I'm zonked. Thursday just took it all out of me. I completely forgot how waiting and pacing, sitting, pacing some more, checking the monitor for updates and waiting, waiting, waiting can just utterly empty one's energy reserves.
It was finally the big day: the bilateral inferior oblique anterior transposition for strabismus for Kelsey. Yes, bilateral did mean on both sides as we thought after seeing the paperwork. The surgeon decided that after a second review of the CT scan (prior to the pre-op appointment). We were actually a bit nervous about whether or not the surgery would take place, as it took so long to get the appointment time. The hospital waits until the night before to call you with a surgical time slot, which makes it a wee bit hard to plan one's day. Luckily, we have a friendly neighbor who was more than happy to pick up Nick and, well, Cait can take care of getting home and getting inside just fine.
We had quite the drive into Children's, but finally arrived at 10:12 a.m. We were supposed to be there at 10:00 a.m. but between traffic and the parking situation we arrived a few minutes late. As I suspected, this did not matter in the slightest, as we didn't even register Kelsey for surgery until 11 a.m. and then were not called to preop until nearly 11:30 a.m.
During all of this, I have to admit, I was a bit nervous. Getting our hospital bands, signing all of the paperwork and just waiting in a crowded waiting room with other nervous/pacing/crying parents can do it to you. Finally, Kelsey was called back and we started her prep work.
We went over allergies and the like, once if not 100 times. She was measured in every respect and asked 5 times by 5 different people if she had been sick recently. After she changed, she was offered crayons, a coloring book, cartoons to watch and had a visit with a Child Life specialist.
Not only does the Child Life specialist come in and sit down to talk with your child, but assists them in decorating the oxygen mask and allowing them to opt for scented "sleepy air." Kelsey was all over that and promptly chose bubble gum after covering her mask in brightly colored stickers (no, she did not get to keep as a souvenir). I think the person must have expected a nervous little girl, but Kelsey just chatted with her quietly and then went back to her coloring and relaxing once the coordinator left. I wondered how she could be so calm and collected (especially with the wailing down the hall), but nothing fazed her.
I then thought back to a discussion a few weeks before. We were sitting and talking and Kelsey asked about my surgery, particularly the length. I mentioned that it had been about 8 hours.
"Oh," she responded, "I thought it was only supposed to be 6!"
I told her sometimes it simply takes longer and she looked at me and said, "You know, I still feel so bad that you had to go through that."
Not that I hadn't received sympathy and love from my kids, but I didn't quite expect that thought. I thanked her and mentally filed it away as one of the sweetest things one of my kids could say to me (right up there with "You are my princess!"). A week later she went to her follow-up eye appointment and at that time said she was no longer nervous about her surgery. She had been in the beginning, but now figured she would have it done and all would be fine. Did our discussion have anything to do with her new attitude? I'd like to think so, but who knows.
I flashed back to the present and spent the next hour watching her. She was as cool as a cucumber, despite the many nurses and doctors who were in and out of the room and peppering her with questions. She would answer them, go back to her relaxing and at the appropriate time (only 1.5 hours late, but...) hopped out of the recliner and walked off to the OR with the nurses. So different from our last experience at Children's but probably easier in the long run. We were then escorted to the waiting room and realized we'd best make use of our time and have lunch.
I'm not going to say much about the hospital cafeteria, except to remark that the views were stunning. The food? Well, let's just say a Jamie Oliver revolution would be welcome there. Pete said once (if not several times) that he was stunned by the lack of healthy options. There was a smoothie bar, but not much else. I suppose I shouldn't be shocked, but would be so nice to see more fresh fruits and veggies especially when this is the only option for some people.
We knew that the surgery would not last terribly long and headed back to the waiting room after we ate. One of us was able to nap a little while the other paced, checked the monitor and played Words With Friends. The internet was iffy, but I was able to do Facebook updates, a nice distraction.
After about 1.5 hours and the 15th check of the board, I noticed her case number said that the surgery was complete. I woke Peter up and 5 minutes later we were summoned by the surgeon. He and the surgeon assisting went through the procedure and said several times how well things had gone. We went back to the waiting area and 10 minutes later headed to recovery to see Kelsey.
Ah, the poor thing. She was still sound asleep when we got there, but we could see her eyes, teary and swollen and know she'd soon be in a bit of pain. She was extubated, but still hooked up to the IV and monitors and had a ventilation device in her mouth to keep her respiration rate up. Not 10 minutes later she woke up, startled by the device in her mouth. After a few minutes of coaxing, she finally realized she was to spit it out (not bite down) and she went flat on her back to try to sleep.
Unfortunately, that's when the pain and wailing began. She couldn't open her eyes, they had a grainy feeling to them (normal) and, of course, the post-surgical pain. We ended up being in recovery with her for about three hours, as they needed to ensure she was well-hydrated and able to move around.
Her recovery, despite the pain, was quite good. No nausea, no vomiting and within an hour she requested a popsicle. She drank two cups of water and juice by the time we left and probably would have had more, but with the ice pack being on her eyes nearly continuously, it was hard to work around. She was also too tired and kept drifting off, as one tends to do.
Even more amazing than her calm prior to the surgery, was the statement she made after. After she woke up and had two shots of morphine (the pain was just too intense), she started to relax. At that point, she said in a very soft voice, "Well, at least it's all over now." Maybe it was the morphine talking, but knowing Kelsey, I think it was just her logical attitude.
After meeting with the doctor and getting the sign-off to leave, we carefully dressed her and helped her into the wheelchair. Thank goodness they have plenty of dark shades and ice packs, otherwise she would have had to be wheeled to the car looking like a ghost. The lights are just so bright and I think it will be Monday before she's able to appreciate bright light again.
We arrived at home Thursday night around 7:30 p.m. and spent the rest of the night just relaxing with her, napping and making sure her eyes were lubed with an antibiotic (ointment appplication twice a day...fun!) and that she was as pain-free as possible.
Her eyes are still swollen today and she can't yet see the flowers that have been sent her way, but does appreciate them. Despite yesterday being Read Across America Day, she couldn't do much more than sleep and listen to movies. Hopefully, her eyes will be open more today, as I am quite anxious to know how much the surgery has helped her vision.
Oh, and the boots?
She loves them! See that smile?! Okay, not really as she has a towel over her closed eyes so not one ray of light gets in, but she hugged me and was really quite excited when she opened them. Now tomorrow, maybe she'll open her eyes?