As I sit on the couch to finally write a more in-depth update about Abbie’s surgery and recovery, I sigh and smile at all that has happened in the last few days. As usual, leading up the surgery I didn’t realize that I was operating with a large weight on my back, and on my spirit — my self-awareness is a work in progress. Now that it has been lifted, I can see in hindsight how very stressed I was, and now it feels that I am flying through each day!
This is a picture from my phone of Abbie in the pre-op area (sorry it’s a little blurry). Can you tell she was ready for her hole to be closed?? For the first time they let me walk with her all the way into the OR and then talk to her while the anesthesiologist put her to sleep. What a challenging blessing. I was so happy to not have to leave her until the last second, but seeing the OR, the equipment, the staff, the very white walls made what was about to happen to her very, very real.
Dr. T, the ENT did a scope of her throat first to ensure there was not any blockage that would prevent closure of the hole. When I didn’t hear anything from the OR for an hour, I knew they’d gone ahead with the surgery. Fortunately, my faithful friend Katie arrived in the cafeteria to wait through yet another surgery with me — and she brought great food!!
A couple hours passed, and as Abbie moved from the ENT team to the GI/General Surgery team I was thrilled to see her ENT come into the cafeteria carrying photographs of the procedure. As I mentioned, this is a very new technique, so they took pictures to better describe how it’s done. Looking at an open wound on my daughter’s throat is not something I’d readily do every day, but I was thrilled to see how the closure of a large (3mm by 15mm) hole was done so beautifully.
We met the GI and surgeon in the recovery room, and they, too, had pictures — again, none that we will frame and place on the piano, but interesting none the less. The endoscope showed some irritation on the esophagus, which we’d expected given her reflux lately. The stomach looked fine — the area where there may have been an ulcer was caught up into the closure of her previous G-tube site, so we couldn’t see anything there. But, then we saw lots of small bumps at the beginning of her small intestine, which the GI biopsied.
I have to admit, at seeing those, I thought, “Sheesh — I really don’t want to deal with abnormal intestinal growths, too. Can we just stick with the current buffet of challenges without adding more to our plate?” The results of the biopsies came in a couple days later, and are within the normal range – so for now we can just remain seated at the table, working through our entree of bone density/hip recovery, and the side portions of respiratory, spasticity, and diet issues.
We stayed in the hospital until Saturday morning, because after the trach surgery, Abbie had two little soft tubes sticking out of the incision, to drain air that may have collected in the area. One was removed on Friday, but the surgeon wanted to wait until Saturday to remove the second. Ray and our nurse, Rae, helped get Abbie settled at home while I went directly to the twins’ school for a volunteer shift. I’d had to cancel my last one, so I didn’t want to flake out twice in a row. As soon as I arrived home from the school, I changed clothes while Ray patiently paced, and then we headed out the door for Waikiki. We had a black tie event that evening, so he surprised me by booking a room in the hotel hosting the ball.
I felt like an almost-put-together grown-up wearing heels, jewelry AND make-up at the same time. We got to catch up with many good friends. It was especially encouraging to run into people who were completely up to date on Abbie — one said, “I was in Cancun this week, but was able to check in after surgery…how is she doing now??” Amazing. Then, Ray and I both got to sleep all night. THAT was the real treat of the event. We came home completely refreshed, all the stress and worry of the week completely washed away.
Abbie is not needing any pain meds now, and slept through the night, satting 98-100 last night. It seems that she’s turned the corner pain-wise. She is not hesitant to cough, and is no longer complaining when she does. We made it back to the beach this morning, for the first time since her surgery. God met us with the perfect weather — we could see Haleakala on Maui, as well as Lanai and Molokai. The air was still, but cool, the mountains were unshrouded and it seemed, for those moments, that all was right in the world.
Thank you for praying our girl through yet another obstacle. Waiting in the pre-op area, I reminded her that she would never be alone, and that many, many people were praying for her. The smile you see on her face above matches the reaction she gave me to that reminder. Bless you all!!