Monday, August 3, 2015

Getting Real {Pre-Op Palate Repair}

I've tried to remain as much in denial as I possibly could, for as long as I possibly could, about the rapid rate at which we are arriving to the date set for Hannah's palate repair.  I hate this for her.  The pain, the drugs, the night terrors, the recovery, the trauma, the fear....all of it.  I hate that she is facing this.  But, I am also so glad.  I am eager to put it behind us, get on with recovery, and have surgery in our rear view mirror for some time (until the next one in a few years....).  This is likely going to be by far the worst of all the surgeries she will face in her lifetime related to her cleft.  We want to protect her from it, but we know the benefit far outweighs the period of misery we will all face.  We cannot wait to get rolling with speech therapy and hear all her current language start to burst forth with more clarity and less frustration from being misunderstood.

Today things got real.  My denial ended.  I got my first of two pre-op telephone calls from the hospital.  It is really happening.  We are really moving forward.  Today's call was the pre-operative anesthesia telephone call and review of her previous surgical experience and planning ahead for this one.  We feel confident we have advocated for her needs and made every effort possible to reduce the chances for new trauma to emerge.

I've had a lot of people recently ask me for details about this particular surgery and what it will accomplish.  This surgery, like her previous one in April, is going to work at closing her cleft.  Last time we addressed the cleft in her lip.  This time we will address the cleft in her palate (both hard and soft palate).  We are hopeful there will be no complications and the cleft will be successfully closed.  This will not close the opening in her gum line.  This opening will be closed at a later date with an additional surgery and will involve bone grafting.
As you can see inside her mouth, her cleft is wide and there is very little palate.  At the end of the procedure on Friday, this should be closed completely.

We are told to prepare for this to be a challenging recovery.  She will be on a restricted diet for several weeks until the palate has time to heal and the risk of fistula (a hole that can form in the newly repaired palate) has diminished.  Most families who have walked this road before us have told us to be prepared for about 3 weeks before she really begins to come around to acting and feeling more like herself.

Some things for you to pray about for us in the coming days:
  • Pray for Dr. L to be well rested, full of energy and focus, and for his skilled hands to be able to have a fistula free complete closure.
  • Pray for the anesthesia team to be understanding of Hannah's needs and allow us back to see her prior to her waking.  We have requested the same team from her lip repair, but we won't know for certain if that is going to happen until we get there Friday morning.
  • Pray for Hannah to be calm, feel peaceful, and rest easily as she recovers.  Pray she experiences little trauma and few setbacks in her attachment to us.  Pray she is ready (and eager) to eat or drink when the time comes.
  • Pray for Chris and I to understand all that the doctors and nurses tell us, that we are able to be strong advocates for her, and that we will have the stamina we need to get through this with Hannah.
  • Pray for all the nurses we will interact with--we are again asking to be able to boldly share the gospel with them through Hannah's adoption story.  Pray that they are attentive, helpful, loving, and kind with our baby girl.
  • Pray for our big kids, as they will be away from us during this time--for a safe visit at Grandmama's house and for the grandparents to have the energy they need to keep up with all three of them.
  • Pray for a smooth and hopefully short hospital stay.  We know we will stay at least one night, but a large part of our release will depend on Hannah's ability (and willingness) to eat and take fluids with her brand new mouth.  We know she will recover better at home.
  • Pray that pain management is successful and that we are perhaps able to locate a drug that will minimize the night terrors she experienced earlier this spring.
How is Hannah handling all this?  She's a brave girl.  She mentions it almost daily now and tells us the story of how it will all go.  She says we will go to the hospital and she will bring her lovie with her.  She'll take a big, wonderful sleep at the hospital and when she wakes up, she is able to point and tell us what will be different in her mouth.  She tells us that Mama and Daddy will be there with her the whole time.  She is a smart girl and braver than anyone I've ever met.  I'm so glad I get to be her Mama.

We thank you for praying us through on Friday.  Chris and I will be celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary that day.  I am certain that when we said "I do" eleven years ago, we never could have imagined we'd be spending our anniversary in the hospital with our fourth child undergoing a rather significant surgery.  God has been so gracious to us these past 11 years and we are so thankful we are honored to be there by her side that day.  We hope to update as we are able once we are post-op!

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