Saturday, 25 July 2009
Times Three No. 4
Have you ever been as lucky as I am to have a nephew like Sheldon in your life? If you have, then you know just how lucky I am.
Colette and I leave at 6:30 a.m. to get to the hospital on time to see Jacquie before her surgery. Ben and Jennifer are there and so we get to spend some time together.
Jacquie is strong but she is completely exhausted.
Colette and I are alone with Jacquie and I tell her that when I am getting something done or if I am in a machine I say the 23rd psalm, especially the part of ‘Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: For thou art with me.’
As I tell her this Colette and I are crying. Jacquie touches my head and says ‘You two, I am not going to die.’ I tell her we know that, it is just I want to remind her that she is never alone, no matter what.’ Jacquie says she is going to say that when they start putting the screws in her head.
Jacquie’s surgery was to start at 9:30 instead it starts at 10:40.
Last week when Sheldon heard that he has cancer and Nathan shaved his head. He gave himself an alter-ego and called himself ‘Hector the Mexican cancer killing bastard.’ You have to know here that Sheldon is funny, and I mean really funny. (His alter-ego is of someone that is not afraid of anything.)
Jennifer took her Mom to the operating room and said before they brought her in the room, that Jacquie had wanted to call Sheldon to encourage him and wish him luck in his surgery. They got her through to St. Boniface on the phone. Jacquie called him Hector and he answers back Maria. It was very funny to me.
Jeanine is with Sheldon and I don’t know exactly when his surgery starts but in the end they were both having surgery at the same time.
Suzie, Mickey, Camille, Colette, and I are all waiting for Jacquie. We talk, we cry, we play a game, we do crosswords, we are silent, we cry, we re-assure each other. 4.5 hours later the surgeon comes in and tells us that Jacquie did well.
He was able to take out a frozen square which the pathologist was able to do some tests on immediately and through that test we find out that it is brain cancer, it is aggressive, and it is 4.1 cm. Another biopsy was taken and should be back in about a week and that will give us the rest of the information. We also learn that they were able to remove half of the tumor.
I phone Ben immediately and tell him and he lets me know that he will go and tell Gilbert and Jennifer. I will stay with Jacquie until he gets back to the hospital with Jennifer and Chrisy.
The rest of the sisters leave so that Ben and Jennifer can have some privacy. The sisters leave Health Sciences to go to St. Boniface and see how Sheldon is making out. I think Jeanine, Joey, and Shelly are at St. Boniface already with Sheldon.
They allow me in the recovery room and I sit with Jacquie. Right away she says ‘Hi Renee.’ I ask if she is in pain and if she remembers anything. I tell her I love her. I tell her the kids will be here soon and they will see her when she is in the step-down room.
Jacquie said she remembers when they told her that the cancer originated in the brain and that she said to them, well that is a good thing then; and the surgeon said ‘not necessarily.’ And then she said she didn’t hear anything else he said.
As she sleeps I am crying and counting numbers in the room so that I don’t start sobbing and wake her up or scare her. I add up the bed numbers, her blood pressure numbers, her oxygen level, etc. etc. I have to keep myself from thinking of her little grandchildren and how much she adores them. And how much they would miss her and she would miss them. I remind myself she isn’t going anywhere yet.
They ask me to leave as they are moving her up to the 5th floor for step-down. I go up there and as I am walking down the hall she comes in.
After 30 minutes I go in and she is a little more awake and as a matter of fact she looks better than she has for days. The stress of waiting for this operation is at least over.
I ask her if she is in pain and if she needs more medicine, she tells me that the drain in her head hurts. I look and see all the staples in her head.
I ask if anything hurt during surgery and she said that the staples were the only thing that hurt. I asked in what way; like a pinch; are like a shooting pain; or what exactly? Jacquie in her deadpan way says ‘Renee, it hurt like getting staples stapled into your fucking head.’ I laughed and she smiled. And I have laughed ever since thinking about it.
Ben, Jennifer, and Chrisy came and we are wrecks. Ben is very strong and holding us all together, but we are all wrecked. We stay for a few hours and then leave. Jennifer stays with her Mom and Angelique came and stayed with Jennifer.
Ben drops me off and goes to St. Boniface to stay overnight with Sheldon. Sheldon is still not out of surgery.
2:00 a.m. Sheldon is finally coming out of recovery.
At 8:10 Jennifer calls to see if I am coming up to see her Mom. I tell her I will be there around 9:00 a.m. with Gilbert.
When Gilbert and I get there Jennifer is gone with Jacquie for a CT scan. We wait for about an hour for her to come back.
While we are waiting, Suzie and Camille come in. Not long after Colette and Shelly come in, and not long after that Dane comes up with some flowers for Auntie Jacquie.
I tell them that Gil is going to go in first with Jennifer because only two visitors are allowed in there at a time. Then after that, I will go in and then it can go in the order of the people that have come to visit.
I also say that if after Suzie and Camille visit Jacquie that they come and visit with Sheldon so I can go home as my back is sore. Colette and Shelly will stay with Jacquie till another visitor comes. You see Jacquie doesn’t want Sheldon left alone.
I thought that was all agreed too, but it didn't get done that way.
Jacquie looked good. We stared into each others eyes for a very long time. No words were needed. After Jacquie tells me how happy she was to get to see a picture of Domenic that Angelique brought her and how much she loves him already.
Jennifer, Gil and I went to the hospital to see Sheldon. He was in good spirits but boy I felt so broken up.
Sheldon was in surgery for a very long time, I don’t even know how long. He went in at around 2 p.m. and came out around 2 a.m. At one point they didn’t think he would make it.
You see, Sheldon wouldn’t stop bleeding.
They removed a tumor the size of a small football. It was pressing against the pancreas and the liver.
They had to remove Sheldon’s stomach. The surgery was so long and so difficult they decided to move his esophagus to his neck and in about six months they will go back in and reattach it to his intestines.
I was devastated. I am devastated.
Sheldon will have a feeding tube for about six months. During that time he will have to start chemotherapy. After that they said he will heal enough to reconnect everything. Sheldon has a long road ahead of him.
I got to spend the whole day with Sheldon yesterday. I got there around 11 and stayed till 4:15 p.m. and Sheldon is amazing.
Sheldon is the most amazing 25 year-old I have ever met.
When I was crying he would say ‘Auntie Renee it is okay.’ ‘Auntie Renee, I am thankful they removed my stomach because they have saved my life,’ when Sheldon said that I started to feel thankful too.
The doctor came in and Sheldon thanked him for saving his life. The doctor said that at one point they didn’t think he was going to make it. But that Sheldon was doing really well right now. He told Sheldon not to care about the bag at his neck or the feeding tube, because they are nothing, they are only there for a short time. That six months was not a long time and that before he knew it he would be able to eat and drink again. The doctor made me feel better.
Throughout the day I saw how remarkable Sheldon is. How he was grateful and looking at his life as a fresh start. That he is here and everyday is a new beginning. That he will do whatever he has to do and that this will one day be a bad memory.
He was his usual self and even when he got back from the recovery room he told Ben to hold his hand and when Ben did he said ‘now we are peeing together.’ He told the male nurse while he was making him comfortable that ‘I have a man crush on you Ken.’ He is amazing.
He cried when he thought of his Mom and I cried too.
Colette came up and showed him a video that his Mom got her to record and so it was nice for Sheldon that he got to see that his Mom was doing well.
Mom, Harry, and Stacy came up to see Sheldon and Mom was crying and telling Sheldon how he looked so good. Sheldon said ‘Grandma I’m okay, I’m okay Grandma.’ Mom said she had the worst day in her life with both of them in surgery. (The H1N1 was no longer considered for Mom so she had been removed from isolation.)
They told me that Angelique brought the baby to the hospital to see Mom and that she was downstairs. I was going to see her for a few minutes but the two men said they had to leave right away. In the end I could have gone and seen her as they stayed for about 30 minutes. (I was fucking pissed but would never argue in front of Sheldon. I wanted to be with him and would never want him to think he was a burden.)
Suzie and Camille came up around 4:15 and so did Ben and Chrisy. I went up to see my Mom and stayed till about 5:15 p.m. and then phoned home. I could barely walk to the car as my back feels like dead meat.
Nathan was coming up to see Sheldon and I went home.
Sheldon and Jacquie’s attitudes are remarkable. They are brave. We are warriors. St. Michael, Guardian Angel of Warriors fight with us. We are in the battle of our lives. We are in hell and have to march straight through.
God just give us one break. Please let Sheldon’s biopsy results be good. Let Sheldon be cured of cancer. It would be nice for Jacquie too, but at this point, please let Sheldon be okay. Jacquie and I would both be very happy to leave this earth if you can give Sheldon a full life.