Wednesday, January 22, 2014

George's Surgery: Day 1

George’s surgery was set for Monday, October 7, 2013. On the Friday before, we had our pre-op appointment at the children’s hospital. Basically, they just took George’s vitals and did an x-ray of his chest to make sure his lungs were clear and he was healthy for surgery. Everything checked out great and we were to be back at the hospital on Monday morning at 6 a.m.
On Sunday night, we gave George the last bath he’d have for a while. He got to take it all by himself (I usually bathe both of the kids together), so he had a lot of fun playing. We washed his hair really good and got him all scrubbed down and ready for his surgery in the morning.

Monday morning finally came and we were up bright and early. George was not allowed to eat or drink anything before surgery so I also went without eating breakfast. My parents came over to watch Bridget while Aaron and I took George to the hospital. We left him in his pajamas, woke up big sister Bridget to say good-bye, and off we went.

When we arrived at the hospital, they took us back there almost immediately and got started with taking his blood pressure, temperature, listened to his heart and lungs, etc. Then, with George and me lying on the bed, they wheeled us down all the many halls at the hospital over to the heart center where the surgery would be done. Once there, the anesthesiologist came in and we signed some paper work with him, and then Dr. Koutlas, George’s pediatric cardiac surgeon, met with us to sign more paperwork before beginning surgery.

The nurse then gave George an anti-anxiety medicine (I can’t remember the name of it) that would make it easier for him to be handed over to the O.R. nurse and taken into the O.R. (we were not allowed in there, of course). They said he’d get a little loopy and silly. And he sure did. He started squishing at his eyeballs and was very relaxed. Here he is with Aaron holding him in his drugged state.

Then it was time. At 7:30 a.m., an O.R. nurse came to get George. He went to her with no problems at all. As you can see, he was being very silly. This time he was sticking his thumbs in his ears. The nurse was very friendly and George seemed to like her just fine (although he probably would have gone to anybody at this point). But before I could let her take George to surgery, I had to get some last hugs and kisses in. He didn’t really know what was going on, and was probably wondering my mommy was squeezing him so hard.
After handing our baby boy over, Aaron and I walked with our child life specialist, Tara, back over to the children’s hospital waiting area. Every time she received an update, she’d come to let us know. Shortly after we got to the waiting area, Tara received an update that George was fully sedated and all of the tubes were hooked up (IVs, breathing tubes, foley catheter, etc.). Then at 8:30 a.m., we were told that Dr. Koutlas had started the surgery and George was on the heart-lung machine and everything was going well.

During the surgery, Aaron’s parents came by to wait with us and my parents came by with Bridget before they took her to gymnastics. The child-life specialist brought Bridget some Barbie dolls to play with while she waited. Grandma also had fun playing with Bridget and entertaining her.

While my parents were with Bridget at her gymnastics lesson, we got the update that the surgery was over and that George was off of the heart-lung machine and they were putting in the chest tubes (to drain excess blood and fluids from around his heart). George’s heart was finally fixed and working great! Things were going ahead of schedule and we were getting very excited to be able to see George soon.
Once George was in the PICU, it took a while to get him settled. They wanted to get the machines switched over before the family came in the room. Dr. Koutlas came to talk with us in the waiting area and let us know how everything went. He said that things looked a bit different once he got in there and that the left atrium of his heart was actually divided by a membrane into two chambers, giving George three atriums. So Dr. Koutlas completely removed this membrane and repaired the TAPVC.
Then it was time to see George. We were nervous and didn’t know quite what to expect. As soon as we walked into the PICU, we washed our hands and proceeded to George’s room. This is what we saw when we got there:

George kept waking up from the sedation because his little body was metabolizing it so quickly. When he woke, he was trying to cry but couldn’t because he had the breathing tube in his mouth. He’d also jerk around his arms and legs. It was very hard to watch and even harder to keep him still. There were so many tubes and wires around him and we didn’t want to knock anything out of place while trying to control his movements. The worst part was definitely when he’d try to cry though. The nurses assured me that he wasn’t feeling any pain due to all of the morphine he was on, and that him trying to cry was probably him being frustrated about not being able to move or he was scared because he didn’t know what was happening. What a way to break his momma’s heart.

We were all very busy trying to keep him still and comfortable. I’d get a break while my parents took over. Aaron also brought Bridget in to see George. We had explained everything to her and the child life specialist took pictures for Bridget to see before she went in there. As scared of a girl that Bridget is sometimes, she wasn’t scared at all to see George. She did so well and was just concerned for him. She just watched him and kissed his forehead, and afterwards my parents took her home. 

Later that evening, I sent Aaron home to get some sleep while I stayed in the room with George. Before the surgery, I thought that the first night would be easy and that he’d be so drugged up and sedated that I’d be able to also get a good night’s rest. Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case. It was the worst night and I spent most of the night at his bedside trying to comfort him. Any little noise or movement he made, I was up from my bed and right there. But to tell the truth, I wouldn’t have been anywhere else.

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