This morning Mal woke up with me laying next to her in her hospital bed, and Rachel sitting on the bed near her feet. She rolled over, looked around and then asked, "Where's Micah?" She was in good spirits, and her nurse Melissa stayed after she clocked out just to push Mal's bed down to the operating room. Mal really bonded with her over the last three nights, and last night Mal let her change her diaper for the first time - which was a huge step for both Melissa and Mal.
At around 7:45 Mal was given a drug to make her sleepy but not knock her out. Rachel and I told her that we loved her and that we'd be here waiting for her when she got back. She then said, "Love you" to the both of us and laid down. She started to call for us as they pushed her into the operating room, but we stayed strong until she was out of sight.
The first two hours of the procedure will be placing sensors all over her body to test her neurological reactions during the surgery. Then the work of removing the tumor will begin.
At around 2 the surgeons called for the third time. They offered encouraging news about the progress of the surgery. The woman on the phone said there had been no complications as of yet, and that Malorie is holding up nicely. She has not needed a blood transfusion and her vitals are strong. The team is expected to call again in about an hour, and we are hopeful that this will be the time that they tell us that Mal's surgery is complete, a success, and that the tumor is benign. A lot of times in moments of crisis, I forget to thank the Lord for all He has given me. Thank you God for providing me comfort today. Thank you for my time with Malorie and the rest of my family. Thanks for the capacities that I take for granted, like being able to breathe, see, speak, and the coherence to type this message to my friends and family. Thank you God for Jesus, and Dr. Smyth, and modern technology that is currently in use to save my baby girl's life. Waiting is difficult, but we have hope - and when you have hope you have everything you need.
At 3:15 the anesthesiologist came out to tell us that Mal's tumor was 90% out and that there had been no complications yet. Even more impressive by her measure was the fact that Malorie still had not needed, and likely at this point will not need a blood transfusion. She said that Mal is definitely a fighter, and that everyone is very optomistic in the OR right now. So are we. We are buoyed by the strength of our faith that Mal will be delivered through this peril. At just that moment, Aunt Carol walked in with the official, 2011 Mal-o-Rally shirts. We hope to show them off to our baby girl soon.
At around 5:15 Dr. Smyth finally came out to see us. We all had to sit down to take in the situation. He said that he is confident that he removed 100% of the tumor and did not do any perceptible damage to Mal's nervous system. The tumor was fuzed to the base of her brain in one place, and to her spinal column in another, but he was able to shave off the tumor until there was no detectable trace remaining at 15x magnification. He also said that the in room analysis of the tumor revealed that it is in fact ependymoma. There are four grades of this type of tumor. First is benign, and fourth is malignant. Grades two and three are somewhere in between, but will likely need some treatment (likely radiation) to clear up. Therefore, in his opinion, it would be in our best interest to prepare ourselves for the likelihood that Malorie will need treatment for cancer. The lab results of the biopsy will be in by the end of the week. Until then, I plan on staring at the miracle that is Mal, and being joyous in the work that was done today.