August 17, 2008

The Date Has Been Set

I've been distracted since Thursday.

When my dad was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago, I remember stumbling through my day wondering how everything could still be so normal. I felt like I should be wearing a scarlet "C" on my shirt so anyone I met could understand what was going on in my life. The day after I found out, I was running with a friend and the normalcy of what we were doing struck me. I finally blurted out, "My dad has cancer."

So I'm doing that right now-with this post-I'm blurting out, "My daughter's spine is disintegrating and she's having surgery in six weeks."

Thursday was our monthly check-up with our orthopedic surgeon. We did not get good news. I had a feeling things weren't going to be good. Salomae hasn't been able to stand up without her brace on. Every morning she calls out, "Mommy, brace on!"

We had x-rays without the brace, then waited for the doctor. He came in and examined Sally. Then he sat down and I've selectively forgotten everything that followed after the statement, "We need to do surgery within the next 4-6 weeks."

I recall asking about our trip to the beach that we planned for the end of September. Like an idiot. I have been working on this trip, planning to start our school year early (tomorrow) and go to the beach late because of Seth's work schedule. I wanted this trip because I'm afraid that next summer my daughter may not be able to walk in the sand or play in the water. Of course, I didn't say that to the doctor. I wouldn't have made it very far into the explanation without breaking down and bawling.

We knew it was coming, but I had put it out of my mind. I hoped that Sally would have more time with us before we throw her life into a tailspin. Last month the curvature of her spine was at a 32 degree angle. On Thursday, her vertebrae were curved at 67 degrees. It's obvious that we can't wait much longer before something has to be done. The more her back curves, the more her spinal cord stretches and the harder it will be to repair later (if she doesn't suffer neurological deficits beforehand). Her doctor wants to put her in a cast this week (Wednesday) that will go from her hips to her neck. His hope is that this will keep her where she is until surgery (October 2).

During surgery, he will take her tenth rib and rotate it around so that it supports her infected vertebrae. The rib will still have a blood supply and will eventually form one bone mass where her weak vertebrae were. Then, he will put hooks along the outside of her back to give her more support and pull her back up some. We are praying that he can perform both surgeries in one day for obvious reasons. Otherwise, she will undergo the strut graft (rib to vertebrae surgery) and recover for a week then the next surgery. There are about a million things that could go wrong. I'm trying not to think about them, but finding myself slipping into this 'what if' place.

I can't help but think about Isaac in California. Watching his story unfold over the past 6 weeks has been terrifying. My kids have been especially touched and pray nightly for his health and recovery. I spoke with Jocelyn (Isaac's mom) on Friday night and she reassured me that Sally is in as good a spot as we could hope. Sally's case isn't as bad as Isaac's. I know of two other cases in the US recently and there were complications in both. Considering the odds, I don't think we can expect Sally to go in for surgery and leave the hospital the next week. I'm not normally a pessimist, but I've got to plan for at least 3 weeks in the hospital with my daughter. I'm thanking God that my Mom and in-laws are retired and willing to come up and help. I'm thankful that this doctor is five minutes from our house. I'm thankful that Sally is here and not in Ethiopia suffering with Pott's disease. But I'm still scared and wondering how things will be in a few months.

Friday morning, Everett came downstairs before anyone else was awake. The first words out of his mouth were, "I should have what Sally has instead of her."

I wasn't sure where he was going with this and asked, "Why do you say that?"

"Because it would be better for me to be sick and in the hospital instead of her. Or you, or Daddy could have it. Just not her."

I cried.


Carpenters said...


I cried while reading your post and am still crying. My heart (and obviously Everett's sweet little heart) is aching for Sally. I can't imagine what you are going through. We'll continue praying for God's healing hand on Sally.

With Love,

Susan said...

(((((HUGS)))))) I don't know what to say other than we'll be praying for Sally and your family. God chose you to get this little one through this! He will help you do it.

Love & Prayers, Susan

kangaj1 said...

Oh Apryl, my heart was so heavy when I read your post. We will be praying a ton for your family.
Love, Melissa Juvinall

Paul and Holly West said...


Please know that we are and will continue to cover your family in prayer.


ethiHOPEia said...

I too cried reading this post. My husband and I will be praying for you and your dear family.
Keep looking at Jesus.
In Christ,
Hilary Forrest

Sue said...

Oh Apryl!

You probably don’t know it because I have never replied to your blogs, but Glenn and I have been following your writing for quite a while now. Your web address is in Glenn’s favorites list. We really enjoy the antics of your kids – it brings back the “old days.” We also identify with your personal reflective pieces. (Yes, I admit to not sorting socks and a few of the other confessions!) I had missed the episode about Ella’s wish for flip-flops, but when I read it, as you already know, I was totally with you on that one! God bless caring prosthetists!

Carrie called me this morning after she talked to you. I had missed your last two entries.

I just want to let you know that our hearts and prayers are with you and Seth and your whole extended family. I remember Carrie’s surgery and I know how heart-wrenching and scary it is (more so for the parents than the child). Sally is lucky to be with all of you through this. Doctors are a gift from God and surgery can produce miracles. As you indicated, your family is blessed within this heartache just as our family has been. These words seem trite, but a lifetime of reflection on our situation confirms these beliefs for me. I am confident that your family is strong and gifted with all that you need to get through this latest challenge successfully.

Love and prayers,

Karen said...

We will continue to pray for the sweet girl we were so fortunate to meet in Ethiopia - and for all the rest of the family as well!!

Christina said...

Hey Apryl,
I'm really sorry you guys are going through this. I can't imagine how difficult that must be, especially with Sally's curve progressing as quickly as it is.
What is the name of the surgery she will be having? My friend's daughter just had a spinal fusion for scoliosis (65˚ and 45˚ curves, as well as a rotated lumbar curve) 2 weeks ago and and she is doing great. Do you know where you are having the surgery yet?
I'll be praying for you guys!
-Christina (from connie's wedding)

Rob & Candy said...

Apryl, I am crying too. I will be praying for you/your family.

Kathryn said...

I am so sorry that Sally and your family have to go through this. We are praying for her surgery, and for endurance and strength for your family.

Kathryn (YG)

Lori said...

We are praying for your family.
Lori (YG)

Jori said...

Oh Apryl, Know you are being covered in prayer! I wish the words to heal your heart were ones I knew but somehow this is in His plan. Keep us posted as much as you can and hang on momma ~ we love ya!

Team Dragovich said...

Can you even imagine, my dear friend, that you have been chosen, for such a time as this? My love and prayers is poured over you all... I am confident that we will see the Glory of God worked out-- even now with Everett's sweet words-- and continuing through Salomae's surgery and beyond...


The Gillman Family said...


I can't even begin to know what to tell you. I am lifting Sally and you all up to him with prayer, prayer and more prayer. We will be asking Him to supply you with peace as you embarq on this process and for healing of Sally's back!

Lots of love,
Kim (YG)

beBOLDjen said...


What can a person say? I have no words but spiritually count me in as another person on their knees with you before the throne of God on behalf of Sally. Keep us updated.

Molly said...

Oh I'm praying for your family. I think of Mark Schultz's song "He Will Carry Me" and can't help but think that's how you're feeling right now. Crying out to Jesus to carry you down this road. Your son has the most sensitive heart. He is obviously a gem, because rarely would you find a young boy who would be willing to take his sister's pain. What a great husband he'll make!
Praying for you and your family,
God bless,

Sherry said...

Apryl - Tears got choked in my throat as I read your post! So sweet and yet so sad!! My heart is aching for you and for Salomae. Know that our family will be lifting your family up during this time. Rely on the Lord to be your Rock!
Blessings! - Sherry Semlow

Clayton & Amber said...

I also wept over this situation last night. My husband and I cried out to God on Sally's behalf! I just want you to know how much I admire you and your family. The grace, humor, and realistic perspective your posts contain gives me great strength and encouragement. Our gracious and almighty Father rescued Sally from the depths to bring her into your loving arms. He will provide all that is necessary not to simply survive this situation, but to flourish in Him! We are standing with you.
Amber (YG)

small world said...

I am so sad for your family. We will pray for strength and miracles for all of you, especially Sally. Our hearts are with you in your time of distress.
The VanWettens

Zack and Rebecca Caldwell said...

Dear Apryl,
We are praying and will continue to pray. God is holding your entire family right now, and he isn't letting go! Ever!