Jörg and I are sitting in the surgical waiting room pretty much by ourselves. Not many surgeries start at 7 p.m. Annika's surgeons looked pretty fresh for guys going in for a grueling all-night transplant, but it's hard to believe this is all happening at such a ridiculous hour.
We're both still caught in the unreality of it all, I guess.
Anyway, I've got my computer here, and a wireless connection, so I'll probably update pretty frequently.
They are going to have to reduce the size of the liver, so that's going to add some time to the surgery. The donor is pediatric (I know. It's awful and sad and makes this night even longer), but still twice the size of Annika. They're going to have to rebuild her portal vein and they're going to have to rebuild her hepatic artery all the way back to the aorta and then they're going to have to see if she can keep her shunt or if they'll have to block it off to keep it from robbing her new liver of blood.*
Anyway, all we know right now is that everything looks good at this point.
Frankie's birthday is tomorrow. I hate that we're going to miss it, but we have some great friends in town who are going to try to make it a special day for her, even without her family. When I called to say good-night to her, she had her friend from down the street over and our friends Greg and Becky were helping her make a lemon birthday cake. With sprinkles, of course.
It's hard to say how this all affects her. She's a pretty resilient kid, but I know this has been hard on her, too. Annika has been hurting so much lately that she hasn't even wanted Frankie too close to her, since her 4-year-old energy leads her to frequent collisions. And that is probably the hardest thing for the kid whose very favorite person in the whole wide world is her big sister.
Before we went to the hospital last time, Frankie followed me into the kitchen. "Hey, mom, I have a joke to tell you."
Evidently, one of Frankie's biggest fears right now is that a really great joke will go unrecognized, so she is always careful to announce them before she begins.
"Are you ready to hear my joke?"
"Yes, go ahead."
I schooled my features to show proper anticipation for what was sure to be yet another in Frankie's long line of butt jokes (or the closely associated poop or fart-themed verbal delights).
"OK. Here's my joke: Mama, see you tomorrow!"
As required by official maternal contract, I laughed my ass off. But it was pretty sad, too.
Good wishes to you, my youngest one. I'm always thinking of you, too.
8: 40 pm
We just got an update. They started the surgery (as in scalpels getting involved, not just placing lines and intubating and all the prep work) 45 minutes ago. First incision, and it will be slow going working through all her scar tissue.
* Jörg's comment to me, after the surgeon told us that possibly the shunt was currently diverting too much blood around her liver, "You've got to like a surgeon who tells you that a possibly problematic shunt is actually 'working too well' !"