This past Thursday evening, Travis, Riley and I went to Durham. We ate dinner at Red Lobster and stayed in a hotel with an indoor pool, that we went swimming in, after dinner. The next morning, we headed out early for a morning of appointments at Duke for Riley.
We scheduled Riley's surgery for September 2. Will not know what time until the evening before. The surgeon said it would be a very complex surgery, and to expect it to be long...like 4 hours long. He is reserving a room for him in the PICU afterwards, with the hope he won't need it, and can instead go straight to a private room on the Pediatric floor. He will be reconnecting his ostomy (that's one connection), removing a couple of bad areas in the large intestine he has left (that's a couple more connections), and then reexamine his entire small intestine again. This is what makes it more complex. Remember that leak he had, that erupted stool from his incision back in December? Well, the surgeon has to investigate where that leak occured and see how it healed up. In doing this, he could create some damage that has to be fixed. Every single bit of small intestine Riley has is needed, so hopefully, any repairing he has to do will not involve having to remove any.
While we were up there, they managed to get us in for his Pre-op paperwork. These were all papers I've seen before and I am the one that signed them for his prior major surgeries (not his broviac insertion). They of course go over all the risks of the procedure and anesthesia, but his previous surgeries I never even hesitated to sign on the dotted line. He would die without those surgeries. This time though, he is a happy, healthy baby who could live his entire life without this surgery. and yet there I was about to sign that paper again, saying I understand that he may not live through it. Funny how your perspective changes. they also had to draw some blood for a "type and screen". They want to make sure they have plenty of blood for him when the day of surgery arrives. and since he has received so many blood transfusions, the antibodies in his blood could be changed. And could mean he has harder to match blood now. He has always needed blood during his two other bowel surgeries, so they want to be prepared, and not find out the day of surgery that they don't have blood for him. this way, they can start setting aside blood that matches his starting now.
AFter all that, we met with a child life specialist who walked us through the entire day of surgery and answered some questions I didn't even know I had, and gave us information on the pediatric wing. Basically, the day will go like this:
Tuesday night, Sept 1, after 4:30pm, I can call and find out what time his surgery is scheduled for. They typically do youngest - oldest, but he will likely be the longest case of the day, so that could put him later. Or we may have to be there at 6am.
We will arrive Sept 1, at whatever time they tell us to be there.
We will check in at the Surgery waiting area. This is where we have sat waiting for his surgeries the 3 previous times.
They will give him his arm bands here, and then we wait to be called to pre-op.
In pre-op, he will put on some a hospital gown and have monitors connected to him.
Anesthesia will come in and talk with us, and answer any last minute questions. We will spend about an hour in this room. We were in it before with his last surgery, so it was familiar.
When they are ready for him, one of us (most likely me :o) )will be able to go with him into the actual operating room, until they put him to sleep. We have to wear a jumpsuit and surgical hat and mask. They sent home a hat and mask with us to kind of play with , and get him accustomed to it.
Once he's asleep, I will go back to the waiting room and they will put his IV's and catheter in. He will have 2 IV's. One for anesthesia meds and one for blood and other needs. I'm so glad it's after he's asleep for once.
They will begin the surgery and call out to the waiting room to let us know they have started. Then they will call out occasionally to update us. This is familiar to us.
After surgery, depending on how long it takes, and what all they did, he will either go to the PICU for the night/next day or he will go to the post op area. If he goes to Post op, he will be there for an hour or so, and then go to a room on the regular Pediatric wing.
Depending on what is done, will depend on when they begin the eating process, but they will start with pedialyte, then formula, then back to baby food. How quickly all this is done and handled will determine his length of stay.
Probably the most troubling news of the day, was that Travis will not be allowed to visit Riley at ALL during all this. Don't get me wrong, everything they said about Riley was troubling. But for the most part, it was known, so it wasn't a surprise. But we had no idea that Travis wouldn't be allowed to visit. They have changed their visitation policies, due to the H1N1 flu virus, that ONLY healthy adults, 18 or older can visit anywhere on the pediatric wing. Thankfully, we aren't talking about a very lengthy stay this time, but this news, which we haven't shared with Travis yet, will devastate him. :o(
Once Riley is moved into a Pediatric room, whether its immediatly after surgery or a day or two later, I can room in with him.
So all of that made for a full morning at Duke. Travis sat through it all like a trooper, and afterwards, the three of us took off to show him where Mommy went to school, and a nicer shade of blue ;o)
We took the about 15 minute drive over to the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill (go Tarheels!).We ate lunch on Franklin Street while Riley napped, and then went walking around campus for a while (Riley slept in the stroller through it all). There were lots of tours going on,and that made for difficulty taking pictures without huge crowds of people in them. I showed him Kenan Stadium (football) and he was amazed at how big it is. After we finished walking around, we went back to the van and drove down to the Dean Smith Center (basketball), and he wanted to know why it was SO big (Duke's is a much smaller building). I told him, this was where REAL men played basketball! And yes, I drove, because I was not up for pushing Riley's stroller back up that hill! We topped it off with a visit to the student store, where Travis and Riley both got Carolina shirts. Travis' second and Riley's first. He woke up just as we walked in and was all grins in there. I think even HE knows that is a much prettier shade of blue :o)
We left Chapel Hill and went to the Southpoint mall, and wandered around for a while and did a little shopping. We ate dinner and then began the long drive home. The day I stressed over, came and went without much fanfare, and then it was done and decided.
So 2 and a half weeks, and we will hand over my sweet baby to strangers once again, and put our trust in the skill of these people, to take good care of him. We put faith in God to protect him and watch over him, just as He has, Riley's entire life, and to continue to heal his little body. And I, probably more so than anyone else, will be putting my faith in the strength and willfulness of a little baby boy named Riley, to pull through this trial of his life, just as he has done every other one, and come out on the other side, stronger and better than ever.
How about a video?
Here is Travis and Riley "fighting" one evening this past week!