Within thirty-six hours of spending the better part of the day at Johns Hopkins, we were again in ambulance-transport heading back. In fact, I’m actually writing this as we’re driving there on Thursday morning and will add to it throughout the day. I so wish I could keep you updated as the day unfolds, but our home is vulnerable. We have bad people in our lives that probably wouldn’t hesitate to inflict more harm and damage.
Today’s visit is surgical. At 3:30, provided things stay on schedule, Ryan will be in surgery where the surgeon will attempt to retrieve the Celect IVC (Inferior Vena Cava) filter that was implanted soon after Austin Vantrease and Jonathan May beat Ryan. This filter has the appearance similar to the frame of an umbrella and even opens and closes like one. It was necessary at the time to protect him from blood clots that formed in his legs from breaking free and reaching the heart. The intent was to leave it in place for his lifetime.
Then a few months ago during an MRI to scan his bladder and kidneys we learned the punctures might be — or become — life-threatening. It had shifted! Which is bad enough. But four of the filter’s prongs had also punctured the huge vain; one being dangerously close to his bile (in the small intestines). You can read more about the risks and tough decisions that needed to be made at Ultimate Paradox: Damned if You do, Damned if You Don’t.
I’m a realist. I know the odds of getting this filter out are not in our favor. The entire day will likely bring no resolution. Doctors are suggesting that it might be best just to leave it in place and accept the risk. I disagree. I must at least try to get this ticking time bomb defused that’s in my son’s body. It’s gut-wrenching knowing that I might be just hours away from the worst decision in my life. I just keep reminding myself that I’ve been through this countless times before.
It’s now four hours later. We arrived without delay and ran through the registration process hours ago. Ryan is still in pre-op, waiting his turn to get in to the operating room. He’s ready to go. He has been for a while. The last we heard, the schedule is three hours delayed, meaning we are two hours out. We can only hope the surgery before his is speedy. So much for that 3:30 scheduled operation. Eh, I’ve been around the block more than a few times when it comes to hospitals and schedules. Enough to know that a 3:30 appointment simply means this is when the six-hour window begins as to when the appointment will actually happen. It’s worse than waiting on the cable company!
“Nothing to do but wait” would be fine, but I took advantage of this time to give him a full-body stretch and massage. We found the Orioles and Pirates baseball game (although we’re not a fan of either team, we’ll root for the Pirates since we favor the National League) on the television too. The game’s a blowout, but it’s baseball nonetheless.
Ryan went to the operating room about an hour after when scheduled. Here’s the odd thing… if all goes well — meaning the filter can be retrieved — he’ll be in longer. If successful, it should be about an hour. If it won’t come out, then it’ll be forty minutes. This is because the first thirty are prep and sedation. The surgeon told us he would know within ten minutes if it will be safe to remove it.
Just got a call from the operating room nurse that Ryan is sedated and the operation will begin any moment. This is one of those rare times I’d rather wait to hear from them. Yep, no problem keeping me waiting this time. The outcome is now ten to thirty minutes away.
Ten minutes pass.
My cellphone rings exactly at the twenty-minute mark. It’s the nurse. I prepare myself for the discouraging news. This way, when I hear it I won’t just break down in the middle of the waiting room. I have a way of mentally stepping out of my body. I isolate emotions and bring logic and reasoning forefront. I know before I even speak to the nurse that it was a bust. One thing I learned is people are quick to give good news. Chances are, I’d probably know by the tone and message of the first sentence or two.
Nurse: Mr. Diviney, Ryan is out of surgery and on his way to recovery.
Me: How is he?
Nurse: He handled everything well.
[It was out this point that I mentally accepted the filter was not retrievable].
Me: When will we get to see him?
Nurse: The Doctor will come out to see you in a few minutes first.
[I know the answer, but I need to ask anyway…]
Me: Was the IVC filter successfully removed?
Nurse: We got it out!
I was so convinced that I would get bad news that I had to ask twice more, “You got it out?” I’m not joking, I was actually trusting my preconceived outcome more than reality itself. Even after hearing three times that the filter was out, I was not allowing myself to breath a sigh a relief until I heard it directly from the surgeon’s own lips.
…and that I did just minutes later. He said it was surprisingly easy. Not at all what he expected. The only follow-up is a seven day blood thinner injection.
We arrived home eleven hours since when we left that morning. Mentally exhausted. Physically drained. But happy the right decision was made for Ryan.