16 June 2008

Chapter 6: The operation

Sunday the 20th of April, we got to the hospital the about 8.30 in the morning, straight out of bed, no breakfast. We held on to Cathal's hands, kissed him on the check, stroked his hair. Then around 9, he was taken away to theatre. His nurse told us that it would be around two and a half hours before he was back, so we decided to go and get some breakfast. There was no point hanging around, we only live 5 minutes away. So we checked and double checked that they had both our numbers. When we got home we realised there was nothing to eat in the house. Since we had not been living there for the last two weeks, the cupboards were bare. We popped down to the local greasy spoon cafe on Sundrive Road to have a hearty breakfast of pig, pig and some more pig thrown in for good measure. We had only wasted an hour...hmmm what to do now. We were both itching to get back, just in case, so back to the hospital we went.

Being a Sunday, there was no one around. Usually, surgery is during the week so there is your clinical nurse there to look after you and keep you updated. No such luck on Sundays though. We went to the surgery floor to see if anyone was there who we could talk to, but the shutters in reception were closed and not a mouse was stirring. Up another floor to ICU and buzzed the intercom.
"Yes hello, it's Cathal's parents"
"Hang on just a minute"
Cathal's nurse came out to us and told us he was still in surgery, so he showed us to the special waiting room. This is a locked room only accessible by a key that the staff have. There is a couch, an armchair, coffee machine, water cooler, cd player, TV and a box of tissues, carefully and thought fully placed at an angle on a coffee table (it's funny the details you remeber at times like this). It was about 10.30 at that stage, another hour to wait. We switched on the telly, oh good, fuzzy reception. I remember that we watched an ancient episode of Animal Park, they were cutting weeds in a river. It is by far the dullest thing I have ever seen, and yet it was distracting enough. Every now and then, I would fade out and think about my little boy, in surgery, opened up. Stop thinking of that; what was that about the weeds again??

An hour later and the Dad started to get a bit twitchy, where are they? We should have heard, maybe we should go ask. Finally the ICU ward nurse came in to us, I think it was about 11.50. "Cathal is fine, he has just been brought back to ICU and we are cleaning him up. It should be another 30 minutes before he is ready." Thank God!! The dad said after she left, "I don't know about you, but that was the longest 3 hours of my life".

To be honest, the rest of the day and the following days are all a bit hazy. I sort of blanked out a little. The stress finally lifted, and a sense of peace and calm took over. I think that after half an hour we left the parent waiting room and again buzzed in to ICU. Our brave boy was there, with all his wires, IV's, drugs, morphine. The Dad was delighted, wohoo, they turned him into a transformer (before Cathal was born, he had suggested Megatron as a name). If you can't laugh or smile at these times, all you will do is cry, and I had cried more tears those three days than I cried my entire life.

The following days, we would visit about two or three times a day. Each time something had been taken away. One drug one day, another the next. Less things were being monitored each visit. Finally they started to tube feed him, 15ml every 2 hours, then that was upped to 28ml. His ventilator was taken out on the Tuesday and he was awake when we went in to him. That just lifted our hearts. He was finally back! On the Wednesday he came out of ICU. We got in that morning and buzzed in to ICU, "He's gone back to St Teresa's". We walked cautiously up the corridor peering into every room, and there he was. He had just been moved in. They were handing him over. When they had finished doing the paper work, we went into the room and there he was, my beautiful little son, awake and starving. He still had the feeding tube up his nose, but I had heard such horror stories of babies with downs forgetting how to feed or getting lazy about it, that I asked the nurse if I could feed him straight away.
"Of course you can"
So I picked him up very gently, so concious of his incision. Well, he remembered that the previous Saturday, he had been taken away in the middle of his dinner. He gulped the food down, poor little mite was starving. The following day, he was feeding so well, they took out the tube. The staff seemed surprised that he was doing this well, but they don't know that my fella is a real fighter and nothing gets between him and his grub.

He was closely monitored, nappies weighed to make sure he was eating enough, he was supposed to be fed every three hours, but I cheated and fed him when he wanted which was every 2. He was given two diuretics, iron and aspirin every day. The aspirin is to keep the blood thin and stop the shunt from clotting over. He will have to continue taking this every day until the big operation. He has just been taken off one of the diuretics today and the iron (yippy, drug free baby, almost).They were also giving him a little Calpol. Poor guy, every time he coughed or sneezed he would cry with pain. By the Friday, his oxygen levels were not even being monitored when we were in the room. He was doing so well. We almost got home that day, but Dr.C wanted to keep him in over the weekend, just to make sure. However, his cannula was taken out, the last transformer part of him left. Finally, we had our baby back, no tubes or wires.

After an uneventful weekend, Monday final came around, and by 2.30 that afternoon, I was home with him.

No comments: