It’s taken me a few days to get back in the swing of posting after taking a leave of absence for Diana’s surgery. Here is a pictorial timeline of the surgery with a few comments:
On Thursday morning we got up bright and early and headed to the hospital. Diana was scheduled as the first surgery of the morning for our surgeon. She seemed excited to go. She knew that her “broken heart” was going to get fixed but she had no idea what was really in store. Grandpa Kent came over and watched the other kids and made sure they got their breakfast and got to school on time.
Diana on the morning of the surgery
We talked to the surgeon and anesthesiologist before the surgery, got her dressed in the hospital gown, and waited in the waiting room until the anesthesiologist came to get her. We walked with her up to the entrance into surgery at which point we had to go to the waiting room and she had to go with the anesthesiologist. The parents have the option of giving the kid a drug that will kind of calm them down and basically make them go into la-la land before they even get to the anesthesiologist but we chose not to use it. Diana seemed to be very calm about the whole affair and we didn’t think she would freak out. Even with her calmness, she didn’t want to go off alone with the anesthesiologist and started to whimper and and follow us instead. It was really heartwrenching to send her off and tell her that everything would be OK and not to be afraid. In fact, I still feel awful thinking about it now.
During the surgery Nancy and I waited in the waiting room and the nurse gave us updates on the telephone every hour and a half. It was interesting to observe the behavior of the different parents in the waiting room. I was very stoic and only got out of my chair to use the bathroom and talk to the nurse on the phone. Nancy had lots of nervous energy and was very restless. Other parents had all kinds of family members and kids in the waiting room and were chatting it up or watching TV. Diana’s surgery was scheduled to be about 4.5 hours but it took longer because her heart had more complications than they originall planned. A big thanks to Melissa for the waiting room care package – I sat there and did sudoku puzzles for five hours straight. I was a great relief when the doctor finally came in to tell us that it was over and that she was doing well.
All through the surgery I was stoic and composed; however, when we went into the Intensive Care Unit to see Diana for the first time after the surgery I really choked up. Seeing her lying there unconscious with all the tubes and wires just made my heart ache for her. Nancy patiently stood by her side for the first few hours as it took Diana quite a while to come out of the anesthesia and even then she wasn’t very lucid due to the morphine.
Waiting for Diana to come out of the anesthesia
We stayed with Diana through the rest of the first day and finally went home late at night after concluding that there wasn’t much we could do during the night as Diana was mostly sleeping and heavily dosed on morphine.
Notice the little Cinderella doll clutched in her hand in the second picture
The next day we went back to the hospital in the morning just as the nurses were moving her out of the ICU. She had done well through the night and was alert and awake even though she didn’t talk much (the breathing tube had hurt her throat and she didn’t feel good in general so she only talked in little one-word squeaks). The nurses had removed several of the IVs and other tubes that were in her but the chest drains were still in. The wound on her neck is from some type of heart pressure measuring device they stuck in through one of her neck veins. Nancy and I stayed with her most of the day, trying to get her to eat and drink so she wouldn’t get dehydrated. Finally, at the end of the day she said she had to go potty so Nancy carried her to the toilet trailing all of the chest drains and IV cables along. It hurt her quite a bit to move around and sit on the potty and after she was done she fell asleep for the night.
Awake but not happy yet. Think that will leave a scar?
The next day (Saturday) Nancy went up to the hospital and I stayed with the other kids for the day. I called Nancy several times during the day to check on Diana’s status. Nancy even managed to get a few smiles out of her. Nancy said she was doing better, eating a little bit, talking a little bit, and watching “Booty and the Beast” over and over again. The doctors also decided that her bleeding had slowed enough that the chest drains could be removed so they took them out (Nancy reported that this was painful for Diana) and stitched up the holes.
The ballons, stuffed animals, and flowers came from family, my colleagues at work, and my Internet friends. Thanks to everyone.
On Sunday I went up to the hospital prepared to spend the day with Diana while Nancy stayed at home with the kids. Before I got there the doctors and nurses had already taken Diana for chest x-rays and drawn her blood for a lab workup. About an hour after I was there the nurse announced that Diana could go home. I wasn’t expecting her to go home for at least another day so I called Nancy and she came up with a change of clothes for Diana to wear home while Grandma Connie and Grandpa Kent went to our house to watch the other kids and get them ready for church. Diana was alert, active, and talkative. She hadn’t had any painkiller since some Ibuprofen on Saturday night – a completely amazing recovery in just three days.
When we got home, we wanted her to lay still and rest but she was up and walking around the house, hopping on the tile floors, and jumping off the bottom stairs. Grandma and Grandpa took the kids to church while Nancy and I stayed home and gave Diana a bath (trying to avoid getting the wounds wet) and got her cleaned up. Even though she wasn’t going to church, she wanted to put on her Sunday dress so she could be like her older sisters.
A complete recovery
Our thanks and gratitude go out to everyone that offered help, prayers, and wishes during the past few days. Thanks for all of the kind cards, flowers, gifts, and treats. We really appreciate the thoughtfulness that everyone has shown. A special thanks to both sets of grandparents for their patience and help in watching the other kids, to the doctors and nurses at the hospital for the outstanding job they did and the care they showed, and to the Relief Society for helping with meals. We are grateful that Diana has made an amazingly fast recovery and are hopeful that her long term prognosis is excellent and will require no other surgeries in the future.