Saturday, April 13, 2013

Surgical Suite: Allegro con brio*

Somewhere, off in the distance, a baby was crying.  I woke up with a start to find myself in my hotel room with Sean snoring beside me.  The city hummed steadily outside.  I tiptoed into the bathroom and quietly called the Critical Care Unit to inquire on Wyatt's condition.  He was having a restless night it seems, but did eventually settle with some top up medication.  I was glad of this and sought my bed for a few more hours.

Despite having the ability to sleep in, we were still awake at 0630.  We had ordered our breakfast for 0800, so with some time to kill, we took our time getting ready, checked our email and checked in with the rest of the world.  Another call to Wyatt's nurse let us know that he had a couple more brief periods of restlessness, during which he had kinked his art-line and catheter.  As a result, they had both been taken out.  They had also sat him up in a chair to make him more comfortable and he was currently having a period of very restful sleep.  Knowing that he was in good hands, we ate a leisurely breakfast and made our way to the hospital afterwards.

When we arrived, he was sitting up in what looked like a car seat, playing with Scout.  Once he realized that it was Sean and I on either side of the bed, Scout was history as both hands shot out to seek ours.  His eyes did well up momentarily with a wave of pain, but it was pretty evident that he had missed us.  A few careful kisses and touches later, he was much more settled.

He was on several IVs through which he received medication and fluids, but he was very happy to get 60 ml of 1/2 apple juice, 1/2 water.  He looked like he would take more if given it, but with the IVs they did not want him to get overloaded.  As it was he looked a little puffy and they had started him on Lasix to try and clear some of the excess fluid.  He was still receiving Tylenol every four hours,  Keterolac every six hours intravenously and morphine IV every four hours for breakthrough pain.  With all this on board, he would nod off at random intervals, so we would use this time to take breaks.

When we came back from lunch, Wyatt's nurse was changing the dressing on his central line.  That completed, he asked if we wanted to hold Wyatt.  I'm not even sure the YES! was out of my mouth before I was trying to scoop him into my arms.  Because of his surgery, I could not pick him up under his arms, but rather had to lift him as one would do with an infant, with a hand behind the head and one under his bum.   There was a comfy chair there and I sat back to try and sing my son's crying away.

It didn't exactly go as planned.

Wyatt is very used to assuming his own positions for comfort and sleeping.  He tried to crawl up on my shoulder, rubbing his incision and causing several of his sore spots to get poked.  I was very nervous about his central line and his pacing wires as he thrashed around a bit and I was trying not to hurt him as I repositioned him to sit on my knee.  A hopeless tangle who would not settle, we put him back in his chair a few minutes later.  Defeated, I helped sort out his tubes, put some "blow by" oxygen near his face and sang to him there.  He quieted and eventually went to sleep again. 

Chillin' like a villain on cardiology...
and trying to watch TV around Mom
There was talk mid-afternoon about Wyatt moving to cardiology.  However, things were very busy on the unit at the moment and there weren't any beds.  Sean took his leave and went home to collect our other two kids with the proviso that I would text/call if there were any changes.  I was surprised an hour or so later to learn that Wyatt was in fact moving upstairs to a room.  We packed up all his things and moved upstairs to a quad room that is usually used for "step down", but was currently slated as "overflow".  We were the only ones in the room for the first while, so it was nice to get him settled in his new chair.  He also has a TV, which immediately got tuned to Treehouse and settled him down immensely.  So much so, he had another nap.

This nap was a doozy.  We had just gotten the official OK for solid food, his tray had arrived and he had promptly fallen asleep again.  I waited and half dozed at his bedside myself, as I waited for him to wake up. I would startle with every call bell, code and phone ringing, but he managed to sleep through it all.

Shift change came and went.  His nurse was a blur in and out of the room as she was handed an admission right at shift change (which is probably one of the nastiest things you can do to a nurse). Wyatt slumbered on.  At one point, I started flicking his feet to try and wake him up.  He was OUT.  Somewhere around 7:00 I called home and got the kids to say "WAKE UP WYATT!", which turned out to be quite effective.  He woke up, looked around and took a little juice.  He was able to eat a tiny yoghurt as well, but you could see that this act tired him out.  He played with Scout for a while longer and the nurse came back around 9:30 to check in with us.  We sorted out his bedtime routine, I gave her tips for how he likes to go to sleep, helped her with meds and whatever treatments and assessments needed to be done and his eyes were closing once more when I left just shy of 10 p.m.

Once back at the hotel I made a few calls and Skyped a friend of mine.  I was nearly falling off the computer chair at 11 when I hung up and finally went to bed.  I'm not sure if I remember my head hitting the pillow or not, but I remember the next morning seeming like it occurred a blink afterwards.

One of my girlfriends (who was a CCU nurse for years) told me once that after cardiac surgery, the transformation was incredible.  In her eyes, you have a patient, who for all intensive purposes, is dead on the OR table.  They are brought back to life and within hours are eating, drinking; a few days later they are generally themselves again.  I was not expecting such a journey to take place within 24 hours,  but, here he was.  My baby was still very sore, still on loads of pain medication, still covered in lines and tubes and drains and things, yet trying to wave his silly mother out of the way so that he could watch his shows.  It was incredible to see.  His tenacity, his spirit continues to astound me.  He is fierce.  The pace at which he had accomplished so much was almost dizzying when you think about it. I was hoping this tempo would be maintained, because if it did, we would be home before we knew it.

*Allegro con brio is a musical term meaning "quickly, with spirit".

The Surgical Suite:
Prelude - Grave - Allegro con brio - Adagio - Allegretto con moto - Finale - Coda


  1. Go, Wyatt! Before long you will be begging him to stop jumping around so he doesn't open things up. It's really amazing, this heart surgery journey. It's more horrible waiting than anything. Scary, but mostly the horrible waiting.

    1. Waiting is the mind killer. Worse than fear I think.


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