Sunday, November 23, 2008

After Surgery - Day 7

Kaden had surgery to repair his lip, nose and gum line on Monday, November 17, 2008. It’s now 7 days later and he's well on his way to a full recovery. In the past few days he's managed to give us a few little smiles, which makes all the stress and worry worthwhile.

The picture to the left is the first picture we took of Kaden in the recovery room after surgery. After a grueling 6 and a half hours, Dr. Cutting emerged from the operating room to let us know that everything went smoothly and that he thought we’d achieved a good result (though it will take years to know the full result after healing). We relaxed slightly, but were extremely anxious to see our little one in the recovery room.

The anesthesia had not quite worn off and he was still mostly asleep. We weren't allowed to touch him at first, which was excruciating, especially when it became clear he wasn't breathing well without the oxygen mask.

The next 30 minutes were extremely scary as we watched Kaden violently gasp for breath while making loud rasping sounds. The nurses tried to remain calm and tell us everything was "normal" as they suctioned out secretions from his throat with a narrow tube. Kaden responded with more gasping, yelping and trembling.

The anesthesiologist was summoned and decided he should be given a steroid injection to reduce swelling in his throat from the breathing tube that was inserted during surgery. Another round of suctioning calmed him long enough for the nurse to put him in my arms. We sat for just a few moments before he began gasping for breath and jerking his body all over again.

My husband and I were absolutely beside ourselves with fear. The recovery team assured us over and over that he was okay and that he was having a reaction to the intubation which, they said, sometimes happens. Kaden was given a nebulizer and seemed to calm down though his breathing remained heavy for several hours.

The surgical team decided it was best for Kaden to spend the night in the pediatric intensive care unit for observation due to his breathing difficulties. My husband nearly broke down the second he heard "intensive care unit." I waited until we actually got to the PICU to have a crying meltdown that included screaming at a nurse who was trying to help us (I later apologized).

In between the recovery room and the PICU, our pediatrician (a former NICU doctor at NYU) came to examine Kaden and reassured us that his labored breathing seemed to be due to swelling in his nose and throat. She didn't hear anything is his chest or lungs and she was confident he was going to be okay once the swelling went down.

After a very long night at his bedside watching the heart rate monitor and trying to feed him small amounts of formula every 2-3 hours, we were relieved to find that he was okay and ready to be released in the morning. His breathing was still a bit heavy and raspy, but the heart rate monitor showed his oxygenation rate had been strong throughout the night. Although we felt a bit nervous about less access to doctors and nurses, we really wanted to get Kaden back home in hopes of diminishing the look of shock and confusion that had clouded his face since waking up in the recovery room.

The following days were brutal. My husband and I watched, fed, and comforted Kaden in shifts. We each got only 3-4 hours of sleep at a time. It was extremely difficult for either of us to feed or change him alone as Kaden proved to be extremely adept at wiggling out of his arm restraints.

Now, almost a full week later, Kaden seems to be settling back into the calm, happy and easygoing baby that he was before the surgery. Thank God. He's getting better every day and looking better too.

The stitches come out in 3 days. Stay tuned . . .

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