In the weeks following Daniel's MRI, I carried a heavy heart everywhere I went. Dr. Selden made it clear that the surgery on Dec. 31st could result in a loss of motor function and coordination, and even temporary or permanent paralysis. I had to continually fight off the temptation to fear the worst. Nevertheless, Christmas was approaching and we wanted to give Daniel a chance to have some fun before his impending surgery and recovery. Daniel's spirits didn't seem to be affected much by the news. He continued to let mom and dad carry the heavy burdens, while he remained almost as carefree as ever.
A few days before Christmas we took a trip to one of our favorite family destinations - the Metolius River, near Bend, OR. We rented 2 cabins at the Metolius River Lodges - within sight and sound of the rushing river, and surrounded on all sides by Ponderosa pines. The cabins had no telephones, TV's, or cell service. We cheated and brought with us a TV/VCR and all the Christmas movies we owned! A cute general store located next to the cabins gave the kids continual access to a large array of treats and drinks. One day we went tubing at the Hoodoo ski area, about 20 minutes away from where we stayed. Daniel, Brooke and Elijah plunged down the hills on intertubes, over and over again, having the time of their lives.
The kids enjoyed the independence of having their own cabin, but most of our time was spent all together. One evening, we took a walk on a well-traveled path around the river, and it started to snow. Large snow flakes landed on our cheeks and noses. By the time our walk was finished, snow had coated the trees and the ground. It was a beautiful and awe-inspiring sight, and a gift from God to us. Falling snow brings such a magical peace, and that night we all felt it.
The trip to Metolius gave our minds and hearts a much-needed reprieve. On Dec. 30th, we drove to Vancouver. A party to celebrate Wes's parents' 50th wedding anniversary was held that day. We spent the night at Wes's parents' house. We woke up very early the morning of December 31st. Tired from lack of sleep and an anxious mind, I sat pensively in the car as Wes drove to the hospital. A Keith Green CD was playing, and the catchy, fun song "He'll Take Care of the Rest" came on - a song I'd heard hundreds of times before. But this time, the words took on a whole new meaning for me. The lyrics speak of being faced with impossible obstacles. It uses the examples of Moses and Noah and the situations God allowed in their lives that demanded a tremendous amount of hope and courage and trust. "You just keep doing your best, and pray that it's blessed, and Jesus takes care of the rest." So simple, and yet it was what I needed to hear right then. The circumstances surrounding Daniel's surgery were completely out of my control. I had tried to do my very best for Daniel and for his health - and I had prayed and prayed. And Jesus would take care of the rest. That was the truth - so simple! God had lovingly carried my son all the way to this point, and He wasn't going to stop now.
We arrived at the hospital, and Daniel was prepped for surgery. Then the surgeon, dressed in his surgical scrubs, came in to speak with us. And then we gave Daniel good-bye kisses and hugs, before making our way, once again, to another waiting area. This time, our friends and family were at home praying for us - and we felt them with us in spirit. One family we had met through Wes's parents came to the hospital and stayed with us the entire time. They were so sweet and kind and we enjoyed their company.
We received occasional updates throughout the surgery. The updates sounded generally positive - but we really wouldn't know anything until it was over. The surgery lasted about 5 hours, and then Dr. Selden came out to speak with us. The first thing I've always done is look at the surgeon's countenance to see if he seems happy or sad. He seemed happy. I breathed a sigh of relief. He sat down opposite us and told us that the surgery had gone very well. He said he had been aggressive in trying to remove as much tumor as possible - his reasons being that Daniel's spinal cord can not continue to be opened up over and over again - he wanted to make sure he took out as much of the tumor as he could while he had the chance. He said the electrical monitoring alarm went off at one point, and this prevented him from going any further. Daniel was waking up, and was moving his fingers and toes. Overall, Dr. Selden thought the surgery had been very successful. He told us to wait in ICU and they would be wheeling Daniel in soon.
Once Daniel was brought to ICU, Dr. Selden examined him again. He could clearly see now that Daniel's left arm had been affected by the surgery. During his surgery in New York, Daniel's RIGHT arm had been affected, but the function eventually returned to an almost normal state. So we had hope that the function in his left arm would also return. Although the movement in his left arm did improve greatly over the following weeks and months, still to this day, he has issues. His left arm twitches all the time, and he has trouble grasping things with his left hand. The one thing he misses the most is being able to play the piano - something he really enjoyed before the surgery. But for the most part, the slight disability has hardly hindered him at all. He lives with it like it's a just a normal part of his life.
I don't even need to say how thankful and relieved we were that Daniel came through surgery with no significant nerve loss. The Lord has continually brought him (and us) through so many trials and terrifying experiences, and for this we give Him all the glory.