Monday, June 28, 2010

A tough road...(long and picture/video heavy)

I can honestly say that I have experienced my toughest day of motherhood, thus far.  There have been many difficult days, don't get me wrong, but this was by far the worst.  I finally feel as though I have a moment to write about it and I think that I can do it without totally breaking down mentally.

A few months ago, I posted about my youngest daughter, Gabriela, and the fact that she needed strabismus surgery again.  It wasn't the news that we wanted to hear, especially since her eye only misaligned intermittently, but we understood the risk of loss of vision, if she did not have the surgery. 

Well, the day finally arrived:  June 24, 2010.

Shiley Eye Center called to schedule the check-in time the day before the surgery: 12:00pm. What? Noon? For a five year old? *eye roll* It is hard enough to have a child fast, but to have them fast through the night and not have any food for breakfast or lunch is ludicrous. I explained the situation to Gabriela and she was amazingly mature and understood the importance.
So, first challenge accepted and met. 
We arrived for the surgery and Gabriela gets dressed and ready.

She was in pretty good spirits, but eventually started to grow a little nervous.  Who wouldn't?  To alleviate some of her anxiety, as well as prep her for general anesthesia, the anesthesiologist gave her a dose of Versed. 

Welcome to the Purple Haze!   It took a few minutes, but she took a trip!  She even pulled her cap down over her face to hide.  I have three videos like this one, each one funnier than the next to me!  :)

So, Dr. Granet and the anesthesiologist came in to take her to the operating room.  Hard.  I cannot describe how my heart was in my throat as they were rolling her away. 
I'll take this minute to brag about Gabriela's doctor for a minute, plus show the surgery that she had.  Dr. Granet was featured on an episode of "The Doctors" explaining his specialty.  If you are squeamish, you may need to tune out of the following video when it cuts to the surgery portion.  It is really hard to see, but totally cool to see if you are curious about things of this nature.  Sidenote:  This is the same surgical procedure that Gabriela had, except Gabriela's eye muscles were tightened and the little girl in the video had her muscles weakened. 

"The Doctors-featuring Dr. David Granet"  (I tried to embed this video, but the code is hopelessly crap.)

So, hours pass.  Finally, around 4:00pm, Dr. Granet comes out to tell us that the surgery was a success!   He explained that he had purposely tightened the eye muscles so that the eyes would be (slightly) crossed.   He also reminded us that the recovery would be far more difficult than the first surgery.  We heard that, but I don't think we *understood* that.  We were about to understand it completely.
Here is Gabriela Mae, just out of surgery:  the calm before the storm.

As she started coming out of the anesthesia, she was inconsolable.  She couldn't open her eyes; partially because of the ointment and partially because of the pain of the stitches.  She was screaming and crying so hard, which exacerbated her dry throat from the oxygen.  She couldn't catch her breath.  :(  We finally got her calmed down enough to try to open her eyes.  (Now, the part that I get emotional over.)

She opened her eyes and looked straight at me, but didn't really "see" me.  There wasn't a look of recognition that came over her face.  There was fear and confusion.  It touched my very core.  She finally said, through sobbing heaves, "Mommy, there are two of you."  Then, she looked around the room and started to cry heavily again because she couldn't make sense of what she was seeing.  My heart hurt.

The doctor explained that the antibiotic ointment was obscuring her vision some, but that the crossed eyes were the root of the double vision.  When one crosses their eyes to see things that are close, only those things are in single focus.   Everything else is double vision and that is what she was seeing for EVERYTHING.   Over the next few days, ideally, her eyes would begin to work together and her field of (single) vision would go from inches to feet, feet to yards, etc. 

She was eventually stable enough to let me get her dressed and head home.  The ride home was pretty uneventful, as she slept the whole way.  I forgot to mention that her eyes are EXTREMELY sensitive to light, now. 

When we got home, the disorientation and crying started again.  Poor baby. 

Let me say one thing about my children: they love each other HARD.  They may argue and disagree, but an injury to one is felt among all of them.  I love them so much for their compassion and kindness and this was no exception.  They were truly hurting for Gabriela.  At one point, Daniel (6 year old) came up on the verge of tears and said, "I just want everything to go back to normal for Gaby."   Jake (12 year old) asked me if she was going to be ok and if there was anything that he could do help her get better.  Cristina just kept coming up and telling Gaby that her toys were waiting for her.  It was touching. 

Gaby-girl finally calmed enough for some Tylenol and an ice-pack, which began a 12 hour cycle of the two.  She slept on one couch, Rene slept on the other, and I slept in the chair with the ottoman pulled in front of it  I made countless ice packs during the night and arose at every movement she made. 
An amazing little thing happened during the night.  Our cats, who are typically aloof, *needed* to be near her.  They kept jumping on the couch and cozying up with her.  (They were, of course, quickly shooed away.)

When she woke, Friday morning, she could open her eyes without excruciating pain.  She did, however, still have a fair amount of double vision.  She was just not her normal self.  She did have a popsicle for breakfast.  It is so hard to see her with this flat affect. 

Time, Tylenol, and Ice were still the order for the day.  Gabriela was able to hold down some lunch and she started to look a little more like my Cha-cha.  She even played with the ZhuZhu babies that she picked out to open after her surgery.  My friend, Karol, dropped by to surprise Gaby with all of the fixings for a banana split. 

She made it by herself!  My independent little lady!  (Another sign that she was feeling better.)

Her double vision was pretty much gone by Saturday afternoon, except for extreme distances.  Finally, by Sunday morning, my sparkly little girl came back. She was smiling and happy.

Yes, that is my wild woman!   I obviously didn't fuss with her hair during this time.  :)
As further proof that she was doing better and back to her normal self, I received this validation: 
My response?   Easy.  I love my Gaby, because she is a good girl!  :)
P.S.  This is officially the longest blog post that I have *ever* created. 


Renee Lamb said...

What a emotional and touching post. I'm glad to see the surgery was a success and your little Gaby is on her way to recovery. It's always tough to see your kids in pain and not be able to do much to help. big hugs to you!

Jill/Twipply Skwood said...

Your children sound wonderful and so caring. I can't imagine how hard that must have been. So glad she's okay!

Wingnut said...

First off...I'm so glad she's doing well! She had her surgery on my son's 12th birthday. He's had to rounds of visit to the OR for dental work, which is far from the level of surgery your daughter had. But, I loved the Versed fun :P I think every parent should be allowed to dose their child with Versed once or twice in the child's young life. It doesn't make a very tough situation a little lighter if only momentarily. :)

Heidi said...

Wow. Your story touched my heart. My mommy heart hurt for you just reading it. You did good. And I'm so glad she is feeling better. I also want to say that with the possibility of this in my future, it is nice to read a btdt, so I don't feel so alone. ((Hugs))