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Palate Repair, Part II -- Originally Published December 24, 2007

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Where were we? I believe we left our hero in his bed watching the taped-from-tv DVD of Bunnytown. The next thing that happened was the nurse walked in with a syringe full of Reglan, that awful tummy medicine that we decided Michael could never have again. I thought we fixed that post-op? Apparently it didn't get into the computer. So, the nurse called the doctor again and had it removed from the computer again. (So we thought ... this happened one more time before we left the hospital believe it or not.)

Mommy's second freakout came shortly after we got Michael into his room upstairs, before Daddy even made it back with Grandma and Grandpa. Michael started coughing and coughing, and it was so hard to listen to, with all the thick mucous post-surgery. It was clearly an effort to cough that hard, and in the middle of it, something clogged his trach. I heard it clog, which was okay, because Michael immediately began breathing through his mouth. It was obvious to me because I was holding him, and his breath went from my neck to my cheek! Wow! But, he still needed to be suctioned, and I wasn't sure I was up for seeing more blood just yet, so I handed him over to the nurse and respiratory tech. We knew the nurse was a good one because the very first thing she asked when Michael got into the room was how far down was Michael's suction depth, and she got a card and marked it so everyone would know. (The less cautious folks "eyeball" it or suction down to something called the "corina" which is waaaayyyy too far for an infant.) Anyway, after several tries, the tech and the nurse managed to break Michael's occlusion and suck out a bunch of thick gunk. For the first time, I couldn't look, and it was so hard to hear all of the thick secretions stuck in there. I'm sure I could have done it if I absolutely had to, but I was weak and was glad to have someone to pass the task to.

The worst part came at shift change, after the pharmacy situation had been resolved. Michael got his meds (AT LAST), but the night shift nurse had a very strict rule. His orders were written "every four hours as needed for pain" so she insisted that in order to avoid an addiction to codeine, Michael could not have the medicine every four hours after the first two doses. He needed to demonstrate to her he was in pain. At less than 12 hours past surgery? I won't disparage the excellent folks at the hospital, but c'mon, have a heart! He's thrashing in his bed! Between the pain and the nebulizers every four hours, Michael's heart rate stayed between 170 and 200 most of the night. We were lucky to see it go down to 160. And, due to poor timing on all our parts, he was eating, nebulizing, and running out of pain medication all at the same time every few hours. Poor little guy!

Long story short, he thrashed a lot on the bed and cried himself to sleep when he could. We had to hold him down a lot. It was a long, long night for all three of us. We are so grateful that the other baby in the room was also post-op, and the charge nurse allowed all four parents to spend the night in the room. (Normally only one parent is allowed to stay in a shared room.) Neither of us could have done it alone. Michael slept for only a short while at a time, and one of us needed to stay awake to be sure we weren't too tired to hear him when he was trying to cry. (No voice, you know.)

Anyway, as the long night dragged on, we had a bad spell at about 4 AM. Michael spent about an hour coughing, and nothing came up. We rang the nurse, but of course by the time she got there, he had collapsed in fatigue again in mommy's arms. She did page the respiratory tech, though, and they both listened to him carefully. No congestion in the lungs. The respiratory tech suggested that the coughing was irritation from drainage from surgery, but whatever it was, it wasn't his lungs, so there wasn't much to do about it. I t was miserable for all of us.

Out of space again. By 6AM he grinned.

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