Palate Repair, step 1 complete

by J on June 23, 2010

Where to begin? TheĀ  palate is repaired, we’re home from the hospital, Simon is adjusting.

Todd and I did the math on our way out of Doernbecher and realized we’d been in the hospital for about twenty-eight hours. It seemed both freakishly short for such a seemingly major surgery, but at the same time extraordinarily prolonged on account of all the adrenaline and lack of sleep. I think general relativity addresses this, but only if we were traveling some significant fraction of the speed of light, which may actually have been the case for all we know.

We (okay, I) were a little concerned they would want to postpone the surgery on account of Simon’s recently (i.e. the night before) developed cough. But apparently, the cough was just an upper-respiratory ailment and his lungs were clear, so they went ahead and operated.

Simon’s surgery was the surgeon’s first one of the day. So we checked in a little after six in the morning. By quarter after eight they were underway, and by eleven, he was done. It took him a while to wake up, and evidently did try to wake up at some point, but was very upset and “wild” (I imagine there was a lot of screaming and trying to hit people, since that’s what goes on at home) so the nurse gave him some medicine, which sent him back to sleep for a very long time, earning him the title of Narcotics Lightweight.

When he did wake up, he screamed a lot and tried to hit people, but since his arms were immobilized by the “No-No” restraints (more later), he couldn’t wind up a good swing, which just made him madder. We’ve learned that nothing really makes Simon madder than People Messing With Him and Being Restrained, both of which he was having to endure while coming off of anesthesia. “With a temper like that, you could grow up to be a surgeon!” the recovery nurse told him. Simon continued to scream as we were escorted to our private room, as we settled in, and until we stuck some Pedialyte in his mouth. Dude sucked it down (six ounces total – some kind of record we were told) and collapsed into sleep.

So we thought we had this all figured out. The Boy cries because he’s so thirsty. We give him Drink, and he returns to sleep to rebuild tissue and regenerate his stores. Neato!

And then we had a two-hour screaming freakout. Which eventually subsided. Which is enough said about that.

Our room had a bench-like bed for Todd and a pull-out chair-bed for me. The chair-bed was about six feet long and two feet wide, and comprised three sections, none of which were coplanar, and the head of which swallowed at least one pillow. This would have been endurable had Simon wanted to sleep in his own bed. And so it was that Simon and I spent the world’s longest night (technically, one of the year’s shortest, but we were traveling at 0.8c, remember) in the world’s narrowest chair-bed. He started out on my chest, I awoke around midnight, thinking it must be near dawn. The nurse came in to medicate him, and I assumed it was four in the morning. I realized I was soaked with something, felt his diaper, confirmed my suspicions, and was too tired to act. The nurse came in to medicate him again around four. It was very confusing. In the meantime, Simon had somehow shifted onto his back next to me, arms spread eagle, hogging the entire chair-bed. I wondered why his own bed would not have been satisfactory for this purpose, but whenever he would stir, and I would pat him and say “Mama’s still here” he would quiet back down and go back to sleep. So I guess it was worth it.

Now that we’re home, Simon’s demonstrating amazing resolve in getting back to normal. He’s required to wear his No-No (unofficial name) arm restraints at all times for four weeks, to keep him from putting fingers (his favorite) or objects (a close second) in his mouth and reopening the cleft. Each arm is encapsulated in what looks to most people like an oceanographically themed air cast (so most people, strangely, don’t ask about them). In reality, they’re thickly velcroed splits with a piece of sturdy substance (metal? plastic?) in them to keep him from bending at the elbow.

Do you know how useful elbows are? Simon does. He started off the morning pretty upset that all he could do was pick up a toy and toss it behind him. But by the afternoon, he was pointing, turning pages, patting toys, and hitting Mama in the face. Watching him negotiate eating, playtime, and reading time between morning and afternoon was like watching a time-lapse reenactment of his babyhood developmental milestones. I’m pretty sure in the next day or two he’ll learn to move from place to place (currently, he just looks longingly and whiningly at where he wants to go, but hasn’t figured out how to make it happen). At this rate, he will start walking, speaking, and doing physics before the month is out.

But anyway, it’s eleven at night and too late for this Mama to be up. I’m so very proud of the Boy and how well he’s adjusting to his new situation. Would that we were all so resilient.