It's 4am in the morning of 9th Sept and I'm wide awake now after catching an hour or two of sleep beside Louise's little hospital cot. She's snug and cuddly in my arms having just finished her final feed before her fast begins and where I'll keep her until it's time to head down to theatre at about 7.30-8 am. This is partly to keep her asleep and partly because I just want to hold her and have her to myself before she goes down when she'll temporarily become not mine but the property of a myriad of doctors, nurses, tubes, monitors and everything else that modern medicine cares to send her way. So it's quiet now.
My day started early this morning when John and I got up for the normal school routine the only difference being that rather than Louise sitting in her high chair at the breakfast table the children took turns to hold and cuddle her and each one lingered that bit more in their off to school kisses. John brought them to school while I whizzed about fixing up the place and putting the final bits and pieces into the hospital bag. My sister Kirstin arrived to give me a lift up to the hospital and to stay to keep me company until she'd have to go back to do her own school run. I must say, I was glad of her company!!
The morning in the hospital went very smoothly like a conveyor belt-I'd just arrived in admissions when a surgical registrar came in looking for me before he went to theatre. From there I went to bloods, X-ray, ECG, back to admissions, lunch, back to admissions again, to the medical day ward to wait for a bed in the cardiac ward and finally in the evening to the little room on the ward where I am now. I wasn't alone after my sister went home as there was a constant flow of specialists coming and going to explain to me the part they were going to play in the surgery and all the possible complications that may arise from their point of view. Now I know they are obliged to inform the parents of all these things but unfortunately it doesn't help much to calm the nerves.
Here they are as far as I can remember…
Because they're opening the same scar there's a greater risk of problematic scar tissue/clots around the area; she might encounter the need for a blood transfusion during the op-they'll collect, clean and return her own blood to her anyway; as she's coming out of the surgery it may quickly become apparent that she'll need a pacemaker and be returned to surgery, at any rate she'll have hairbreth electrical wires inserted through the chest wall in case the heart needs to be restarted quickly; she'll have a lot of swelling to the head and upper body as her circulation adjusts to the new set up; she'll get bad headaches as the blood flow increases to the brain, these will be treated with painkillers until they settle; she'll have 3 chest drains in for quite a while and they'll be watching carefully for the not too unusual but very troublesome complication which has a name I can't think of now but which requires the immediate and total stopping of ALL fats including breastmilk for ONE MONTH; If the fluids draining don't decrease quickly the drains will be left on for a prolonged time with the complications that go with that; Clots, Infection, risk to life etc etc etc…
Then we saw the surgeon whose confidence and self assurance put my mind at rest!! In fact I don't think my high opinion of him is unrealistic as everybody else seems to hold him in the highest regard and one of the docs spoke to me of him today with almost a sense of awe emphasising his brilliance to me.
It's 5am now and the really friendly and chatty night nurse looking after Louise has suggested I try and get a bit more sleep…Long long few days ahead!!