Today has been one of the longest and most emotionally stressful of my life. I have broken it up into chunks to make it easier to share.
It began at 6.15am when the alarm went off to wake us up. I had been awake from around 4am thinking about today and wanting it to be over and Chris to be ok. As Chris was ‘Nil By Mouth’ from midnight we didn’t bother with any breakfast and simply checked out of our room and drove to the hospital.
On arrival we had to wait for Sally, the Lead Paediatric Nurse, to come and take us up to the ward and the room Chris would be staying in for the next week. The room was big with lots of windows and a great view of a tower crane (they are currently building a new hospital on the same site).
Sally explained that there would be lots of people coming in to see Chris in the hour before surgery. They would be:
- The anesthetist
- The two surgeons – Mr Conlan and Mr Crawford
- The spinal cord monitoring specialist
- The ‘Theatre Manager’ (as in operating theatre!)
The first to arrive was the anesthetist, Mr Dean Frear. He asked Chris if he had any questions and then explained again how Chris would be given the anesthetic and what pain relief he would have when he came round after surgery. This included a ‘pain pump’ that Chris could control and self-dose if he needed more pain relief.
The next to appear was the spinal cord monitoring specialist. He explained that he would be attaching electrodes to Chris that would monitor the signals passing up and down his spinal cord while he was in surgery. This helps the surgeons to ensure that the work they are doing to move the spine is not compromising the spinal cord in any way. He attached some electrodes to Chris’ ankles and his head and then took some readings to give him a base level of what was ‘normal’ for Chris.
While he was taking these readings the two surgeons, Mr Conlan and Mr Crawford appeared, both looking very relaxed and confident. They asked if we had any last minute questions and when we said no they said they’d see him in the operating theatre.
Our lovely nurse Sally was popping in and out during all of this and then came the moment I’d been dreading – she asked Chris to change out of his clothes into the operating gown. He changed in the bathroom and came back in just as another member of the surgical team arrived – the theatre manager. He was great – very friendly and chatty, asking Chris if he liked football and who he supported. Then suddenly he said “right let’s get this show on the road – are you ready mate?” Chris said “Yes” and they all started to walk out of the bedroom.
I quickly gave him a hug and a kiss and said “See you soon!” and they walked off down the corridor to the operating theatre. As soon as I turned back into the bedroom the tears came and I had yet another quick sob at the thought of what was about to happen to my gorgeous boy. Steve reappeared quite quickly and said Chris had gone off to sleep very easily and happily and that all we could do now was wait. We were given an estimate of around 6 hours for the whole procedure and Chris went into theatre about 8.30am, so if all went to plan he would be back in recovery at about 2.30pm.
Sally came back into the room and asked if we were ok and would we like a cup of tea! I said yes that would be lovely as it would give me a few minutes to compose myself again. She also gave us some suggestions of what to do and where to go for the next 6 hours while Chris was having surgery. Apparently there is a large garden centre close to the hospital which has a very nice cafe so I think we will go there first.