- Type of surgery: Pulmonary Artery Banding
- Purpose: to prepare Mckenna for her upcoming “Glenn Shunt” surgery (first major surgery), when she is approximately seven – nine months old
Mckenna and I were welcomed into the Cardiac ward at the Stollery Children’s Hospital, which is absolutely beautiful by the way, by nurses who I could tell truly loved their job.
Mckenna’s surgery date was originally penciled in for Monday, September 19th and she was the ‘second’ case, meaning she would be the second babe to go in for surgery that day.
On the morning of the 19th, I got to Mckenna’s room around 7am. I did my usual routine: greeted Mckenna and tidied up her bedside area. As I was bringing a cup full of cold water to dump into the sink in the bathroom, the pediatric cardiac surgeon himself walked into Mckenna’s room and stopped me while I was coming out of the bathroom. He quickly explained that he wanted more investigative tests to be done before he would go ahead with the surgery.
My heart completely sank. I felt so frustrated and defeated. As time had passed, I mentally prepared myself for “the day” and within minutes all that crumbled. A sense of relief did come over me but I was at the point of just wanting the surgery to be OVER and DONE with.
I called Mckenna’s dad, explained the change in plans to him, and he felt the same way as I did; angry, uncertainty, confusion, and so much frustration.
“I want more investigative tests done before we do the surgery“… Now a whole new sense of worry came over me. Was there something else / more wrong? Were these Cardiologists not telling me something?
Later that morning, a Cardiologist came into Mckenna’s room, sat down with me, and explained in laymen’s terms what specifically they wanted to investigate.
1) there was actually an emergency case that came in overnight that had higher priority than Mckenna.
2) They wanted to do another echocardiogram (heart ultrasound) to determine if a part of Mckenna’s heart was obstructed – this would affect the procedure she was having.
The Day of Her Surgery (Draft)
I arrived at the hospital around 6am that morning.
Through this entire experience, Mckenna’s recovery was the hardest piece of this giant puzzle for me. Why? Because prior to the surgery happening, I still had Mckenna to hold and she still her happy self. During recovery, I had to see her suffer, decline and see the pain and fear in her eyes, without being able to comfort her in any way.
Seeing Mckenna for the first time after she came out of the Operating Room took my breath away…
Her arms and legs were tied down to her bed. She was intubated, and she was attached to three IV poles with over 10 IV machines running medications through her body, a draining tube from her heart, and a giant heart monitor situated over her head that showed her respiratory rates, heart beat, blood oxygen saturations and pulse.
She had wires that were clipped onto her bed all over. She had five IV lines in total in her hands, feet, neck and head.
She was puffy, pale, bandaged and her skin was dyed a pinkish-red dye (a cleaner used over the incision site to kill bacteria).
Another tough part was that we were not allowed to pick her up, kiss, or touch her for the first 24 hours post-surgery.
In less than 24 hours after Mckenna’s surgery, she was moved back to the regular “Cardiac” ward to finish her recovedy, but I could sense something was wrong. Really, really wrong. I kept expressing to the nurses that she was not my baby. When she would open her eyes, I could only see fear. She didn’t focus or stare, she just looked straight away into an abyss and looked like as though she had seen the boogie monster.
Later that evening, Mckenna had her first “blue episode”. A blue spell is when someone’s oxygen levels drop severely low that their entire body turns a dark navy blue colour. Mckenna had a total of four blue episodes while she was recovering.
Her nurse called two emergency respiratory therapist calls, which means a team of respiratory nurses from the PICU (pediatric intensive care unit) respond to. Cardiologists still can’t explain why Mckenna had so many of these episodes.
Quickly that night she was re-admitted back to the PICU where she previously was to be monitor closer. In the PICU, each kiddo has their own nurse who cares and monitors them the entire shift.
Mckenna rested, was given a blood transfusion to boost her hemoglobin level, pain medication, high-flow oxygen, and within days she was back to her smilie self.
We were in the Stollery Children’s Hospital for a total of – days.
Her and I flew back home together the same day we were discharged from the hospital and i was never more thankful to be home when we walked through our front door!
From my heart to yours,
– d ❤️