Friday, December 12

Alex's Time at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta—Egleston

Seven days feels like a lifetime. "We've come so far," is Mark's new favorite thing to say when I even want to broach the subject of our stay at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta—Egleston.

As I've said before, my littlest little love Alex had a congenital intestinal condition called intestinal malrotation. He didn't show symptoms and it was by the grace of God we found out about this life threatening condition the way we did. So in the hours and days following his operation I just kept waiting for the other shoe to drop.

Our experience at CHOA was wonderful. The staff was fantastic, the facility clean. However, and I say this with complete conviction, I never want to go there again, ever.

Squeaks was slated to arrive Friday at 11am for a 12:50pm surgery time. He was not to have anything (no Pedilytle, no water, no nothin') after 9am. By the time we got to Egleston he was not pleased. Then we found out that an emergency had come in and that child needed our doctor and our OR. We had been pushed back an hour and had a new surgeon. Which freaked me out a little, but I was fine to roll with it. A children’s hospital will really put life into perspective for a person.
Alex with Dr. Meisel before he went back to the OR.
Fast forward the longest hour of my life, up to this point at least, to me handing my starving child to a sweet RN with the promise of "see you soon." At ninety minutes the phone rang in the cold, sad, but somehow still cheerful, surgery waiting room for A. Anderson's parents. "Still working," the voice said. I think I spoke but honestly I can't remember.

Dr. Meisel, our new surgeon, had told me between 90 to 140 minutes was how long the surgery should take. When 140 minutes hit I was ready for the phone to ring again. I was ready to hear that my tiniest love was okay. The call didn't come. As my dear friend Anne told me before the surgery started, it's hell in the hallway. I was in hell indeed.

At the three and a half hour mark, I really started to worry. I started to play out the scenarios in my head. I started to cry.

At four hours I somehow found my voice and spoke to Mark, "What if… What will we do?" Mark and I prayed together for our son and Dr. Meisel. We didn't address what if.

At nearly four and a half hours, Dr. Meisel walked into the waiting room. I saw him and my heart fell to my feet. I'd seen only one other doctor come into the waiting room in the six hours or so throughout the day I’d been in there. That doctor didn't bring good news. I was preparing myself for bad news.

Dr. Meisel opened with, "Alex is in recovery and doing well." I think I actually screamed. Just thinking about this makes me want to cry all over again. 

There was more damage than the original scans showed, and it took a lot longer than expected, but Squeaks was going to be okay. He was stable and we could see him shortly.

Of course he was moved from recovery to his room during shift change and we didn't get to see him in that thirty-minute window. I tried not to jump out of my skin. When he was finally wheeled into 4226, he was the most beautiful thing I’d ever seen while simultaneously being the scariest thing I'd ever seen.
With his various machines and tubes, he looked like those kids on Grey's Anatomy—except it wasn't a kid on TV I was looking at. It was my son.

There was a flurry of activity and honestly I don't remember much. Except when Dr. Meisel strolled in the next morning and delivered some good news. Later that afternoon the tube going down his nose to pump bile and stomach acid out of his stomach could possibly be removed and we could, finally, feed him, not long after.
 He was so hungry, I could just tell, he's an Anderson after all. I knew he wanted, needed, food. But I also knew feeding him could be a challenge and I was scared. I was waiting for the other shoe to drop.

The other shoe never really dropped. He had small steps back, but he seemed to hit every milestone. He checked every box with vigor. He wasn't his usual chilled out self, I couldn't even get him to smile while we watched Coach Saban hoist up another SEC Championship trophy for our beloved Crimson Tide, but he was getting better.

When we were discharged, I remember looking at the nurse with tears in my eyes. She simply reminded me he was okay, I was okay and we were all going to be okay. Anne, one of my biggest cheerleaders throughout the entire process, shared similar sentiments. The other shoe wasn't going to drop.

He's got some scars, everyone knows chicks dig scars, but otherwise he's completely unfazed. I am forever changed, but he is completely unfazed.
Dr. Meisel was able to repair his damage laparoscopically, so he only has four small incisions. Instead of one long one.
Since he didn't show symptoms of his condition I never really knew the breadth of how it affected him. Before the surgery he would struggle to eat, taking the full suggested thirty minutes to feed, and made a dirty diaper MAYBE once every two days. Now? He's all about showing off those expensive, brand new intestines, farting and making dirty diapers every two hours or so. He sucks down his formula like a champ.
He's okay. I'm okay. The other shoe didn't drop.

2 comments:

  1. So happy that he is doing well!!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Is Squeaks Doc single? Asking for a friend.

    ReplyDelete

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