Just a quick update on my daughter. (If you missed what happened to A, please click here) It's been exactly a week since she broke her neck and went to the ER, and was later admitted. She's been in ICU ever since. Last Saturday she had surgery to put on the halo that she will wear for the next 3 months or so. I've had almost a week to get used to looking at my 6 year old with a metal ring literally drilled into her skull. It's awful looking, but it will serve the purpose of keeping her neck still while it heals.
On Tuesday, she had surgery to fuse her C1 and C2 vertebrate. Her spine surgery was one of the most brutal afternoons of my life. The spine surgeon had told us it would take 3-4 hours. He didn't get us until 5 1/2 hours later. That last 1 1/2 hour was horrific for me....I was panicking, picturing everything that could have gone wrong (a small risk of stroke, a small risk of paralysis since he was working so close to the spinal cord, etc). It turns out that they got a late start to the surgery, mainly because they had a hard time getting an arterial line in her. The doctor had told someone to tell us, but no one did. We could have been spared that agony, but in the end it made hearing that the surgery was a complete success that much sweeter.
All week she's been in the medicated coma, on the ventilator with the breathing tube down her throat. They would have removed it the day after surgery, but she had developed pneumonia, and wanted to wait until she had recovered from that. Today was the day. Today, exactly one week after being admitted to the hospital, they finally took A off the sedatives, woke her up and removed the breathing tube. It was awesome finally seeing her awake, although she was quite groggy and confused. I told her what happened...how she had broken her neck in gymnastics, that usually a cast would go on a broken bone but since she can't have a cast on her neck there is the halo. I showed her photographs (given to me by the Child Life counselor) of other kids wearing halos. Finally, I took her picture with an iPad and showed her what she looks like. She seemed ok with it all, amazingly enough. I told her she would have it for 3 months, that in January it would come off. And I reminded her that she used to have a tracheostomy and a feeding tube, and both went bye-bye, and this will go bye-bye soon too. I think she got it. Of course, she has yet to LIVE with it...stand, walk, eat, write, etc....but so far, so good.
I am incredibly grateful. She is going to be ok. This could have been catastrophic...she could have easily been paralyzed. She is not. She will make a full recovery. This injury was bound to happen to her, given her anatomy (of which we had no clue before) and while I hate that she has to go through this, it's happened in the best possible situation: It happened at gymnastics, on a padded floor, with me close by. It didn't happen at school, in Adapted PE where she is learning how to jump. It didn't happen at Disneyland, where we were a few months ago and rode the Thunder Mountain roller coaster 7 times, which must have jostled her neck all over. It didn't happen when we were out of town. It didn't happen when my husband was out of town, or me, for that matter (we were supposed to go to Palm Springs the weekend; last weekend I was in Portland for the half marathon). My half-Ironman is over, nothing major is happening at school or at work. It happened at the best possible place, and the best possible time. God was looking out for her.
I have been so overwhelmed by the support I've received. So many friends and family have reached out. The day of her spine surgery I think half the world was praying for her. My Facebook page exploded, I'm getting tons of cards in the mail, emails, texts, and phone calls. Friends have been bringing us dinner every night. Friends have been helping to care for my son. Friends have been visiting at the hospital. Even my online community, most of whom I've never met, have been caring and supportive. I'm humbled and grateful and so appreciative.
I will update when I can. The next step is to leave ICU for the rehab floor...and start walking!
A belated 11th birthday interview
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