the year with are still unanswered. I suppose you want it that way. I suppose there's a reason for it all.  I know that there hasn't been another year in my life where I've learned so much, been through so much, heard from you so much and longed for so much. Emotionally and spiritually I've been in high places and low places. Please slow it down for a little while Lord, and let me get my breath back, hey?

Keep talking, Father, and help me to listen. Keep reminding me of your Word when I need it most. This morning I woke up worrying and asking questions about the future and a friend sent me a text:

'Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on  your own understanding.'

Proverbs 3:5

I can't work it out myself. I don't have the answers and no amount of reading books or surfing the internet or indeed talking to people who are wiser than me will ultimately help. I need to learn to give it to you.

The other day I had a call from Katy's consultant to tell me that he needed to move the operation from the planned date (Tuesday) because of two urgent cases that needed doing. He offered me either a date that would mean we'd have to cancel our much-looked-forward-to holiday in a couple of weeks or Katy would miss her first two weeks at Big School.  I didn't like either of these two options and had a panic.  I told him that I understood the need to move Kate's surgery, but was there not a third option? He said he would find one. I heard him riffling through his diary pages as he hung up.

I spent that evening tearful and worried casting gloom everywhere and panicking myself and everyone round me. I rang Bryan in London and it was a far from positive conversation as we didn't agree on the best course of action. I unloaded to my Mum, then made some phone calls, then a friend came round to talk me down and discuss the situation with me.  Just before bedtime, I sent an email asking the church family to pray about it, and then, last of all, as I lay in bed with the light off, I gave it to you.

Why didn't I do that earlier? I need to learn from this, I really do, because in the morning I took a phone call from the doctor's secretary to say that the op had been moved forward by one day only. Was that alright?

Or course it was. It was the third option. A bed had been found for Katy where supposedly there was no bed available. You sorted it out. And I could have saved myself a whole evening's tears and arguments and worry and heartache if only I had cut to the chase and trusted you first, before I shared my anxiety with a whole host of people. I cast around for someone to support me and comfort me and you were last on the list. I'm sorry.

Even so, you answered my prayer. Even though I tried everything I could think of before I tried you, you still answered my prayer. It might not have huge repercussions if you hadn't answered it; indeed I know that there are thousands of families facing more awful dilemmas than a lost holiday or missed start of school, but you are loving and merciful and you answered my prayer.

You are trustworthy and you are good. You love me. You love Katy. You love Elizabeth who is worried about her little sister and you love Bryan who is trying to take care of all of us and be responsible for so much more besides.

Help me to trust you. And in exchange for trusting you, then I will know your peace. When I lean on my own understanding, all I find is anxiety and confusion. I'd rather have the peace, but being human and perverse, even though I know the way to peace I still take a detour through chaos. I'd like to change this, please.

Hold my hand as I hold Katy's little hand, Father God. I know you won't let me down.



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