We gathered in the head of neurosurgery's office, my mom, two sisters, brother Bob and myself, along with Dr. Cotter. He was the best, we were told, and just may well have been. He certainly was nice enough.
"He's a good man, I didn't want to leave him paralyzed. We did all we could, the tumor is too deep. If I went further he wold never walk again, or be able to feed himself."
"How long?" one of asked.
"Six months, give or take."
He lasted a year, and gave a lot up until the end.
Nobody cried, or threw themselves on the floor, or ran from the room. We sat there, and one of us made a joke, and the tension eased a little and we moved on, grieving in private.
It certainly isn't courage that gets us through these things, or denial. Nature, or God has a way of making the worst moments of our lives bearable. When every fiber of our being is screaming, and our brain is on fire and we think we are going to pass out, something fills us with clarity, even if just for a second, and we re-group, and manage to digest what we've been told, and slowly put it back together, and face the news when we can.
For two months I thought they had a cure, or at least a treatment for Multiple Sclerosis. (CCSVI) For two months life seemed bearable, as if this nightmare might end, and we could walk on the beach, or go to the movies, or out to dinner without proper planning, and anxiety, and the never-ending worry that something will go wrong.
It was a good two months. It ended yesterday, when the doctors told me they couldn't perform the procedure, my wife didn't meet the criteria. The pulled the balloons out, having never inflated them, and canceled the surgery. They told me it was good news, she didn't have blocked jugular veins, and even though they couldn't do the procedure after months of tests and MRI's and anxiety, it would be okay. And they walked away, and got back to their other patients, and their lives, and I stood in the waiting room with my brain on fire, thinking I would pass out.
Then I met my wife in the recovery room, and she smiled at me, and we shared a private joke. And we smiled, and went home, and got on with things.