This past week, my son had open-reduction surgery for hip dysplasia on his right hip. He currently has a spica cast that he’ll be sporting for at least the next six weeks. The last few days have been an adventure for sure, and there have been ups and downs emotionally.
Many parents have gone through their kids having this surgery and being in a spica cast. My wife is part of a few different groups on Facebook and has ideas of what to expect. I chose not to read up or do any research ahead of time. If I’m being honest, I was scared to get ahead of myself. I felt I could do my reading and catch up on things once the surgery was complete, and I knew my son was ok.
My son is ok, and I’m now catching up on my spica knowledge. It was a journey to get here. Below is a breakdown of the past few days from my posts over on my arthrogryposis blog, The Greene Affect.
Regarding pre-op days, it’s hard to imagine one going better to help dull the nerves than what we had today. The dulling may have proven to be temporary, but it was there. Just too much time between our last doctor’s visit this morning and the actual surgery tomorrow.
Our decision to come to the Greenville Shriners Hospital for Children continues to find new ways to solidify that it was the right one.
Our doctor, Dr. Hyer, is amazing. She knows her stuff, and we’ve always been confident with our son in her hands. What gave us an extra sense of calmness today was talking to the anesthesiologist, Dr. Wilhoit. Talk about a man that knows his stuff!!
I mean, he taught at Wake Forest and, ya know, just so happened to have authored an article a few years back on myopathies and anesthesia, which just so happened to be a giant concern we had with our son’s nemaline myopathy.
This has been hanging over our heads with this surgery since the moment we knew it would happen. The absolute biggest fear I had was our son being put under anesthesia. Dr. Wilhoit knew of what was concerning us as soon as we mentioned it, and he ultimately dismissed it as not really a concern with what he knew of HG.
It gives you a momentary sigh of relief when a doctor tells you that something you’ve been stomach-wrenching worried over isn’t really a concern but that he can put together a plan around that concern and tailor it for HG.
I realize the people at Greenville see AMCers daily. It’s why we make the drive. Why others not only drive farther than us but also fly in from across the US. The people here at Greenville Shriners know their stuff and are amazing.
My son may be 1 out of 3000 for most doctors, but here, he’s just another Monday.
After seeing doctors who were completely in the dark and unaware of what arthrogryposis even was. Being just another Monday is nice.
Leave it to our son to ensure we have a rollercoaster of a day. Even on surgery day.
When our day started, we thought our timetable looked like this:
- 6 am – Check-In
- 8 am – Take HG back for surgery
- 1-2 pm – Surgery complete, HG in recovery
- 3 pm – CT Scan
We’d finally get to see HG again after his CT scan was complete.
That’s how we thought today was going to go.
The day did not exactly go according to plan.
Check-In went as expected at 6 a.m. this morning. All the typical things. Signing papers and getting HG ready for surgery, including giving him a bit of “happy medicine” to help calm him for when they took him back for his anesthesia and surgery.
They said this medicine should knock him out. Instead, you can see the results below. We basically had a drunk infant on our hands. Which helped lighten the mood and give a bit of laughter at what was a stressful situation.
We talked to both Dr. Hyer and Dr. Wilhoit again.
Hyer clearly had her game face on this morning. Dr. Wilhoit continued just to impress me. Not only with his demeanor but his knowledge and how he presented it to you. Not like someone who wants to impress you with his knowledge but wants to use it as a warm, soft blanket of comfort.
Taken back for surgery
After the nurses took HG (with not a tear shed, by him at least), we took our stuff to HG’s room, only to be swept up by going to the adjacent hospital to get Mr. Harrison registered for his CT scan later in the day.
That took a bit of time. Maybe not as much as it could have, but it kept us busy enough for a short time.
The nurse checked in with us just before 9 am, saying that the anesthesia and epidural went great, and they officially started surgery. She told us she’d give us updates every hour and a half. So we settled in for what we were expecting to be a long day, just sitting and waiting.
An hour and a half go by. We received a call not to update us on how the surgery was going, but that surgery was complete. They sutured him up, and that Dr. Hyer was preparing to apply his casts.
Seriously, the number of possibilities that go through your head when a surgery that you expected to take up the bulk of the day is complete before lunch is unexplainable.
So, in the blink of an eye, we went from stress over surgery and HG’s condition to wondering what happened for surgery to be over so quickly! Was something wrong? Did she discover something unexpected? They said she was applying his cast, so clearly, she did something, or she wouldn’t be casting him. What’s going on?!
Thankfully, we didn’t have to wait too long for Dr. Hyer to come in and talk to us. Letting us know everything went well. One reason things went so quickly was that she “over books,” so she has time to not only work because AMCers can be trickier with hip dislocations but also to give time for the whole anesthesia and epidural to be taken care of.
All of which went smoothing and without issue.
So we’ve learned that our son can be efficient with surgeries, I suppose.
Once HG was out of recovery and rolled into the room with us, he had already started coming out of the fog a bit. He was going through his gambit of facial expressions for the enjoyment of the nurses, but it wasn’t long until he wanted Mommy because he was hungry!
It wasn’t a full 12 hours since the last time HG had eaten, but it had been long enough. Even on pain meds, baby boy was hungry! He’s had a few things to say, not a lot, but he’s been able to go back and forth between resting and eating.
Despite the day’s expectations being completely torn apart, the CT scan remained on the schedule for 3, which involved transferring HG to a wagon for his stroll down the hall.
This was the first time we saw the full casting, and let’s just say; baby boy got him a big ole booty right now!
Thankfully, between the early morning, full belly, and pain meds, HG stayed chilled throughout the entire thing. The technician even commented that he was the best baby he had ever dealt with. The sound of the CT scanner didn’t even phase him.
Since returning from the CT scan, it’s just been resting and eating. Dr. Hyer let us know that the results from the CT scan came back, and she had already reviewed them, and everything looked great.
On to tomorrow
As the day has gone on, you can tell when he’s hurting, and no doubt tomorrow is likely going to be a challenge.
They plan on removing his epidural at 3 am, so that’s our next “event,” and we’re hoping we may get discharged tomorrow.
Even if we’re discharged, we’re still hanging around Greenville for a few more days as Dr. Hyer wants to get an X-ray on Friday just to make sure everything is staying in place and we’re on the proper path to recovery.
We’re still a few days from returning home, but thankfully surgery is behind us, and we’re on the road to recovery.
A late-night hospital state of mind
So I’m sitting here, in a dark hospital room, with nothing but a fan, ocean white noise, and the sound of my typing going on. My wife is asleep, and I’m sitting in the glow of my laptop.
I do my best to blog about important moments. If I’m being honest, I should write more. Just not with events but with events and moments I go through. My problem is; I’m not always in the mood to write. I have to be in the right frame of mind.
Tonight’s one of those nights, and my frame of mind: complete and utter relief.
I would be lying if I said I haven’t worried about this for easily the last month. The past two weeks since our last Greenville visit really doubled it down for me. Thankfully, work kept my brain busy most days during the day. I had graphic work with my Parsons Creative freelancing, putting ads together for a wedding magazine to keep me busy in the evenings after my son went to sleep. (Ya know, instead of, say, blogging or updating this site more, but ya gotta go where the money is first!)
I’ve been a mess more than I probably should have been. I know my wife has been a mess. My goal has been, and still is, to maintain the best I can so she doesn’t have to worry about me. She has enough on her plate to take care of our son and worry about him and all his things. She doesn’t need me adding to the equation.
No, this entire experience has probably been top 5 of the most difficult and stressful things I’ve had to go through. At least 3-4 of those top 5 have to do with my children, and my youngest can now claim two of those spots at this point.
Today was a huge hurdle, though, in a lot of ways. This was the first big step in what will hopefully be my son’s path to walking.
After everything we’ve been through these first 8-months, it’s nice to stop and breathe. But I realize we’re just getting started.
I do my best, but I still catch myself watching monitors. Watching O2 levels and respiratory rate. Even if I fuss at my wife for doing the same.
Today was truly a challenge, but one I survived relatively well. I feel like I did, anyway.
I hate my son has to go through all this. Has to go through all this pain. But he takes it in such stride and with a poise that no 8-month-old should have. I guess he just has enough overall stubbornness in him from both sides that his only option is to push through. That’s the one and only choice he’s given.
As amazing as Greenville and the Shriners’ staff have been. I’m ready to be home. I’m ready to be away from monitors, wires, and tubes.
I don’t care how many surgeries and procedures HG has; I’m never going to get over my dislike of all this hospital stuff.