The Well-Manicured Girl in Pediatric ICU

Jordan’s surgery went well. She was in the O.R. for nearly four hours. She will spend the next 24 hours in the pediatric ICU for observation. She’s sleeping heavily and not having any major pain. Everyone expects her to recover from the surgery quickly and without complications. The rest of the news is not so good. The neurosurgeon’s opinion is that we are dealing with a diffuse, inoperable brain tumor. It is inoperable for two reasons: (1) it is not focalized in any one specific area, and (2) some of the tumorous lesions are in areas that are out of reach for the surgical team, and dangerous to toy with. The oncology team will ultimately determine whether or not Jordan’s condition is cancer. They will do this when the results of the biopsy are returned next week. But the neurosurgeon is no stranger to tumors and brain diseases, and he was candid about what he saw. It’s too early to know what the treatment plan will be, but we should expect that the oncology team will want to proceed with chemotherapy or some other form of non-surgical treatment soon. There is still every reason to believe we caught the disease in an early stage, and everyone has been optimistic about Jordan’s strength and will to fight.

The family is doing its best to cope with the news. I talked with Lucas tonight. He took it hard. I was glad that he finally allowed himself to get emotional. He’s afraid, but he responded well when I reminded him that Lance Armstrong and Andres Galarraga both survived cancer and went on to make great accomplishments. His class made Jordan a “Get Well” card and he is eager to give it to her. We will arrange a visit tomorrow. Both children are eager to see each other.

Jeanette and I do not fear that Jordan will lose the war with cancer. We know that she can fight this disease. We trust in her physicians. We both believe that this “life experience” will make Jordan a stronger person in the long run. Some people believe that life deals life-threatening circumstances only to those souls capable of challenging them. We think Jordan is made of the fighting/conquering metal. But we are dreading the battles ahead and the toll they will take on her.

We all must think good thoughts and surround her with optimism. She is so remarkable. Today, as they were wheeling her into surgery, she started to cry. She said she was scared. She’s never said this before. She’s always gone into surgery or out-patient procedures with the will of an ox and the spirit of a clown. But today she was scared and she wasn’t afraid to tell us she was scared. If that were the end of the story, it would be rather sad. But that’s not Jordan. Once we arrived at the pre-operative waiting area she asked to use the restroom. Jeanette went with her. Jordan sobbed all the way there, but once inside Jordan asked for a wet towel to wash her face. She wiped off her tears, used the restroom, and changed her attitude. When she came back to the gurney she was smiling more, laughing at a cartoon on the television, and prepared to go into surgery. It was a remarkable transformation. I’m sure she will repeat it many times, especially with all the love and support she is receiving from her friends and family.

All of us are grieving the loss of Jordan’s health. There’s a lot of crying and people with puffy eyes. We believe this is part of the healing process. We need to let these feelings out so that we can have the strength to support Jordan. While this is a normal and natural reaction to bad news, it’s important to remember that we’re only grieving the loss of her health – not the loss of our daughter. She’s still here and she needs our encouragement, love and enthusiasm. Please join us in wishing her good health and a long life.