Thanks so much for your prayers and support. Today was long and hard. Imagine sitting in the waiting room for what you expect to be about 5-6 hours. We’d brought stuff to do – computers, games, magazines, books. I even thought perhaps I’d edit a video. It takes a little while to settle down from all the anticipation and stress of getting ready for the big day. Kissing your daughter good-bye for surgery is never easy. Trust me. And settling down after all that adrenaline takes a little time.
So the first visit from the OR nurse an hour after we’d said our good-byes was pretty easy. They’d put in several IV lines and things were going well. The next visit – or maybe I’m already confused – she told us he started the incision at 9:28 and we could expect about four hours from then to be done. We quickly calculated 1:30 and she said to give it til 2 PM. OK. We were settling in for the day.
That relaxation didn’t last for long. On her next report, she told us Catherine’s blood pressure had dropped. “He’s just sitting there waiting on anesthesia to give him the go-ahead to proceed,” she said. She literally put her hands under her chin like a kid might wait for a bus. I don’t think it was 10 minutes later that she came back and said, “He’s closing.” She said it so casually. Like the operation was complete and it was time to go home.
“What do you mean, ‘closing’,” I asked. She explained that he didn’t think it was safe to proceed and he was closing her up and would be out to talk to us. Somewhere in all that she did say that he’d opened her up to the bone, so I immediately had a picture of my little girl with a back-length incision for nothing. Her spine was still crooked and she had a great big cut running the length of it. What a waste.
I couldn’t handle it. I walked away and quickly realized I didn’t know where to go. I was looking for a place to cry.
Eventually, Dr. Miller came out after closing her up. He said she looked good and was doing fine. Her blood pressure was back up after some meds. As he closed, he said, he wondered if he could have finished the procedure. At the same time, he was comfortable with his decision, as was I.
The real reason he closed was that they couldn’t figure out why her blood pressure dropped. It went to 60’s over 40’s and they like it to be something closer to 100’s over 80’s. They thought it was due to fluid loss so they gave her more blood. She got 2 units in the short time she was under and that didn’t really help. They gave her Epipenephrin (sp?) which got her pressure back up, but because the team couldn’t figure out why it dropped in the first place, he didn’t know how to treat it, so he decided with the bigger part of the surgery to go, he’d close her up and wait.
So, now she has a back-length incision. She’s on a bunch of meds for pain and blood pressure. And we wait.
He had cut through the skin, the muscle, fascia and connective tissue and exposed the full length of her spine. He’d drilled two holes into her pelvis. It seems fortuitous looking back on it that she dropped before he started to put the metal rod into her body. He told us this was the ideal place to have it happen, for had it happened when the rod was in and some of the wires attached, he’d not been able to close and that would have created a different set of problems. So, despite the agony and tears, I found gratitude. In all things, thanksgiving, right? To be honest, this time it was hard.
There are three lines of possibility for the drop:
1. Reaction to a med. She was on a cocktail for anesthesia and pain and any one of them could be the culprit.
2. She had a big seizure.
3. She had a reaction to a blood product. Could be platelets or Immunoglobulin(sp?) or blood itself.
They’re running all kinds of tests. We’ve had a lung x-ray, and EEG, visits from allergists and the nutritionist – in addition to the regular docs and nurses all trying to care for her. Anesthesia came in three times and read the five inches of Catherine’s medical book looking for any clues to help decipher the cause of the drop. She’s simply amazing.
And like much of Catherine’s life – and really all of life, I suppose – we’ll just have to wait and see.
In the meantime, she’s had some breakthrough pain which they’re managing quickly and well. She’s ventilated and on meds to keep her blood pressure up. They plan to try to wean her from those overnight. She lies a bit on her side right now and I got a peak at the top of her incision bandage. Maybe it wasn’t for waste. Maybe we needed this to happen for some reason. Dr. Miller thinks the remaining 2/3rds will be easier on her system because she won’t have to absorb all of it in one experience. Time will tell.
And as for timing – he’s hoping to continue chapter two of the surgery on Wednesday. We’ll just wait and see.