Raquel did well enough during the drive up to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. I just remember how sick she looked and how concerned we were about “brain tumor surgery,” but we tried to put our faith in God and feel his love and comfort as we hoped for the best.
We arrived about eight that evening and met with the neurologist who told us he wanted to get an MRI the next morning to get more details about the tumor and that she would definitely need to have surgery to relieve the pressure and inflammation in her brain. He said it was very urgent that we did the surgery because they could see some bleeding in the brain and the tumor was obviously causing her neurologic problems. He said they would remove as much of the tumor as possible and then be able to test it to see if it was cancerous and of what type. That would determine what treatment options would be open to us after that.
We spent the night in the neurology care center. The nurses were awesome and took great care of us. There was one couch that my husband slept on and a rocking chair. I just snuggled up with Raquel in her bed, even though they said I wasn’t supposed to, they let me and we slept just fine. I think it was comforting for us both The next day we did the second MRI. They wanted to scan her head and also her spine, to rule out any tumors there. So the whole thing took about two hours. That is such a long time for anyone to lie so still. Raquel told them she had to go to the bathroom halfway through just so she could have some movement because it was just so rough and the machine makes a loud noise too. When the results from that came back, it showed that her spine was clear and they were able to get a more thorough image of the tumor which would act like a GPS for when they did the surgery.
That day, a volunteer came by our room and asked if we’d like a visit from her puppy. Raquel said yes, so we put a sheet on her bed and let the dog get up and be on the bed for a few minutes. He was really nice. When they were ready to leave, the lady said that the dog would like to say a prayer. Raquel obediently folded her arms. The dog jumped up on the side of the bed and proceeded to make sounds that were a little like growls. It was too cute, and it cheered our spirits!
They scheduled the surgery for 8 AM the next morning. Some sweet friends came to visit that night to give us some joy and we were busy posting an update on Facebook for all our sweet friends and family.
The night before Raquel’s surgery, I was going to help her take a shower and wash her hair. She donned her swimsuit and we were on our way down the hall. I wasn’t sure if I wanted to spend another night trying to share a bed with her, so we were thinking of different sleep arrangements. My husband was thinking of going to stay with my uncle who lived 15 minutes away. He had made the plan and told us he would be back at 7:30 in the morning before she went to surgery at eight.
Mike told Raquel the plan and that he would be back in the morning. She responded by asking a question that brought tears to both our eyes. She wanted to know if the doctors would wake her up so she could say goodbye if she wasn’t going to make it through the surgery. It was a possibility I had thought of myself but knew and felt it was highly unlikely. We both adamantly assured her that she would come through the surgery just fine. We told her to please not worry about that and Mike immediately changed his plan and assured her he would stay the night and be there.
I helped Raquel shower and wash her beautiful, long hair. It took me forever to dry it because it is so thick. Again, I slept soundly with Raquel until about 5:30 in the morning when her phone alarm went off. My husband had created a special alarm for her a month before, so she could get up and run with her cross country team, and the alarm was his voice telling her to, “Get up now Raquel! Your alarm is going off!” This was quite a rude awakening and it went off two more times before we could get it turned off for good!
The next morning, Mike and a dear friend of ours gave Raquel the most tender, comforting blessing. I could feel God’s spirit so strongly in the room as they laid their hands on her head and exercised the holy Priesthood of God. It gave peace to all our hearts and we prepared her to go to surgery. She was in good spirits as we walked to another part of the hospital. We said our goodbyes and gave our last reassurances, and the nurses wheeled her off. Then came another round of uncertainty. All my worries and concerns came through in tears, along with the feelings of love for my daughter. I talked with Mike about what the future might bring and it didn’t take long before the comforting peace of God’s Spirit returned to both our hearts.