Monday, April 21, 2014

MOMday: First Surgeries

When Doodle was 9 months old, our family doctor identified a problem with her right eye - just a slight laziness to it.  The eye just wouldn't stay straight.  It wasn't terribly noticeable to most people, but over the last 4 years, we have learned exercises and coping to help her exercise the eye. Lately, however, the exercises weren't working any more.  And she was becoming much more self conscious about it because kids were pointing it out to her and calling it "weird".  It probably didn't help that her identical twin has straight eyes and kids were using it as a way to tell them apart.  She started to worry about it and have long conversations with me about why she has to have a weird eye.

On our last trip to the Ophthalmologist - he confirmed it was worsening and that the time had come to operate.  A surgery date was set and then changed.  Follow up appointments were booked and we started preparing Doodle for what was going to happen.  We didn't go into the mechanics of the surgery - she chose to focus on the fact that it would be fixed. Just a little bilateral Strabismus repair.  Nothing too terrible.  Day surgery.  In and out. Lazy eye begone! It'd be all good.

Thursday dawned early for our little family.  It was a big day.  Surgery day.  She would have four full days to recover before she had to return to the Dayhome and me to work.

We dropped Buggie off at the dayhome about an hour earlier than usual (Thank goodness for super accommodating childcare) and hit the highway.  Next stop?  Alberta Children's Hospital.  We had a check in time of 7 am and it was going to be really tight to get us there on time.  Somehow, all of the gods were on our side that morning and we arrived with plenty of time to spare.

Doodle was in such high spirits.  She does love going to Children's.  With good reason - the ophthalmology clinic has been caring for her every 4 months since she was a baby.  She was almost skipping as we entered - getting ready to show Daddy around, since he had never been there before.  I know she didn't really understand what would be happening. She knew she would get some sleep medicine and then when she woke up, her eyes would be fixed.  I was a nervous wreck.   I haven't exactly had the most luck-enhanced month and I had been having nightmares about her waking up blind.  I just had to hope her luck was better than mine.

Once we were through admitting and checked into the Day Surgery unit, the waiting began.  We dressed Doodle in her special hospital pajamas and turned her loose on the toys. Honestly - most of the toys were far too young for an almost 5 year old, but there was a magnadoodle and that kept her busy drawing until her doctor arrived.

Nurses came by to make sure everything was in order and to give her pre-surgical medications and take her vitals etc.  They gave us a pager and told us we couldn't leave the premises but we could feel free to go eat or whatever and they would page us if they needed us.

Two and a half hours later - he finally came to see us.  Shouldn't have been a surprise - I can't usually get an early morning appointment with him on a regular day.  He went over how the day would play out.  Apparently the surgery was quick - only 25 minutes - and then she would move to recovery and we could see her within an hour after we left her.

A short time later, the porter came to wheel her to surgery.  I was trying not to hyperventilate.  Gotta stay calm for Doodle.  She feeds off of me so if I freak - she freaks.
So brave!
Dood is such a trooper - she had her lovey bear and her eye was going to be fixed.  Those were the only things that could ever matter.

We were wheeled into a room just outside of the surgical suites and the anaesthesiologist and surgical nurse met us there.   We could stay until it was time for her to go in so we distracted her and before long it was time for one last potty break, hugs and kisses and a chorus of "see you very soon".

Enter hyperventilation.  I was almost crying as soon as I turned to walk out.  Hubby steered me to the elevator and we went to find me some breakfast and the biggest coffees we could find.   Then we distracted me by scouring the gift shop for a new stuffie to help Dood recover.

After around a half hour, we decided to wander back up to the day surgery waiting room and wait for our pager to go off.

Suddenly - my purse started to emit a loud series of beeps.  We rushed back to the nurses station.  It was too early!  And she told us "false alarm" and reset the pager.  Then it was back to waiting in the waiting room again.

Not for long, though. A few minutes later, the pager made a different noise and we wandered back.  This time, they told us that they needed just one of us to go right into recovery.  I was anxious to see Doodle so I handed off the backpack to hubby and followed the nurse.  She calmly explained to me that Dood hadn't woken up well and they needed me to help calm her down.

All I could hear as I entered the recovery room was the wailing of my daughter. "I can't see!! I can't see!!!"  Not exactly what I wanted to hear.

I went over and scooped her up.  They needed me to keep her hands away from her eyes - which she proved to be unusually strong for an almost 5 year old and incredibly determined.   In her flailing, she had pulled out her IV line and had a dark bruise across the back of her hand.  I held her tight and reassured her.  The nurses explained that she can't see well because of the ointment in her eyes but that the surgery was successful.   Then they gave her morphine to kill the pain and calm her down.  Then, I carried her back to the ward to finish her recovery.

Once back in her little day surgery room, she fell fast asleep for a couple of hours.

She wasn't getting enough oxygen so they put her on a blow by feed (basically a tube of oxygen blowing at her face).  Just a by-product of her usual tantrums - she tends to shallow breathe.  Once she was awake - she was still in pain, but keeping a cool cloth on her eyes helped her keep her fingers away and she soon wanted a popsicle...and then another...and then another.

The nurses came by a few times to check her vitals.  They wanted to keep her there until she could have another tylenol dose but then we were free to go.  They brought us a wheelchair and we wheeled her out into the world again.

Later, at home, she was ready to watch some cartoons.  Let me tell you - it was incredibly cool to see her little eyes track together for the first time ever.  They have never moved in sync before and all I could do was stare in wonder at how this stressful little surgery was such an immense success.


  1. Glad to hear everything went well! :)

  2. That is so awesome! So glad it went well!

  3. yay!!!!! and jsut like that back to normal and playing. surgeries are amazing!

  4. So Doodle was braver than her mommy this time. (You are forgiven since you knew more about the procedure). She looks great and I'm glad it went well. Popcicles are the best medicine! :)


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