The day your child is having Surgery

I can't explain how I felt on Thursday 15th October 2015.

I've spoken to a lot of people since we came home and I've lost count of how many times I've heard "It must have been frightening for you" and as much as I feel like I should agree and reply with a simple "Oh yeah, it was awful" I just can't bring myself to say those words.

Because this time - it was a breeze!!!!

I know a lot of people will be horrified that I could ever suggest that putting a child through major Heart Surgery is a breeze, but let me explain.

In August and then again in November 2013, I thought Surgery was the hardest part. I thought if she could survive the operation itself then we would be home and dry. But we were wrong. What I learnt as I watched my daughter struggle with organ failure, as her Heart struggled to cope with the extra workload of Martha breathing for herself - is that the day of surgery is the easiest part!

I'd mentally prepared myself for a roller coaster of emotions and events this time around, I had a mental check-list of things that could go wrong so that when they happened I knew what to look out for in Martha
and I knew how her team would deal with it.

I cried when the Theatre staff arrived to take Martha Grace for her operation, I cried because I felt so guilty that she had no idea what she was about to go through. By the time we had arrived at the Lagoon for breakfast 10 minutes later, the tears had stopped. I didn't cry again all day.

I spent all morning and afternoon drinking Tea and eating cake, I had to keep reminding myself that Martha Grace was only one floor above with her chest held open with clamps. Was I scared? No...I knew that the anesthetist was taking care of Martha Grace as the Surgeons carefully went about the procedure.

When I looked at my phone to check the time at saw that I had two missed calls from the Hospital - that's when I panicked! That's when my heart was in my a**e and I felt sick. When we reached the accommodation office and they told us that the missed call hadn't come from them, when we knew then that the call had to have come from Theatre - that's when I was terrified. But when I got back to the canteen and our family told us the Surgeon had just been to find us to say that they were finished and Martha was fine - I calmed down.

I did start to get a little impatient when we still hadn't had a phonecall from CICU almost two hours later to let us know that we could visit Martha. But we chanced our luck and made our way there anyway. I took a look at Martha and saw that her chest was closed - relief. I looked at her monitor and saw that she was saturating at 100% - relief. I looked at all her syringe drivers and saw that she was only on Milrinone and Morphine, that the Adrenaline had been turned off and that Furosemide was only prescribes QDS rather than the constant infusion that I was used to post-op - relief.

When Martha Grace was extubated a mere 8 hours after coming back from Theatre and didn't fail - relief. When she sat up at 3am on Friday morning to take her first drink and managed to keep it down - relief.

When they told us on Saturday that we were only waiting for a bed to become available up on Bear Ward and she could move up there - relief.

When I was asked on Sunday afternoon if we would like to be moved to a single cubicle out on the ward - relief.

When they told us on Sunday that we would be having pre-discharge checks on Monday ready for going home on Tuesday - relief.

I think what's happened is that I was waiting for everything that went wrong last time to happen again. Anything less than that was going to be amazing.

It is pretty messed up that taking Martha for surgery doesn't scare me anymore, that I've become completely desensitized - no parent should ever reach that state when it comes to their child needing medical care. It must be a defence mechanism that I've somehow developed, a coping mechanism because I know I have many more Operation days that I need to survive and if I'm going to support Martha Grace through it time and time again - I'm not going to be any good to her.


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