In light of the chaos that ensued yesterday which ultimately necessitated my being admitted to the hospital, my ability to maintain a secret neatly bundled in a private package has suddenly gotten more difficult.
Yesterday was the second time I participated in Emory’s Doctor for a Day. A program for corporate and community leaders to come and experience various medical and technological advancements while also shadowing physicians and medical staff in action. I was asked to participate, not because I’m a corporate or community leader, but simply because I’m a patient involved with Emory Healthcare and willing to openly share my story and our experiences.
As a part of this experience, we toured various departments, met with Emory leadership, were up close and personal in the Neonatal ICU, Fertility Clinic, various Intensive Care Units and most intimately, witnessed various surgical procedures in the OR.
It’s been a fascinating and eye-opening experience. The exposure reinforces my confidence in my choice of Emory for my care, while also intensifying my gratitude for being on the other side now and not the active patient in treatment.
I found myself yesterday, for the second time in two weeks, wearing zip-up “bunny suit” scrubs, surgical mask and hair cap standing in OR 14. The same operating room where I laid as a patient having my craniotomy two and a half years ago and home and “office” for my surgeon Costas Hadjipanayis. It is there that I’ve returned twice as an observer, grateful survivor and patient with profound respect and perspective.
I’d barely eaten breakfast by 7:30am yesterday and managed to polish off a half cup of coffee before my presentation to the group at 9:00am. While I was still hungry, I set off with the group carrying my bottle of water having barely drank more than a few ounces by the time we hit the doors to the OR at 10:30am.
I know I should know better. With my low blood pressure and everything else, I should have known better indeed.
I stood enthralled with interest listening to Costas discuss the case. I asked questions with the group and had respect for not only the patient on the table, but for what I myself had experienced. It felt remarkable that I had come full circle, emerging two and a half years later on other side of where I once lay.
Suddenly, I felt very hungry and I felt my blood sugar drop. I began to shake and I got very hot. I felt as if I was re-breathing nothing but hot air and started to pull at my mask in an attempt to get some clean slow cool breaths of air. My body began to go numb and my ears starting to ring and my vision became impaired. The minuscule portion of my brain that had yet to shut down, knew there was no turning back.
I was going down and down I went.
So, there I was. On the floor of the operating room passed out only feet from where I had once laid two and a half years ago. The irony did not escape me nor did the level of embarrassment.
In no way had I been bothered by what I had seen, yet, there I was laid out on the floor, nurses holding my legs in the air getting blood to my brain and voices talking to me.
I was a pathetic hot mess. At least I didn’t cry and choose to attempt humor instead.
In came a hospital bed and off I went out of the OR to be evaluated and cared for and eventually admitted. Tests were run, lots of blood was drawn and an MRI was ordered ensure I was 100% neurologically clear.
I’ve already written and admitted that we’ve finally arrived at that place where we finally feel entitled to move on and away from the place where my brain tumor resides in the forefront and has an unbalanced weight in our decisions.
It’s taken two years to get here, but I and we are here. It is beautiful.
The piece of shit will always be with us and always be a part of our lives. We’ll always be fighting it and we’ll always be fearing it. However, we’re moving on living our lives and doing so without placing the piece of shit first in our minds.
This equilibrium took time to find and settle into, but we are living the life we had always planned to live.
As I lay on the floor of the OR, slowly gaining glimmers of clarity I could hear Costas talking and directing in an attempt to help me. I could hear the concern in his voice. I could hear conflict and I could hear the uncertainty if he could speak up. I spoke up and said it for him.
Aside from my husband, Costas was the first person I told I was pregnant four months ago. As my surgeon, I had confided in him our desire for another child and my fears surrounding that.
We’ve had honest discussions and while I know no one has the magic crystal ball to predict when the piece of shit will return, Costas has always encouraged us to forge ahead, pick up the pieces, live life and embrace my stability.
Unequivocally he’s encouraged us regardless of what our decision would be. It only made sense that I shared the news with him after I told Paul. Selfishly, I needed someone to remind me of what I already knew but needed to hear one more time. It was ok and it should be celebrated. I am stable.
My private and confidential secret is no longer bundled in a small package anymore, but still neatly packaged and hiding in my belly confirmed by two ultrasounds in the past 24 hours.
While I trust in the confidentiality of all those who treated me and came in contact with me yesterday, the entire ordeal simply makes more sense when you know that my being pregnant was the tipping point for my hungry, dehydrated body with a history of running on low blood pressure.
While it’s been fun keeping this little secret for so long (16 weeks) and it would’ve been fun to keep the charade going for a few more weeks, it’s simply time to come clean.
Everything happens for a reason and everything will be alright.