Thursday, October 4, 2012

First Day After Surgery...

It's the end of the first day after Hank's surgery...and my mind is a jumble of thoughts.  So many emotions today..and a  profound loss of sleep for both Hank and I. Last night was tough...I couldn't sleep...I didn't  want to...I just wanted to watch over Hank. But eventually, I laid down and slept here and there throughout the night. Of course everyone knows you don't get any sleep in the hospital...and since Hank's IV was pumping him full of liquid half the night, he was up every hour for a trip to the bathroom. God love his nurse, Karen, who turned down the flow on the IV and he was able to get a couple of hours of sleep!

Hank watched movie, after movie, throughout the night...falling asleep about a quarter of the way through and then waking up at the end, asking for another movie. He had to practically sit up and keep an ice pack on his face...not the most conducive situation for sleep...Every few hours, nurse Karen came in to check vitals and to put in the eye drops. We had kept ice on Hank's face for most of the night, to keep the swelling down, but even so, his eye was so had swollen shut. The sutures, go from his lower eyelid, up over his upper eyelid and are taped to his forehead. The are pulled tight, so that the lower eyelid will stay in place...but with the eye swelling, it presses on the sutures and really hurts! Add into this fact that now we had to try to pry the eye open and put drops in. Nurse Karen reclined the bed a bit and told Hank she was going to put eye drops in. She tried to pull the eyelid budging...Hank cried out in agony...His pain level shot up and she quickly backed off. After that, he had some pain medicine and slept until the 7:00 am wake up call from the attending and plastic surgery residents.

They turned on the light and charged in. I had just fallen asleep when they I am sure I was quite a lovely sight... The attending explained what Hank's surgery consisted of and then announced she would put in the drops. I was worried because I knew that she would not be gentle. I was right. She pried that eye open and got those drops in and Hank's body went rigid with the shock of the pain. Another doctor rushed up and told Hank to squeeze his hand...which I know he did! Hank was hurting after that...but just turned his head on his pillow and told us he wanted to go back to sleep.

I told the Doctor, "I can't do that! I can't get those drops in there like that." She told me not to worry because the sutures would be coming out tomorrow and then it would be easier to get the drops in. As the flock of interns made their way out the door, I turned to the nurses, "Omigosh! He's not a CAT!!" It reminded me of giving meds to a cat! You know...grab it by the back of the neck, wrestle it to the ground, wrench open the jaws and jam the medicine down it's throat...

Hank slept for a couple of hours after did I...until the pharmacist came in and woke me up...It dawned on me that it's not Club Med and I should probably get the heck out of bed and be ready for this kind of thing! Hank woke up still looking swollen and miserable. Totally normal, I know...but still startling. The daytime nurse, Emily, came in and talked about the fact that they would be discharging Hank that day. Although I knew scared the heck out of me. I can't get those drops in his eyes...what am I going to do? But I knew that for Hank's mental health, it was the best thing possible!  I got most of the paperwork, after care, etc, before Jeff and the younger kids arrived.  By then, we were almost ready to go. Hank had a milkshake, we got all the prescriptions filled, called for the shuttle and were given a wheelchair to use. Right before noon, we got Hank dressed, gathered our stuff, said goodbye to the wonderful staff members and wheeled Hank through the hospital. We waited in the lobby for the shuttle to take us back to the Ronald McDonald House. "Can we keep this wheelchair?" Hank asked. "What?" I said, "Why would you want a wheelchair?" "So when my legs get tired, I can just sit down," he explained. Oh well...of course...that makes sense!

Back at the Ronald McDonald House, Jeff took the kids down to the movie room and had them watching movies while I got in a quick nap. We continued to ice Hank's face throughout the day and Jeff was able to get the eye drops in. (thank you Jeff!) Hank was hungry, so Jeff brought in burgers from McDonald's. (Because is you are staying at the Ronald McDonald House, you should have McDonald's at least once!)

Everything has gone smoothly this evening...almost. Hank did not like the other people staring at him, and ended up cutting his dinnertime short and escaping back to the movie room...without really eating! Hank has been quiet all night...maybe even pensive. I'm not sure if it's pain or if he's depressed. (I would think it's a bit of both!)

I know this surgery has affected all of us. Charlie has given Hank his most treasured stuffed animal to sleep with, in the hospital and here at the RMH. Jeff said that Lucy laid in her bed last night crying over Hank, finally moving to the bigger bed with Jeff, where she slept with Hank's robe clutched in her arms... Jeff looks a bit shell-shocked as he tries to get work done, keep the kids happy and Hank comfortable. We knew that it would be like this...but it has been two years and we are a bit rusty!

Tonight in the room, he walked over and hugged me and collapsed into a pile of tears. "Oh no! What's wrong" I asked. No reply ....just tears. "Did you look in the mirror?" I asked. More tears and some nodding.
Brutal! What do you say to that?  "This is the worst of it!"  I told him. I explained that the swelling is worse in the first few days and he would be looking better...more tears. "You won't go back to school looking like this!" I reminded him...that seemed to make a little bit of a difference, but not much. He was inconsolable...I hate the helpless feeling of not being able to make it all better...right then and now! Poor kid...his tears just break my heart.

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He finally settled down and went to bed...where he is peacefully sleeping...for now. Tomorrow the eye sutures will come out and hopefully that will make a difference. Nurse Emily gave us lots of ideas of things to do with the kids while Hank is recovering....and even printed out the information.  We now have a car rental so we can make it to the 7:30 am doctor's appointment 15 minutes away...too early for the RMH shuttle. (only to have the appt changed to 11:30...thereby not needing a car...which we already have)  So now we can get out a bit and see this beautiful area. Hopefully a change of scenery...even if it's just across town, will do Hank some good.

It's times like these...when Hank is distraught and we are bone weary...I wonder if it is all worth it...but then I look at all Hank has done and how "normal" his life is...what his life would be like if we hadn't done anything...and I know there hasn't been any other choice...


  1. Good post on surgery. Article is too informative and cover almost all the necessary factors. Really appreciative article.

  2. You look better indeed. Happy recovering!

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