Tuesday, May 7, 2013

emma's surgery (and the story behind it)

little did we know when emma was born and had some medical issues right away, that it would be a foreshadowing for the first 2 years of her life (and hopefully that's all). luckily all of her "medical issues" have played out much like that first one after she was born...seemingly a big deal initially that in the end has turned out just fine (although with a lot of doctors appointments mixed in and medical expenses we weren't planning on). thank goodness she has proven to be a fantastic patient (the doctors and nurses often comment on what a good patient she is). 
just a recap of some of her "more serious" medical issues/scares (which have included 3 ER visits, although i swear there was a 4th that i can't remember):
1st ER visit: when she was only 2.5 days old
2nd ER visit: just shy of her 1st birthday when we discovered she was allergic to peanuts. 
we were hoping she would be one of the lucky few to outgrow her peanut allergy (only a 20% chance), but no such luck. she was retested last week and is still allergic :(
3rd ER visit: after getting into a bottle of my father-in-law's prescription medicine. this was our first time calling poison control. although she seemed fine, at about 5am she woke up wide-eyed and shaking and dave took her to the er. luckily they were home a couple of hours later since it just seemed to be her reaction to some residual amounts of the medicine making its way out of her system.   
then there was the "asthma scare" 
now for the latest and greatest (which really wasn't so great):
in february dave noticed a lump on the left side of emma's neck, right below her jaw. we weren't too worried because she wasn't acting any differently. but we called the pediatrician  and while they thought it was probably a swollen gland or lymph node, they had us bring her in to be checked. they prescribed an antibiotic and did a tb test (i later found out they did the tb test because tb usually manifests itself in children as a lump in the neck area). 2 days later we were back at the pediatrician's office to have the tb test checked. neither the doctor nor i were worried she actually had tb and so i showed up just a few minutes before the office closed, sure they would quickly be sending us on our way. but instead the nurse who came out to check brought us back to meet with a PA. her tb test was right on the border of being positive, so after a PA and 2 doctors looked at it, they decided we should go get a check x-ray (which would show the tb if she had it). the chest x-ray came back clear, but because of the positive tb test our pediatrician's office had to report it to the division of infectious disease. we ended up meeting with both an ENT and a doctor that specializes in pediatric infectious disease. they determined it was most likely atypical tuberculosis, which is not tb, but part of the same micro bacterial family. i was so happy to find a doctor that recommended just monitoring the bump and seeing if it would go away on its own, rather than jumping immediately to a harsh round of medications or surgery. despite all of the uncertainty, i was never really worried about emma. maybe it was my defense mechanism (assuming she was fine and it was nothing too serious), but she was still her happy, energetic little self and was still eating and sleeping great, so to me the whole thing was just one big (and slightly expensive) hassle (seriously, 6 different doctors appointments in 10 days is no fun...especially with 2 toddlers). dave and i are a good balance in that way. he is the worrier (i joke he has the wessler worrying gene) and thinks of every worst-case scenario and i barely worry at all and assume everything is fine! our follow-up appointment wasn't for about 6 weeks and we happily watched as the lump got smaller and smaller. but then it started turning purple and as soon as the doctor saw it at our follow-up appointment he said she would need surgery because the lump was about to start draining   within the next 10 days and that it would be very messy (yuck!) and letting it drain on its own would only prolong the resolution of the problem. so the ent quickly squeezed up in for surgery and on april 23 at 6 am we arrived at rocky mountain hospital for children. we had to wake up this poor little girl at 5:30 am, which just seemed cruel, not to mention we were taking her to get her neck cut open! but she was super cute and did great during all the check-in/pre-op stuff. and i have to say, she looked dang cute in her little hospital gown! 
goodbye little lump!
dave got to wear the "bunny suit" and went in with her while they put her under. he said the thing that seemed to scare her the most was seeing all of the people in the OR with their masks on! but she held the mask on herself (maybe those worthless nebulizer treatments were good for something. she wasn't scared of the mask) and the anesthesiologist said she did as well as they could hope for going under. and then came the waiting...
the surgery ended up taking about twice as long as expected (nearly 3 hours) because there were a lot more "masses" than anticipated once the surgeon got inside. and they went a lot deeper than expected. she also had some masses connected to arteries (like the carotid artery) that had to be carefully removed. having surgery take longer than expected never seems to be a good thing and of course only added to our anxiety, but we couldn't be more pleased with our experience at this hospital. about 15 minutes before we expected surgery to end, the head of the OR came out to let us know that while everything was going great, it was going to take longer than expected. then the nurse who did all emma's pre-op stuff came out to check on us and then we got 2 phone calls from a nurse in the OR letting us know it was going to take a little longer and when they were wrapping up. it sure helped ease our anxiety to be kept so well informed. because the surgery was more extensive than expected, they had to put a drain in emma's neck and we had to stay the night in the hospital. 
as soon as she started waking up after surgery we were allowed back to see her. she  was definitely disoriented, although the nurses said as she was waking up and saw them she sweetly said, "hi." the poor thing was starving since she hadn't had anything since dinner the night before. so she got to enjoy a slushy that she insisted eating on her own. we enjoyed some good cuddle time as she continued to come out of the anesthesia and they monitored her. 
emma was an all-star patient! she relaxed a little (although would not take a nap), watched tv, had snacks, played cars, read books and danced around her room! no joke! we were a little concerned she was going to fall down because she still seemed a little unsteady on her feet. but she did not want to be held. without the huge bandage on her neck, you would never have guessed she had just had surgery. she seemed much too happy! she charmed all of the nurses, who i don't think were used to having such a healthy, happy patient (the nurses were awesome)! 
the gauze started coming out from under her bandage and i had to take a picture of how bloody it was. sorry if that's disgusting ;)
logan had been at my parent's house since the night before and came to visit emma later in the afternoon. after a little while in the hospital room he was ready to get out and so he and dave went for an adventure. they explored the hospital and logan let dave know what he should take pictures of :) 
it didn't take her long to get dressed up when we got home. she also enjoyed the stethoscope we got to bring home from the hospital. she really has been a rockstar! we've noticed some little personality changes since she's gotten home, like crying for no reason, getting really upset quite easily and crying when we put her down to bed, but little by little she's getting back to normal. we're so grateful for how resilient little people are! and no doubt for the power of the priesthood and the prayers of many!
the surgeon did an amazing job of where she made the incision. you can hardly see it when she has her head down! this is about a week and a half after the surgery and it is healing so well!
hey emma, could we take a break from medical issues for awhile?!


Jessica said...

Oh Steph, what an ordeal! I'm sorry you guys had to go through all of that. But SO glad that Emma is ok. What a trooper! I agree, no more medical issues Emma!! I hope you guys have good health insurance, sheesh! Love and miss you all.

Stephanie said...

What a relief! Hospitals and babies are no fun. Glad it's over - sorry you had to go through all that. Better now than after baby...eh?? :) Hugs to Emma!

Gina said...

I can't believe all you went through! It seems you stayed so positive. She is darling and so resilient! I can't wait to live closer to you! We are going to have to get together lots! We will be there the beginning of June, so we will have to plan something fun. I'm so excited to get to know Dave better and to see the kids and to get to know their sweet little personalities!