We were the first to enter the waiting room and the last to leave it last Friday at DeVos. The day was beyond long . . . it was exhausting and emotional, but there was never a doubt in our mind that we were not alone. Every single one of you were with us . . . (hit play!)
While we weren't in Cadillac, we heard loud and clear from all of you. The town had been tuned orange with support for MacKale. We felt your love and love from all over the country . . . Team MacKale was praying . . . cheering . . . and supporting us near and far. Mike and I sat in that waiting room with our phones blowing up from all the love . . . and our minds. In between those long breaks when we would get updated on MacKale's progress, Mike and I sat shaking our heads in disbelief . . . the shear number of people loving and praying for MacKale . . . no words . . . just lots and lots of tears from both of us. We aren't sure what it is about MacKale that has spoken to people's hearts, that has compelled them to come together . . . to pray together . . . to react . . . but we know when we reflect on all of 'this,' God has made something good of this horrible situation and he continues to show us His love through all of YOU. McCoy told his friend Rylan, 'every time we see a Team MacKale shirt, it tells us that someone is praying for MacKale' and he's absolutely right. That's exactly what it tells us. On days when we can't see an end, when we are all exhausted and fearful . . . we draw upon all of your love to see us through.
MacKale's surgeon told us that he couldn't have asked the procedure to have gone better. Everything was as expected. The cancerous tumor was removed including a 17cm portion of his tibia and a 9cm portion of his fibula including all the margins of muscle and flesh around it. Then in its place they placed a cadaver bone attaching all of MacKales own tendons and ligaments to the new bone and screwing everything into place, replacing his muscle with a muscle from another part of his calf and then sewing it all up including a shiny new skin graft for the hole where he was lacking some.
He came through it and was smiling the next day . . . even requested his favorite braunschweiger sandwich. But despite his always rallying, we are reminded daily of just how difficult and exhausting this journey is and how this wasn't just some little surgery.
He started spiking a fever the second evening and it was determined that his new port tested postive for some kind of infection. New worries and concerns for mom and dad. New meds for MacKale. But nothing that would slow down physical therapy. Two days before he had major surgery . . . a large portion of his leg was removed and replaced . . . but there he was relearning how to stand and do all the things he needed to do to just get through the day.
It is incredibly painful for his leg to be down so he's back in a wheel chair for the time being, but even the process of getting into that is a major ordeal. It takes about three people and is incredibly painful. But once he's in it, at least he can have a little freedom. He loves the little ones on our 9th floor and has his favorite little girls that adore him. This little princess is constantly looking for MacKale. She walks around saying . . . 'Mac . . . Mac. . . Mac . . . '
MacKale finally got to see his scar for the first time on Wednesday and get fitted for his new brace/boot. The scar wasn't so upsetting to him but the pain . . . wow! It was a pretty difficult process, but he rallied and knows that everyday will get better . . . every day we will take a small bite out of this enormous elephant that is this journey and we will get through it.
But eating your way though an elephant like cancer and limb salvage surgery is exhausting . . . so exhausting that sometimes, you even fall asleep mid ultra sound. If you think that people go to the hospital to rest, it just doesn't happen. Even when he's 'resting' he is being poked and checked and moved and evaluated . . . So by Wednesday he had worked his fanny off with procedures and therapy and dressing changes. He deserved something special, but it didn't come from me.
Instead it came from MacKale's pal, Matt (MSU #10) and his fiancee, Anna when they drove in from Lansing for a visit. MacKale adores these two, and they are a blessing to us. I'm not sure how or why this unlikely friendship occurred, but I'm sure that God had a hand in it. He knew what MacKale needed and found the right person in Matt to provide that for Mac. That to me is an answer to prayer and a gift. MacKale was utterly exhausted but even so, he kept his eyes open long enough to hang out with his favorite Spartan for a bit and show him and Anna around the floor.
I know they both have busy schedules, but despite that, they made the time to come see him and it made one exhausted little boy pretty darn happy.
And so MacKale continues to fight through recovery one bite at a time. We wake each day and I tell him, we just have to chew off a little bit every day. One less hose or wire connected to you, one less med, one more milestone reached, one step closer to getting home. With the discovery of an infection in his port, that timing has become somewhat troublesome for MacKale. The antibiotics to fight the infection are a 14 day IV regiment. Of course, our first priority is for him to be safe and safe from an infection traveling to that new leg. But it's frustrating for MacKale when he has a birthday coming up and would desperately like to be home for it. So while our first prayer is always to rid his body of all cancer, our second prayer request would be to control and destroy the infection in his body, and our third would be to get us all home, safe and sound by the 14th of February, MacKale's birthday. MacKale understands that this might not happen, and he also knows that regardless, we will all be together for his birthday no matter where that is.
Some moments are easier than others, some moments are less painful than others, but every moment is a blessing because we have him with us and we have all of you supporting us. Thank you for joining our team and being such a blessing to us. If you ever doubt that your prayers make a difference, look what your prayers have reaped. A week post surgery and this little Spartan is wheeling around his floor and cheering on his buddy Matt or as Mac now refers to him after the UM/MSU game Saturday, "Tongue Waggin, Ball Slappin', Dr. Dunkenstein.'