Friday, April 19, 2013

Surgical Suite: Coda

Hectic days followed our return from the hospital.

We were glad to have our boy home... I was glad to be home.  There is nothing like sleeping in your own bed, a sentiment that Wyatt himself would have agreed with.  There seemed to be piles of things everywhere and a mountain of laundry to do, but we were home.  Everything else was just details.

The first night I tiptoed into the twins room on a couple of occasions, just to ease any motherly paranoia concern I might have.  At one point I paused in front of Wyatt's crib, concerned about his breathing.  It was even... yet seemed shallow.  Slow.  The panic started to rise up for just a second until I caught Zoe's breathing out of the corner of my eye.  They were the same.  Slow, even and very much asleep.  There wasn't a problem with Wyatt's breathing, in fact it was perfect.  What had startled me was the lack of secondary noises, the gasping.  With a smile I returned to bed, with the monitor cranked up a little higher. 

Over the next few days, Wyatt seemed to become more energetic before our eyes.  By Wednesday, he was sitting in his booster chair waiting for his breakfast and he babbled at me non stop for what seemed like 3 minutes.  Our "conversation" went back and forth for quite some time until I realized that I was going to need more coffee to keep up with this child.  His eyes, which often assumed a "Dude abides" half mast laid back look, were wide awake and shiny as green river stones.  He was all over the place at playtime, energetically chasing his sister down and interacting more enthusiastically with the world around him.  He didn't seem to mind the solo "not so" baths either... due to his incisions, we had to bathe him by himself in an inch of water.  He carried on as if this was a regular turn of events and made up for the lack of depth by splashing even more, grinning from ear to ear.

The week shot by and then it was Thursday, the day of his follow up appointment at Sick Kids.  He was scheduled for a chest Xray at noon, an echocardiogram at 12:30 and his follow up assessment at 1:30.   We left at 10:30 yet still managed to get snarled in traffic and barely make it for 12:00.  Wyatt and I were headed in to Xray to register, while Sean and Zoe went to find parking.  When I entered the front doors, I could feel myself tensing up.  I guess 4 days is not enough time to shake off your hospital stress.  While waiting, I managed to snap this picture of him, rocking out in the stroller.  He was ready to go.

Rock on, son, rock on.

We were called in and I had to get him undressed and strap him into the "plexiglass iron maiden".  It consisted of a wooden base with a bicycle seat which he would straddle.  While holding his arms above his head, two plexiglass halves came together in a tube around his ribs.  I held his hands and started my singsong during this, which seemed to give him something to focus on.  We only needed two views and the tech was quite nice this time (as opposed to our last xray encounter), which made a potentially unbearable situation tolerable.  During the entire process, you could hear Zoe screaming "WYATT!  WHY-ATT!!" from the waiting room and the occasional stampede of little feet down the hall past our door.  I couldn't shake the mental image of our mini-amazon in pigtails storming in, demanding Wyatt's release.  Once we were done, we snuggled afterwards and Wyatt cheered up in time to high five his new friend as we walked out the door. 

This is pretty much where our day stalled.  We were right in the middle of what would be our normal nap time and the echo people were really backed up.  What started out as 10 to 20 minutes quickly turned into an hour and 15 minutes of trying to keep twin two year olds occupied.  Upon entering the echo room, I laid Wyatt down on the stretcher, held his hands and sang to him once more while he cried large tears at the tech.  Eventually he fell asleep... which gave her more leeway to get some better pictures.  Once he was completely asleep, I extracted myself by letting him hold on to some of the lead wires and was able to straighten out and un-contort myself.  He woke up as she put the wand to his neck and he would have none of it.  We concluded the echo, I cleaned him up and tried to console him as we waited in the hot little room for the official okay to move on to the next appointment.  It was now 2:30.  We were an hour late for our clinic appointment; so much so that the NP came looking for us.  She gave a quick listen to his chest while I gave him some juice and settled him down.  A few minutes later the tech returned and we were released to go to the NP clinic.

Wyatt was undressed again, weighed and auscultated.  Since the echo was so detailed (!), there wasn't much left to do but take out his stitches and do a little health teaching.  The results were similar to those post surgery:  you could see the AVSD repair and there was some mild regurgitation of the mitral valve and up into the pulmonary veins.  He would probably have to have this valve "tuned up" in the future, but right now, things were greatly improved.  Although we were still to avoid picking him up under his arms and avoid activities that involved a lot of reaching for the next six weeks, he could return to his early childhood interventions as soon as possible.  With that, we attended to the last bit of nastiness:  taking out the two "purse" stitches that had held his drain sites closed.  That completed, he was a free man.

My parting ritual was a little rushed on the way by as we had to rescue the van from the parking lot, but the fountain received its shiny offering, hopefully for the last time. We will have to follow up with Wyatt's cardiologist at regular intervals; our next appointment is in two weeks.

The last movement has completed, the arias have been sung.  The hero has finished his journey and moved to a better state of existence, surrounded by his loving family.  I guess it says a lot to have framed his AVSD surgery in the context of a symphony or an opera, but we all cope how we can.  I use music and a sense of humour that is often so dark, I can barely see.  Not to put a too fine a point on things but since I have been home I have been finding unopened cans of Coke all over the house in various states of refrigeration.  I could lament the fact that I have taken a can out of the fridge to drink and abandoned it with one distraction or another... or I can look at it as getting my future self a drink (how thoughtful of me!).  Music is a ribbon that weaves through most of my writing, collecting thoughts as one would collect beads;  it is no accident that his surgery, this major life event, ended up being presented in such a way.

As promised, we need a fermata, a final note to to hold on high and finish this opus.  We got that, with the help of the weather.  Aside from our brief glimpse of sunshine on the day Wyatt came home, things had returned to rain and gloom.  As we left Sick Kids yesterday, a warm wind was blowing.  The sun was shining, it was 20 °C (68 °F), there were tulips poking up in the gardens and the landscapers were limbing the trees and filling the pots with spring blooms.  As we paused for a moment to allow a car to pass before the stroller, Wyatt craned his neck around to look at me.  A gust of wind tousled his curls and he smiled broadly.  His hand reached out to mine and with his eyes still shining, he put my hand to his cheek and nuzzled it a bit before facing forward again. Almost on cue, his sister shrieked "WHY-ATT!  Yay!" and with an equally shrill "WHEEEEEEE!" that seemed to hang in the air forever, she led the charge away from the hospital.

Onwards.  To new adventures.

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


  1. Yay!!!! I've been following and this post brought up some happy tears.

  2. I'm so happy for you guys! Sending caffeinated thoughts to combat the energy levels!


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