Thursday, June 23, 2011

So far so good!

Addison went in for her surgery on the first day of summer, June 21st...and as luck would have it, it was one of the hottest days we have had here for a while. We had to get her into the hospital for admission by 8:30 a.m. the day of her surgery and she was scheduled to go into the operating room at 10:40 which meant we had to stop feeding her that morning by no later than 6:30 a.m. For a baby who likes to snack all day long, she handled the no eating reasonably well. Once we got her to the Stollery Children's Hospital here in Edmonton, we waited with her for about a half hour before they led her back to the pre-operating area to give her a once over and prep her for her IV.

Getting ready for surgery

She was supposed to have a combined surgery - the orthopedic surgeon to fix her hips with the closed reduction, the other a plastic surgeon who was to remove a little extra bit of skin near her ear that she didn't need. When we got her into the pre-op we asked if that was still the plan as the two surgeons staff were supposed to coordinate it...needless to say there was a "clerical error" so the plastic surgeon would not be available to remove the ear tag. That was a little disappointing and not what two concerned parents wanted to hear right before surgery!

The nurses then gave her a bit of tylenol which upset her as she was getting quite hungry by this point and then they put a little bit of numbing medication on her little hands to numb the area for insertion of the IV. After all that they led us to a little waiting room outside of the OR to wait to chat with the anaesthetist and the surgeon prior to her surgery. The anaesthesiologist informed us that they would be putting her under with gas and that he would take extra special care of her while the orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Dulai, answered any last minute questions that we had. They told us that they thought it would all be done within two hours and asked us to say goodnight to our little girl before they took her into the OR. Both grandmas were there with us, and we passed her around for some final kisses before she was taken into the OR by the nurse. I'm not going to lie, it is very difficult to hand your 4 month old over to strangers for surgery!

Now we just had to wait...and wait. By 1 p.m. we still hadn't heard anything so her dad went to talk to the charge nurse about the status of the operation, after some phone calls were made down to the OR, we were informed that the surgery had been completed and that they were just moving her to the recovery room, after which they would bring her up to the ward. By 2 p.m. we were informed she was on her way up to us so we got ready to greet her. When they wheeled her over to her room, she was so pale and groggy it was a bit scary. Her colour had gone from pink to grey and she was letting out the saddest little whimpers! Her dad and I were prepared for screaming, but I think the whimpering was somehow worse! She was placed in a room with a very sick little boy, Kael, who at two months old had already undergone multiple surgeries to correct issues with his bowels and intestines which were formed outside of his body at birth. Right away we realized how trivial our little procedure had been, and how fortunate we are to have a healthy happy baby with correctable hip issues! That poor little boy was in so much pain and cried constantly for relief.

Just out of surgery and not too happy
Once inside her new room we asked the nurses how she was doing and they said they had her in recovery longer than usual because she was quite agitated (no kidding!). She wouldn't take a bottle, she wouldn't take a soother and she was just generally unhappy so they gave her a bit of morphine for the pain. The surgeon had to make two incisions on the inside of her groin in order to place her hips correctly, so she was bruised and swollen in that area. Her cast was bright pink and there is an opening from just above her bum to just below her belly button where we are supposed to insert a smaller diaper and then place a larger diaper over the whole cast. Needless to say, diapering is a bit of trial and error! Before the next morning she had already had a major blowout which required three people to clean and disinfect her cast area! Once the morphine wore off she was in quite good spirits.

Later that afternoon, her auntie Wendy popped by and between her and the grandmas cooing at her, we were able to get a few smiles before the night was through. She was doing much better than her mum. It probably doesn't matter what age they are, it is hard to see your child in pain! Her daddy stayed with her all through the night and when I got back to the hospital at 5 a.m. the next morning I found them wandering the hallways of the stollery. Her dad had her in his arms and had tethered her IV pole to his belt and was walking her around the hospital in an effort to soothe her. They both looked incredibly exhausted but he told me that she did really good and despite her best efforts to sleep, the crying baby she was rooming with was just too much for them both to bear.

We walked her back to her room, after which her dad wandered out to the hallway to find a couch to grab some much needed sleep. Addison too only took a few minutes to drift off to sleep once I placed her in her crib and hummed a lullaby to her softly. They both got a few hours sleep before we got the news that the MRI might be a bit of a wait. Turns out that the stollery has 2 MRI machines, one of which was dedicated to emergency care, the other for inpatients. Because one of them had broken down, they just had the one for everybody and the nurses were not sure whether or not they would get us in for her MRI. The purpose of the MRI was for the surgeon to double check that her hips had stayed in place following the casting and we were not to be discharged until that MRI took place and the surgeon had the radiologists report in hand. It looked to us like it was going to be another long day! Her dad and I figured out a way to get her strapped into her stroller so we spent the majority of the day strolling her around the hospital. She was an amazing little baby, she was back to her old self and it was as if she was not even aware of the whole cast situation...despite the fact that the cast runs from her armpits to her ankles!

Good as new the day after
 Mid-afternoon we were visited by the physical therapist who gave us the lowdown on how to take care of the cast, the warning signs to watch for and answered all our lingering questions about caring for a baby in a body cast. The Stollery is a truly amazing place, the care they take of both the patients and the parents is unbelievable and we feel so lucky to have such a great hospital in our own city. Because Addison is frog-legged in her cast, she does not fit her regular car seat and the hospital provided us with one specially made for kids in spica casts, which was a big relief because we were not entirely sure how we were going to transport her! They have loaned us the "Hippo" car seat for the duration of her casting and although it is much bigger and bulkier than her regular car seat, we are so thankful to have it!

One of the amazing nursing staff at the Stollery, Ariane

By 5 p.m. we were strategizing with the unit nurses about arranging for an outpatient pass which would allow us to go home and come back the next day to wait for the MRI, but at 6 p.m. we were told they would take us now, turns out the Mazankowski Heart Institute just down the hall was letting us use their MRI machine...great news! The nurses told us that her surgeon had been harassing the MRI folks all day long trying to get us in so we could all go home. It was a bit nerve wracking as the MRI would be what told us whether the procedure had worked or not. Her dad took her down for her MRI while the nurses asked me to stay back and take care of all the discharge paperwork (assuring us that this would get us out of there faster). About an hour later, her dad brought her back to the room and when I saw she still had her cast on I thought thank goodness, that must mean it worked and we can go home as we were told that if the MRI showed that the hips had slipped out of place, they would be cutting the cast off and scheduling the open reduction, a more invasive surgery, later down the line. Her dad told me that no, we didn't know yet as we had to wait for the report....more waiting...and by the way, the surgeon was now doing rounds and wanted to see us before we left!

During the long wait for the MRI we entertained ourselves by strolling around the hospital

At 8 p.m. we finally got a visit from Dr. Dulai. She said that the surgery went better than she had anticipated so she was a little concerned following casting that this might mean her hips are a little loose and may have slipped out. She told us that she did not have the radiologists report yet, but she had looked at the MRI scan herself and seemed to think that it looked good, but that she could not give us official word until she had the radiologists report in hand. So, we breathed a little easier after that! She said that once she had the report she would call us if there were any concerns, but that if we didn't hear from her by Monday...then that would most likely mean it was A-O-K. So, although we are not quite out of the woods yet, we are so pleased that things are looking good at this point. We packed up our stuff as fast as we could and we sprinted, yes sprinted, out of that wonderful as the staff are at the Stollery, we couldn't wait to get home and get some rest.

After a quick stop for some diapering and sleeping supplies, we got Addie home at 9 p.m. and she was so cute...she was so happy to be home that as we walked her around the house she was cooing and oohing over everthing she saw...clearly as relieved as her mom and dad to be back at home sweet home. Her first night home we had purchased a wedge and a memory foam pillow to help her sleep better. The wedge just elevates her back a little and the  memory foam pillow we slip under her ankles to help support them when she is on her back as her legs are casted a few inches off the mattress when she is on her back and need to be supported in order to ensure a comfy sleep. She slept really well, only waking twice during the night in need of some soothing. She is a little fussier when she wakes in the night, but all in all, not as bad as we had anticipated as I had heard stories of kids not sleeping at all when they are casted. How lucky are we to have such a good baby?


  1. Hello!! I am so glad to find you blog!! My daughter is 5 1/2 months old and she will be having her closed reduction surgery on friday. She looks about the same size as your little one did when she went in for her surgery (she's a little under 14lbs) Makes me feel so much better reading everything!! Thank you!

    1. Hi There! I am so happy you found it useful, I remember all too well how lonely we felt when we first found out Addison had hip dysplasia. The blog was started so we could keep a record for her but also to share with others going through the same thing. Please feel free to drop me a line helped me so much to have others to chat with while we were going through this all with Addie, and I am always happy to lend a sympathetic ear. I wish the best for your daughter and hope her surgery gets her on the path to healthy hips. Take care of yourself and give that little one lots of pre-surgery, cast-free snuggles!!