Danjela went into surgery around 1:30am. And the agonizing wait began.
I had been posting updates on FB as we went through the night, but already messages of support were starting to come in. Most of them were shocked responses. What?? Not Danjela! Not this healthy, beautiful, 11 year old artist, singer and ballerina.
We were given a few options on where we could wait. We could wait in her actual PICU room, but we said no right away. I didn't think I could handle being in there when (or if) they wheeled her back in and I wasn't prepared for what I was seeing....or even if the news was bad. We could wait in the waiting area outside the PICU on the same floor or we could wait in the waiting room on the surgical floor. One nurse suggested we wait there in case they needed to find us, so down we went with our Chaplain, who's name was Olive.
At first, I was numb. Still trying to process what the hell was happening to our family. We did normal things....plugged in our cell phones, posted an update, got some water, tried to get comfortable. We knew we were in for a long wait.
I remember having moments of ups and downs. During the ups, I would be calm....able to have a conversation, just maintaining general conversation. Olive was very good and skilled at asking questions that would get us talking....keeping our minds off the agony of waiting.
But the downs.....the downs felt like I was descending into the pit of hell. My mind would go everywhere. I remember telling Olive about Danjela's upcoming 5th Grade Continuation and how just last week we bought her a beautiful new dress to wear. I remember falling apart, crying, and saying how terrified I was that we would be burying her in that dress. My mind went there......this was our reality at the moment.
At one point, I went off into a corner by myself, got on my knees and started praying the rosary. I had been clutching them in my hands since we were told she had a brain tumor back in the ER. I just kept saying the Hail Mary and Our Father over and over and over......whispered prayers, begging, fervently repeated over and over. The act of feeling those beads in between my fingers was calming, hypnotic almost. It was something tangible that I could control. I clutched them clutching them so hard that at one point during the night they broke.
I only made it about halfway through before I lost it again......a mother's wailing, tears that just won't stop coming, begging God on my knees not to take Danjela away from me. I remember feeling Marc's hands on my back and shoulders all through this. He was suffering too....in his own way.
By this point, at least an hour and a half had gone by and Olive felt that we should have gotten some word. So she went up to the PICU on our behalf. While I waited for her to come back, I went into the restroom and caught my reflection in the mirror. My face was swollen, my eyes puffy and almost closed shut from crying so much. I can't ever remember crying so hard.
By the time I came out, Olive was coming up to us. I could see her walking somewhat fast, like she had a purpose, and I could feel my heart fluttering, my stomach dropping and my blood running cold. She smiled and said that she had news......Danjela was stable! This was HUGE and such a good sign. Olive was a little upset for us that we had to wait on that 2nd floor, so she insisted that we go back up to the PICU where we could go in and talk to the nurse directly.
Stable......she was stable......which meant she was alive. A small weight was starting to lift from my stomach and I had a glimmer of hope that she would come through this.
When we got up to the PICU, Olive introduced us to Alex, the nurse who was there when they brought Danjela in and she was the nurse that would be receiving updates from the ER. She would also be our night nurse during our stay in the PICU. She told us that Danjela was, indeed, stable. They were able to go in and relieve the pressure with no complications and that they felt that since she was doing so well, they were going to go in and remove the tumor.
Thank You God! Thank You Jesus! Thank You Blessed Virgin Mary and all the Saints! She wasn't out of the woods completely, but there was Hope.
About two hours later, I went in for another update. The surgery had gone well. They got most of the tumor and were finishing up the surgery. After that, they were going to take her for another CT Scan, clean her up, bring her to the PICU and then we could see her. Alex said it would probably be about another hour and a half.
Four hours......her surgery took four long, agonizing hours. At the beginning, we didn't know what the outcome would be. I was fully prepared to have to post a message that Danjela had gone Home to Jesus. But instead, I was posting that God took care of our baby. He touched her and used the hands of the surgeons to see her through. My faith soared. My Hope was in Him that He would continue to walk with Danjela and us through this journey. At this point, Danjela was alive. It didn't matter, at that moment, what the side effects or neurological repercussions would be.