Patrick took a shower, dried with a clean towel, and then used the pre-operation wipes supplied by the hospital. Wipes that help limit infections. We headed to bed knowing neither of us would be sleeping well. He, because of the surgery and I, because I would be thinking about him and rocking a sick baby. Another restless night with our youngest meant that when it was time to get up and get dressed and head to the hospital at five O'clock in the morning, I was still dog tired. My oldest sister stayed at our house, so the girls would not be disturbed. We left, it was still dark outside. It was a pretty quiet ride to the hospital. We parked in the day surgery parking lot and headed up the elevator to check in. Once we got Patrick to the room, he changed into his hospital gown and they started an I.V. It was there that we hugged each other so tightly. It had been several days since we had the chance to hug or kiss as the girls and I have been extremely sick. In order to keep Patrick healthy we limited contact. We waited and each doctor came in to visit with us before the surgery. Each doctor took my cell phone number and promised to call with updates. Dr. D. sent a chaplain in, as he does with all of his surgery patients, to pray with us. My older sister joined us. It seemed like the two hour waiting time flew by and before I knew it, Patrick was wheeled away. My sister and I headed down the cafe to grab a bite to eat and have a coffee. It was going to be a long wait.
Just an hour and a half into surgery and a nurse came out to tell us that they started at 8:30 and every had gone smoothly so far. While we waited I placed a call to the pediatrician to get some medication for our youngest as she was developing the same symptoms our oldest had. We visited with the staff in the E.D., made phone calls, read magazines... I found that I couldn't do anything that required too much thought as my mind was already racing.
Around noon some friends brought us a delicious lunch. Then, I dodged home to see the girls for a bit and take a nap. On our way, Dr. D. called to say that he had finished with his portion and everything went smoothly. It was now time for Dr. V. to complete the operation. By this point my retinas were burning and I knew I needed to get some rest. Thankfully, the almost two hour nap was perfect. Just what I needed. We darted back to the hospital to the family waiting room and received a call from the nurse who would be taking care of Patrick in the ICU. He gave Dr. V.'s number and told me to give him a buzz in 20 minutes. I did. No answer. My sister called and found out he was moved to ICU East, so we headed there. We were told Patrick was actually transferred to ICU West. Once there, we were told to wait in the waiting room while they finished transferring him. Dr. D's fellow and the anesthesiologist spoke with my sister and I while we waited. They told us that everything had gone really well, but that while he was being moved from the operating table to the hospital bed, his nasal intubation tube was pulled out which meant Patrick had to be intubated via tracheostomy immediately.
I prepared myself to see Patrick engulfed in wires. Knowing I have a weak stomach, Patrick made me promise that I would have my sister wheel me in while sitting in a wheelchair as to prevent me from passing out. Surprisingly enough, I didn't get light headed, not in the slightest. Patrick's nurse, a friend, went over what all the tubes were and what kind of things he would be doing to take care of him. I shed a few tears at the sight because I was sad that Patrick was going through all of this. He has a scar nearly across his whole neck where they removed the lymph nodes. His tongue was so swollen, it wouldn't fit in his mouth. A cast covered his left arm to keep the site where they removed the skin flap and vein for the reconstruction. There is a bloodied 2 X 2 inch square on his left thigh where they took the graft to use as a cover for the flap site. He had a tracheostomy and ventilator. A feeding tube was sutured to his nasal cavity. There are drains exiting his arm and neck to allow fluid to drain from surgical sites. All that along with monitors meant he was covered in tubes and lines. I sat by his bed and held his hand. A little time had passed and Patrick opened his eyes and started pulling his arms up in the air. He wanted to be awake. A bit more medication and he was back down to resting comfortably. It quickly came to be seven O'clock and visitors are not allowed when shift change comes. I told him I loved him and that I would be back in the morning. I didn't want to leave, but my two babes required a bit of my attention before bed. We met his next nurse, who as it turns out Patrick knew, and were on our way. I was woken by sick babies all night, and each time before I would fall back asleep, I just kept picturing Patrick with his eyes bugged out, wanting to wake up. The next day would reveal how much of a fighter he truly is.