5:30 a.m., April 5, 2002 we headed for Ann Arbor. Carly was the first case of the day for her heart surgeon. The surgery was to start at 7 a.m. It was a very scary day. We filled the pre-op waiting room with our family of 5 and also my brother and sister in-law along with my parents and Paul’s mom. We sat and tried to chat with each other, but the mood was quite somber. Finally, we were called. The nurses allowed our whole group to walk that terrible walk back to surgery. Along the walk, we met Carly’s surgeon in the hall. He stopped and talked briefly to us and told us he was still very optimistic. This surgeon is one classy man. Here it was, 6:45 a.m. and he was walking the halls in a three-piece suit.
One of the hardest things I have ever done in my life was hand my tiny three-month-old baby over to the anesthesiologist and his nurse. There wasn’t a dry eye around as we told Carly that we loved her and kissed her numerous times. As I handed my daughter over, my knees would buckle, yet again. Paul and my mom caught me before hitting the floor. I was scared to death that I had just said goodbye to my daughter forever. We had no idea what the outcome of the surgery would hold. We prayed, hard.
We then headed to the pediatric surgical waiting room. We would be getting updates throughout the day. Surgery was supposed to last 5-6 hrs. Our first update came and was very promising. The second update was not looking so good. The surgical nurse said they were having a hard time constructing the mitral valve. The surgeon was concerned that there wasn’t going to be enough tissue. The fear was, they would have to close her up. The nurse said she would be back in an hour or so to give us another update.
So, we waited. For what seemed like hours. It wasn’t, but it sure did feel that way at the time. I caught a glimpse of the surgeon literally bouncing down the hallway and smiling ear to ear. I knew right then we had success!! He told us it was concerning, but that he was finally able to construct the valve and it was working properly! I jumped from the seat I was in and hugged this doctor so tight. I thanked him over and over. He did however tell us that the next 72 hours were very critical for Carly. Her lungs were very sick from her heart defect. They needed some major healing.
Around 11pm the nurses talked Paul and I into heading to our room at the Med Inn. It’s a hotel for family that is attached to UofM and Mott’s Children’s Hospital. We went, but I wasn’t really for it. I wanted to stay by Carly’s bedside. We got up to our room and Paul went to sleep quickly. I finally drifted off sometime around 12:30.
At 1:30 our phone rang in our room. We both knew what that meant. Something was wrong with Carly. Paul answered and was told that we needed to get to the ICU quickly. We dressed and headed out. Neither of us really remember going through the 3 long corridors that led to the ICU. We were running, we do remember that. Nothing could have prepared us for what we saw as we burst through those ICU doors. One nurse straddled over the gurney massaging Carly’s heart. Nurses running all over grabbing this and that per 6 different doctor’s orders. We were quickly ushered into a tiny consult room and told a doctor would be shortly and for us to call family. We were also told the Chaplain would be in soon.
To be continued…
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