I turned over and looked over at the alarm clock – it was 4:59 a.m. My faulty brain knew that, in one minute’s time, the alarm would sound signaling it was time to be operated on. When I arrived at the hospital, I was ushered to the triage where I was given my identification bracelet, gown, hair cap and socks – lucky me. As the neuro-residents came over to check in on me, I waited in anticipation for them to roll me down the long corridor and into the operating room. I waited, answered another slew of questions about my health history and waited some more. Finally, in walked my surgeon. He came over to reassure my family and I of his confidences and to answer any last-minute questions, but also to “mark” me. “The tumor” he said “is in my left frontal lobe.” He then marked my left ear with an X. Umm, why did he just mark my ear with a Sharpie? So in typical Chris fashion, I said “Doc, I think I need my ear, don’t I?” Everyone got a good, much-needed laugh.
Of course though, because I am Chris Cusano, nothing in my life comes easily or without issue. Just as I was about to head into the OR, one of the techs came out and apologized as he informed me that the operating table was broken and they were just waiting for the part to fix it. Again, I just smiled and laughed because at this point, what more can I do?
Finally, word came that the table was fixed and it was time for this monster to come out for once and for all. I took a minute to say “see you later” and “I love you” to Ashley, my mom and dad and saw the resolve in each of their eyes. I know they were hurting and scared on the inside, but they showed me true strength and determination as we parted ways.
As I drifted into a deep sleep, I did so with happy thoughts in mind. I was happily woken up to my name being called and seeing smiling faces looking at me. At the foot of my bed, there stood my surgeon giving me a thumbs up! “We got it Chris, you did great!” Unfortunately, the anesthesia had made me sick and I did not hear anything else that he had to say at the time. But I felt great otherwise, all things considered.
By the time my family came in, I was alert and oriented. Ashley and I had joked prior to the surgery that we both wondered what the tumor looked and felt like. I had suggested to her that she ask my surgeon if she can see it and touch it. Not a second after I saw her, I asked “so, was it soft and squishy?” She instantly got it, laughed and told me I was still there. My parents and the nurse were not so quick to follow. Adults! I have said it all along – a sense of humor and a positive outlook goes a long way. Despite the fact that Ashley and my parents teased that I looked like a conehead, a smurf and a q-tip, I was in good spirits and knew the prayers had worked. As I laid in the bed, I looked ahead. I was eager to move – eager to get out of bed, walk, test my motor skills and resume my life. To show the world and myself that I had not missed a beat. I knew I hadn’t.
Today, fourteen days removed from surgery, I find myself thinking about the ladybug again. After hearing that this operation was needed, my family and I felt as though she did not leave a sign, but was just there for comfort. Yet, in the days that have passed, I believe that she appeared again to let my family and I know that all would be alright.
There are signs all around us. Sometimes, we don’t even need to search for them.