The day of Ellie’s surgery we arrived at the hospital at 6am prepared to be the first surgical case of the day even though we were scheduled for later that afternoon. The hospital has all cardiac surgical patients arrive at the same time and everyone is checked in together. Easier for the nurses, then everyone is ready if something happens, and allows for a waiting room in which the anxiety can almost be seen floating through the air. The day of surgery Ellie could not eat or drink and could not have any medication. Ellie has been on lasix, sometimes referred to as water pills, to decrease the amount of fluid in her body giving her heart less work, since she was 4 weeks old. Prior to surgery they had increased her dose to 3 times a day. The highest dose possible before adding another type of medication. The morning of surgery, I held Ellie for hours as she drifted in and out of sleep. I thought Ellie must sense I’m stressed and is giving me a gift of perfect cuddles. She’s not even crying although she must be so hungry. Maybe so, but as the days since surgery have gone by and I’ve seen the improvement in her overall well being I realize why Ellie was so calm the day of her surgery: no medication. Ellie is a calm and happy baby, but being relaxed and serene in a hospital room with no food is a bit beyond the scope of her good behaviour. That morning I was witnessing how much Ellie had been struggling and how much she needed surgery. She lay in my arms completely exhausted, not a cry or a laugh, not even drinking water when they said she could have a sip. So although part of me still thinks she was giving me what I needed on a scary day, I also see that part of that gift was the realization of how we could have lost her if they hadn’t fixed her heart when they did, so I will never look back and think we operated too soon. Ellie’s energy level these days is pretty remarkable. On Thursday she had what will hopefully be her last dose of lasix, it has slowly been decreased since we got home. I’m not throwing it away just yet, it sits on my medicine cabinet and reminds me that we will remain cautious for a little while longer. I can remember the day Ellie’s cardiologist wrote out our prescription for lasix, how I couldn’t imagine giving such a small baby regular doses of medication. And then on Friday as I stared at her medicine bottle I felt nervous not giving her a dose. This morning I watched our strong little girl smiling on her tummy, pink little checks, no catch of breath, no pause to rest, only long deep breaths with the hint of a laugh.
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