Pre-op is an interesting area and experience. Basically 20 different people come over and ask you the same few questions and you sign a bunch of papers and you wait. Then you wait some more. Luckily I had the life of the party to wait with. Nicholas was in a good mood even though he was nervous which he told me a few times. I tried to keep him busy and distracted. He chatted with just about everyone that came to see him. We told Thomas stories and played whenever we were not answering questions.
When Dr. Standard came over Nicholas was really excited and apparently he screamed “DR.STANDARD”. I didn’t think he was that loud till the nurses came over after to inquire about the excitement and inform me that Nicholas has startled everyone in the vicinity with his enthusiasm. They said that they had never seen a kid react to a doctor that way especially when they were about to have surgery.
The surgery was to remove the bottom portion of Nick’s fixator, the part that was on his foot and ankle. Everything went well and Nicholas was a trooper. I called it a smallish surgery on my facebook page right before we left for Baltimore but when I was kissing him goodbye in the operating room it did not feel smallish at all! That it the killer moment where I struggle to keep it together so that he can fall asleep as calm as possible.
During surgery I was alone to wait. Steven had Charlotte and Christopher at home because it would have been crazy to bring them. Luckily Marilyn, the Patient Liaison came to chat with me and explain the time frame of things and such. It was just so nice to see a familiar face and have someone to talk to. It eased my anxiety some.
Marilyn was actually the first person I talked to from the RIAO other than the doctors, before Nicholas’ first surgery. I was really scared that the surgery would make him loose his sparkle. He seemed to have such an amazing personality and I worried that the whole process would hurt him so much that he would loose that. Marilyn eased my fears and told me about other kids and how they seemed to shine even brighter and do such wonderful things after going through lengthening. I will never forget that conversation. It is hard to express your biggest fear but Marilyn made it easy for me to talk about it and she made me much more confident that Nicholas’ personality would still sparkle when all was said and done. In regards to the current surgery she said that although Dr. Standard’s part was quick, I should not be surprised if it took up to two hours (Luckily it was well under an hour).
Nicholas was awake in the recovery area before I got there. Not a good thing and it was made worse by the fact that Nicholas remembered those last moments before he fell asleep (he remembered calling for me through the mask they had on his face and I remember that part too). I think because the surgery was so quick he came out if it very alert. He told me that he was scared because I wasn’t there when he woke up and that the post-op area was creepy. He did calm down relatively quick though. A few sips of a Capri Sun juice pouch go a long way. Nicholas was confused about what had happened because he had blankets on and could not see his foot. When I moved the blankets and he could see that the foot plate was gone his smile shined through the tears!
We were lucky to get to see Lee, the coordinator of patient and family education, (can you tell I looked up the titles of the great ladies at the RIAO) in recovery. Lee is many things to many people I am sure, but for me I just could not imagine going through this without her. She pretty much is all knowing in terms of the RIAO and fixators. Lee answers all my crazy questions. Sometimes with very simple answers like, check out the purple book you got before surgery. That purple book is like a little lengthening bible and is invaluable. For the first surgery I think I read it over 100 times cover to cover never mind all the random looking up of things. Lee also does a class for parents while your child is in surgery to explain the fixator, pin care, and answer questions. Even when things go really well this is a stressful process. Going into it informed and knowing that Lee is there has made it less so. I never imagined before Nicholas’ first surgery that we would have such support.
So here we are at his fourth surgery. Hard to believe really but nice to have a lot of the process behind Nicholas. Looking at his leg I noticed that Dr. Standard took out other wires too. Not just the ones in his foot. This was an excellent surprise. Now Nicholas has 4 half pins and 1 wire. The wire is thinner and goes straight through his leg and the 1/2 pins are thicker and don’t go all the way through. When Dr. Standard came to see us before we left he said that Nicholas’ leg looks like it’s healing great! Now it was my turn to scream (but I didn’t). Nicholas’ next appointment will be in 4 weeks and at that point we can schedule complete removal!