The day of surgery, October 1, 2013. We had to be there at 5:30am but were told the evening before that he may not be called back until 7:30. Well, 5 minutes after arriving, the process began. In pre-op our Pastor, Robby led all of us (including friends who made their way back) in prayer. When they wheeled Jake off, he looked back at us briefly and gave a quick wave. He was in their hands now and any control that I thought I had was gone. I never really had any control, but the busy work (doctor’s appointments, arrangements for Megan and Sam, coordinating with my Sister for her visit, talking to people, etc.) all made me feel like I had control. Just an illusion.
We sat in a corner in the waiting room knowing that a few of our family and friends would be there. What we didn’t realize was that over 30 of our family and friends would be there that day to show support. As the day went on, that little corner filled up over and over again. I can’t begin to tell you what a welcome distraction that was!! People were talking, laughing, sometimes sitting quietly, drinking coffee, just visiting with one another. When they hollered (no joke….she hollered) across the waiting room that “His surgery has started!!”, we all looked at each other and just laughed at the absurdity of her yelling over the heads of everyone in the waiting room. It’s probably one of those ~you had to be there~ moments, but I view it as a God-thing! Instead of fretting, I was laughing! Thanks God for the gift of giggles!!
Each hour they were supposed to update us on the progress of Jake’s surgery. Now, keep in mind that his surgery was scheduled to last 4-6 hours. His surgeon has cleared his day to devote solely to Jacob so we were in this for the long haul. It felt as though that first update would never come. My sister saw a few times that I was starting to worry, so she’d say “Three guys walk into a bar”. She had nothing beyond that but each time she said it, we laughed and it calmed my spirit. That line will always hold a special memory for me now and I love her for it!
They finally called us to the desk for an update. The girl, who had previously shouted across the waiting room looked up at me and said, “they are still working on him”. Huh?? Well, of course they are. But HOW is he doing? This is what I was saying internally but God had His hand tightly over my mouth because He knows that sometimes my mouth doesn’t filter well. I stood there for a moment and looked at her and said, “do people usually stand here and look at you hoping you’ll say more?” and she said “yep, but they make us do these hourly updates”. Okay, so for the next 3-5 hours we’d wait for them to tell us that they were still working on him. Fun!
Hour 2 came along but no call to the desk. 2 hours and 5 minutes. 2 hours and 10 minutes. 2 hours and 15 minutes. “Three guys walk into a bar.” Laugh. 2 hours and 20 minutes. 2 hours and 25 minutes. “Tyriver family, will you go to Consultation Room A”. What? Why?
Drew, myself, Susie my sister, my Mom, my Gran and Jamie, Jake’s girlfriend all piled into Consultation Room A. I was pacing and then felt Susie’s hand on my shoulder…”it’s probably just an update because they are halfway through the surgery”. Okay, I can believe that. Looked over at Gran, who was obviously in distress and handed her a garbage can. Called out for wet paper towels and sweet Rob came back with wet toilet paper because the bathrooms had no paper towels. Got Gran all good and then the door opened and in walked the surgeon. To say that our hearts stopped at that moment is no lie. I found out later from my Sister that she asked Drew how he was feeling and that he admitted to thinking that they lost him when the doctor walked in. Drew and I still haven’t discussed that and I’m not sure I can because I think that the flood gates will finally open and I just can’t.
So, I stood in place looking at the surgeon, who leaned against the door jam and said, “Everything went great!”. I walked up to him completely invading his space and said “What??? You’re done??”. He said that the tumor had “come out like Crisco”. We will never view Crisco the same way again (sorry if I ruined it for you). The original concerns of the tumor touching the optic nerve and carotid artery ended up being a non-issue because of how easily they were able to suction and pull the tumor out. That foreign object was out of Jacob’s head. Gone. Done. And in 2 ½ hours time!! Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!!
Don’t get me wrong. Had the doctor told us what we initially feared when he walked into that room, we’d still have to Praise God from Whom all blessings flow. Key word…..ALL! God is good, even when we don’t like the answer. God is good when things don’t go the way we hope. God is good even when He decides to take our loved ones home. But so thankful that God allowed Jake to still be here.
His recovery time was amazing. Being young and healthy definitely helped his recovery. He was out of the Neuro ICU in less than 24 hours, up walking the next day and home 3 days after surgery. He started back to classes 2 weeks later (slowly….one class a day, etc.) and by week 3, he was just about back to his regular routine. He was tired, no question, but determined to not allow this semester to get away from him.
Just now, one month later as I’m sitting here typing this, I hear him upstairs playing his guitar and singing while working on worship he will lead at a Youth Retreat next weekend. If you’ve ever doubted for a moment that there was a God, I hope that this little story pointed you straight to Him. We are forever thankful that Jacob’s story ended this way and are thankful that God wants him on this earth just a little bit longer. Thanks be to Him!!