We drove to the hospital in the darkness on Monday morning, thinking we would be driving home with Abbie later that day, after a 3.5 hour surgery. The picture began to change in pre-op, when we met with her surgeon, Dr. B.
He had spent some more time looking at her Xrays, and refining his plan. In addition to releasing the muscles holding both thumbs to her palms, he recommended releasing the muscles leading to the middle and ring fingers to allow them to move more freely. He mentioned he would be pinning these with temporary pins that he could remove in the office in a few weeks. This was new, so I was digesting that when he added that as he released the thumbs there may not be enough skin to accommodate repositioning them because they’d been pulled in for so long. The answer to that problem could possibly be skin grafts taken from her groin. Another new aspect, and I was really not excited about this one. But, I feel so blessed to have a surgeon in whom we can place our unquestioning trust. So, I walked Abbie into the OR around 7:30, now knowing that the surgery would take closer to 6 hours. She was already asleep after so much early morning excitement, so the transition was easy.
Then, it was upstairs to begin the familiar wait. The first morning after Abbie’s initial injury I stood in that same cafeteria and determined that I needed to eat even if I didn’t feel like it. So, I decided on a certain breakfast that I would eat every single morning so that I wouldn’t ever have to think about it again. Mini-Wheats, a hard-boiled egg, OJ, a banana and water. I reverted back to my old stand-by, replacing the Mini-Wheats with oatmeal. I thought I would see Abbie before lunch was over at 2.
Assuming we’d be going home, I’d not packed anything to stay overnight, so Ray and I dashed home at lunchtime, grabbed some things, picked up some sandwiches and hurried back. It felt strange to leave the hospital with Abbie in the OR, but the sunshine was medicine for us, and I realized that a vigil doesn’t have to be held in sterile, flourescent-lit rooms. I was praying just as hard surrounded by palms and bougainvillea.
At 12:45 the OR nurse called to say that Dr. B. was finished with the hands. “Um…OK, did he start with those?” It had already been 5 hours and her legs hadn’t been touched. This day was going to be even longer than we’d thought.
Lynette, Abbie’s PT, had gone in to observe the surgery — what a blessing. I was thrilled when she called to give me an update and reported that Abbie had not needed skin grafts for her thumbs.
Around 4 the boys came up the hospital to wait with us (and to eat the grilled cheeses they love so much). When the phone rang at 5 I was looking forward to the invitation to meet Abbie in recovery. Nope. “We are just starting on the left leg. 1.5 more hours.” I questioned the nurse to make sure I heard correctly “One and half more hours??”
Finally at 6:45 the surgeon called and asked me to come down. He met me in the hall because they weren’t quite ready for us in recovery. I was thrilled when he said, “I normally don’t say this, but this could be one of the best surgeries I’ve done.” Hurrah. Our esteem for him multiplied exponentially through this experience. Over 10 hours spent working on Abbie without eating, drinking, or even using the restroom (Ray asked that question, not me:)! I cannot fathom the skill, focus, and endurance that Dr. B. possesses, but am so grateful for it.
Abbie ended up spending almost 3 hours in recovery, as we did have a little bit of excitement. But, once she got all her normal meds, which were now greatly overdue because of the length of the surgery, she calmed down nicely. We made it to her room around 10pm.
They left an epidural in to keep her lower half numb, and we used fentanyl to help with her hand pain. She did great. After 10 hours on the table her lungs recovered nicely, and she was able to come off oxygen competely the day after the surgery.
All in all, Abbie got: releases of three muscles related to the thumbs, pinning of the thumbs into a good position, releases of muscles related to middle and ring fingers, pinning of those fingers into a good position, Botox in her forearm and bicep, removal of her hip hardware (which we now have…it’s very impressive and looks like you could hang a good-sized shelf with it), removal of the rods in her femurs and placement of longer ones, releases of her glute muscles, and Botox in her quad muscles. She also has two beautiful blue casts on her hands and forearms. They look like clubs, so her brothers had better stay in line. They will come off, and the pins will come out, in 3-4 weeks.
We’ve ended up spending two nights in the hospital, which was a good decision, as her pain level seems much better today. We look forward to going home very soon.
Abbie was giddy getting in the van with her Daddy and brothers early Monday morning – -what an adventure. But, she became concerned and began to complain when we pulled into the hospital parking lot. We have one little verse that she and I share during scary times, “When I am afraid, I will trust in Thee” — Psalm 56:3. I whispered this into her ear over and over on the way to her pre-op bed. When I began to read our daily Psalms to her, a tear came when I realized 56 was on the list. It was like hearing a favorite song just when you need it most. God has been so gracious to us!
Thank you for your prayers – chalk up one more victory for Abbie’s Army. We have already seen the fingers on Abbie’s right hand move independent of each other – something she could not do before. So, I look forward to some exciting updates in the weeks and months to come.
To God be the glory, great things He has done!