13th July 2013 - T minus 0 days!
For 5 1/2 weeks we have lived the nightmare of finding out Ray has an aortic aneurism that needs repair. He's had appointment after appointment, including X-rays, scans of his body to check his blood tracking, fitness tests and general well being examinations. His body is like a pin cushion and my heart has been heavy for him for what he's had to endure. He's never really been ill and the last time he had surgery was when he was 7 having a tonsillectomy!!
I have every faith in our surgeon Ian Chetter and his team but I've lived this nightmare before in 2008 when Dad went in for the same operation. The look on my Dads face and hearing his words as mum and I left him at the hospital haunts me anyway but it seems to have been on repeat in my head for the last 2 weeks. Please somebody take it away and let me rest!! I keep having to tell myself we're under different circumstances - Ray is fit, otherwise healthy and all his fitness and wellbeing tests have come back with flying colours, he has to pull through this op, he has too, he hasn't an option, I'm not ready to lose him yet.
Today is the day I have to drive him to the hospital for his corrective surgery. My eyes won't stop leaking and my hands are shaking on the steering wheel. I'm trying to be strong, trying to encourage and tell him everything will be OK yet my heart is breaking and I'm absolutely petrified I won't be driving him home. Petrified in case things don't go to plan.
Surgery is scheduled for 11:00am after having been delayed from 9 and we're sat in his room waiting. Amy has booked him in and I've unpacked his bag and placed his lucky teddy on his bedside table. The teddy that Benji made him when he was going away with Andy on challenge 66 (we recorded things in his arms and legs so he only has to press his foot to hear Benji say goodnight God bless Daddy or a hand to hear me wish him good luck). So everything is set, he has his sexy gown on, his beautiful stockings to prevent DVT and we're sat waiting to sign consent forms, and waiting, and waiting. It's 10:55 and they're still not signed, what's happening?
At 11:50 his surgeon Ian Chetter came into the room to say they were all set and ready to roll, he'd asked another consultant surgeon colleague of his to help and ran through the op again - but all of a sudden we have a complication!?! It seems that the feed to his left kidney is incorporated within the aneurism so not only would he have to have that repaired he would also have to have a renal graft put into the repair which ups the risks and now were talking possibly dialysis. Woah... Stop the bus where did this come from? I suppose that's what the pre op test are for and they know what they are doing and he has assured us he can sew! We were in his hands now, the roller coaster had started and there's no getting off until the end. In hindsight its probably the best thing they could do telling us about that now as we haven't really got tome to worry about it.
I have to say saying goodbye and good luck but then watching the man I love most in the world walk out of the room and down for surgery has to go down as one of the most heartbreaking things I've had to do and watch. After he left I closed the door and broke my heart. I cried like I'd never cried before. Please God and Dad and Charlotte and Elsie and Harry and Lou watch over him and bring him back to me, I'm really not ready for you to take him way from me yet, we've too much love to give each other, too much of a life to lead, too many plans we need to fulfill. I composed myself and headed for the door to come home to see our gorgeous little boy.
Sat in reception was my best friend Jeanie and her husband Mel to offer their support and she gave me the biggest hug imaginable. I wasn't expecting to see them but God I needed that hug and I can never thank her enough for it. She is precious and knows me better than I know myself sometimes. I have to say at this point that the support network we have is absolutely unbelievable and I can't thank everyone enough. We've had texts, calls, visits and cards which have all done him (and me) the world of good. It's amazing when someone tells you how crap you are as a friend you believe them until something like this happens and you actually realise how gifted you are to have so many wonderful people in your life who do actually care. We've learned that we should start listening to them more and not the odd one who really couldn't give a hoot but pays lip service anyway!
We'd been told his op would be 3hrs so the waiting game began. Jeanie came home with me in my car closely followed by Mel and Ricky and we got home to find more support. Not just Jonathan and his girlfriend Katie (Rays son who lives in Newcastle had come down to see his Dad and offer his help and support) but Rory, Elly and Poppy had come and one of my best friends Katy were also here for me. We all spent the day outside, chatting, reminiscing and keeping busy replying to texts from my friends wanting updates . I spent most of it pacing (I do believe there maybe a moat around the house now!) I couldn't settle, felt sick and cried a lot (no change there then!).
My phone was a hotline, texts coming from every corner of the UK and even the world with words of love, support, hugs, strength and feeling, it was in abundance, much needed and much much appreciated. My sister in law has text me every day without fail and today was no different assuring me she was there for me every step of the way. I am blessed to have her in my life but I really wish she lived closer sometimes.
After 5 long hours we got the news we had been waiting for! Ray was out of surgery, recovering in ICU and ticking all the boxes..........YES!!!!!!
Relief, love, thanks and every other emotion ran through me, he was out of surgery and OK. Thank you thank you thank you Mr Chetter, your wonderful team and everyone. The first hurdle was done, roll on 7pm when i could pop and see him.
I didn't know what to expect when I walked into ICU. Would he be asleep? awake? groggy? I did know he would have tubes coming out of every orifice and I wasn't wrong. In his arm, up his nose, neck, tummy and any other place available! I turned to see where he was and saw a little wave. Oh my god! He was not not awake but aware! I could have ran over to him and squeezed him so tight, but that would've hurt!. He was awake, chatty, recalling tales of his anaesthetist and assuring us that everything had gone well and to plan and that he was a model patient with perfectly sewn up insides!!!
It was the best 10 minutes being able to see him and chat and I left for home on a much lighter cloud than we'd arrived on that morning ready to send out that all important message letting everyone know he was OK, he was out and recovery had began.
I arrived home to the largest glass of wine being handed to me and like many of our dear friends and relative s raised our glasses to a very important man in our lives... Ray Birch xxx