Alright, so this is part one in a series of three blogs about Brandon’s surgeries. I have been posting on social media about his medical journey, but I do realize that some people love to know the "details" and knowing me… there’s always some crazy story that happens. So enjoy the pictures, the memories, and all the in between.
Wednesday, August 29th-
Our flight didn’t leave Sky Harbor till 6pm that afternoon, so I actually was able to go to my morning college classes, before heading to the airport. Now here’s the thing; I very rarely catch colds, like maybe twice a year. Earlier that week, Dad had caught a cold from work, but being the absolute germ freak that he is, I thought he was "contained" and didn’t think twice about it. I woke up that morning and noticed I wasn’t feeling the best, but thought, eh, it’ll go away. Nope. It got worseeeee. Before you knew it, I was walking through security with a full blown cold feeling, and probably looking, like a solid 1 out of 10. I definitely did not want Brandon to catch the cold too, so I made sure to keep my mess to myself, lol. I noticed Brandon was nervous that morning, so much to my chagrin, Brandon and Mom who seemed to delight in my misery, had the sarcasm flowing. Okay, okay. Whatever makes you less nervous, buddy.
We finally landed in Houston around 10pm, and took a Lyft to our hotel. Yesss..much needed sleep was in my future. (Oh, also, I would like to take a moment...to say thank you... to the child who sat next to me and screamed the wholllleee flight. Yeah….. oh you bet Brandon thought it was the funniest thing! Smh.
Thursday, August 30th-
The next day, before his afternoon pre-op appointment, we decided to go explore Houston a little. We went to The Galleria, which was such a beautiful and also very large mall. On the lower level, in the middle of their very massive food court, was a cute ice rink, which was awesome. For some reason our most favorite store, Dillards, is not actually in the mall, but across the street. Of course, we have to take a look, especially since there was a huge shoe sale!! (Which, since my mom hated my shoes, she was insistent that we shoe shop. Whatever reason is needed to shoe shop, I'm down with! lol.)
Six pairs of shoes later, don't judge, we called our Lyft to go to Brandon's appointment. (Oh yeah, Mom made me throw away the shoes I was wearing…rip…) We were waiting for our Lyft and it said it was 10 minutes away. Well, 10 turned into 15, and 15 turned into 20. We called the Lyft guy and he was LOST. I don’t mean to judge, but seriously, why do you have a driving job if you don’t know your town? We canceled and ordered another Lyft that was 5 minutes away well, 5 turned into 10 and 10 was about to turn into 15 until we called him and he was lost too, but he was closer than the other guy. After explain where we were to him we finally were able to get to the pre-op appointment, which, by now, we were 45 minutes late for. Shout Out to Lyft. Luckily the nurse was super nice and able to rearrange the schedule for us.
I've known my brother's arm condition was rare, but I honestly thought, maybe only a handful of kids had this condition. So this next paragraph is to fill in the blanks for those of us, who don’t know what his condition entails.
Brandon was injured at birth, due to the nurse pulling him out wrong, causing the nerves in his neck and shoulder blade, which help the muscles in raising the arm, to tear. This condition is called Erb’s Palsy. Those nerves found in the brachial plexus, are the nerves that control the arm, hand, and fingers. They pass from the spinal cord, between the bones of the neck (vertebrae) and go into the arm. As you move along the side of neck, these nerves merge together, and from there, these nerves branch out to form a "highway system," or "plexus," of nerves. This system of nerves then travels behind the collarbone (clavicle) and spreads out into the arm. The nerves that go to the shoulder lie higher in the neck, than those that travel to the hand and fingers. Nerves that provide feeling to the hand and fingers lie lower in the neck and deep in the armpit. There are typically four variations, or levels if you will, of severity that can result from this injury. Brandon had a rupture which is when the nerves are stretched and some even are torn apart. Any type of nerve damage is rarely able to heal on its own.
I was honestly shocked when I realized how many kids have this condition. Approximately 1-2 babies per a thousand end up with some variation of this condition. Now, to put that in perspective, approximately 353,000 babies are born each day. Lets say 1 baby per thousand had this condition. That's 353 kids that are born with this condition in just one day. That translates to approximately 128,845 kids born with this condition per year.
As I was walking around the office I couldn’t help but feel a little bittersweet. All the years of growing up, it seemed as if my brother was the only kid to have had this condition. But when I began to really look at the pictures hanging on the office walls of previous patients, it dawn on me that he wasn’t the only kid who has this handicap. What has been an isolating type feeling, for not just my brother, but my family as a whole, turned into a feeling of inclusion. An awareness now that others have gone through what my brother has. I then have to consider the question of, why did it take us this long to figure it out? (I think we'll answer that in the second blog.)
So, Dr. Nath is a brilliant surgeon and went over all the procedures and instructions with us.
He made sure that we were comfortable and well informed as to what the surgery entailed, as well as the recovery in the weeks and even months to follow.
Later that evening, I noticed that Brandon was extremely nervous. I’d never seen him genuinely that nervous before. I knew we needed to do something to distract him, even though my cold was making me feel like death. My mom and I were going insane watching him pace the hotel room. Earlier, I had noticed that we were down the street from the NRG Stadium where the Houston Texans play. Well, it turned out the Texans were playing the Cowboys that night for a preseason game. Perfect! Thirty minutes before the game, I was able to pull a few strings, and surprise Brandon and Mom, by scoring some awesome tickets for the game. This was honestly the perfect thing to get Brandon to calm down a little. (Okay, I may have scored some good sister brownie points too!) Oh and to make things even better....the Cowboys lost. Bless Up. :)
Friday, August 31th-
Today is the big day! We woke up early and got to the hospital around 6am. And surprise, surprise, both Mom and I are super sick..yay us. After some paperwork, Brandon went into his own room, got a fashionable green robe, and received all his pre-op items (IV, socks, etc.) After waiting an extra 30 minutes, his surgery was pushed back a half hour, the waiting began. Once Dr Nath gave the go ahead (by the way he had already done two of the same surgery that morning on two other patients younger than Brandon) the nurse escorted Brandon out on his bed to the surgery room. The whole procedure took about 3 hours, during which, I took Mom to get Chick-Fil-A, because we hadn’t eaten and, everyone knows it’s the Lord's food, so yeah.
Finally we were allowed to see him around 2pm. He came out of the surgery great and he was definitely "out of it" because of the pain kills lol. We stayed until about 6pm and then Mom and I went back to the hotel to rest because we were so sick and running on little sleep. For dinner we both wanted pizza since, for some reason, that was the only thing that sounded good. So we walked to this cute little pizza place, that hands down, is definitely in my top ten favorite restaurants, if not my favorite pizzeria. Russos New York Pizzeria. You’re welcome.
Saturday, September 1st-
Mom and I made it back to the hospital around 7 in the morning to receive some final instructions from Dr. Nath, and have Brandon discharged! Saturday was pretty lowkey, we all mainly stayed in the hotel and slept (mom and I were still sick and of course Brandon was sleeping off his surgery "effects').
Sunday, September 2nd-
Brandon was chopping at the bit to leave the hotel, so we decided to go explore Houston. Now here’s the thing, up until Sunday, Houston was a busy city just like any major US city.(I think even more so with the college football games being played on Saturday.) But on Sunday, I noticed that there weren’t that many people around. At all. Most of the businesses were closed in the downtown and very, very few people were actually walking around. I have never had the desire to experience what the zombie apocalypse would be like, but there you have it. It really felt eerie and abandoned. There was literally no one around downtown except for several homeless people. I honestly have never experienced anything like that, and it was sooo weird. So yeah, if you walk around Houston on a Sunday, it very well may feel like a zombie town. (Unless it was just that particular Sunday!) So, to salvage the "creepy day", we took Brandon to the Astros stadium and then went to this super cute Italian coffee place that was legit amazing!
Monday, September 3rd-
Sup AZ?! WE BACK!
If you made it to this point in the blog, give yourself a high five because this is a long blog and you’re a trooper. ;) So what's next for Brandon, you ask?
Brandon’s next surgery will be happening December 14th. We’ll be driving to and from Houston, due to Brandon’s arm being in a T cast. Out of the three surgeries this one will be the hardest. He will be in a T cast for a month and have some physical therapy afterwards. (Hopefully I will get the second part of the blog up a lot sooner than I did this one!)
Special thanks to everyone who has supported us thus far. Your prayers, cards, and messages are so encouraging and definitely appreciated. Until part 2!