The unforeseen has swept into our lives. Our Christmas was special this year with our two college daughters here with her grade 12 sister and Joan and I. The only problem was that just before they arrived Audra began experiencing an unsteadiness in her walking. We all kind of watched as her condition didn’t improve but became more intrusive upon her life. Thinking it was a back injury connected to our galloping horse experience in Zimbabwe in June, we offered the normal remedies of lying on the back and rest. After the holidays Audra had to return to school. She was the brave trooper as she walked the hallways seemingly suffering from some debilitating disease. A visit to the doctor got us a referral to a neurologist who saw to many conflicting signs in her symptoms. He ordered an MRI.
The MRI showed a tumor right on her spine pressing against the spinal cord. St Joseph’s of Phoenix took us in. When their neurosurgeon saw the MRI they wanted her down immediately. We got Audra out of school or actually she was taking herself out of school at the same time because the pain had become too much for her to bear. While we were driving down to Phoenix I tried to get a motel room through one of the pastor’s I had preached for in Phoenix. His hotel only had a smoking room so he contacted another pastor who happened to have someone who worked at the hospital. He called her and this woman Sandy met us in the emergency room an nicely explained that a social worker would meet us and see if we could stay at the Ronald McDonald house.
The doctors examined her and prepared her for surgery. Dr. Fox would be leading the team and was pleased to tell us that a world renowned neurosurgeon, a Dr. Sonntag would be assisting. We were awaiting the start of the operation with Audra who seemed to be taking it all very well. Dr. Fox and Dr. Sonntag came in and talked to us as Dr. Sonntag seemed like a boxer ready to get on with match. We waited in the surgery waiting room. She left at around 12 noon on Wed. and at 5:30 Dr. Fox came out and gave us a report of the successful operation. They had removed the tumor and most of the vertebrae that it had eaten up and put in pins and screws to replace the vertebrae. The tumor was described as a giant celled tumor that is not cancerous though it can reappear if not properly removed. They would probably have to have a second operation coming in through the chest to remove the rest of the vertebrae affected by the tumor. Audra was wheeled back into her room around 7 but needed time to sleep and recuperate.
The next day we watched as Audra began to recover. Audra was the boy I never had. My wife had seen a sonogram and was sure that she was a boy. Though she never said anything to me I was sure that she believed it was a boy. We had picked a boy’s name of Vincent Troy or Invincible Soldier. We had a complicated pregnancy and delivery. When Audra came forth after a long campaign the nurses handed her to me while they worked on Joan who was profusely bleeding. I gave a quick examination of the baby and told Joan that I thought it was a girl. She sat up and said look again. She was still a girl with a second look. She will always be a little bit of Vincent Troy to me.
Audra quickly began to recover. She had the little button for pain relief. She began to freely use it after the doctor explained to her the importance of becoming pain free in allowing the healing process to progress. Her color returned, her sense of humor and her stoic nature under duress. The follow up MRI showed a screw that had went to far through the bone and was sitting dangerously close to the aorta artery in her spine. They would have to operate again to take out the screw that was just an extra support screw. I went back home got Brooke and myself ready to go to the airport Sat. She had the second operation that Friday and Brooke had a tough time seeing a sedated Audra in her hospital room. Brooke would spend the night in Audra’s room while Joan and I continued staying at the Ronald McDonald House. They had a great time together that night. Saturday saw Brooke returning to Reno for school and I needed to return to work with a revival in Atlanta Georgia. She has steadily improved and has started some physical therapy. The questions about the pathology results and whether or not she will regain full use of her legs are still not answered.
Monday the tumor team will assemble and have assembled to make plans for further treatment. My understanding is that there will be now a third operation this Tuesday to remove the rest of the vertebrae through her chest. This operation is considered much more routine than the first one that was considered dangerous due to the placement of the tumor next to the spinal cord. It was the pressure of the tumor that caused Audra’s legs to not operate properly. Audra has received some great visits from Wickenburg friends, Dianne Robinson her mentor, the school principal, the school secretary and the school security guard who looked out for her during her crippled moments on campus.
We appreciate your prayers.
Here are a few pictures of Joan and Audra, Audra and Audra and Brooke.