Friday, March 22, 2013

Hailey's Surgery

One of our children is tonsil and adenoid free!  This was a very long day for all of us, and quite possibly the longest for my dear friend Megan who took both little boys alllll day long.  Michelle had Lauren and Audrey had Ethan from the time he got home from school.  Life just wouldn't be possibly if it wasn't for amazing friends who come to our rescue when we need help.  We truly live in a village that is all about helping each other! 

Hailey presented signs of an ear infection Tuesday night, and I kind of panicked because she had to be HEALTHY for surgery on Friday or else they would cancel it.  So I got her in to the doc on Wednesday morning, she started on a Z Pack, and within 24 hours all of her symptoms were gone.  Whew!  While we were at the store picking up her prescription, we shopped for her surgery treats and supplies.  She picked out a new Hello Kitty pillow, a new teddy bear (which she ever so originally named "Teddy") and a lot of popsicles, yogurt, pudding, and other treats.

On Thursday evening we all went over to the hospital for a pre-surgery class.  It's one of the many things I love about the children's hospital that we are blessed to live only twenty minutes from.  Since Hailey had been very nervous about her surgery, we decided to go to the class so she could get walked through every single step, from check in to discharge.  The staff included all five of our kids in it, all being led by the Child Life Specialist named Jessica.  The kids loved her!  They got to decorate hospital dolls, get masks and hair nets, watch a video about surgery stuff, color, and go on a full tour of the surgery floor.  Then today in pre-op, Jessica was there again to ease Hailey's fears and she remembered her and all four of her siblings and names.  How cool!

The surgery was running very far behind because of some serious cases that were taking longer than expected.  Like one boy had cataracts and upon exploratory surgery they found that he also had detached retinas.  Stuff like that, and I couldn't help but thank the Lord that my kids were healthy and all we've ever needed was more "minor" stuff.  Nothing life threatening, or even way of life threatening.  When we finally got back into the exam room, Hailey got weighed and measured and vitals taken and changed into her hospital clothes.  Before we alerted the staff that she was dressed, Cody offered a prayer and that's the first time I cried- which was the first of many that day.  He prayed that angels would be there to assist the doctors and that Hailey would be watched over.  And after the prayer he said "I think that one certain angel will be there holding your hand, unless he's pre-occupied keeping a certain little brother of yours safe."  Uncle Jospeh, thanks for always watching out for your precious nieces and nephews!  

After the nurse practitioner did an exam and gave her a clean bill of health, we were off to a VERY long wait in pre-op.

Hailey was such a trooper and stayed busy drawing, coloring, decorating a mask, and reading books.  Even though I know she was starving, she never complained once.  But Cody and I sneaked out in shifts to go grab something to eat in the cafeteria because we COULD eat and we were starving.  We were in the pre-op room for at least two hours and during that time I saw so many sick children.  I won't go into details about their deformities or conditions, but I caught myself several times shedding silent tears as I looked at them and their parents, saw the love they all shared, and contemplated why life seems so unfair for so many people.  Why do these children have to suffer?  Why do these parents' hearts have to continually break?  Why did I get such healthy children and other parents didn't?  And then I thought of God and of those angels that were there and for a moment, I remembered that there is a bigger plan.....a MUCH bigger plan than I could ever imagine.  God knows what he's doing and He's in charge.  And it's my job to teach my children to love those kids that may not be as healthy as they are, because they are ALL God's beautiful and perfect children.  We are all brothers and sisters, every one of us.

At 2:30 one of the nurses came in to give Hailey her dose of Versed, which is a very powerful oral tranquilizer.  Our kids have always taken this before going back to the OR because it calms them down so they don't care about leaving us and going with the doctor.  It also has amnesia effects so that they don't even remember any of it upon waking up.  Hailey actually administered the drug to herself like a pro.

Within five minutes, she was loopy as all get out.  She had to be held so she didn't fall over, and at one point I asked her if she wanted to lay down in a wagon.  She did, so I ran to get it while Cody held her.  Then she looked up at him all confused with a goofy grin and said "Are you in the wagon too?"  Even one of the other dads sitting near us heard her and started cracking up.  Then she laid down in the wagon and after a while we looked over she was grasping for something invisible in the air.  She was totally tripping!!

Hailey's surgery nurse was named Spencer and although we didn't talk to him for long, he was so kind and sweet and I know he took fantastic care of her during surgery.  Doctor Child (her ENT) came in to say hi and chat for a minute, and then he was back to scrub in.  Dr. Child also did Devin's ear tubes back in 2010.
Dr. Erickson escorting us to the OR wing
The last doctor to come talk to us was Dr. Erickson the anesthesiologist, who was possibly the most important doctor on the team.  He went through all of the ins and outs and risks and all that, which always gives me a heart attack because I am so aware that the most risky part of surgery is the anesthesia part.  Then came the time for all of us to go back to the "goodbye point".  I HATE that point.  When we were on the surgery tour the day before, the nurse showed us that place and I started to get choked up.  I don't care how many times we've had a kid in surgery, I am never okay with leaving them because a million scary thoughts flood my mind.  The sweet nurse said to me "I have never been in an OR where the anesthesiologist wasn't holding a child as they fell asleep.  They are always talking to them, stroking their hair, telling them a story, or even singing to them.  They treat each kid as if they were their own."  I loved that, and I totally believe it.  I believe it because all of the staff at Primarys is like that.  I can't say enough how wonderful every single person there is.
I cried as we walked back down the hall into the surgery waiting room.  We sat in there and I watched the clock ticking on the wall.  I knew what time Dr. Child said to expect them being done, and it was taking forever.  We were surrounded in the waiting room by families who were crazy scared about their child in surgery.  My heart broke when I saw a couple come in, the mom being wheeled in a chair because she had just had a baby.  One day old, and she was fighting for her life in intestinal surgery.  I coudln't help but cry as I looked at her, saw her tears, and felt her despair.  And all of the other mamas and papas in there who were praying that they would only get good news, or at least not get HORRIBLE news.

And I closed my eyes and leaned back in my chair and fought off an enormous panic attack.  I breathed in slow and deep breaths as all of the "what ifs" raced through my brain.  What if Hailey has an allergic reaction to the anesthesia.  What if they can't wake her up.  What if we have to go home and tell Ethan and Lauren.  What if we end up here again one day because one of our children has a life threatening disease or condition.  What if....... And I thought again of all of my brothers and sisters who surrounded me with white knuckled hands gripping their chairs and I just couldn't control myself.  I hate that part of the surgery process.  I hate it, I hate it, I hate it.  And we'll for sure be back this fall for round two of Lauren's hand surgery.  Yippy.

It's amazing how having children changes you.  When you're single and childless, you can see a sick kid and think "Oh, that's too bad."  You don't internalize it.  It's not personal.  And then children are born to you and it's like you're walking around with your heart beating on the outside of your chest.  You're completely vulnerable and aware of every hurt in the world.  You're aware that sick and injured and afflicted children are everywhere and every time you look at one of them, your heart breaks into a million pieces.

Dr. Child came back in with a smile on his face and said everything went perfectly well.  They ended up taking her adenoids too because they were huge like her tonsils.  He gave us all of the follow up instructions and then a few minutes later they called me to go to the wake up room to be with her as she came out of anesthesia. 
Cody's and my feet propped up n the waiting room.

Chris wheeling her into recovery
She was taken care of by Chris, a wonderful RN.  we talked for about half an hour while he watched her vitals and administered medications.  And then it was time to go into recovery, where Dad was able to join us.
VERY slowly but surely, she started showing signs of life and her eyes twitched and she tried to moan words a couple of times.  I looked at her and my throat and head hurt all over again as I remembered my own tonsil experience from three years prior.  Waking up was absolute Hell on steroids.  I have a very mean reaction to general anesthesia, but Hailey seemed to be doing very well.  It took about an hour to get her awake enough to give her juice.  They wanted to see her keep down four ounces of fluid before they would discharge her.  They gave her a popsicle but she wanted nothing to do with it.

They gave her a dose of Lortab and had to keep her for an extra hour as they observed her with it.  I guess sometimes kids can have a bad reaction or something, and within fifteen minutes of taking it she was liking life a little more.  She slowly drank a little bit of juice and Whitney, the sweet recovery nurse seemed satisfied.

Whitney taking out her IV
It was finally time to go home!!  Hailey's IV was taken out and I dressed her back in her Peter Pan scrubs that she had worn to the hospital and we left the hospital.  Such an emotional day and it's a good thing I have a few months to recover before Lauren's next surgery.  I am so insanely grateful for wonderful doctors, nurses, CNAs, and every other staff member who takes care of these kiddos.  There really are angels all over Primary Childrens Medical Center.....both living and those who have passed on.
Hailey is now camped out in our bed trying o eat a cold snack, and Lauren is hanging out with her.  She was really worried about her big sister all day and she doesn't want to leave her side!

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