After checking in, it wasn't long before they were bringing us back the pre-op room where we would be until Hank went in for surgery.
Hank was in great spirits through all the pre-op stuff of vital signs, nurses, doctors, etc. He laid in the
Kristina's mom, Karen and little brother Brandon, joined us in the waiting area, where we could plug
|The Neilssen Family in Indiana|
As two and a half hours came and went, we got our last message from the OR: "Surgery is finishing up. Please return to your Pre/Post". That's all I needed to hear, we grabbed our stuff and headed to the room. It was another 30 minutes before we heard from anyone. Finally a nurse came in and said that Hank was heading to recovery and they would come and get us once he was awake. I tried to get in to see him earlier, but she wouldn't budge. We had to wait until we saw Dr. Siebert anyway...but it was worth a shot.
A little bit longer and here came Dr. Siebert, big grin and exclaiming, "Hank did great!" He sat down on the only available seat...the trash can, and told us the details. He talked about the incision sites and how he debulked the jawline and rearranged the tissue around the eye and cheekbone and between the mouth and nose, as well as the work done to give Hank the left side of his upper lip, which had been missing. "Hank is going to be mad at me," he said shaking his head, "the mouth stuff hurts for a couple of days...he is going to be mad!" (For the record, Hank is not mad...and has never been mad at Dr. Siebert). He talked with us for quite some time, and then headed off to see Kristina, to get her ready for surgery, while we waited to see Hank.
As I looked at him, I noticed the tears, escaping under his closed lids, down his cheek and pooling in his ear. I asked her for a tissue and she handed me gauze. "I'm just going to get this little bit of liquid out of your ear," I told Hank. I blotted it out, tears mixed with blood, and felt my heart give that familiar lurch that I feel, seeing Hank after surgery. I held his hand and watched the monitors...heart rate, oxygen level, blood pressure...the oxygen tube running to his nose, the drain coming out of his head, the IV in his arm...this boy has done this five times...this strong, resilient, courageous boy...I felt the surge of pride and pain all at once, just wishing that things were different and knowing they can't be.
The nurse slowly got Hank's pain down to a manageable level, so I switched places with Jeff, giving
|L: Morning photo pre-surgery/ R: Afternoon photo post-surgery|
Dr. Siebert checked on Hank again, later in the day. He filled us in on drain removal and when we could go home. He talked with Hank a bit and then was off!
Hank continued to have pain at a level seven for the rest of the day and night. He was able to keep the apple juice and water down...had a little bit of pudding. He was in and out of sleep, waking up long enough to read a text from a friend and then sleep again. The kids asked who was going to stay the night with Hank. Before I could show them my bag, packed for an overnight stay, Hank replied, "Dad." What? DAD? Ouch! "It's just that you stay every time, Mom," said Hank, feeling my disappointment emanating through the room, "Please don't be offended." What could I say? Of course my feelings were a bit hurt...but I get it...a boy needs his Dad...but really? I have to stay at the hospital when the only real bathroom is down the hall through two sets of double doors? And Jeff gets to stay when there is a fold out bed, and full bathroom with a SHOWER? Figures.
|Cousin Thomas and dogs all in green!|
Charlie fell asleep the minute his head hit the pillow. Lucy cried in my arms over her brother, until she finally passed out. I laid there, worrying about Hank and Jeff, hoping they would get some sleep...and listened to the very loud phone conversation taking place in the room next door. I now know that woman's whole story...now if I could just figure out which one she is...
The next morning, Jeff sent a text telling me they were taking the drain out of Hank's head. Hurray! That was a good start to the day. However, Hank's pain level had shot up to a nine and they were fighting to bring it down. Jeff told me to stay away for the time being, as Hank didn't need his siblings there. Jeff finally said that he would walk back from the hospital so I could go up and see Hank. I headed up as soon as he got in, and walked the five minute walk to the hospital's front doors.
Dr. Siebert's resident showed up a while later and asked Hank if he wanted to go home or stay. "Home!" Hank exclaimed. Ok, you need to walk around a bit first. Hank was given another dose of pain meds to manage the pain and he got himself dressed as Jeff and the kids showed up.
We did all the necessary paperwork, met with the pharmacist, ordered Hank a couple of fruit smoothies for the road, and prepared to go. But first Hank had to prove he could get out and walk and be steady on his feet...so we took at walk to the elevators and headed downstairs to get his prescriptions. Hank was hilarious. His hair was messy and as we walked by the nurses station, he turned and said, "I know I shouldn't be going out like this...my hair is a mess!" What a far cry from
|Bill the awesome nurse and Hank!|
With everything in hand, Hank was released from the hospital! It was about three in the afternoon...as we headed out the door. His nurse, Bill, had been joking around with Hank the whole time...both of them giving each other grief. Just what Hank needed! No wheelchair for Hank...he walked on out of there!
We went straight to the Ronald McDonald House, where Hank promptly got into bed, turned on his Tablet and started reading. Already, he seemed more relaxed. Now, I would like to say that this is where the day ended...relaxing at the house, monitoring Hank's medications and pain levels...keeping him comfortable, getting him to eat...and while that is all true...our lives are way more exciting than that!
Earlier in the afternoon, Jeff had noticed an inflammation on Charlie's leg. We decided we better keep an eye on it...and so that night we checked it again. Good Lord! What was that? It was swollen and hot to the touch...and it was 9:30 pm! Jeff said we needed to take him to the ER. "Oh, I said," it can wait. So Jeff drew dotted lines around the inflamed area. About 20 minutes later, we looked at Charlie's leg...the inflammation had grown well beyond that dotted line. I grabbed my purse and keys, "C'mon Charlie! We're going to the hospital!" Charlie was less than thrilled as he trailed behind me.