Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Third Surgery's a Charm...

Today was Hank's surgery day. I'm beat! Not enough sleep...emotionally drained...and ecstatic at the prospect that this might be the last surgery for awhile!

The day started early for us...4:45am. And since I went to bed after 3am, there wasn't a lot of sleep involved. We decided that we might as well let Charlie and Lucy sleep in, since all they would be doing is sitting in the waiting room all morning, and Jeff could bring them up to the hospital when Hank was in recovery.

We got Hank up at 5:40, in preparation to his 6am hospital appointment. We gave Jeff hugs, grabbed our bags and went out to hail a cab. Now, normally, I am very prepared for these surges....but for some reason...this time I didn't bring anything! No paperwork, no directions, I didn't even have the address for the hospital with me! Far cry from a year ago. It's becoming routine I guess. I did learn that there is more than one Lenox Hospital in NYC. One is on E. 77th Street...we went to that one...not the right one....The one that we needed is also known as Manhattan Ear, Nose and Throat Hospital, or Lenox Hill Hospital and is on E. 64th Street between 2nd and 3rd. So we were a little late getting to the right place...
As we pulled up to the curb, I saw two familiar faces, Elisa and her daughter Denise, who was scheduled for surgery right after Hank. Denise has Parry Romberg Syndrome and has had two surgeries by Dr. Siebert. Her mother and I connected through "The Romberg Connection" and communicate all the time. I knew that they would be in New York, and yet I found myself surprised to see them. As our cab came to a stop, I threw open the door and yelled, "Elisa!" She turned around and with a big smile we hugged. Denise hugged Hank and then we traded. we were all so excited! We walked in to the hospital together and had a chance to visit before we were called in to registrar. Hank's surgery was Dr. Siebert's first surgery of the day and Denise would follow as the second surgery. It sounded like they were having the same surgery, which I found to be a comfort.
We took some photos and then Hank was called in to register. After filling out the proper paperwork, we were escorted to the locker area, where Hank's vitals were taken and he was given some very comfortable-looking pajamas and warm socks to wear. I was also handed my very stylish and well-made blue coveralls to wear into the operating room. After Hank changed, we moved up to the third floor where all the operating rooms are. We sat in the waiting area, which is a place where patients sit in recliners, separated by curtains and wait for their surgeons to say hi and go into surgery. Dr. Siebert came over, dressed in his scrubs to say hello and take one last look at Hank prior to surgery. Dr. Gingrich, who was Hank's anesthesiologist during the last surgery came over to say speak with us. Hank remembered him and I was excited to find out that he would be Hank's doctor again. He was so good with Hank, really understands kids!

It seemed like just a few minutes and then Dr. Gingrich and the surgical nurse walked us into the operating room. Hank walked in an climbed up on the table. No fear...he laid down as the doctor put the EKG sensor things on his chest. They covered him with a blanket as I held his hand. Dr. Gingrich handed Hank the mask that the anesthesia comes through. He had Hank just hold it near his face. I noticed Hank was shaking and asked if he was cold. "No mom, I'm fine," he responded. But still he trembled...and then it dawned on me! He was trembling because he was afraid. Poor little guy. But just as I realized it, he started to go under. And then he was sleeping. I gave him a kiss and told him I love him. Dr. Gingrich told me not to worry and they'd see me soon. The nurse walked me out...and as I got to the door I stopped and I turned around. And I looked. I looked at my little boy...who's been through this twice already...and I didn't worry, I didn't cry...I could see he was in good hands...and I turned and walked out the door. (besides, I got all my crying out LAST night!) Dr. Siebert was right there and ready to go. He gave me a high-five and hug and told me not to worry. (so I really didn't...I wondered, but I did not worry)

I went to the surgical waiting room and texted Jeff to let him know the schedule. And then I waited. I went online and let everyone know Hank was in surgery. And then I waited some more. Got some coffee...waited a bit longer...and after an hour and a half, Dr. Siebert was there with arms raised in triumph. "He did great!" he exclaimed. I leaped out of my seat, so surprised to see him so soon. Dr. Siebert sat down and I took my seat next to him. He explained what he did, and how he did more than he initially thought he would. And then he told me about the dreaded drain. "No...not the drain!" I said in dismay, "Hank hates the drain!" "I know," he chuckled and went on to tell me that it is a smaller drain than the last one, and that he would take it out the next day.

Dr. Siebert has such an easy manner...you would never know he is a surgeon...he just seems like a regular guy, and yet he is this brilliant and kind surgeon! He jumped up and said, "Want to see him?" I said yes, and he grabbed my bag and led me across the recovery room floor to the last bed, where Hank was. He had an oxygen mask on and an ice pack on his cheek, making him look worse than he was. He was bruised, but I could tell what had been done and knew the outcome would be great!

Dr. Siebert was joined by Dr. Gingrich and they hung out for a few minutes discussing how Hank did and what to expect as he recovers. Then they were off for Denise's surgery, with the promise that I would see them later. The recovery room nurse, Dawn, introduced herself and brought me a recliner. She explained that she had put ice on Hank's face for swelling and that she had the oxygen mask on him while he sleeps. I texted Jeff to let him know that Hank was out of surgery and sleeping. He wrote back that they were in the lobby.

I texted Jeff a few more times, but never heard back. What I didn't know at the time, was that Jeff was sitting with Denise's mom, Elisa and Dr. Siebert was out there talking to both of them! So as Hank slept, I asked Dawn to watch him while I ran downstairs to get Jeff and to watch Lucy and Charlie. She told me to just bring everyone back up. Lucy and Charlie could wait in the surgical waiting room while Jeff and I sat with Hank. Hank finally started to show signs of waking up. A little foot movement, an eye flutter and all of a sudden he was sitting straight up with his eyes wide open! It was a bit startling! Jeff told Hank to take it easy and lay down. Dawn came running over and said, "It's OK let's just lie down." Hank looked bewildered for a few moments and kept trying to sit up. He had a gauze bandage on his head and his hands kept flying up to his head to feel it. He didn't know what it was, just that there was something strange on his head. Hank was upset. And when Hank is upset, I am upset. But I couldn't let him know, and so I tried to calm him and let him relax. Dawn gave him something for his pain, that made him drowsy, so he calmed down and rested. I went in to check on Lucy and Charlie and soon Jeff came in to tell me that Hank was ready to go downstairs.

We followed Hank as he rode downstairs in a recliner and settled in a small discharge room. The nurses gave him juice and crackers and then Hank passed out again. Jeff took the little kids to lunch and I stayed with Hank, watching him sleep and taking pictures.

A few hours later, Hank was discharged and we were heading out the door, with Hank shuffling along. We found Elisa in the waiting room, waiting for Denise to come out of recovery. As we stood together talking, Dr. Gingrich and Dr. Siebert walked in. We got a chance to visit and talk once more before all three kids started whining to eat. Hank told Dr. Siebert that he didn't like the bandage on his head, so Dr. Siebert leaned aside and told us we can take it off.

We said our goodbyes and walked out to the street for a cab. We got back to the hotel and the first thing Jeff did was to take off the gauze on Hank's head. Hank was unhappy to see the drain or "pipe" as he calls it. It is uncomfortable and unwieldy. But he was very relieved to have the gauze come off. As soon as the gauze came off, Hank was hungry and wolfed down two big pieces of pizza and some rootbeer. He played with his Legos for awhile and then the rest of the day settled down on the couch and watched kids shows.

Every so often, Hank would wimper or cry out. If the tubing for the drain gets pulled, then it is uncomfortable. Towards the end of the evening, Hank wanted to get up and use the bathroom. As he tried to get up, the tubing snagged on something and called out for me to help him. I got it fixed, but as I looked at the tears in his eyes, my heart felt squeezed. This is tough. I'm tough...Hank is tough...Jeff is tough...we are all tough...but often in this process it just feels too much. We are in survival mode...just get Hank through this. Each day will get better and having the tube out will make a huge difference.

There is no looking back. This is worth it, and we wouldn't do anything different. Hank is sleeping and I can now look at him without him knowing. He is bruised and a little bloody. But I can see what the end result will be...and it will be great! Tomorrow will be a better day...drain out and maybe some walking around. And then rest...for all of us!

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