Yesterday morning at the very time patients are usually taken down to surgery the nursing staff came in with the orders for the day. We expected to hear whether Mohammed or Bilal would go downstairs first, figuring the other would have his turn for surgery immediately afterwards. Instead we got the disappointing news for Bilal's mother: there would be only one surgery for the day, and it would be Mohammed. Although Bilal's mother was clearly sad that he was not going to surgery, she was still supportive of Mohammed's mom throughout the morning as we all waited for the results. Since the decision was made early in the day not to take Bilal, he was able to eat breakfast at the usual time, so as far as he was concerned it was just another day in the hospital. He played contentedly in the room, or headed down the hall for the playroom, throughout the day. After eating a good lunch Bilal and his mother took a long nap together, and when I left the hospital in the late afternoon they were still sleeping soundly.
We were told Bilal's surgery was expected to go forward this morning, so I left early to be there and accompany them as they went downstairs. Although I arrived at seven AM, when I walked to the ward I discovered that Bilal was already downstairs in the pre-op area, so I took off to join them as quickly as possible. I found Bilal playing happily with a box of miscellaneous toys on his bed.
His mother was quiet and pensive as she kept Bilal occupied with the toys, and asked me once if I was sure they would take him into surgery today ... I am sure she was remembering the first time Bilal's surgery was delayed when Deya waited downstairs for several hours as Dr. Sasson operated on an emergency case. Today the pre-op process continued normally, and finally at around seven-thirty it was Bilal's turn to go into the OR for repair of his VSD. After his mother told him goodbye, he rode cheerfully into the operating theater on his hospital bed. When she'd released her pent up emotions in a flood of tears, we walked upstairs together to begin the relatively short wait for him to return from surgery.
Both Hamza and Deya had to come to the hospital today, so along with Mohammed's mother, there were several other mothers who had already been through this heartrending experience surrounding Bilal's mother with encouragement. In the late morning we walked down the hall to watch for Bilal to come upstairs, and just before noon he passed by on the way to the ICU. His mother was quick to reach the gurney to see her son and walk with him until the door to the ICU.
The staff told us that everything went well, and Bilal was doing well. As if on cue, just after she shed a few tears of joy and relief, her phone rang with a call from Bilal's father. We waited for the medical team to work on the medications, intubation and other monitoring equipment for Bilal, and then were allowed to enter the ICU. The nurse attending Bilal told us that he was already stable and his surgery looked very good. I explained to Bilal's mother how the various tubes and equipment were working to help her son as she checked under the covers to see for herself how everything looked. She tenderly carressed his head and gave him a kiss, and was ready to go out and telephone her family again.
Please keep praying for this sweet little boy and his gentle mother as Bilal begins healing. We hope to be able to bring this little one with his happy disposition back to our house in Jerusalem very soon, and then return them home to their waiting family in Iraq.
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