November 27, 2012

Surgery-Thanksgiving-And Back in the Hospital...

The surgery.  One of the worst nights of my life.  I don’t even know where to begin.  Bottom line: the surgery went great… but the aftermath was a nightmare.

The day started out promising.  Abi couldn’t eat past 6:30 am, but she was doing fine.  Her surgery was scheduled for 2:30. We got the hospital at 12:30 and by 1:30 we were back in the pre-op area, separated from all the other patients by thin curtains. We waited and waited and waited. The surgery ahead of us ended up taking much longer than expected so Abi was on the pre-op bed for 2 hours longer than expected.  She was VERY hungry at this point, but still kicking and having a good time. 

At 4:30 they finally took her back and the real wait began.  Sidenote: doesn’t matter how easy the surgery is supposed to be, seeing your child look at you with a confused look on her face while being carried away by a bunch of strangers is parental torture.  

At 5:30, they call us in the back, the surgeon meets with us and tells us she did great and I finally begin breathing again.  We go back into the main lobby and wait for the recovery team to come get us.  I call Sean and my dad and tell them the good news and wait….

And wait…

And wait…

Eventually we were the only ones left.


Finally I see a nurse walk in and speak quietly to the assistant left in the room with us.  She whispers, “McConnell” with a worried look on her face.  My heart sinks.  The assistant points to us and I brace myself.  The woman came over and said, “She’s inconsolable.  We don’t THINK she’s in pain, but we’re not sure.  Is there anything you think might be the problem? Would you like to come hold her and try to calm her down?”  We immediately run to the back and as we’re walking past patients in beds with curtains for walls I hear Abi screaming.  I run up to her. She’s in the hospital bed, face swollen, closed eyes 4 times their normal size, wailing.  I pick her up and start speaking to her.  She calms down a little but continues to cry.  As I hold her, we begin the process of brainstorming:  Pain? = We give more pain meds.  Acid reflux? = We give Acid Reflux medication.  But nothing was helping.  Eventually I ask- “has anyone even seen her eyes open??” Nobody had.  It became obvious-she wasn’t even awake.   I felt the grip on my emotions start to weaken and as I realized something was really wrong I worked hard to hold her and not totally panic.  I’m the person who got her wisdom teeth ripped out of her gums WHILE AWAKE because I refused to be put under… I’m deathly afraid of anesthesia and now, my daughter (to the dismay of all medical professionals) wouldn’t WAKE UP.  BUT it was worse.  It wasn’t that she was just asleep, she was asleep (we think?) and screaming! 

We began considering the possibility of a condition called “emersion delirium” which can cause patients to react strangely when coming out of anesthesia.  The anesthesiologist came and told us she was screaming from the second she woke up… she didn’t know what was wrong but didn’t think it was pain… she left.  No problems solved.  Just gone.  Eventually the nurses came in and said they’d spoken with the doctors and they were going to give her a medicine for pain and emersion delirium- even though they didn’t think that’s what it was.  As the nurse went to give this medicine she discovered that the IV  was kinked.  She said, “Hmm… okay- well maybe it is pain b/c now we don’t know if any of the pain meds actually got to her… Not sure when this kink happened.”  Oh. Dear. Lord.  I could feel my spirit spinning.  As the minutes passed my mom held Abi and she eventually started to calm down.   The new meds seemed to be working… (Or perhaps the original pain meds were finally reaching her? Who knows.) However, despite a break in the screaming, she still hadn't opened her eyes.

I took the opportunity to go to the bathroom, call Sean, and ask him to start calling family and friends.  We needed prayer.  Big time.

I took a few deep breaths and walked back to our curtain.  When I walked in, my mom looked up at me and said, “Mary Susan.  Go get a nurse.” 


“Mary Susan.  Go get a nurse.”   I looked at Abi and I could tell she was fighting for air.  I ran out of the curtains looking for a doctor or a nurse.  I found them and I interrupted their conversation and told them frantically, “I need you NOW!”  They ran with me back to my mother and when they looked at Abi, the nurse said, “Get her on the table!”  She grabbed an oxygen mask and I watched as they tried to help my daughter breathe.  Abi looked like a fish out of water.  Her eyes were still closed but she was gasping for air and clearly not getting any.  The nurse said, “We normally don’t like parents to see this.  Are y’all okay?”  My mom nodded yes and I said, “No. I’m not okay.” And started bawling.  The nurse said, “Go sit in that rocking chair over there.  Go sit. We don’t want you to see this. It can be traumatic for parents.”  So I went.  I sat in the rocking chair and looked up to see a dozen other families, looking at me… Everyone’s curtains were wide open.  I crumpled in the rocking chair and started to bawl.  Before I knew it another nurse handed me a box of tissues, and a cup of apple juice.  She said, “Take all the time you need” and closed the curtain.  I call Sean.  I could barely get my words out.  “Abi can’t breathe.  They put her on the oxygen machine.  They told me to leave.  They can’t get her to wake up.”

Finally I gained the composure to go back.  At this point, the nurse had Abi on her side and she was breathing fine… but still on the machine.  The nurse told me that the last medicine they gave her must have been too much for her little system and it sedated her so much that her airway closed.  She said, the medicine would be wearing off shortly.  The second it wore off we knew it, because Abi started screaming.  Again.  We held her, we talked to her, we played her music.  She would scream and then stop and then start screaming again.  There were no answers.

The nurse told me they were considering taking her to the ICU.  She also told me some people were there to see me, and even though only 2 adults were allowed, they’d let them in if I was okay with it.  I wasn’t expecting anyone but I said, “Sure send them back.” It was my sweet father.  Sean had called him and he and my sister and step mom had rushed over right away.  It meant a lot.

EVENTUALLY-  Abi’s vitals were steady enough that despite the fact she hadn’t woken up yet, the nurses felt comfortable sending us to a room.  On our way out of the area Abi started to barely open her eyes.  I immediately put my face near her ear and began speaking to her.  For the next hour she would open her eyes a little, and then close them again.  She couldn’t keep them open for long.  BUT THEY WERE OPENING!!

For the rest of the night, she would sleep soundly and then suddenly start screaming.  Because of the surgery starting late, she couldn’t get any food for an entire 24 hours. I was certain she was painfully hungry.  Eventually, I climbed up into the crib with her and slept there.  By 8 am she FINALLY looked AWAKE.  She was clearly uncomfortable, but at least she was AWAKE!!!

Despite the anesthesia nightmare, Abi’s tube was working well and she was finally awake, so we were discharged in the late afternoon.  (Thank GOD!) Amazingly enough, this was the weekend my sister Maddie had planned to come meet Miss Abiella.  She had come all the way from Denver and was waiting at the house when we returned.  (Actually she stayed at the house the night we were in the hospital and took care of our dogs, went to the grocery and got fancy creamer (a big treat for me), and prepared the house for a cozy first few days of Miss Abi’s recovery.)  For the next few days Maddie, Abiella, and I recovered at the house, watched TV, went on walks, drank pots upon pots of coffee, and laughed… a lot.

Then Sunday morning Sean returned and we all went to our Framily Thanksgiving across the street that evening. 

A few days after that, James (Sean’s brother) drove up from Georgia and joined us for Thanksgiving...


5 holiday movies, tons of food, and 2 days later, James hit the road and headed back home.

Today, we’re busy eating leftovers, decorating for Christmas, and helping Abiella venture through teething AND post-op tenderness… quite a double whammy.
I wrote the above a few days ago but never posted.  Since then Abiella became increasingly sore and generally miserable.  On Sunday night we noticed a hard spot near her incision site. We immediately suspected infection.  We called the nurse and she told us to wait until morning and then go see the surgeon.  That’s what we did.  The surgeon felt the site could be infected, but that it didn’t look bad enough to know for sure. Since the surgeon felt it was no big deal, I told Sean to go ahead and leave town as scheduled for work, and that I’d start Abi on the antibiotics prescribed by the surgeon.  My super mom had also offered to come down and help me.  So by 3 o’clock Sean was on a plane out of town, by 5pm I was giving Abi antibiotics, and I thought things would slow down.  But,  Abi continued to feel worse and worse.  By 8pm she started vomiting. A lot. Her belly looked completely distended and the hard spot had grown substantially. I freaked out, considering she had never vomited before and she seemed SO MISERABLE.  We immediately loaded her up (after I called 911 and asked for an ambulance and then quickly decided against it… new parent syndrome?)  And by 9 o’clock we were in the ER waiting with about 50 other families.  By midnight we were in our own room in the ER and 21 hours and 37 minutes later we’re still here.


In the wee hours of the morning we got 2 x-rays done, both of which came back normal. They started her on IV antibiotics and by midday today she began throwing up again.  A lot.  BUT after she was done, she immediately went back to her hold self. Finally.  Smiling, kicking, wide awake, looking around, less tender…Now we’re waiting it out…


We just started small amounts of pedialyte through her tube now... praying it goes well and stays down...