Matt Damon, you suck. I picked up the movie We Bought A Zoo from Redbox to watch tonight. It’s about a comfortably middle class white family in which the mother has died and everybody is working through their grief when dad uses his sizeable inheritance to purchase an ailing animal park on a whim. Actually, it is a mediocre bit of schmaltzy rehash. I enjoyed it like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich except for this one shard of broken glass that runs through the whole movie: mom. Healing and reconstructing a life after her loss is the theme, so she figures prominently. Normally, this would be okay. Poe would have thought the plot to be well grounded, I think.

I just can’t do death, anymore. Me. Ms. suicidal teen USA. Mary, Queen of Macabre. My art was filled with gore, torture, and themes of death. My writings mirrored that. I still prefer black to any other colour in my attire. She who even recently considered becoming a mortician. I, I can’t handle the concept of death, anymore. I’m so disappointed in myself.

It’s because of my baby. I’ve been there. I’m still there. I’m going there on the 25th of June, it looks like. The date for surgery is the 25th. They’ll attempt another resection of what is left of her tumour. My ex still has questions, so we’re going to meet with the surgeons on Wednesday next. I could come up with more questions, but those I had, have already been answered. We’ll see how it goes with my prayers.

Every time she goes under anaesthesia before the MRIs, ever since the first one, I have to put myself under with her. I swallow the panic and fear that would otherwise drown me when her eyes flutter, roll back, and she becomes unresponsive. This surgery will be different than the first; it should be shorter, less traumatic in scope, more precise. In may ways it will be the same, though. the anaesthesia room kiss before she is rolled into the operating room. She will be catheterised, rolled onto her stomach, strapped down, the IVs inserted into each hand. Long rods will be screwed into her skull through a large metal halo that will ensure she is immobilised through the procedure. Electrodes will be inserted into her major muscle groups from the waist to her calves, monitoring nerve response.

After the initial incision, her trapezius, rhomboideus major, and erector spinae muscles will be severed and retracted from the spine around the T3 to T5 or T6 vertebrae. The dorsal bit of the spine will be removed from these vertebrae in a laminectomy, the old screws will need to be removed. Once the bone and it’s ligaments are removed, revealing the dura mater – the sheath that envelops the spinal cord, it is cut through, careful to avoid vital blood vessels which are sparse in this part of the spine. scar tissue from the first surgery 2.5 years ago will have to be assessed and dealt with. Once at the spinal cord, the precise location of the tumour is re-checked and an incision is made into the centre of the vital bundle of nerves that allow for communication between the brain and all the lower part of her body. Nerves are necessarily severed, and here the damage/healing starts. The tumour differs only slightly from the surrounding healthy nerve tissue. A narrow tube that vibrates at ultrasonic frequencies is inserted where the surgeons believe the tumour is. they liquefy and the tissue is immediately evacuated through the tube. Every so often, they check for damage to the different muscle groups via the aforementioned electrodes embedded in the muscles. No or limited response and you stop sucking in that area and move on to another. Rinse and repeat until the surgeons are confident they have taken what they can, then everything is sewn and screwed up in reverse order. The electrodes are removed, as are the long rods, the intubation tube, and she is wheeled into recovery.

We won’t know what damage was done to what nerves until after she wakes up, and is coherent enough to take simple instructions to see if she can move her legs, feet, and toes. She will have 2 IV shunts to switch between morphine and saline to keep her hydrated. The morphine burns every time it enters the vein. The day after surgery, she is wheeled into the MRI to get a follow-up and see what the results of their efforts were on the tumour. After 2 days she will be slathered in plaster to make a mould for a clam-shell brace to support her spine while the newly attached ligaments, tendons, muscle and bones heal together. If hr legs are strong enough, and her brace comes in, she will have the opportunity to try to walk on the 3rd day. Barring any complications, she will have the catheter out on the 3rd or 4th day after surgery, and we will see how her bladder control is. Hopefully, she will be able to have a bowel movement, too, and that will be the end of the hospital stay. Then it’s back home to recover for a few weeks followed by any physical therapy that may be needed.

Within 2 weeks we will have the tissue results that will tell us if the tumour was still grade 1, which is benign, or if it has “upgraded” to a higher level that may require other measures, including chemotherapy or radiation treatments at the Cyclotron here in Bloomington, or if it’s a grade 4, to enjoy what time we have left together, usually 1-5 years from diagnosis.

Some of our friends have been on the receiving end of a miracle or two, a couple never got theirs. We’ve been blessed with one, already, and I am forever grateful for it. But there is that horrid dread that supersedes worry, hiding at the edges of my psyche. My ex has it, too. We all have it. But it can’t be shown leniency, it must be held back. There’s no time for that when the dishes and clothes and homework have to be done, tickle wars have to be waged, and every giggle, laugh, word and deed must be cherished. I want to hug her into me, to protect her, keep her safe from the world outside, but it’s the trouble within that confounds me. I’m powerless. I can’t kiss this better. All I know to do is to pray, love, laugh, and cry. Tonight, Matt Damon made me cry and fear. I may never forgive him for that.