Under the Knife

Andrew had his surgery today. You may remember his sleep study showed severe sleep apnea. A diagnosis of laryngomalacia was given and today the surgery was to correct that.

Going in we knew that there would be at least one surgery for sure and a list of possible others. The possibles would be assessed after a scope of the airway was done. The doc was unclear as to whether the tonsils and adenoids needed to come out. That was one of the possible “others.”

We had to be up very early to make the trek down to the hospital. I really never understood why they tell you to be there so early. We had a 7:30 arrival for a 9:30 surgery, which was moved to 9:45, then 10, and I think we finally were back in the OR by 10:30.

Sam’s aunt came over and watched Ella for us while we were there. We were very grateful for her coming at the last minute. Some other family issues came up that forced us to change plans.

We had smooth sailing all the way to the hospital. Once we were checked in, the waiting began. There were plenty of people in the waiting room – kids and adults.

Andrew is not a patient kid. He likes to be walking or running or exploring. He is not going to sit still. So, Sam and I took him and walked around the halls a bit while we waited to get to the prep room.

Once in the prep room, he was gowned up and the Child Life folks brought in some toys. They kept him occupied for a short time, but he hated being confined to the room.

They told us that there were some wagons/cars in the hallway and eventually I walked him through the halls.

By this time he was exhausted from the early morning wake up and he fell asleep on Sam.

I was the one who went with him to the OR, so they could put him under. They brought me one of those white “bunny suit” gowns to wear in the OR. They did this for me when Ella had her ear tubes, too. This time, thanks to my 40+ pound weight loss, I could actually zip it up!!

Sam passed him to me so I could take him down. I had hoped that since he was sleeping, they could just put the mask on him and he’d stay asleep. He didn’t. He woke up and I held him while they put him under.

After the scope, the doc came out to say they were just going to do the one surgery because the tonsils and adenoids looked ok. After that surgery, he came back out and asked if he choked on his food or drink. Lately, he had been doing this, so we said yes. He found a small abnormality that he was able to fix while he was still under.

The doc came out afterward to say that all went good and it would be about 30-40 minutes before we could go back to see him. While we waited Sam got a text saying that he was doing well in the recovery room. We continued to wait.

Finally, they let us back. If you have never seen a child waking up from anesthesia, it is not pretty. When Ella woke from her “twilight” she was head butting, fighting and screaming like we have never seen her before. Andrew was similar, but he was mostly squirming and screaming. It was not easy to see him that way. Nothing seemed to calm him down.

They wasted no time getting us up to our room, which was already set for us. The nurses on the floor were a bit surprised that they didn’t keep us down there longer, but we all rolled with it. Andrew eventually fell asleep on Sam and that extra sleep helped him a lot.

Sam noticed that they must have had a difficult time getting an IV. He had two pokes in both hands, and the IV was in his foot. Not that it mattered much – he pulled the IV out when he woke up. We thought they were going to have to put a new one in, but the nurse said if we could get him to drink some fluids, we may not have to do that.

Well, the poor kid hadn’t had anything to eat or drink since 9pm the night before. So when he was handed a sippy cup, he drank from it. When handed a popsicle, he chowed it down. When he was offered Jello, he ate it like it was a gourmet meal! No need for another IV!!

He had three EKG leads on him to monitor his heart. He also had a pulse oximeter on his toe to watch oxygen levels. These basically had him tied to the room. He didn’t want to just sit. He didn’t want the equipment on him either. He promptly starting ripping those things off. We pressed the nurse call button and waited for 30 minutes. Finally we just took him to the hallways to walk.

He squirmed in our arms, so we let him walk on his own, which led to him running through the halls and into rooms. Sam and I got our steps in today. It had to be a sight watching us chase him around!!

We’re glad the surgery is over and now we wait to see if this helps with his sleep. Next step is his echocardiogram next week to see if the apnea has caused any damage to his heart. We pray that all is ok.

Friday Photo Flashback

This is a “feature” I started a couple weeks ago with a Daily Writing Prompt. It’s been fun to find a photo to write about each week. I stumbled on a picture this week I didn’t know I had. It was one that I hadn’t scanned yet and it features one of the bravest and strongest young men I have ever met.

The photo above was taken during our first St. Jude Radiothon at B95. The young man on the right is Kyle. If I had to guess he is about 10 years old here. We are in center court of our local mall raising money for kids with cancer.

The St. Jude Radiothon was one of the most emotional and satisfying things I have ever done. I loved having the station out in public broadcasting live. Today, they do this all from the studio, but back then it was something really special.

The hardest thing for me was listening to the various pre-recorded stories of families who had both happy and sad outcomes connected to their visit to St. Jude. Not crying in public was quite difficult at times, but the radiothon was a rollercoaster of smiles and tears.

Our St. Jude reps would connect us to families in the area that had been to St. Jude to share their stories of hope. Knowing that local people were helped by St. Jude helped us raise money for our cause. I was happy to interview Kyle and his mother Vicky during my shift during that first radiothon all those years ago.

We’d meet other children, too, from year to year, but Kyle was the first one I met and holds a special place in my heart. His mother shared the story of how they discovered Kyle was sick as an infant. His first surgery was at 6 months old. He has since had at least 15 surgeries. She shared their story and stories of the people that helped them at St. Jude.

As I look at this picture it seems that I am listening to Vicky, who is obviously not in the picture. She is probably right across from me. Looking at the photo, it is easy to get distracted by the equipment in it. The microphones and microphone stands were obviously lifted right out of the on air studios. One thing I noticed that I am wearing glasses. I had Lasik surgery around 2000, so I’m guessing the photo is from 1999 or early 2000.

I see the three ring binder which played a very important part of the radiothon. Each day had a folder. In the folder were all of the cue sheets for the recorded pieces we’d be playing on air. The basket the folder is sitting on is what our reps would put notes in. Those notes could be pledges (Bill from Flint is a Partner in Hope, Bob from Burton gave $500, and Flint Police have raised $3000), challenges (Steve from Saginaw will match all donations for the next 20 minutes, Nick has challenged all parents with baseball players to make a pledge), and notes about things that needed to be promoted or upcoming guests, or hourly tallies.

This photo brings back so many memories of a time when radio was fun to do. This was an event that made a difference and I was proud to be a part of it. I don’t recall how much money we raised that year, but knowing that it would help with research to find a cure for childhood cancer, it meant a lot to all of us.

Over the years, I have been lucky enough to still be in contact with Vicky and Kyle. As I have already stated, Kyle is one of the bravest and strongest young men I know. He’s had chemo, radiation and more! He’s had so many surgeries – as a matter of fact, he is currently recovering from another recent surgery and doing well. He’ll have another one coming up in a few months.

Knowing that the picture above is over 20 years old, it shouldn’t surprise me that Kyle will be turning 33 this year, he’s not the young boy in the photo anymore. This is really amazing, especially since they didn’t expect him to live long as a baby. He is a hero to me – a true hero. Knowing Kyle and his family has been a blessing for me.

A lot of time has passed since that radiothon. A lot of money has been raised, and many breakthroughs and treatments have been discovered and created to help kids with cancer. Somewhere in my pile of photos, I have a picture with our entire radio staff and Kyle holding a guitar from our final tally that day. I will have to find it and add it to this post in the future, or maybe I should just do another Friday Photo Flashback.

Ice On. Ice Off.

I debated whether or not to write about this. Then I realized that I’ve already shared quite a bit of personal stuff with you already, so what’s one more thing?

As I stated in my previous blog, I am home recovering from a minor surgical procedure (Somewhere hidden in this blog is a hint as to what procedure). I was discharged a few hours after it was finished and told to go home and rest. Specifically, lay in bed for 48-72 hours and keep activity to a minimum.

One of the hardest parts of the discharge is no heavy lifting. When I asked the doc to define heavy lifting, he said no more than 15 pounds. Well, AJ is 17 pounds, so I can’t even lift him up! Because of this, Sam has been running ragged all week!

I usually help with dishes and laundry, but I haven’t been able to help with anything! It’s driving me nuts! I just want to be up and moving. I want to help. Sam keeps yelling at me to get back to bed. She knows that if I overdue it, she’ll be rushing me to ER or something. Lol.

I am up about every 20 minutes. The reason is that I have to ice the area for 20 minutes, then remove the ice for 20 minutes, then ice it again for 20 minutes. It’s pretty crazy. This is supposed to be keeping the swelling down.

Sam bought a couple ice packs for me and also a couple bags of frozen peas. I guess these work well as ice packs….who knew?! So every 20 minutes, I get up and grab an ice pack or frozen peas and return to my bed.

It’s absolutely killing me that I can’t pick up the kids! I love holding AJ and walking around the house singing to him. I love picking up Ella and rough housing with her. She loves when I throw her on our bed. It will be a week or so before I can so either. It also means I will need help when Sam goes back to work, as I can’t lift either to get them into their beds.

Ella knows that daddy has a boo boo and has to stay in bed. She comes over to the bedroom doorway and says, “Hi daddy. What doing?”. That makes me smile. I tell her I’m looking at my beautiful little girl and she says, “Ok” and goes back out to the living room. Sometimes I can coax her into coming up to the edge of the bed and giving me a kiss before she walks away.

I have a portable DVD player that I use for my classes which I felt might be on the verge of dying. It may have. I set it up to watch a DVD and it won’t play.

We have a DVD player and a TV on the dresser in our room, but we haven’t used it in forever. I hunted down some batteries for the remotes, and got it working. So while Sam was off doing something for work, I sat at watched a few shows in preparation for my next pick for the TV Show Draft.

Let me say, Sam has been absolutely amazing. She has been on the go since I’ve been home. It is difficult enough to juggle the needs of two little ones, and then you factor in that her big, dumb husband is laid up in bed needing her every once in a while. She has treated me like a king (bringing me food, drink, and ice) and also like a peasant – yelling at me to get back in bed when I am doing something I’m not supposed to.

She actually said to me last night that I’m doing better than she had expected. I asked her what she meant. She reminded me of just how awful I am when I get sick. If I have a “man cold” or the flu, well, I’m kind of unbearable. Everything hurts. I get weak and am – a big baby!

She really anticipated me moaning and groaning in bed and acting like a baby after this. I guess I have been tolerable. Is there pain? Yes. Is there swelling? Yes. Is it sometimes difficult to walk? Yes. Is using the bathroom a challenge? YES! But, I’m getting through it.

By Saturday or Sunday, I should be almost 100%. I should have little pain and be able to walk around fine. I will be able to drive and by Tuesday, I’ll be back to work. I will still have to be careful with how much I lift, which stinks, but it won’t be long and I’ll be throwing Ella on the bed again.

Thanks for reading….

Your friend, Snipsey Russell.

That was “interesting” … and uncomfortable!

Remember a while ago when I blogged about working midnights? Yesterday was an example of just what kind of toll it can take on a person when you don’t get a lot of sleep. Let me tell you about it.

Because I wanted to make sure I spent some time with Ella for her birthday, my sleep consisted of naps Thursday. On a typical day, the amount of sleep I got would get me through the night at work and through the drive home. Once home, I could just go right to bed.

Last night, my patient was a difficult one. Not difficult as far as personality or anything like that, but difficult in the sense of “challenging.” The study was one that kept me on my toes and busy all night. By the time I was ready to clock out, I was exhausted and ready to go home.

Sam knew that I had limited sleep and she called me to make sure I was ok to drive home. Around 7:50am, another call beeped in. I saw on the Caller ID that the Hospital was calling me. In a fog, I put Sam on hold and answered it. “Is this Mr. Keith?” the voice asked me. I told her it was me and she told me that I had missed my appointment.

At that moment, the midnight guy in me came out as I realized it was not Thursday anymore (despite the fact that in my mind it was), but Friday. I had scheduled a Covid Test for Friday morning, because I have a minor surgery coming up on Tuesday. “Oh my gosh, it is Friday! I am so sorry!” I told the woman on the line. She asked if I could still make it, because they could find a way to squeeze me in.

The problem was that I was almost home and a good hour away from where I had scheduled the test! I asked if I could do it the Saturday morning, but that would be too late. It had to be done this morning. Now I begin to panic. I panic because I have already planned transportation, took time off work, and got everything in order so that I can get this surgery done. No Covid test – no surgery.

The gal explained that if I go to any urgent care and have it done, they will usually email results. The problem is, because I am not having symptoms, they may charge me. So that is out. I remembered that there was a Beaumont Urgent Care about 30-45 minutes away (which is a little closer) and that if they did it, the results would be readily available in my chart for the docs to see. I wouldn’t have to worry about printing off an email or getting a piece of paper with results to bring with me to the surgery. The gal said that it should be ok to go there. So I jump off Northbound I-75 and get back on Southbound I-75 and head to the urgent care.

While the roads weren’t terrible, it was a slow go because of the snow that came down this morning. By the time I turned around and headed south, the roads seemed to be more wet than slippery. Luckily, they were able to get me in as a “walk in” and there was no one waiting. I would say I was there about 20 minutes – tops.

I’m not sure if it was the panic I had experienced earlier or what, but despite being exhausted, I actually felt awake. The nurse took my blood pressure (which was spot on – 122/81) and then the PA came in. He looked in the nose and throat, listened to my lungs, and then said they’d be in to swab.

This was my first Covid swab and up until now I only know what I have read from people who had it done. I wasn’t sure what to expect. The gal came in and asked me to put my head back and she began to swab.

When she finished with the first nostril I thought, “That wasn’t so bad.” It wasn’t until she did the other nostril that I really felt anything weird. I’m not even sure “weird” describes it well. Was there any pain? No. It tickled like crazy and immediately brought tears to my eyes. I was stumped as to why I didn’t get that sensation after the first nostril was done. Once my eyes started watering and the swab was removed I started feeling something even stranger. I am not sure I can explain it.

Burning? No. Tickling? A bit. Itching? I wouldn’t call it that, although I had to pinch my nose and tweek it so the feeling would go away. It was almost like a sneeze without the sneeze. It was just bizarre! Maybe you can help me describe it better. If so, please chime in!

By the time I got home it was after 10am. I don’t have to tell you that once my head hit the pillow I was out cold. What a morning!

So now I wait. As of 5pm today, no results yet. I’m not worried, as I have no symptoms, but I’ll keep on checking …

Tympanostomy Success!

Thursday we were up early and took Ella in for her surgery. She had her Tympanostomy (the fancy medical term for “tubes in the ears”) done and it was a success. It was probably the fastest surgery I ever waited through!

Sam got the call Wednesday night that the surgery was scheduled for 9:40 Thursday morning. She was told to be there two hours prior. We live an hour from the hospital, so it was an early wake up for all of us. We had hoped that Ella might just fall back asleep on the way down, but that didn’t happen. She wasn’t allowed to have anything to eat or drink after 10pm, so we were worried that she would be very cranky and hungry when we got there that early.

We arrived at 7:30am and checked in. The gal at check in kept giving us the “stank eye,” and it didn’t take long for us to figure out why. Whoever called us was supposed to tell us to arrive at 9:40. I know exactly what this gal was thinking, because I feel the same way when patients arrive an hour early for their sleep study.

It worked out to our benefit, or so we thought, because they ended up calling us back to Pre-Op early because two patients had not showed up. Naturally, they showed up late and threw everything off in the back. Factor in there was an emergency during one of the operations that slowed everything down for everyone else, and the wait became VERY long. Thankfully, we brought plenty of stuff for Ella to do while we waited.

I love the gown they put her in. It had all kinds of cartoon fishes on it. Despite being hungry, she did really well. She started to cry when the nurses came into the Pre-Op room, but I think that is just her associating nurses to shots. They brought in one of those hair nets and a zip up body gown for one of us to go back to the OR with her while they put her under.

Sam was naturally worried and upset about her having surgery, even though she knew it would be an easy one. I decided I would go back with her. I’ve never seen anyone go under, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect. So when the doc finally came in to check paperwork and such, I was told to get ready so they could take her back.

Funny visual. The zip up gown is all white. I put my legs into this thing and could immediately tell that this thing was not meant for fat guys like me to wear! I was able to zip it up about half way to belly and the zipper totally popped off! Sam and I chuckled and I just threw that silly net over my head. Unless they had a gown sized “tent,” this was the way I was going into the OR!

When it was time for us to go, I was actually surprised that she let me take her. She’s been such a mama’s girl lately. She kissed Sam as she came to me and I could see her tearing up. It was a short walk to the OR and they had me lay her on the table. She was already upset. I held her and sang to her as they put the mask on and she drifted off to sleep.

Tympanum with tube in left lower quadrant. This will help drainage of fluid behind the eardrum and help prevent further ear infections.

It took me about 2 minutes to get back to the Pre-Op room to get Sam. It took another 2-3 minutes for us to get to the waiting room. We hadn’t been sitting down but maybe 5-6 minutes and the doc came out to tell us she was done and that all went well. It was probably less than 5 minutes and they took us back to recovery where she was coming out of the anesthesia.

In all honesty, that was the worst part. They warned us that kids tend to cry a lot when they come out of it, and she was. One of the nurses was holding her when we went back, and they immediately handed her to Sam. She calmed down a little, but you could tell the anesthesia was still wearing off. We stayed back there about 30 minutes and we were free to go.

She was very snuggly when we got home, as we expected. By the end of the night, she was back to her old self. She was so happy and chatty this morning when she woke up. She ate a big breakfast, and played a lot. Nana came by with a little present for her, an easel/chalk board to draw on. She’s been all about sidewalk chalk lately and we’ve kept it outside. Now, however, the chalk is indoors. This means that the couch will have plenty of chalk on it until we can make sure she knows it goes on the chalk board.

Pondering just what to draw on the chalkboard ……

When Ella was born, she did not pass her hearing test as a newborn. Later, she did pass it, but they said that the ear that did not pass the first time would be prone to ear infections. When we saw the ENT, he told us that the ear drum wasn’t really moving like it should and that the tubes will not only help with ear infections, but with that, too. They told us that sounds would be a little more noticeable for her now, and things that didn’t used to bother her, may for a few days. I’m guessing with both ears hearing well, she will begin to talk more and more.

I know it was a very easy and routine surgery, but I was still thankful that it all went well.