Saturday, August 9, 2008

1 Year Ago Today

It's hard to believe that 1 year ago today Joshua underwent open heart surgery to build a wall to separate the top two chambers of his heart. Thinking back to the hardest day of my life brings back so many emotions that I have not felt or thought of in so long. I wish so much that I was blogging back then...I could have gotten a lot off of my chest instead of holding in all in to stay strong.


Below are pictures of that day that start with a quick (no sound) video of Joshua in our room as we are waiting for the anesthesiologist to come in. We waited for over 3 hours! It felt like 3 days. You try keeping an 18 month old happy and content for that long, that does not involve snacks or sippy cups. Good luck! As we were waiting, he tripped on his gown (they gave him the smallest, and it was still too big) and hit his forehead on the leg of the chair. When the anesthesiologist came in, he quickly noticed it and quizzed us about it. They almost cancelled the surgery for the day!

You would think a children's hospital would have smaller gowns! At least shorter ones would have been nice. We were able to hold him as we walked him to the doors where they take him to the operating room. I would not let go of him! The nurse was so nice and patient. I wanted to badly to trade places with him. Let them open ME up and work on MY heart. Not his. Call me a control freak, but I did not want to let go of that kind of control of my child. It just didn't seem fair. But I kept telling myself that he will be in God's hands and to be thankful that heart defect could be repaired.

Part of our amazing family in the waiting room....we took it over! There was a large one for friends and family, and then this one for the parents where they called us every hour with an update. I am the kind of person that needs people around me when I am worried or upset, so I told Jason to bring them all in the room with us! It still humbles me beyond words that all of our family came. Even Jason's uncle in Virginia flew in to be there. Julie and Noel, who was only a few months old was there, grandparents, aunts, uncles, parents, best friends, etc. Meredith came up from Georgetown to help with Samantha. That was a huge help!

The other half of the waiting room. One of my closest friends, Amy, is sitting between my mom and step dad. She knows me so well and knew when to take me out of the room to go take a walk and cry on her shoulder. I learned that day how Jason and I are so different in how we handle the stress and worries of our children. He wanted to be alone, I wanted to be with people. So I would tell him to go walk around to get out and be alone. The windows behind Meredith are where they wheeled Joshua from the operating room to the PICU. We were able to see him for a quick few minutes. Jason and I bawled like a baby just looking at him in awe and me kissing his neck over and over. They had to pull me away so that they could continue taking him to his recovery room. He tried to speak and it was really hoarse from the breathing tube. Thankfully, they took it out before I could see it. That would be hard to see. But I was just so glad to see his bright blue eyes looking at me. Such a relief! Thank you God!

Here is Joshua in the PICU. I covered up with his blanket the draining tube. I was warned about that, but until you see it yourself, you can't prepare for it. It is gross! Several friends and family that came in and out of that room looked pretty woozy after seeing it. I tried to make sure the blanket covered it so no one passed out on us! The first time we went in there, the nurse explained all of the tubes, IV, and wires. I myself got light headed and needed to sit down. It was way too much for me! The only part of his body that I could touch that didn't have anything coming out of it was his head and shoulders. So I stroked those two areas as much as possible. You can see the bruise on his forehead from the fall the day before on the chair.

Here I am, stroking his head. That's all I could do and I wanted nothing more than to touch him. I slept on a small ledge with cushions behind him. The first night the nurse came in to check on him and he had rolled over in his sleep in and was at the very end of his bed, almost falling off where all of the machines are. Ah! He let out a lot of moans and groans throughout the night and day, which is normal. That was the hardest part for Jason. He wanted his precious son to feel no pain. Me neither! But This part I could handle, the hard part for me was over, which was letting go of him. As you can see from the smile on my face, I was so happy! We did not have Sammi come up to the hospital to see him. We were afraid that seeing him like that would frighten her.

Daddy and his beautiful boy. This was the first time we could hold him. I could tell Jason was aching to hold him, so I let him do the honors. He was still hooked up to heart monitors, but that was ok, we could hold him!

Here he is in the wagon, getting ready to head out of the PICU and go his regular room. The heart monitor was still hooked up, but it went wireless while we were en route. We found out that there is a room with technicians where all they do are watch the heart monitors. If one patch came loose or was not fully getting a good read, they would alert the nurse to fix it. Can you imagine that being your job?

All packed in the wagon, ready to go!
Daddy "driving" Joshua to his new room.

First time to hold him in his new room. I was so scared to move him, I did not want to hurt his chest.

First time to eat. It took him so long before he finally had an appetite. I think he finally gave in to his favorite goldfish crackers. I was so relieved when he ate!

This was taken when the nurse took out all of the IV's and wires the day we left. She also gave him his first bath, sitting up, just like this. He was poked and prodded everywhere that the last time they took his blood, they had to poke his heal. His veins were just so worn out everywhere else. The multiple dots on his tummy were from the pacing wires. They were woven in and out of his skin in small circles (it was weird to see) to be there in case his heart stopped....then they would have used those wires to, as they told me, jump start his heart. Thankfully, that never had to happen. But I just about threw up watching them take it out.

This was taken a few weeks after we came home. You can see he was wearing some of Sammi's necklaces when I took this picture. :) For awhile, you could feel the ridge where the breast bone connected as it healed. Kinda gross to feel at first, but I was so fascinated with the healing process of his scar. Now, you can barely see it, it is flesh colored. I was expecting it to always be red. Amazing!

Wow, this post is longer than I thought it would be when I first started it. Hopefully I did not bore you too much. I have to say, I know more about the heart than I ever thought I would! Thoughout the entire process, Joshua was blessed to have his amazing pediatric cardiologist, surgeon, nurses, and all of the staff at the office and hospital. They were all incredible beyond words and treated Joshua with so much love and attention. I couldn't have asked for more! For my wonderful family and friends, thank you for all of the support, prayers, love, food, and cards that you all gave us. We are all blessed to have you in our lives!


Marcia said...

WOW that was a year ago?? Sweet baby boy! I am so happy he is doing great!!

Jodi said...

TEARS! I am constantly amazed at that kid... he is such a trooper and came through all that with flying colors!! So did you, Mommy. :) I will probably know soon how hard that is to have your baby in surgery... so I will pull from your strengh.

Yay for a great year!

Momma Monkey said...

Oh, my,you relived it all again. I could feel your anxiety again. We have much to be thankful for. I appreciate your sharing your "journal" with us all. You write very well, I could feel you.