My iphone alarm started going off at 3:30am. Ricardo had just gotten into the house from his night shift, and we were getting ready to make the 4.5 hour drive to Dallas for my Gamma Knife treatment. “Hi honey” he said with a smile as he walked through our bedroom door. I am far from being a morning person, so I replied with my usual grunt and drug myself from the bed to start getting dressed and ready for my 8am appointment. It was the fastest we had ever changed to leave the house, between the anxiety and the long wait for this day… we ended getting on the road to Dallas by 4am.
“You’re at the wrong hospital” The lab tech looks at Rick and I with a pause, almost waiting for us to be upset towards her for it. ” Its a bit confusing and I apologize for the bad news. We are 1 of 2 Moncreif’s but you are actually having your appointment at the Moncrief in Dallas, not here in Ft Worth..” Well that was no problem for me because either way I was going to have to see the Doctors today, but I had to be at my appointment in 10 minutes and the GPS was giving us a time of over an hour to get from Ft Worth to Dallas, and with 9am traffic added into the equation… I thought we were in for a headache… that is until my hero Ricardo seamlessly and safely weaved us in and out of the freeway traffic, making our total time from one location to the door of the correct hospital, 30 minutes. As soon as valet took our car, Ricardo turned to me and says “No one can weave in and out of traffic like me baby!” ..I laugh everytime I think of that moment.. My smile to him was reassuring, because he was absolutely right.
We were 45 minutes late, but we were there, and that was the most important thing to us. We were with the nurse getting all the pre-op procedures done.. All the questions, if I have been sick lately, or noticed any worsening symptoms.. when the Resident and another Doctor walked in and shook our hands.. He was here to become familiar with me and my case.. “Can you tell me what exactly happened the night of your bleed?” The resident asked, and I, as always, politely responded as best and as clearly as I could. He took out a piece of paper from my chart, a copy of my CT scan the night I had my bleed. It was huge. This doctor was about 25 years old and with the most serious tone of voice, looked and Ricardo and I in the eyes, and with the most assuring look said.. “This bleed, without any doubt in my mind would have killed you. Anything of this size is most often fatal than not.”
It sounded like glass, and the words were so clear and profound that even after leaving dallas, Ricardo and I still talk about that moment. We never elaborated about what would have happened if I would have died. I kept explaining to Ricardo that, the night of my bleed, all I wanted to do was get home from work, and sleep. All I wanted to do was lay down and sleep, and it was so easy as I was sitting on the bed and ready to just fall right over into the comfortable sheets. But I didn’t. I got up, and we never looked beyond that after the night of my bleed.
We decided to take it there for the first time together, because I had done it so many times over and over in my head that it was just a scene to me. If I had decided to take that nap, I would have died in my sleep. I would have been laying on my bed, in my grandmothers home, not alive. Not breathing, and I’m not even sure what sight it would’ve been for her to find me, dead, laying in her home. In the same home where I have spent most of my life. Shes 86 years old, and I’m sure nothing good would have come from an 86 year old woman finding her granddaughter dead on her bed. Ricardo was headed home when I made the phone call to him to come pick me up and take me to the ER, but what if he has received a different phone call? A much more frantic one, involving a different trip to the hospital.. With the most worried look come from his eyes, Ricardo said to me,
“I just, I just don’t know what I would have done..”
“Could you even imagine if that would have happened to me?” ..
“I just can’t. I can’t even see it because I don’t know what I would have done if you would have died that night.”
“I am amazed at the recovery you have made from your bleed to this point, just looking at you, you cannot tell that you have suffered a major hemorrhage like this.” The resident was an incredibly intelligent person, and he was so young too which made me respect him and his focus to study, but I was so glad that someone had said it, and he wasn’t afraid to say such a thing or make such a conclusion from the evidence he had in front of him. I held onto the paper, staring at it while the treating physician came in to explain how the Gamma Knife Radiosurgery procedure would work. I would be having it done at the Zale Lipshy University Hospital just a block or so away, with an arrival time set for 6am. I would have an MRI, my 4th Angiogram performed, and then, the Gamma Knife. I had no questions after the explaining and with a big brother sort of feeling, he looked at me and said “Everything is going to be alright, we are going to take care of you completely.” It was nice to hear.
We arrived at my last appointment of the day, located at Zale Lipshy. I was going to register for surgery and receive a tour of what I would experience tomorrow, plus patient education. A tour!? I was so excited that this hospital took the time to do things like this for their patients. It’s a big piece of the puzzle that many other hospitals leave out. It wasn’t long before we were sent to the elevator to go to the ground level of the hospital, where we roamed around lost for about 10 minutes, before being paired up with my nurse who would be seeing me on both days. He kindly answered questions, gave us information packets and numbers, plus let Ricardo know that he would be calling him periodically throughout the morning after my procedures were finished tomorrow.. which is when I got the bad news. Ricardo would have to spend entire the day away from me while I go back and forth between my personal room, the MRI, the Angiogram room, and my Gamma Knife… I was a little disappointed that he wouldn’t be there to at least walk me from room to room.. but I understood that a lot of these areas were restricted access only. Full of knowledge ending with a tour of the Gamma Knife room, our appointment ended and I was set free to leave and return for surgery in the morning.
It was 2pm when we left the hospital to go check into the hotel. We were both so relieved to be in a place where procedures flowed flawlessly. I was also informed that I was going to be the only patient in the small wing that day, so we joked that I would definitely be receiving “all the attention I could ask for” which made me feel like this was the best hospital for me to belong to, all over again.