I cannot begin to explain how the weeks and even months leading up to Isabelle’s surgery affected me. It wasn’t a lack of trust in God to care for her or that I thought it was going to go wrong… I think it just really disturbed me to know she would endure such an invasive procedure. To know her whole back would be cut open and that hardware would be inserted, that there would be so much pain and that she would have to go through it all. The other thing that bothered me was that anytime you go through a surgery your life is at risk and this surgery was more “risky” than other surgeries so I think I felt like I had to deal with those what if’s before hand and get it all straight in my mind. You could say I was borrowing tomorrow’s problems, but it is just easier somehow to let every possibility be a reality so I know how to handle things. Needless to say I was a little off, which I think helped me with my little wreck. I was just so distracted.
The day before surgery I felt like I did last summer when I climbed up that huge cliff and when I got to the top I realized I had to jump. There was no way I could climb back down and it was so high and scary. I took Isabelle to the hospital for blood work that was required within 48 hours of surgery. They had a lot of trouble finding her veins and ended up “digging” around in her little foot. She was so tough. Such a big girl we stopped at the gift shop and picked a balloon!
Surgery day we were given the big private waiting room, the same one we had for her hip surgery almost two years ago. I really is helpful to have a private waiting room. The OR nurse calls hourly to give updates on the status of surgery. We had a big group of people waiting with us and enough food and drinks were brought by friends we didn’t have to leave the room. They took her back at 8:15 a.m. Like the last surgery I was allowed to go with her to the operating room and be with her until she was asleep. That is hard! They put the little mask on her and after several seconds she smiled really big and then was out. That was my cue to leave. I held it together until I got into the hall. It was so hard to walk away from her in that moment. I knew it had to be done but I would have stayed and had it done to me if it was at all possible.
It took two hours to place the four IV’s, PIC line, and ART line in booth feet hands and arm. I got the call around ten that they were starting, and then every hour after until it was finished. It is really odd to be in that situation where you are visiting and reading people magazine but in the back of your mind all you can think of is your baby being cut open.
One of the other things I really dreaded was going to see her in the recovery room. It is hard to see someone after a long surgery. When we got the call that she was in recovery that afternoon I was surprised that she looked pretty good after such a long surgery and I was so relieved. From recovery she was taken to the PICU.
They were supposed to place an NG tube for feeding those first couple of days that Dr. Herndon made sure we get placed during surgery so that she was asleep. We found out in the PICU that the NG tube placed was a suction tube and not a feeding tube so they had to remove it and place another. We spent the evening with her and with a steady stream of visitors. Matt and I shared a fold out chair and tried to sleep. That didn’t happen! Dr. H said she would be in ICU for a few days and then on the floor 6-10 days. The day after surgery she was doing so well they said she would move to the floor.
So I hear over all the loud speakers, “CODE BLUE ROOM 8118.” Over and over again. We were waiting for a room to open up before they could move us because they were full. About an hour later the nurse came in and said they found a room for us, room 8118. I asked the PICU nurse about the child who coded in that room and she said that he had not died but had been moved to the PICU and was on a breathing machine. The room was tiny, like a bed and a rocking chair tiny. I think the lack of sleep over the past week and the stress of the situation all came to the surface when I walked into that room. It’s hard to leave the PICU where they are so attentive and go to the floor where you become the nurse. It’s a little scary. I asked the nurse on the floor if the child who left the room with the code blue was contagious (because I am a huge germ phobe) and she said yes, but the room had been cleaned. GREAT.
Matt insisted I leave at bedtime and come back early in the morning that night because it was clear I was getting a little crazy. Emelia loves to stay at the hospital… (we have decided nursing is her calling) Emelia noticed that there was something in Isabelle’s mouth. The feeding tube had coiled in her mouth! It took two nurses a while to get a new one placed. Looking back it wasn’t that big of a deal but at the time it seemed huge. It could have just filled her lungs since it was pulled up from her stomach… there were so many possibilities.
Sunday there were a lot of visitors! but the highlight of the day was when Nancy the PT at the hospital (who remembered Iz from her accident years ago) came to get her up in her chair. Nancy came the day before in the PICU and just sat her on the side of the bed. At first I thought there is no way, but she was very confident and I have come to know when a therapist is confident and calm it is ok. She was really great with isabelle and it was amazing to see her sitting up so straight in her chair! We were able to change her bedding and comb her hair. I read “Little House in the Big Woods” to her while we sat in the little waiting room outside her room with big windows. That evening the nurse moved us quickly to a big room which was wonderful! There was actually a place to sleep and room to move around.
Monday she was running a little fever and I think I spent the entire day watching those numbers! Isabelle doesn’t use any type of pulse ox machine at home so I when she is connected to one I get a little obsessed with the numbers. Her numbers are always pretty good, her heart rate got a little high but that was expected with the meds and her pain level. She was given morphine regularly and had a wound vac that they had to measure the blood coming out of her incision every two hours. I don’t think I slept Monday night at all, even with a bed in the room whenever the nurse or tech came in I was wide awake making sure everything was OK.
Tuesday Dr. H came in and was ready to remove drain and change bandage. We were told if she would eat by mouth we might be able to leave on Wednesday! Dr. H said he was amazed with how well she was doing.
Wednesday she ate her breakfast and lunch by mouth and the ng tube was removed… followed by the PIC line and IV. We were going home!
There were so many times I just knew that there were so many prayers for Isabelle and could feel that over her. She was only given one unit of blood total. Dr H (who does so many of these surgeries) said she would need 3 during and two after. She only had one. Dr. H said at post op that it could not have gone better. It was the best of the best scenario. It is humbling when you know that God has honored the prayers you have prayed for even months before, and that there are so many others surrounding her in prayer.
Thank you so much for praying for Isabelle, those prayers carried her and us through this surgery! We are so excited to move forward without braces or curving. I am optimistic that her life will be much better in the future. When she is up to it I am pushing her out to throw away her TLSO (back braces) one at a time!
Isabelle is by far the toughest most resilient girl I have ever seen! She amazes me and I just love her so much.
She has been tired from the trip to the hospital for post op appt. It was a lot of in and out and moving.. x-rays etc. I look forward to her feeling better!