And it feels wonderful.
We got to UCLA at 6:30, were admitted and called to the prep area in a flash. Henry was scheduled for surgery at 7:30.
I want you to know: my biggest fears for the day weren’t really related to the surgery itself. I was confident in the doctors and the procedure. I was just really sad to think of handing my precious boy to the doctors and watching them walk away with my boy screaming…or him being hysterical while they put him under. I just worried (a lot) about him being terrified of the process and us being unable to explain to him what was going on and why. I am ECSTATIC to report: it never happened.
We changed him into a hospital gown and then they gave me a little syringe of some red liquid to give to him. They said that in about 10 minutes he would get loopy. And loopy is an understatement!!! I have never wished to have the video camera so bad in my life! His eyes were half open, all glazed over and everything was HYSTERICAL to the kid. He giggled and laughed at everything as if he had just smoked the biggest joint known to man-kind. Andy and I laughed so hard at him. I just said “Son, I better not see this face in 15 years!”
When the anesthesiologist had called me the night before to ask some questions, I had asked if it would be possible for me to sit with him until he was completely under. He said he would check, but parents aren’t typically allowed in the cath lab…
Well, I’m glad I asked because they let BOTH of us in the lab! Luckily, Henry was so high that he didn’t even care that they were laying him on a table and sticking him with stuff. He just laid there looking around. We got to stay there until he was totally asleep. It was so nice to see how easy it was for him and I believe it was instrumental in keeping my stress levels to a minimum.
We left him and went to the cafeteria, had some breakfast, and then hung out in the waiting room. I was even able to nap for 40 minutes. Before we knew it (about 2 hours), the nurse called to say that the procedure was over and had gone well…and that they would call when we could go see him.
The surgeon came down to see us in the meantime and said that the valve was actually more narrow than it had been a month ago when he checked in his office. He also said that it was really pliable and responded well to the ballooning…and reminded us that just 15 years ago, this same procedure would have involved full open-heart-crack-your-chest-open-surgery!!! Praise God for medical advances!!!
About a half hour later, they called the waiting room again and said they wanted “only the mom” to come up. Andy’s face fell. “Gee, I guess I’m not special enough.” “Apparently, they think you were only a sperm donor…sorry babe.”
I rushed up to the recovery room and found my little man groggy and attached to what seemed like a million machines. He was fine. Within minutes, he was trying to rip off all of the IVs and connections…and crying the most pitiful mournful cry of “Daddy! I want my Daddy! My Daddy!!!” We were supposed to stay in that area for an hour, and they only allow one person because it’s so small. The nurse took pity on my child, so she arranged for us to be moved to the main recovery area in a half hour instead so he could see his dad.
And here, was BY FAR, the hardest part of the entire experience. I would have never guessed it.
While Henry was a little groggy at first, and maybe not quite his usual self, he wanted nothing more but to sit up in the bed. After about an hour, I asked if they could sedate him, because seriously, this wasn’t going to work. Nope. They couldn’t give him anything stronger than Tylenol…we were just going to have to deal. So Andy and I spent an exhausting 6 hours absolutely FIGHTING with an increasingly alert and energetic child to lay flat.
Awful. Absolutely awful. Time crawled.
It wasn’t until we were in the parking garage waiting for the valet to bring our car that I cried. It was over and the relief was incredible. 2 years of cardiologist appointments every 3 months, constant worrying about impending surgery, worrying that his heart wasn’t working right, wondering how he would do when the day came…all of it was over. I was overwhelmed. And thankful beyond belief…
The girls were still baking away, unscathed by the ordeal. I didn’t stress out like I thought I would. Henry wasn’t even in pain. It was easy. Too easy.
God is so good to us it’s ridiculous.
We spent a few hours in the hotel room we had booked and decided that it would be best to just head home that night. Let Henry wake up in his own crib, and us in our own bed.
We pulled into our driveway at 12:15 a.m.
This morning, I found Henry jumping in his crib. In fact, he’s jumping on our bed as we speak. You would never, in a million years, know that he just had HEART SURGERY less than 24 hours ago. Unbelievable. I think he might be a little sore later today, but for now, he is bounding around like a crazy man without the slightest hint of pain…
…the only hint of surgery is the bandage on his groin, a band-aid where his IV was, and a hoarse little cough from having the tube down his throat.
Really, think about it: 24 hours ago (exactly as I type) someone was TOUCHING his HEART. Not his kidney, gall bladder or other non-essential organ. But his HEART. And he is fine. More than fine.