Aiming Arrows

Musings of a Mommy

Category: Surgery

Surgery – Video Before and After

Before:  The night before surgery, we recorded this video.  I wanted to have it because I didn’t think we would ever believe her breathing was as bad as it was.  I was right.  When Steve and I watched it last night we had forgotten what it was like.  You will hear that for her to actually be snoring would have been an improvement.  You can’t really see her physical labor to breathe.  It was a lot more obvious on her chest/abdomen, but if you look closely you can kind of see it on her back.

After:  You can’t really hear anything on this video.  That’s because there is nothing to hear; she’s breathing so peacefully!


Surgery – The Details

Here’s the long version!

The hospital called about 7:45 to tell us the anesthesiologist said she could have clear liquids until 9:00.  He thought that might help with her irritability since she hadn’t had anything to eat since dinner the day before.  Little did they know she wasn’t irritable because she was asleep and would be until we left for the hospital.  Steve and I woke Graceanna up about 8:45 and drove to the hospital. 

We check in.  Then we waited.

We got called back to the pre-op area.  By 10:15 all vitals were taken and information collected.  Then we waited.

A little before 11:00 Graceanna had had enough.  They called our doctor.  He said he was just finishing up a case and he’d be right over.  Then we waited.

At 11:30, our doctor told us the surgery would only take about 25 minutes but that she’d be back in the Operating Room for about an hour.  One nurse took Graceanna from me and carried her while the nurse anesthetist wheeled the bed to the OR.  Graceanna was crying and mad.  The nurses assured me she would not remember any of this.  Steve and I left the pre-op area.  Then we waited.

At 1:30 I told Steve that something had obviously not gone according to plan and asked him to get an update.  They called the OR and our doctor was heading out to see us.  His first words were, “that’s one tired baby.”   The actual surgery went perfectly.  Tubes went in fine.  Her tonsils were big but her adenoids were huge.  As soon as they put her to sleep I think they understood what we were talking about with regard to her breathing.  When the surgery was over, she just wouldn’t wake up.  Our doctor said he’d seen this one other time; when he was in residency, a little boy was so sleep deprived he also just slept and slept.  At 1:30 she finally responded to their touch, so they extabated her and moved her to the recovery room.  He said it’d be about 5 minutes before they would let us go back to see her.  Then we waited.

About 2:30, she still had not opened her eyes, but they let me go back to the recovery room.  I was relieved when our doctor told me why they were in surgery for so long.  But, the relief I felt when I finally saw her was overwhelming.  Even though they still had an oxygen mask on her and all the other many gadgets, she looked so comfortable.  She was lying on her side and breathing deeply.  I went out to tell Steve what I saw and then I went back to sit until she woke up.  They didn’t want me to touch her because they wanted her to wake up slowly.  So, we waited.

About 3:20, she finally opened her eyes.  After inspecting her IV she scrambled off the bed into my arms.  Right away, we were off in the wheel chair to her hospital room. 

Graceanna watched the nurses suspiciously as they got us settled.  She was pretty antsy the whole time we were in the hospital,  she was concerned about her IV and when the lights went out that night she was very curious about her toe glowing with a pink light (pulse oximeter.)  But, she and I did get some really good sleep from about 11:30 pm – 5:00 am.  Even with the swelling and phlegm, she slept so much quieter. I’m surprised I didn’t lie awake listening for her to breathe as I had done for so long.  I guess I was relying on the monitors.  I’m still realizing that not only had Graceanna not rested well in many months but neither have Steve or I.

Graceanna was the model patient.  She took her medicine well even though they said it would burn her throat.  She didn’t complain much about anything, but she didn’t like the nurses to get too close.  She seemed afraid they might take her again. 

Saturday morning she was ready to eat something other than jello.  So, she ate a biscuit!  Later, when her lunch came, she ate a big bowl of green beans and a whole piece of lasagna.  Then, she cried for more.  It seemed she was feeling pretty good!

We were sure we were going to go home, but we had to wait for our doctor.  We saw him at 11:00. 

Then, we were back where we started; waiting again.

Finally, we left the hospital at almost 1:00.

All in all we had an EXCELLENT experience during our 28 hour surgery and hospital stay.  The surgery staff were all so taken with Graceanna.  Our nurse anesthetist even went up to the pediatric floor to get some bubbles to blow while we all waited.  She stood with us and blew the bubbles!  I felt like our anesthesia doctor had a soft spot for Graceanna too.  He was so thoughtful and thorough.  While we were watching her sleep in the recovery room, he came by every few minutes to check on her.  The night nursing staff was so kind as well.  They really wanted Graceanna and me to be comfortable.  The day staff started out by annoying me as soon as we got to her room.  They told us that they would not give her pain medicine unless we noticed she was in pain and asked for it.  Which is just STUPID.  If she’s in pain, we’ve waited too long!  So, I asked to know how it was prescribed and made a note to ask for it at those times.  The key to healing from this surgery is to drink, drink, drink.  If she was in pain the first thing she would do is stop drinking.  There were several other irritating things and things that just seem plain crazy to me about that particular nurse, but thankfully everyone else was so wonderful.  The best surprise was that I didn’t have to hold her while they tried to start her IV.  They took her to the OR, let her breathe the gas, and then put in her IV.  YAY!!!

Surgery Update 2

We’re home.  After she FINALLY woke up from surgery, she has done really well. 

I will post a couple pictures and write more details later for my own record and anyone who is interested in the long version.  🙂 

 But, for now all 4 of us are going to sleep.  I hope.

Surgery Update 1

They took her back at 11:30 and said it would be an hour. At 1:30 our doctor came out to tell us the surgery went as expected, but they had been trying to wake her for the last hour. He said she’s just really tired from not sleeping for so
many nights. At 1:30 she still had not opened her eyes. Evidently she still has not openned her eyes because they won’t let us go see her yet. Dr. said her tubes went in fine, tonsils were big, adnoids were huge. She will be swollen for 2-3 days, but then will breathe clearly.


Graceanna will be having her adenoids and tonsils removed.  She will also have tubes in her ears.
Her surgery has been moved up to Friday at 11:00

For many of you, hearing of her surgery will be new information for you.  In some ways this has occurred quickly, but in other ways we’ve been heading down this road since her birth.  If you are interested in all the details, please keep reading.  Otherwise, just check back tomorrow for an update.  I expect that this procedure will go fine and we will only be in the hospital one night.   Hopefully, she will be excited to drink that off-limits liquid gold, (I blogged about that here) so we can go home the next day.   The plan is for Gunnar to be with my parents during the surgery.  Then, mid afternoon Friday and all day Saturday I have him farmed out to friends. 

So, what lead us to this point:

Constant Runny Nose:  Graceanna has had a runny nose since she was born.  I remember the wonderful foster mom that kept her during her first 10 days of life telling me she was afraid Graceanna had a cold because she sounded gurgly and had lots of drainage.  I have always thought Graceanna had a deviated septum (I don’t really know what that is!) or something that was keeping her sinuses stuffy.  There have been many times that, because her mucus was so thick, she has vomited while trying to cough and clear her throat. 

Too Much Sleep:  As a newborn, she slept all day and every night.  In some ways, that hasn’t changed much.  Her normal sleep time is from 7 pm until 8 or 9 am.  Plus a 2-4 hour nap in the afternoon.  And, for at least the last two weeks she’s been sleeping until 10:00 am.  So, we see that she is not getting enough oxygen, she’s also experiencing apnea, and she’s just working hard to breathe. 

Darn Skinny:  She’s still on the healthy growth chart, but I keep feeling like her little arms are getting skinnier and she’s so light to carry.  This is indicative of so many calories going to support her difficult breathing.

Fluid Behind Her Ear Drums:  Graceanna has never had an ear infection, but our doctor found that she does have a lot of fluid behind her ear drum.  He said this is completely expected because her adenoids are blocking the eustachian tube from draining down the throat as it should.  She definitely can hear us talking to her and other normal noises around the house.  But, I have noticed that I can open the door to her room and walk over to her crib without her hearing me.  Of course, Steve and I are really excited about getting this done to avoid any potential delay in her speech development.

Difficulty Breathing:  Since about September, she has had even more difficulty breathing at night.  During the day, she just breathes through her mouth, but at night she only breathes through her nose.  There’s just not enough space in her airway to pull in enough air.  Sometimes the air makes a whistling sound, like a tea-pot, as she’s inhaling.  Most of the time, she can’t get enough air to really snore, but we don’t know how to describe it other than to say it’s loud.  So, we keep our ear to the monitor all night.  This last week, we’ve been alarmed to find how she’s struggling even more.  Her ribs are protruding as her ab muscles work to draw the air in through a mostly closed airway.  It’s pretty scary.

This fall, I was putting all these pieces together and began realizing she probably had a problem with her adenoids and tonsils.  In November and December we started getting names of ENTs.  By mid December we starting to become quite a bit more worried about her breathing.  On December 30th we saw an ENT, a friend that we serve with at our church.  I had talked with him several times before our appointment, so by then, I knew she’d be having surgery.  He did look at her tonsils and said, “Wow.  Those are smokin’!”  He also said something about them probably touching.  The news about the fluid behind her ear drums was new, but it makes sense.

We are a little bit anxious about listening for her breathing one more night.  But, we are so excited they decided to move her surgery to tomorrow.  (It was originally scheduled for next week.)  I will post an update on my blog when she gets out of surgery.

For kicks, I’m posting a picture of Graceanna’s, “hurry!  we have to go!” hair style.  It’s kind of wild in the back but add a little product and those ringlets will be bouncy once again!  You may see this look again soon if I post pics from the hospital.  Actually, you will probably see this look a lot because I love it!