Monday, July 12, 2010

July 12, 2010-First Open Heart Surgery-Coartation of the Aorta Repair

The sound of my six am alarm made my heart race. Any other morning and I would have reached over and pressed the snooze button for five more minutes of sleep, but this particular morning, after going to bed just two hours prior, I was wide awake. By 7am, I was ready to go, well not "ready," nobody can be physically "ready" for their daughter to have open heart surgery. Although Laura was the second surgery to go that day, I wanted to make sure to be there extra early so I could spend every last second up to her surgery with her. After the normal Boston traffic, I was by Laura's side by 9 am. Laura's nurse, Karen, my favorite nurse, came over and informed me that Laura's night and morning had been going very well so far. I could not have asked for a better nurse today because not only was Karen energetic and funny and down to Earth, but also introduced me to a BUNCH of helpful people from different departments who help make the parents stay as less stressful and most family oriented as possible. After talking to hospital staff and groups, I felt like I was able to focus 100% on Laura.

The wait to get to the go down to the OR was very long, never-wrecking, and physically exhausting. We watched Karen get Laura's traveling table thing ready and do her routine checks and paperwork. One o'clock went by and we were told the OR should be ready shortly and we go are hopes up as we thought any minute now. Slowly the clock ticked and two o'clock passed and no sign of the team coming to get Laura. Then the phone rang and the OR tech said they were ready for Laura. Again we got our hopes up as the clock slowly ticked on to three o'clock. By this point I was already tired, drained, and hungry, and the surgery had not even started yet. Finally four o'clock come and the team came up stairs to grab Laura. My parents were escorted to the family waiting room and I was allowed to go down on the elevator with the team. My heart was pounding and I began to shiver with a nervous cold feeling that ran through my body. Karen informed me that Dr. Hickey, the Chief of Anaesthesiology would be performing Laura's anesthesia. I was shocked, a world renowned anesthesiologist was going to be in the operating room with my daughter. To my surprise, Dr. Hickey was a very funny easy going doctor. He tried to break the ice and I just smiled, even though everything he was saying was going in one ear and out the other. We took the service elevators and then my first step off of the elevator was that site, the double doors. Those doors, tan with the big "OPERATING ROOM" in red and white written across the top. Those same doors that you see in movies and on television that at the time, just seems like doors. Those same doors intensified that nervous, cold feeling. And then, one of the doctors asked "do you want to kiss her?" I looked down into her face and all of those previous mentioned feelings went away. I just wanted that moment to last forever, starring at her beautiful doll face. The tubes and wires became invisible to my eyes. I leaned forward, and for the first time in my life, I felt my baby's delicate skin on my lips. I was close enough, to smell her baby scent. And then just like that, I watched those cold mean doors close behind her. I had to fight back my tears, the whole way back over to where my family was waiting for me. The nurse liaison began telling me how she would call or come talk to me throughout the surgery, letting me knowing how it was going. My head felt like an over fried computer, I saw her lips moving and I heard chatter, but her words were all scrambled.

About one hour passed, when I got the first phone call. My heart began to race as I answered the phone. The first incision was made and Laura was doing good. The nurse informed me that around 5:45pm, I would get a second update. Nervously, I did word puzzles and moved seats and started to become very antsy as 5:45 approached. I looked down at the clock again, 5:48pm. I started to panic and I know it is only three minutes past the time the nurse gave me, but in the moment, every minutes felt like an hour. Finally, somewhere around 6:00, I saw the nurse heading our way. I looked at her face for maybe a clue as to what kind of news she would be giving us...nothing. And then she said, "Laura's surgery is going very well, they are winding down now, and Dr. Pagula should be out within the hour to talk to you guys." I felt instant relief and satisfaction, but knew not to get my hopes up yet. About an hour later, the surgeon came out and informed us that she tolerated the surgery better than expected and that the repair went very well. He reminded us that now hopefully they can get her nice and strong for the second surgery and in 2-4 months perform the other heart surgery. I just reminded myself, "small steps" and "take it one day at a time."

We waited about an hour more as Laura was finished in the OR and then brought back to her room. It was amazing to see the little glowing beauty (literally glowing due to the biliruben pad). Laura was already starting to look better. The surgeons had done a side thoracotomy (incision was under her arm) instead of the center chest cut. Laura had her hat off and her furry little head was exposed, making her look more beautiful than ever. Finally, I decided it was time to go home and let Laura rest. I gave her a kiss on that little fur ball (my mom's term for Laura's head (Laura has a lot of hair)), and left the hospital floating on cloud 9. There is no better feeling in the world than to kiss my little girl. During the car ride back from Boston, I took a peaceful feeling nap, thinking to myself as I drifted off into sleep, what a beautiful and amazing daughter I have.

Tomorrow, it is back to Children's Hospital Boston to see my little princess. Tomorrow I plan on sleeping in one of the parents rooms overnight, so I will not be able to update on how she is doing postoperative until Wednesday. Maybe if I have my charger, I will write the blog from my phone, who knows.

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