The Morning After the Day Before

The day after surgery, I sat with Abi from about 5 a.m. She had been in a similar condition ever since coming out of surgery; half awake but comfortable. She was running a temperature of about 38 degrees, but the surgeon told me that was often the case with brain surgery patients because their immune systems were fighting the inflammation caused by the operation. Consequently, Abi had not been prescribed any antibiotics. In fact, Abi wasn’t given any strong painkillers. Just Paracetamol.

By the afternoon, Abi had improved. She even managed to stand and squat over a bed pan. Her doctors suggested that, because she was so lethargic, Abi might cope with an MRI without needing a general anaesthetic. I scoffed at the idea, but the doctors seemed insistent. So I agreed but only if I was allowed to reassure Abi by going into the scan too and holding her hand. The doctors were right; she managed to stay completely still throughout. In fact, I was watching her heart rate monitor and her pulse dropped noticeably; she must have found the whole experience so underwhelming, she fell asleep. Either that or she’s a reincarnation of the Buddha. Whatever the explanation, that wasn’t a bad effort for a 4-year old. I was a very proud father.

As the week progressed, Abi became much less lethargic. I think the improvement began when Kara arrived with some flowers. She still hadn’t said much by then, but to my surprise, she sat up to smell the bouquet: “Thank you, Kara. They’re beautiful,” Abi told her sister. She wasn’t managing to keep down much food or drink, but the nurses didn’t seem too concerned. Besides, they kept her hydrated on a saline drip and were carefully monitoring her blood sugars. It had all gone much smoother than when Abi was first in the hospital in August 2009. I was expecting a much bumpier ride. Abi continued to get much stronger as the days passed and just four days after she had gone down for surgery, she was discharged.

When we arrived home, Abi and Kara played happily in the front driveway. I sat and watched them. I had to pinch my arm to convince myself that what had happened was real; if it weren’t for the enormous plaster on the back of Abi’s head, you would not have believed what she had undergone less than a week before. Friday 20th January 2012 might have been unlucky for some, but for me, it was a day of celebration.

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