Friday, July 9, 2010

Day of Surgery

This morning we got up at 4:45 am to take Santiago to Children's Memorial Hermann Hospital for his second surgery for right coronal craniosynostosis.  He had a procedure called cranioplasty with total forehead reconstruction.  I have been dreading this day but now that we are almost through it, I am so thankful that it is done.  Santiago was awake this morning when we arrived at the hospital at 5:30 am. I was hoping he would stay asleep on the ride to the hospital from Bianca's house but that didn't work out.  He was a happy boy and was very excited to see both sets of grandparents in the waiting room before we were called back.  He giggled and played a little and wanted to ride on my mom's back.  They called us back to the pre-op area at about 6:00 am and we changed Santiago into a hospital gown here.  Several nurses, the anesthesiologist, and one of our surgeons, Dr. T, came to visit with us. We had to answer many of the same questions with each person that came in but I was thankful that they were being thorough.  Santiago weighed 29 lbs 8 ounces this morning before surgery.  They tried to measure how tall he was with a tape measure but it wasn't long enough to get his actual height.  I guess maybe they measured him accurately when they took him away.  While we were waiting, Hector said a prayer for Santi as we held him tight.  At 7:05 the anesthesia nurse brought in a liquid medicine for Santiago to take.  They let me hold Santi and give him the meds.  This medicine within a couple minutes had Santi smiling and waving all cute-like to the nurse and cuddling with me.  Then after about 10 minutes his little body began to get heavier and he was getting drowsy - still with a smile on his face.  After 15 minutes, the team of nurses came to take him away.  I had to hand Santiago over to a nurse named Katie who he went to without a fuss.  Hector and I kissed him and told him we loved him and watched them take him away.  They promised to take good care of him and as soon as they walked out, I pretty much fell into Hector's arms and we cried.  We hugged for quite awhile before we left the pre-op area to head to the waiting room.  They told us it would take about an hour to get Santiago prepped for surgery and put under.  Sure enough, they called to tell us that they began surgery at 8:31.  Now the waiting and the praying began.  They promised to give us hourly updates and nurse Katie did a great job of that.  The only time any of us left the waiting room was to walk around and stretch our legs, to go to the restroom, or to get something to eat.  They called or a nurse stopped by to give us updates every hour almost to the minute.  The first update we were informed that Santiago is a sweet happy boy who didn't even cry when they began the anesthesia process and pre-op.  The second update came by phone and we were informed that Dr. B, our neurosurgeon had begun his part and that it was going to take about 30-45 minutes.  At  10:27, Dr. B came in and informed us that he was finished and he explained to us how he took the forehead and brow bones off and Dr. T is beginning the reconstruction process.  Dr. B explained a little to us about what usually happens with the microscopic procedure that Santiago had done at 7 weeks old and how it is supposed to allow the forehead and eye brow bone to come all the way out but with Santi it didn't.  That is why we needed this second procedure.  At 11:30 Nurse Katie called and told us that Santi was still doing well and that Dr. T was still working on reconstruction and that hopefully within the next hour he would be finished as well.  At 12:41, Dr. T came in and called our entire family back to this little private room and explained how everything went.  He told us that he had to take apart and put Santiago's bones back together 4 times before he was completely happy with the end result.  He also explained some more about how the first procedure wasn't able to completely fix our problem.  He seemed to be completely happy with the outcome of this surgery. He said he was exhausted!  He had to fill in a section of bone that never filled in on its own from the first surgery.  I could feel this little gap in his bones when I washed his hair right above his right ear.  If we would not have done this second surgery, Dr. T said he would always have this "defect."  With this surgery, Santiago was open with a zigzag incision from right behind one ear to the other.  They cut on top of his previous two small incisions so he won't have any new scarring - just one really big one. Dr. T had to put a piece of bone behind his right brow bone to hold it forward and recontruct his forehead to make his face more symmetrical.  This in turn straightened his nose which I never really noticed was apparently a little crooked. After Dr. T left us, we had to wait about 20 minutes before they called us back to recovery to see Santiago.  They had to wake him up from anesthesia and make sure he was comfortable.  Hector and I held hands and were relieved that we didn't hear him crying when we opened the doors. That's what happened with the first surgery.  When we walked back to wear he was, the anesthesiologist was holding him and she immediately said "Who's Nana?" and I said it was me.  He still calls me Nana instead of Mama! She said he was pointing his finger and asking for me. I was so relieved to see him. He has a big bandage on his head and his eyes were a bit swollen but very minimal.  We were expecting worse.  Hector and I both cried again.  As I was holding him, the nurses and anesthesiologist were trying to get some blood from him so they could run some tests.  The IV that they were working with was not working and as I continued to watch them try to get the blood they needed as they flushed the tube and tried again and again I began to feel a little queasy and pins and needles began coming all over my arms and legs.  I finally looked up at Hector and those nurses and told them I didn't feel well. Long story short - I almost passed out. Hector had to take Santiago and they had to put me on a stretcher, feed me crackers and apple juice.  I hadn't eaten lunch yet and the stress, emotions and low sugar level got the best of me.  I think this is the closest I have ever gotten to fainting and I have had a few close calls in the past. 

After I felt better and everyone was able to come in and see Santi, they moved us to the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) .  We will be here at least one night.  That's it for now.  I'll write again soon when I can. Thank you for all your love, prayers and support.


  1. Thank you for the details. Your post brought tears to my eyes and a big ball to my throat. I just read this out loud to John. We are so thankful the surgery went well. Love to you and your families.

  2. Thank you for sharing this difficult day with us. It's good to hear how happy Santi was, even just before surgery. I noticed on facebook he had already asked for pop-pops. What a great sign!

  3. So glad all went well. Praise the Lord.

  4. Uhhg, the BIGGEST hurdle is over, you all must be emotional wrecks! So happy to hear your little guy is doing well, we were thinking about and praying for Santi on the day of his surgery. Hang in there!