Friday, May 28, 2010
And so it begins. (Fontan)
Luna looking like a day at the beach the day after her surgery.
Yesterday Luna had her Fontan surgery. We had just been here about a month ago. The Architect and I once again rose at pre-dawn and precariously lifted Luna out of her crib and gently slid her into her car seat for our drive into Boston. We know the routine now. First it’s to Admitting for a 6 am arrival where Luna gets basic vitals taken and NPO status (when did she last eat solids, milk and clear liquids). From Admitting families are taken back to the pre-surgical holding areas. Tight spaces with beds and TVs and two chairs, separated by curtains fashioned from cheap fabric in geometric patterns.
The holding areas are a surreal experience. It’s there you wait for your child to be taken from you, so in our case, they can perform a six hour open heart surgery-in which they will move your child's heart (this detail haunts me, if I keep bringing it up, it’s because I want to desensitize the thought-like how one does from repeating any word fifty times over so it becomes meaningless, almost silly sounding). But luckily The Architect and I were kept busy simply trying to distract Luna from her grumbling tummy, so we had more immediate issues at hand.
After a short wait, anesthesiology came in and administered Katemine-also known for its street name of Special K-to the kids including, of course, Luna. The idea behind giving this powerful narcotic is to make it easier for the kids (and the parents) when it’s time for the doctors to take the child back to the OR. All the children in the holding area, and The Architect whose job it is to compute such things, estimated there were about 20 beds, which meant there must the same number of ORs-were given the happy juice. Within five minutes the mood changed drastically, the holding area was aflutter with children laughing and snorting, and for a moment you could almost pretend you were in a matinee watching Shrek. Luna reacted no differently. Within five minutes of swallowing the vial, Martha Speaks suddenly became the most hilarious thing the child has ever seen.
Once Luna was good and loopy, the anesthesiologists brought her back. She protested a bit, so Paul carried her to a place where she’d get to breathe the "happy strawberry air”. (More trippy drug references, I personally worry about future drug dependence problems for these heart kids than I do about the heart function itself).
The surgery was long-from the time Luna went in to the OR till the time she was wheeled out was about seven hours. Then it took another hour and a half for the team to clean and prep her for the ICU.
When Paul and I arrived in the ICU, she looked like this.
We’ve seen Luna like this so many times, we’re becoming numb. It’s almost like a fear of flying I just kicked for the same reason; the more you do it, the more you become desensitized. Public speaking is exactly the same way. Virtually any fear or phobia, from flying to public speaking to watching your child endure one invasive medical treatment after the other, can be mastered with sheer habit.
So seeing Luna with all the tubing wasn't difficult. It was the drama that unfolded next that was.
Some of you may remember this post I wrote on Luna’s “I do it” nature. Well, even under “enough sedatives to knock an elephant out” (direct quote from her nurse), the little stinker still would not quit. Luna wanted out. With two drainage tubes protruding directly from her heart, a breathing tube jammed down her throat, a catheter, and IVs coming out of each foot, her jugular vein and probably places I didn’t even detect in the tangled mess, the child thrashed and pulled and yanked and heaved to get up from under all her equipment.
Even her surgeon stayed on board to gently hold down her arms.
Finally, Paul and I were asked to leave. My motherly instincts told me it’d be better if she didn’t feel my presence, as all of us moms know, our children behave the worst for us.
Today when we walked in, the storm had passed, and Luna, though still somewhat constrained, dozed in and out in front of Curious George.
Her nurse told me later they had to administer something called a ‘Kamikaze Wean”. This, in short, means Luna got her way; that big ole breathing tube came out real fast last night.