Smidge’s Surgery

So this week’s excitement was taking Smidge down to Southampton hospital for his hernia repair surgery.

He went in on Friday morning and my biggest concern aside from everything going well in theatre, was that he was not allowed anything to eat or drink pretty much all day. I could just envision him screaming and screaming because we wouldn’t feed him. But as it turned out he was an absolute angel, and spent most of the day either sleeping, or watching the world with his big blue eyes 🙂

The cut off for feeds was 7.30am, so I made sure that Smidge had his milk before that, though he was telling me it was breakfast time anyway! As we had a little bit of time left after his bottle before the deadline, I stopped him from drifting off to sleep, and got some solids into him as well, to try to help fill him up for a bit longer. He had some “apple and cranberry breakfast” from the jar. It was cold, though, as I didn’t know if he would take it, and I didn’t want him to fall asleep while it heated up a bit! He took it fine, though.

Smudge woke relatively late, and so we left her feed to her Grandad as I had to finish packing to go to Southampton and Gary had to grab some breakfast and get himself sorted. We left Smudge with my Dad for the day, so that she got what she needed and was not neglected while we looked after Smidge. I think Dad loved it, and I am sure that Smudge loved being spoiled and having one-on-one attention all day! It was certainly better than being stuck in her car seat all day, with Mummy and Daddy getting stressed about her feeds, sterilising her bottles, etc.

So when we arrived at the hospital and found the ward, we went and told them we were there, and then waited while they found a cot for Smidge. Why he did not already have one I don’t know, but he didn’t. Then the cot they found was missing the head end! So there was no way I was leaving my boy in there unattended, as he can wriggle across the mat on the floor, so what was to stop him wriggling to the top of the cot?! We were told we would be shown around, where to get a cuppa, whee the toilets were, etc. but it was about 2 hours later and only after we asked that we were told anything. Communication was not the strongest skill of the nurse who admitted Smidge. We even had to ask for his name tags! Anyway, we eventually got to use the bathroom, and Smidge was “properly” admitted, with name tags, history, etc. We even saw a doctor before Smidge was name tagged!

We were told that Smidge was second on the afternoon surgical list, and then when the surgeon came to see us he was first on the list! But we were not going to complain. However, on discussion of his medical history, they decided they did not know about Smidge’s ASD (hole in his heart) and as he had not yet been seen by a cardiologist they wanted to be sure it was safe for him to have a general anaesthetic before they went ahead. So we had an additional little trip down to cardiology for an echo (echocardiogram) to have a closer look at his heart. It took about 45-55 minutes, but Smidge was given the all clear and they just want to see him again in 6 months, so that was great news. They were fine for Smidge to have the anaesthetic for his surgery to go ahead. Apparently, about 40% of the population have the condition and don’t even know about it.

We returned to the ward after the echo, and waited some more for Smidge to be called to theatre. Gary and I still had not had any lunch, so we thought we ought to get some food before our blood sugar levels got so low that we were at risk of being patients ourselves! So I checked what the likely timing was before the operation, and they said within half an hour. However, we have heard that too many times recently, especially that morning, so after making sure that they had our mobile numbers to call us if Smidge was called to theatre, we went downstairs to get food. It took forever to get the lift (as we were going from the top floor to the bottom floor we thought we would get the lift!), and then when we got to the restaurant they had stopped serving hot food as it was so late in the afternoon. We got some drinks and snacks for later on, and then ended up getting a burger from Burger King. I was going to take it back to the ward to eat, but Gary said we ought to just sit and eat it at a table. Typically, as soon as we sat down, the ward called to say that Smidge had been called to theatre! So we put the food back in the bags, luckily got a lift straight away, and went back to the ward. We picked Smidge up, and took him in the lift down one floor to where the theatres are. We signed him in with the team, and then handed him over to the anaesthetists and made them promise to look after him! That was at 3:48pm.

We then headed back up the stairs to eat our food, and passed the surgeon on the way, so reminded him to take good care of our baby boy!

We got our food, though the chips that had been hot when we got them were now cold. At least lunch was a good distraction for half an hour or so, and took my mind at least off the operation. Obviously I didn’t forget about Smidge, but I was not worrying about him. Gary texted our parents to let them know Smidge had gone into theatre, and then we just settled down to wait. Gary played on the iPad, updated his Facebook status, etc. and I caught up on reading my magazine. It was not too awful waiting, though we did wonder how it was going. At about 5:10pm, I asked the nurses if they had any news about how things were going, and the staff nurse called to find out that Smidge had just been taken into recovery. They then called us to go and collect him, which we did at 5:38pm. So overall he was away for just under two hours.

When we went in, and a pretty groggy Smidge was having a cuddle with one of the nurses. She asked “Do you recognise anyone?” as we entered, so obviously we said yes, and she replied “Drat, I was hoping to keep him!”. But she did give Smidge back to me when I had got onto the trolley bed, and he peered at me through very heavy eyelids. He seemed pleased to be back with his Mummy, though. We then got a ride back to the ward on the trolley bed, with Gary following, and put Smidge back into his cot. He didn’t seem to be any the worse for wear, really, other than being very sleepy and having a shiny face! I asked why that was, and was told that it was the cream they put on his eyes to stop them drying out. Apparently, all people are given a general anaesthetic, they have a tendency to have their eyes open a touch, and this can cause very dry eyes, and even damage when they move about while the operation takes place. So they put a protective cream on the eyes to stop that from happening. Whatever it was, it smelled quite nice – slightly sweet, with a hint of strawberry!

For the rest of the evening, we just watched him sleeping, and fed him when he stirred enough to be likely to take his bottle. Gary headed home late on, and texted me when he got home. Smudge had had a wonderful day with her Grandad, and apparently was as good as gold for him which was a relief! That made me feel a bit less guilty about having had to leave her! But I would have felt more guilty to have had her with us and her been neglected because of her brother having to come first for the day. We sent messages to the various grandparents, and I spoke to my parents briefly to update them, and then I settled in for the night. It was quite frustrating as in the ward we were in there were two babies and a teenager?! So the teenager wanted to watch tv until all hours, but the babies needed to sleep, not to mention the mummies! Eventually, I mentioned the tv to the nurse, who got the teen boy it belonged to to turn it off, as it was 11pm by that point and I was exhausted.

The night was not too awful, but the other baby woke up a few times and had a good yell. Smidge woke a couple of times and wanted feeding, but I managed to get him not to yell too much, mainly by having got his feed from the nurses before he actually needed it, as it can sit on the table for a long time as long as it has not been opened. We did have a bit of “fun” in the early hours, as the saturation monitor was alarming because it thought that Smidge had only about 83% oxygen in his blood. Having had experience in these things, I was able to look at my son and know that it was a false reading, instead of panicking! There was no way his sats were that low – they were normal levels and the monitor just wasn’t picking up properly. So once we had had the nurse silence the alarm, and got that sorted, we could go back to sleep for a while. I had only just woken up when the doctors came round in the morning! It had been a long night…

They asked if there had been any problems overnight, which there hadn’t as far as Smidge himself was concerned (only the monitors), and they were happy for him to go home. When Gary arrived we got the nurses to go through the aftercare information with us, then headed home. We were lucky that Gary arrived when he did, as heading home there was a MASSIVE tailback heading into Southampton, and if he had been caught in that it would have taken him a couple of hours or more to get to us. At least we missed that one.

Since the surgery, Smidge has been just fine. He has needed the odd dose of Calpol, but he has not needed consistent pain relief which is great. With the help of the community nurse this morning, we’ve removed his dressing, and the scar is very neat and tidy and shouldn’t be too noticeable as he grows.

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Gary Jones

Gary Jones is a UK-based WordPress Engineer, code consultant, and father of extremely premature twins. Driven by a passion for excellence, he creates elegant WordPress plugins and theme solutions for clients, and provides services, including code audits, for other designers and developers. Gary is a key contributor to the Genesis Framework and has contributed to all except one major branch of WordPress Core since 3.3. He has contributed to many open source projects in the community, and is a co-host on the UK Genesis podcast. A former teacher in schools and prisons, Gary's goal is to educate WordPress professionals on how they can improve their code. His motto is knowledge is power.