Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still in Shock-And SCARED!

Zachary's surgery didn't go as planned. In fact, it didn't go at all. I think I am still in shock over yesterday's events. As I try recalling everything that happened, it just seems like a big blur. I have been sitting here at my computer for 20 minutes now and can only seem to get out a few sentences at a time. My heart is still racing, my palms are sweaty, imagining the "what ifs" brings tears to my eyes and the future scares me to the point of nausea. Life threw a curve ball at us yesterday and we were reminded to always expect the unexpected.

Just as I thought, I woke up bright and early to a few inches of snow yesterday morning. I am growing tired of the snow, but as I looked at the window I made a comment to a still half sleeping Seth about how pretty it was. It was a blanket of white shining in the moon's reflection. As I was brushing my teeth and getting dressed, I was dreading the days events. I talked to God and asked him to send lots of angels to watch over my baby boy. I asked for strength and also patience in the next few days, as Seth was gone. I am ashamed to say that the distractions of the morning kept me from having much more contact with him or thanking him for a beautiful new morning and a happy, healthy family. Believe me when I say, those came later!

The plan was for Seth to drop Zachary and I off at the surgery center on his way to the airport, and my parents graciously arrived at 6am to stay with Lydia. We talked briefly about having my mom come with me, but the roads were so icy that we needed my parent's 4 wheel drive to bring us home (rather than my beloved minivan) and it only has one car seat in it. So, it was what it was. I didn't really care. I knew that the surgery would be quick and I would soon be calling them to come pick us up.

We got there at 6:30. There was only one other couple there. My stomach was starting to get butterfly's as I was signing paperwork. The realization that he was just about to go into surgery was settling in. No one likes to see a loved one go under the knife, let alone their 23 month old baby. I am no exception. If you know me, you know that I have a distorted fear of 2 things, birds, and all things medical. I still really, really hate birds, but I have come along way in the medical arena since becoming a mom. Nevertheless, the mild nerves were showing up.

Soon we were called back to meet with the pre-op nurse and the anesthesiologist team. His ENT quickly peeked his head in and said hello. "We will talk afterward" he said and smiled. The anesthesiologist was super nice. He of course went over all of the details of the horrible, but highly unlikely things that could happen when anyone is put to sleep. The reminders of these makes everyone a little uneasy, but you put those in the back of your mind and tell yourself that would never happen to your child. At least, that's what I did. He assured me he would take very good care of Zachary and soon the sweet pre-op nurse was was taking my baby boy out of my arms. I was dreading this part. I thought they would have to tear him away from me and he would be screaming. He can be very clingy at times. He was great though and went right to her with a smile. By the time I gathered everything from the room and was walking back at to the waiting room they were gone. I vividly remember my thoughts while I was walking back. "I didn't get to give him one last kiss or tell him goodbye." She took him so quickly and he went so willingly. I didn't want to make a big deal of the exit in fear he would start to cry, and that was the last thing I wanted. I was just so thankful I didn't have to hear the mommy screams as I was sending him in for surgery.

When I got back to the waiting room, it was much busier with many more waiting patients and family members. He went into surgery about 7:45. I knew it would only take about 20 minutes tops, and I was watching the clock. By 8:00 the butterfly's were increasing as I was wishing every nurse coming out of recovery was calling my name. By 8:15 I started to get a weird nagging feeling. I kept listening for him to cry. Last time we could hear it all the way out in the waiting room, and they warned me I would probably hear him cry this time too. Something just seemed off to me, but I dismissed it as a paranoid mom and just kept watching the clock and the recovery room doors. By now, the minutes were starting to feel like hours and it seemed like nurse was calling every other family member BUT ME. I think it was a little after 8:30 that a nurse FINALLY came out and said my name.

I jumped up and started collecting the coats, the diaper bag, my purse, etc... when she said, "Dr. Mullins just wants to talk to you. You can leave that stuff here. You will be coming back here." I thought that was weird, b/c last time we went straight back to recovery to see him after we talked but ok...I was taken in the same room we were last time where we we told by the very same Doc that everything went great. I sat down and not a minute later Dr. Mullins approaches the door removing his mask from his face and resting it around his neck. He had a strange look and seemed to be shaking somewhat. The first thing out of his mouth..."He's Ok, He's Ok." I knew instantly that something was WRONG!

This is the part that becomes a big blur, but here is what I think he went on to say...

"He started out great and I was cleaning out the left ear when his oxygen level bottomed and scared us (He went from 98% O2 to somewhere in the 50's. Basically, he had stopped or almost stopped breathing and oxygen was not getting in his body). Anesthesia got him back up and told me I could do the ears, but NOT the adenoids. His O2 was still pretty rocky, but I really wanted to get those tubes in. His ears just suck!" - We LOVE our surgeon btw, and have this kind of relationship with him. I agreed nervously, and said, "Where is he? Where is he? Is he ok?" I just remember asking where he was over and over, as if it wasn't registering.

By now my heart is racing. My jaw is on the floor and I can tell by the way he is looking back at me, that I have a look of absolute FEAR in my eyes. What the hell happened in there?

He continued.
"So, I quickly started working on getting the left tube in place and then his O2 dropped again, very suddenly. Anesthesia got him stabilized and none of us felt comfortable moving forward. We just needed to get him off the table. We couldn't do the surgery."

Me: Picking my jaw up off the ground..."What does this mean? What does this mean? Is he ok?"

Doc: "Yes. He is in recovery. He is ok. It means that something happened under anesthesia that caused him to quit breathing. We assume it was a lot of mucus and congestion in his chest. Several things could have caused it. There is no way to be certain. We sucked a lot of mucus out of the lungs and chest afterward. There is a possibility that some mucus could have clogged the tube. This is rare with these routine surgeries but occasionally you see the kids that just go , and he was one of them. It was scary, but we got him back. It wasn't safe to proceed. Anesthesia wanted him off the table immediately."

Me: "But he's ok right? He's ok? He's breathing and he's in recovery? So now what? What do we do now?"

Doc: "Well, that's a good question..."

Our conversation went on to medications, and alternatives. He insisted on a chest x-ray and also wanted to consult with Zachy's pediatrician. It seems like I was in that room with him for hours, but it was probably just 20 minutes or so. The next thing I knew, I was back in the waiting room. I was scared to death! I just wanted to SEE HIM! I knew things weren't right. They weren't ok. I was sooo scared and sooo alone.

My mom had called earlier to see how things were going. He had just been taken back to the OR, so I didn't have much to report. Everything now had changed...I was shaking. I didn't understand why they weren't letting me see him. Everyone else was being taken straight back to recovery. Why wasn't I? I was scared, but I had no real idea why or how serious everything really was. Or maybe I did...

I called my Mom. "Mom, can you come here? Do you think you can drive on these roads? I need you. I need you Mom."

Mom: "What's wrong honey? Is he out of surgery? How did it go?"

Me: "They couldn't do surgery. Mom, I just need you. I think he almost died mom." I know my voice was quivering.

Mom: "I'm am on my way."

As soon as I was hanging up they were coming to get me. I remember the look on the nurses' face. It was a look of comfort, as if to say, "I know you are scared." I don't remember walking back there. The next thing I remember is seeing him sitting with a what I assumed was a nurse. There were people everywhere - several nurses, the surgeon, the ansesthia team...Lord, I don't even know... I just know there were people.

As soon as I got there, a nurse handed him to me. I cannot even describe what I saw. He was BLUE. His eyes were closed, but he heard my voice and he was trying to open them to look at me. I grabbed him as quick as I could. I sat down, twisted in wires. He was connected to what seemed like 100 different machines. Machines were making funny noises, and were beeping like crazy. People were talking. Nurses and were writing. I don't know if I am wrong or right, on all of this, as I am still trying to take it all in, but it was complete chaos - controlled chaos - but chaos. It was obvious that this was NOT normal, at least not in an outpatient surgery center. Everyone was a little shaken up, and I was A LOT freaked out...but I was alone, and I knew in those moments, I HAD to be strong for my boy. As soon as I saw him several of the sweet nurses saw my face and said, "Oh he looks so much better!" WTF? Are you serious? If he looks so much better, WTF happened in there?!!!

Pretty soon the anesthesia guy looks up at me. He had kind, but worried eyes. "He gave us quite a scare in there." I don't even know anything else he said. We talked for a few minutes but by this time Zachy was waking up and wrestling me. His color was coming back slightly and his O2 levels were going up. His IV was taped around his right hand so it was completely immobile. This made him crazy, mad and agitated! It was horrible. I was so scared. A nurse looked at me and asked, "Are you here alone?" I was. I told her my mom was on her way and then I asked her if I should call my husband. She nodded. I told her he was at the airport and about to get on an airplane and she handed me my phone which was sitting on Zac's stretcher. She told me to call him.

Poor Seth, I scared him to death. By this point Zac is coming too, and freaking out. He was failing in my arms and I had what I felt like a million docs trying to talk to me. If it sounds bad... It was.

I tell Seth..."DO NOT GET ON THAT PLANE!...I don't know what is going on, but you need to be here. I'm sorry honey, I have to go...WAIT he is OK, he is in my arms. But I don't understand any of this, and we NEED YOU, I have to go." And I threw my phone back on the stretcher.

Then MY MOM walked around the corner...OMG...OMG... I have NEVER been so glad to see HER in all my life - at least that's how I felt in that moment. She immediately took Zachy from me and he settled in between all the wires. He calmed down some and started snoozing again. There is just something about grandmas. My kids LOVE theirs, thats for sure! By this time his color is getting better and better. The beeping of the machines start silencing and I am actually able to start asking some questions.

What the HELL happened?

The bottom line was, they just weren't sure. He stopped breathing. His body wasn't getting any oxygen, but they didn't know why. I wanted answers and so did they. Dr. Mullins and the anesesthia team were conferencing with our pediatrician by now. We have had some recent concerns about possible medication allergies and this had all the docs perplexed about how to move forward. He was still full of junk and highly infected. While they conferenced we were sent next door (literally across the hall) to get chest x-rays.

This was an adventure all in itself. His post-op nurse came with us. He only had a diaper on. He was still attached to an IV. He still looked awful. He was so confused and agitated. I was sweating and shaking. I could barely hold on to him as he was trying to fight the IV. My mom and I took turns holding him. When we walked in all eyes were on us. Every head turned and they watched. I am sure we were a sight to see. I was visibly in a state of shock and he was, well...he looked like he had just come back from the dead. The nurse kept checking all his stats. She wasn't leaving his side. As you can imagine, they got us back pretty quick. The x-ray actually wasn't as awful as it could have been. We got them done on the first try. How that happened, I still don't know, but we did. Thank you God. As we were walking back into the waiting room there were a few people sticking heads out of offices to catch a glimpse of us. Finally one man (who I found out later was a pediatric radiologist) looked at me and said, "Is this the patient?" and pointed to Zac. Apparently, they all got word about what happened on the OR table. We're all human. It's like a train wreck you just can't turn your eyes away I guess. As we walked back toward the waiting room, there sat a VERY WORRIED Daddy and Husband. We were happy to see him, but I think, No, I KNOW, he was happier to see us.

By the time we got back to the recovery room, Zachary's excellent team of docs had decided on an antibiotic and they wanted it administered by IV. They finally approved for him to have something to eat and drink, but only brought a little bit of apple juice to us. Zachary wasn't interested. He was fully awake now and pissed. He didn't know what was happening (or had happened), but he knew he didn't like it! And I didn't either.

The rest of the recovery room experience consisted of trying to pacify Zac and his tolerance to the IV. Meds were being pumped into him every few minutes. Everyone was a little calmer. A lot of the activity around his bed with people doing and talking had calmed down. We were waiting on the results of the x-ray and were scheduled to take him directly to the pediatrician. His color was rapidly improving. He was starting to look pink again and his body was starting to warm up.

He received his last dose of IV antibiotics and we were finally released. I asked Dr. Mullins on the way out of he thought his pediatrician was going to hospitalize him. He didn't think so. I didn't know what to think.

By the time we got to the pediatrician Zachy was looking so much better. He was eating Cheese-Itz. The report from the x-ray stated that he had pneumonia. He definitely has a terrible cough and congestion. But all doctors, including myself are skeptical of the pneumonia. They think what happened was a mucas plug. I think that means mucas from the chest got into the tube when they intababted him. They didn't hospitalize him. I have taken him back to the doc for the last two days and he has been pumped full of antibiotic shots. It sucks.

Seth caught a plane out Monday night after he saw Zachy running around. My best friend Amy's husband is a CRNA. He assured me it was ok for him to leave. By 2pm you would have never known anything ever went wrong with him. He was shooting his basketball like he does every night day and playing and acting just fine. Babies CRASH fast and BOUNCE RIGHT BACK just as fast!

He is ok. He is alive.

There is more... there is surgery in the future.

In fact, Lydia is now scheduled to have tubes put in on Monday morning at the very same place. I think I am going to have PTSD walking in there.



  1. Oh, Katie! I am so sorry for all that you have been through and so glad that your son is okay. I can only imagine your fear and panic. I will be praying that Monday goes smoothly and you can be calm and relaxed during the procedure.

  2. OMG Katie, I had a bad feeling when you hadn't posted an update. I kept checking your blog and was wondering what was going on. Thank God Lil' Z is okay. Amazing how fast they bounce back.

    Stay strong on Monday, and remember the chances of it happening to two people within the one family and slim to none.

  3. I'm so sorry! I sat here reading this last nite with tears rolling down my face and I couldnt' respond. What a horrible terrifying experience. We all, as Mommas, have a small fear when our kids go back to surgery but we always assure ourselves that all the fine print we sign away on would never happen to OUR kids. It's scary when it does. I'm soo thankful that your little one is ok. He's so close in age to my youngest that it hits especially hard. Just squeeze him extra tight!

    I agree w/ PP- the odds of it happening to two people in one family are soo slim. I'm sure you'll go to the outpatient surgery scared out of your wits on Monday-but it'll be fine! Good luck

  4. Oh Katie, I have walked in those shoes with Boy2. Scary scary scary, doesn't it begin to describe it. I'm glad he's okay. He's around the same age as The Toddler, I just had to go interrupt his dancing to hug him. Prayers for you on Monday and I bet they treat you like the QUEEN while you are there! Nobody wants a mom freaking out on them inthe surgery center. Trust me. I'll be praying for you all.

  5. I still can't get that outta my head since you told us yesterday. We will pray... beth

  6. Wow!! That is beyond scary. I don't think anyone would blame you for freaking out. I am happy that he is better. I hope everything goes smoothly with your daughter's surgery.

  7. Oh my. I am so sorry you went through all that - that is so incredibly scary. Your family is in our prayers! Hoping all goes well on Monday and glad Zachary is on the mend.