Thursday, April 25, 2013

Surgery update

I'm pooped, but want to take advantage of the quiet moment between putting small people to bed and crashing into bed myself to give you all a slightly longer version of H.'s surgery today.

First, thank you all so much for your prayers. They were definitely felt and the whole day went smoothly. I, who tend to be a bit of a worrier, felt calm for the entire day. The biggest plus is that the surgeons were able to do more than they had hoped, but more on that in a bit.

We ended up being the first scheduled surgery, which meant that we needed to be at the hospital (which is 30 minutes away with no traffic) at 6 am. This worked out well, despite it being long before my typically functioning time because there was really no waiting period for H. We woke her up, she got dressed, and we left.

Once at the hospital we got checked in and were waiting for the parade of  doctors and nurses to begin the pre-op routine when we look up to discover a long time friend walking into our room. This dear friend is a doctor at the hospital and took a few moments to stop by, say hi, and offer some encouragement. (She also made a point to check in with us and with H. at various points in her day as her schedule allowed.) It was the perfect way to begin a stressful day of surgery and was much appreciated.

H. was very calm about the whole thing, even a little excited, until the doctor and nurse parade started to increase and more and more medical-type things were beginning to happen. We could watch her face as the reality of what was about to happen began to register. Thankfully, the amount of time between this dawning realization and the taking of the Versed was very short, so she only had a short amount of time of feeling anxious.

At 7:40 we kissed H. good-by and she was wheeled into surgery and we went to begin our long camp-out in the surgical waiting room. I have decided that I am a little bit phobic about the idea of being stuck some place and not having anything to do. When I was packing this morning, I kept adding things to the bag "just in case I had time to get to them". Eventually I ended up with my kindle, two other books, some notes for future writing projects, a laptop (which never did connect to the wi-fi), and two knitting projects. Even though we were in the waiting room without news until 12:15, I was able to focus and actually be productive. (I ended up reading and taking pages of notes on the book, The Boy Who Would be a Helicopter: the uses of storytelling in the classroom by Vivian Gussin Paley. It is an absolutely fascinating book and has launched dozens of new thoughts and ideas into my head. I'm sure you you will be hearing much about it in the future once I get them all sorted out. My thoughts, that is.) Jud worked on writing papers for his doctoral program. Poor guy... that's all he ever gets to do these days.

At 12:15 the two surgeons came in to tell us how surgery had gone. H. had done very well and both doctors were very pleased with what they were able to accomplish. Among the tasks accomplished they removed the left cheek bone and orbital (the bottom part of it anyway) and reshaped them and then grafted them back in, realigned her left eye to match her right eye, removed some more bony mass above her nose, removed some of the nevus which was above her nose, removed the excess tissue which was on her cheek, remove the excess tissue that was part of her mouth, reshape her mouth, and slightly straighten the line of her nose. It was a lot and more than I was thinking they could do.

They were going to allow her to sleep in the recovery area for another hour or so before even trying to wake her up, so J. and I took advantage of the time and ran and had some lunch as well as make a few phone calls. Not long afterwards we were both able to join H. in the recovery area as the nurses began to wake her up.

I'm not sure you can be quite prepared for how your child will look after significant facial surgery. I'd seen post-op photos of other people, but it's still not the same as looking at your own child. I will admit to a moment or two of deep breathing because at first glance one's reaction is, "Oh my goodness, what have they done to my child!?" And then the second thought that flits through ones head, at least if they happen to be a parent of a child who is currently rehearsing the part of Jonathan in Arsenic and Old Lace is, "Oh my goodness, that would be excellent make-up for the Jonathan role." (And are then immediately ashamed of yourself. But evidently not so ashamed that you don't then share it with the whole world.) And then, once those two reactions are out of the way is to start to really look past the dozens and dozens of stitches and the terribly swollen eye and mouth and skin and realize your child is going to look very, very different from now on. It looks like you child, but it doesn't look like your child all at the same time. You also start to think it is going to look really good once it heals and that your child is going to be pleased. At least you hope so because you still aren't sure what her expectations were to begin with.

And then you realize that you need to stop talking about yourself in the third person and get on with telling the story. (I'm feeling a little punchy right about now.)

We spent about an hour in post-op, all the while H. would wake up a little bit, give a little wave with the hand not wrapped up because of the IV, and then fall immediately back to sleep. At one point when the nurse asked her if she would like a Popsicle she woke up a lot more and was interested in the first lick of the Popsicle and then went back to sleep again. She was not very much more wakeful when she was moved to a room.

As she was rolled into the room, she woke up enough to pay a little attention to the floor nurses who joined us. One of them greeted her and she valiantly tried to smile and wave at them. This, of course, immediately endeared her to every last one of them. I imagine that by the time I get back to the hospital tomorrow she will have them all wrapped around her little finger. She is that kind of girl... a sweetheart whom everyone loves.

Finally after an hour more of sleeping, she woke up and told us she wanted to watch a movie. The nurse was also able to give her some applesauce with a syringe and some sips of apple juice. Which seemed like a really good thing... until it wasn't. She currently has a lot of drainage going on. There are two drains in the side of her face and there was a lot of drainage down her throat during surgery that ended up in her stomach. Consequently her stomach was not so excited about the food and drink as everyone else and she was immediately sick. (I've mentioned before, I think, about how devastating H. finds it to throw up. It is the only time she cries.) So this made for a very unhappy little girl. The nurse and I helped her to the bathroom and got her cleaned up. She walked pretty well, all things considering, though we kept a good grip on her. By the time we got her back in bed she didn't want to watch the movie and soon fell asleep.

This is where I left her (and J.) and came home to take care of everyone else. Because, of course, we have more children than H. They were great, which is no small feat considering the number and personalities and the stress involved in the whole thing. We said good-by to those who needed to say good-by to us when we left in the morning and woke B. up telling him he was now in charge and then they all went back to sleep. The plan (which worked) was they they would all wake up at a more appropriate hour, eat breakfast (a treat of cold cereal), get people dressed, pack some schoolwork in bags, and then B. would drive them all to our very good friend the H-S family. There they spent the day with B. going back home occasionally to take care of Gretel. They had a wonderful time and J. and I are forever grateful for the very good friends that we have.

I had left instructions for what to put in the crock pot before they left in the morning so they could eat when they got home and I came home not too long after that. J. and I decided that it was best that I come home both because he functions far better than I on interrupted sleep and TM functions best when I'm around.

So now I'm home, the younger set have had storied read to them and are in bed, the older set are camped out and watching a movie, and I am going to bid you all a good night and see if I can manage to climb the stairs and get myself into bed before I lose consciousness.

I'll update more tomorrow as we see how H. progresses, but don't expect pictures for a week or so. She has stitch line encircling her left eye and running from her left eyebrow, down the side of her nose, angling over to the corner of her mouth and then out to the side of her cheek, plus some running along the inside of her bottom lip. It really isn't a pretty sight and I can't imagine her 14yo self being happy that I posted them for everyone to see.

Thank you all again for your prayers and support, they mean so, so much to us.


MamaPPod said...

So glad it all went so very well! Will continue to pray both for quick healing, and peace as H gets used to seeing the new and different face in the mirror.

Lucy said...

H is very very brave to undergo all of that. I kind of think the 14 yo H will look back at those surgery lines and be reminded how brave she was to undergo such a major change and know with God's help she can take anything. I didn't realize the surgery was so soon but will definitely add my prayers for her healing.

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