Thursday, June 28, 2012

Waiting over, now real work begins

The time seemed to pass so slowly leading up to my boy’s surgery, and then the last two days flew by so fast! We spent last Thursday doing preoperative requirements–blood draw, chest X-ray, physical with the surgical team. All day long I was counting down in my mind: “In 24 hours, they will be wheeling him into the operating room. In 12 hours, we will be leaving for the hospital.” Thursday evening was pretty laid back, with visits from friends and time spent just being together. I let him pick his favorite for dinner, so we dined on soft-shell tacos and watermelon!

The morning of surgery, we headed for the hospital early, and things moved quickly from then on. Our pastor was there waiting for us, as well as my college roommate. (Yes, we both settled in this area, a thousand miles from Indiana where we met.) After some quiet time together, it was time for them to wheel my little boy away. That was the hardest part. I kept it together until he couldn’t see me anymore and then gave into a couple of tears. Even knowing he was in good hands, it was hard to watch him go. But the staff was wonderful, and we were updated several times during the procedure. I shed a few tears again—this time, tears of joy when we got word he was off bypass, and everything was working great. Five short—but very long—hours after he was wheeled away, we were at his bedside in the cardiac intensive care unit.

I didn’t recognize him at first; he was just so small in that big bed with all the monitors and IVs. Thankfully, he was extubated already and breathing well on his own. Throughout the rest of the day, he woke up occasionally, but it wasn't until Saturday that he really started to make progress. His chest tubes were removed that morning and, by afternoon, his central lines were pulled as well. He was up in a chair and sipping water before we knew it. And, surprisingly, he moved to the step-down unit that evening. Sunday was spent with visitors and coaxing my already picky eater to eat. Nothing sounded good on his upset tummy—poor boy—but, by Sunday evening, he was nibbling on strawberries and bread and, by Monday, was willing to eat some yogurt.

I was shocked on Monday when the staff wrote discharge orders. My first thought was, “There is no way I am ready to have this kid at home!” But they felt he would eat better and we would both rest better at home. (I had been sleeping at his bedside every night with just a few short breaks each day to get some fresh air.) I think I drove 10 miles under the speed limit the whole way home; my cargo just seemed so much more precious to me!

And now, two days later, he is eating better and walking almost like his normal self. (He has lost at least four pounds, though, and looks skeletal.) He is also getting sassy, a sure sign he is feeling better. I am still watching him like a hawk. As I write this, I am sitting in the same room he is, and I confess I slept the last two nights on the trundle bed in his room. I continue to entice him with all the foods I can think of—How long can a boy live on Otter Pops?—and we even ventured outside to water the flowers together this morning. Now I fear he is feeling too good, and it will be tough to keep him calm the next couple weeks. Already, he misses riding his bike and doing jumps on his scooter!

Wonderful friends and having my parents here has been instrumental in his quick healing. We have been wrapped in prayer, well fed, and his sister has been entertained, if you call soccer camp in 100-degree weather entertained! Thank you all for the support. We couldn't have made it this far this fast without each and every one of you!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Boys will be boys!

“Mommy! Mommy!” I could hear my boy screaming, but couldn’t see him. Just seconds before, he had been swinging in a friend’s swing while we grown-ups relaxed on the patio. I looked at my friend. “Where is he?” I asked as we both stood up—and there he was, lying under the swing, on his belly with his arms folded under his body.

Apparently, his friend had dared him to jump out of the swing—on the back swing. (His sister also broke her arm while swinging. She was attempting to tie her shoe—another hard-learned lesson in gravity.) We ran over, brushed him off and all appeared fine. His left arm hurt all over, but he could move it, and there was no swelling, no apparent broken bones, We set him up on the couch with some ice and went back to relaxing.

The next day was pretty busy—church most of the morning and a Cub Scout barbecue in the afternoon. He was favoring the arm but not really complaining of pain, and it still wasn’t swollen. At the barbecue, the boys were to work on their athlete badges. Sit-ups, push-ups, a long jump and some running was involved.

My boy did great on everything but push-ups. He refused to put weight on his arm. So, off to Urgent Care we went, 30 minutes before they closed and—surprise—discovered the poor boy had a buckle fracture of his left radius. The good news? It wasn’t displaced, so surgery wasn’t needed and, once the arm was splinted, he really had no pain. The bad news? We were just 12 days out from his open-heart surgery!

Monday morning, I spoke to his surgical team, and we agreed that surgery could go as scheduled. If he has significant body swelling afterward, we can just have the cast removed. We also arranged to have the arm casted, and he is now sporting a purple “Rockies” cast. I have struggled to keep him grounded over the last week but, in typical boy fashion, he has tried to ride his bike, has been cruising the street on his scooter and has even hit baseballs. Maybe this is a sign of how his post-op recovery will go, and he will just bounce back to being the active little boy he’s always been!

The irony of this story: Last week, I was on call for our clinic, which involves being available for medical advice and approving all urgent-care requests. We are pretty cognizant of not providing care to our own family members. (It can be bad medicine, as providers sometimes lack objectivity when caring for those they love.) So, on Monday morning, I joked with our medical director: “If my kid breaks his arm while I’m on call, can I enter his urgent care referral?"

Yep, boys will be boys!

For Reflections on Nursing Leadership (RNL), published by the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International.