Sunday, August 10, 2008

Life post-op

I realize I'm WAY over due for a Q&A post, but some questions lately have been on this subject so here's a little about how our days look now that we are home...

First off, we still begin the day with medicines for Emma and Micah, breakfast all around, bathing, getting dressed, and the day generally turns to playing, then lunch, naps, more playing, dinner, bedtime routine including pj's, brushing teeth, medicines, and bed.  It's not all that different from before.

A few things that are different definitely are wrapped around the fact that Emma just had major surgery.  

One of those is that her body is already working so hard to recover from surgery that she doesn't have as much ability to recover from any other illnesses.  Micah has had a clear runny nose for over a week and is getting some new teeth- which is likely the culprit.  Regardless, though we're not quarantining him from the other kids, we are keeping him away from direct contact with Emma.  (plus, he likes to lay on top of her.. OUCH!)  We're washing our hands a lot or using germ-X between handling him and Emma.  We're requiring Kristopher to wash his hands a lot more especially if he wants to play with Emma.  We're picking up the toys Emma prefers when she's not playing with them and putting them out of reach of our littlest man so they aren't shared too much.  Basically we're trying our hardest to keep any germs that are already inside the house away from Emma.

Along those same lines, we're also keeping Emma in the house.  No, not completely literally. But close.  Outside we're in a bad mosquito season so a walk around the block isn't even much of an option, but the screened in porch (which a cat fell through and ruined in 3 places while I was gone... weird!) might be somewhere we can take her to get a little fresh air and sunshine without mosquitoes or lots of people.  We won't be taking any trips to the mall, stores, events, or even church or school for a few weeks.  Emma's been through too much to catch something now and have to fight that off too.

And, again, we're also not inviting anyone in.  Not because we don't like them or because we want to keep Emma to ourselves, but because exposure to more people is just more risk of catching something-- even if they seem healthy at the time. 

With Brianna we were cautious for about 2 weeks after we got home with her and that felt fine and appropriate.  By that time she was about 5 weeks post-op and she was healed up enough that she could overcome a small cold without it being life-threatening.  With Emma since she was such a short time in the hospital, it will likely be more like a month before we are back to normal activity-- 5 weeks post-op.  Her wound is still weeping blood and everything is still very fresh.  She needs time to get healed up and on top of things health-wise before being exposed to anything else. 

Other than the health/germ side of things, there are a few other ways that we're doing things a little differently.  First off, Emma can't be picked up under her arms for a few weeks.  Her sternum has been cut apart and tied back together with steel wires.  OW.  So picking her up under her arms would put a lot of pressure both on her sternum and on her incision.  We have to pick her up by her head/neck and her back/bottom.  A little more difficult with a 5 yr old than a tiny baby but thankfully she doesn't weigh that much.  She also can't be submerged in water.  There's a glue that's holding the incision closed and though it won't hurt if it gets damp then dried, it can't be washed with water or submerged.  In fact, on the bottom of the incision the glue came off when they pulled off the tape holding in the pacemaker wires and we have to keep a close eye on that part to make sure it heals appropriately and doesn't get infected.

Emma also is covered in bruises.  Not just the obvious ones from the chest incision, but little ones all over from other lines and procedures.  She has a very bruised lower-chest area where the pacemaker wires had stitches holding them in.  Her neck has scabs and bruises from her central line being stitched on as well.  One hand had the arterial line stitched in to it (all these were stitched in so they couldn't just slip or be easily tugged out) and is bruised.  Another area there was an IV.  With such a bruised up little kid, it's not just her chest that we have to be careful with.  it's her arms, neck, chest, belly...

This coming Wednesday Kristopher will start school and the Tuesday of the next week Micah and Brianna will start as well.  It's going to be difficult to continue to watch how much interaction Emma has with other people (especially kids) when we have to go get the other kids from school, but we will just continue to pray God's protection on her and that He will create a boundary for germs around her so that she (and the other kids too!) won't have to deal with any illnesses while she recuperates.  I'd love to hear any preventative measures we can take here at home to make sure that the kids that will inevitably be exposed to 'stuff' at school aren't catching it themselves or bringing it home to Emma.  I think we'll do some Vitamin C for the other kids and of course lots of hand-washing, germ-X, and probably clothes-changes as well.  Any other ideas?


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Brianna decided to eat her yogurt with her hands last night.  Then she showed me what a chipmunk does!


Emma's scrapes, slices, and bruises- day 6 post-op

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  1. Meredith, it sounds like you will be on top of things with regards to germs. When Addy came home last year we have been diligent about not exposing her to anything due to her chronic lung disease. We all changed clothes before picking her up. Hand washing is just a given. We have a huge bottle of Germ-X by the front door that everyone uses before they come inside the house. I Lysol Addy's toys A LOT and my kids (I know they are older) know that touching Addy's toys or her is not okay unless they have washed their hands or have used the Germ-X. My hands were raw for about a month after bringing her home but they toughened up and I do believe it helped her. My other kids had been sick a few times last year and she never caught what they had, she just caught her own stuff that fortunately didn't spread to anyone else. Good luck and I am so happy you are home!

  2. sounds like you're doing a great job already.

    this may not be as practical with so many little ones, but i always showered after coming home from being exposed to germs - especially if i was at a doctor's appointment, although the kids at school probably have more germs than the doctor's office does! :-P

    when i was on steroid courses i couldn't afford to be exposed to germs because my immune system was trashed. my doctors told me to be careful, but i was determined not to get sick on top of how sick i already was, so whenever i came home, i headed straight to the shower. that was also REALLY helpful in the sense that when i was resting in bed (which was almost all the time) there weren't germs there - if i left the house, i showered & changed to clean clothes when i got home. it worked!!!

    like i said, may not really be an option with so many little ones... i know they can't just go head off to the shower themselves, nor can they do the extra laundry it creates... it's just what works for me. :-)

    - michelle

  3. Keeping germs from Emma will be an ongoing battle for a few weeks. Changing the other kids clothes & washing their hands after school will help alot. Just let us all know if we can help go to the store for you or pick up the kids from school. You have alot of friends and family that would love to help you out. Just ASK! We all will be there for you.

    Love, Mom C

  4. You are doing the right thing! Keep her away from people! Everyone loves her so much and would love to give her little hand a squeeze, but she needs some extra protection. I would be scared for me or my kids to be around her until we know she is much better...BUT we definitely look forward to seeing her! Changing clothes and washing hands is exactly what I would do! Of course, you can call if you just want another mom to talk to for a few minutes!

  5. Meredith, of course you are doing wonderfully, that is no surprise. I run our church nursery, and after each day, I wipe down all the played with toys with a Lysol or bleach wipe. I know you are trying to keep her toys away from the other kids, but also THEIR toys away from her. The other children may want to share with her, that's why I would suggest wiping all of the toys down once a day if possible. Also, take people up on the offer to bring and pick up the other kids. Or have one or two healthy adults stay with Emma while you bring the others to and from school. Just a couple thoughts, God bless you,

    June RR

  6. it's hard when you have other kids especially others in school. When William had surgery, I would pick the girls up from school and make them get in the tub before they could play with him. Don't know if that is doable, but just a suggestion

  7. What about wearing disposable mouth-and-nose masks for a while? Or perhaps Emma could wear a mask when she's around her sibs...

    I concur with others' suggestions that arranging rides to and from school for a few weeks would be a tremendous help, both in terms of avoiding germs and in saving time. Check with the school's principal or PTA, and see if this can be worked out..surely other parents would be very happy to help you now, if they knew about the situation.

    Emma looks good - could you use sterile vitamin E on her ow-ies,
    to help them heal faster?

    Best wishes,
    Susan in Ky

  8. in addition to vitamin c everybody should eat lot of fruits & vegetables specially oranges & broccoli