People count all sorts of things. Among the things we count are surgeries.
Although the most recent ones have been predominantly knee related – 2011, 2012, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015… we don’t forget the others that fit in. And we don’t even try to talk about them without the three page cheat sheet detailing the most pressing medical information. We don’t talk to over zealous residents without the 32 gig flash drive pulling up PDFs of old blood work and reports. (Saved her another stick today when I could produce a recent normal liver enzyme panel!)
So today, surgery number 13, was not a surprise. It was anticipated and planned very deliberately for months on end.
The day started before 5, scheduled for a 6 AM arrival. But, in reality it started last night. Bags were packed to include clothes, toiletries, snacks, electronics, chargers, and our shakes too.
We got up and out quickly. No fanfare. No time for a “selfie” of the three of us in our “Never Give Up” T-shirts. We checked in just past 6 and shortly after were performing all the typical surgery routines.
It is funny. There are two groups of people in my life- those who have similar numbers of surgeries to us, and the larger group – those who have had next to no surgeries. The first group understands surgery “routines.” The second group raises some eyebrows. They are horrified at our use of the camera in the hospital. But this is our reality, and I can pack for surgery as well as I can pack a carry on for vacation.
We were greeted in pre-op by about a half dozen people all asking exactly the same questions (even though they and I had the cheat sheet, we still had to play the question/ answer game.) Several consent slips were tossed at me. The anesthesiologist and Meghan made a deal involving the timing of the IV and the mask. Felix was given the necessary garb to walk into the OR. I stole a few extra minutes to clarify the plan with the orthopedist.
And I must confess there was some major anxiety. See, the plan as I saw it was for her to have the AVM embolized while the orthopedist cleaned out and searched for the elusive “leak” in the artery. That’s why we coordinated surgery times. Except, as it was presented to me today – the vascular guy wasn’t touching the AVM unless it was absolutely necessary. This was a far cry from the report after the MRI in January when we were told another embolization was necessary. But, it was now in the moment. They had a plan and I had to play along. The orthopedist promised me the vascular guy would be there while he poked around at the beginning in case he was necessary. He also promised me he would do his best. What more was there to ask, I guess.
In the waiting room I thought. Too much. But, when I was just about insane with my thoughts, I let them wander to Ashton and Suzannah, and the number of hours involved in EACH of those procedures, and I tried to feel better.
After about three hours we were greeted by the orthopedist. His words were varied, but included “not as bad as I expected,” “quarterized several spots that were leaking blood,” and, “cleaned out a good deal of scar tissue and debris.” He gave us some pictures to see his work, and left us to meet up with Meghan in recovery.
She woke up slowly, but well, and soon she was alert. While she spoke to her dad I fielded detailed questions from several more people who held the cheat sheet. I took out my copy and obliged them with answers. She woke in the most terrible kind of pain, curtailed by a dose of morphine and some ice. Lots of ice. For Meghan. And for me- as I managed to bang my head on the table. Insert exhaustion here.
The pediatrician on call was relentless reviewing the three sheet medical history. Eventually we got our room, and some time around 2 we were greeted by friendly nurses, a nice bed, and some more pain meds.
Things were settling a bit until the “Inquisition” took place in the form of that previously mentioned pediatrician. I have to tell you she succeeded on really aggravating my last nerve. She actually handed me her copy of the “sheet” which had been copied to just about every department so she could ask me the same questions. By now the fatigue was starting to set in. I resented the implications that it was somehow my fault no one was “running” my daughter’s medical care but me. I explained carefully that I was jaded by years of dealing with sub par medical professionals. She did not take the hint and proceeded to contact my pediatrician to tell him she disagreed with one of Meghan’s medications. Whatever… Truly. Spend some time learning about Cowden’s or ANY Rare Disease. Then we’ll talk.
Arrogant self- importance. Ugh.
We were called down to radiology at 2:30 so the feet could be X-rayed. The orthopedist believes, acknowledges, and is searching for an answer on the foot size discrepancy. Results tomorrow. In the mean time his caring makes him my current favorite.
Pain medications in place. Crutches safely in the corner. Lights are off. Movie is on. And the day is just about over.
Tomorrow we SHOULD be home.
For now, number 13 is in the books.
And my happiest news of the day came when the anesthesiologist said
my girl was “stable and strong” during surgery.
The little things are HUGE!
Thankful for the prayers and the guardian angels…
Tomorrow is a new day for BEATINGCOWDENS…
Now, we rest…