Nightmare at Mayo

The second opinion regarding Ashley’s tumor at Mayo, started out on a bright note. The neurosurgeon was very confident he could biopsy the tumor…aka Fred… deep in Ashley’s brain, in order to determine exactly what we were dealing with. We went home with a surgery date of October 31.

During Ashley’s initial hospitalization and bleed at Memorial in Springfield, I did what I usually do when pushed in a corner, and opened the Bible. I opened to the passage “Do not be afraid. Just believe and she will be healed.” So, I took this passage to heart and over the next few weeks while we were waiting for surgery, I recited the passage over and over trying to take it to heart, placing her in God’s hands.

The night before we were scheduled to leave, I broke down in the car while driving home from work… praying that I hadn’t made the wrong decision. Ashley, with her history of autism, would do whatever I suggested. A small voice spoke to me and basically said how dare I think I had more power than God… after all, I had placed her in His hands.

So off to Mayo we went. Ashley calmly waited for the procedure, while the rest of sat on pins and needles. I was the only one allowed to go with her to the pre-op area, where she lay on the bed watching one of her favorite shows. When it came time to go back to surgery, I kissed her on the forehead and squeezed her hand.

It wasn’t long before the neurosurgeon called us back… although it seemed like a lifetime. He said the biopsy had been successful and Ashley came through the surgery with flying colors. They sent us upstairs to wait on her to be sent to her room.

We waited and waited and waited…. the phone at the nursing station rang several times and the nurse would glance in at us from time to time with a somber look on her face. After what seemed like an eternity, we were escorted up to the ICU waiting room. My heart sunk deep into may chest… but God, you promised?!

The neurosurgeon eventually made it to the waiting room. Ashley had developed a massive brain bleed while in the recovery area. He had performed an emergent craniotomy evacuating the bleed. Her intracranial pressure had at one time been over 60mmHg…normal adult pressure is 7 to 15 mmHg at rest. I have never seen a doctor cry before, but this one was. Her prognosis was poor. If she lived, she would most likely be a vegetable.

I repeated my mantra to myself, “do not be afraid…just believe”. I looked at the neurosurgeon and said, “you don’t know Ashley. Her brain doesn’t respond like a normal brain.” He looked at me with sympathy and left the room.

During the night, Ashley received her 3rd external ventricular drain..according to Ashley’s nurses they had never seen this before. The most they had seen was two. She was on the ventilator and still unresponsive.

The following morning, when her doctor made his rounds, he walked into the ICU waiting room where we had spent the night with a huge grin on his face. Ashley had squeezed his hand! We were not out of the woods yet, but things were looking up!:)

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