Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Surgery: The Trilogy

As someone who has only had maybe two surgeries in her entire life (does having my wisdom teeth removed count as surgery?), I am thoroughly amazed that my little girl has now had three surgeries before she's even three months old.  The first, of course, was her myelomeningocele repair at one day old.  The second, her VP shunt placement.  And today, we add a quad tenotomy (meaning the doctor will cut her quadriceps tendon so that she can bend Amelia's leg the right way) to complete the trilogy.

We arrived at the hospital just after 7am this morning to check in.  After that, we went up to the surgery floor to get her weight and change her into her hospital gown.  I have to admit, as nerve-wracking as this whole situation is for me, she looked pretty darn cute in a teeny-tiny hospital gown that was still too big on her.

After a short wait, we went back to get her vitals and answer a bunch of pre-op questions (medical history, medications, etc.).  Then it was back out into the waiting room.  The third time we went back it was to meet with Amelia's orthopedist, the anesthesiologist, and the OR nurse who would be with Amelia during the surgery.  The anesthesiologist told us how they would put Amelia to sleep during the procedure: gas via a breathing mask, a breathing tube that would come out before she woke up, and an IV that would come out just before she leaves the hospital.  She also explained that it's common to see irregular breathing with general anesthesia, especially with babies as young as Amelia (apparently, she's never met our little fighter - our girl didn't have any breathing problems the entire time!).  Then came the hardest part of our day - handing our little one over to the OR nurse.  Brian and I trudged back to the waiting room just after 9am and quickly busied ourselves with making phone calls, reading (him), and catching up on notes from cough Christmas cough (yeah, that's me).

About an hour and a half later, Amelia's orthopedist came out to tell us that the surgery went "perfect" - and a feeling of relief washed over me.  She said Amelia's quadriceps tendon was buried and super-tight, but that they were able to get an almost 90-degree bend on her leg as soon as they cut the tendon.  I was amazed to hear this, since she was expecting only about 45 degrees.  They put a cast on her leg, including her foot, and we don't expect it to move at all.  We'll wait until our follow-up appointment next week to also cast her left leg.

We waited another 20 minutes or so while Amelia was in surgical recovery, then we were called back to the outpatient recovery room.  The nurse brought her into the room in one of those cribs that I've grown to hate from our time on the floor back in December.  She looked so much bigger in that crib today.

Not five minutes after she was wheeled in, she was waking up and wiggling around.  She was alert and happy, and as soon as I saw her I had a hard time holding back tears.  I was so relieved to see that we were indeed going to go home today, because my biggest fear through all of this was that she wouldn't tolerate the anesthesia well and would have to be admitted to the hospital.  I should have known better - Amelia is a tough gal, and within 15 minutes of her arrival, I was giving her some Pedialyte, then nursing her!  Her pulse, oxygenation level, and respiration rate were so good that the nurse was prepping her to leave as soon as I was done feeding her.  All said and done, it was about three and a half hours from handing Amelia off to the OR nurse to walking out the door of the hospital.  Now we have a happy, but sleepy, little girl, and I pray we can start measuring the length between surgeries in years, not weeks.

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