Monday night couldn’t get here soon enough. First they told us probably Monday morning, then it was “sometime after four,” and we were hoping for four but we knew it wasn’t to be, and then the final time quoted us was six o’clock in the evening. We had been in and out of Alexa’s room all day, playing the waiting game, a game that no one wins. And it would have been easy to give in to the impatience that had been building all day long, but we held strong somehow, even if that strength happened to be a fragile one. They had given her no food since seven o’clock on Sunday night, in readiness for her procedure, but as the day stretched on and we found out the “four o’clock” timetable, we were definitely not pleased because it meant no food for the entire day, and Alexa was starving by lunchtime while everyone else was able to eat. I felt horrible for my little one.
Then the doctor came in at 4:30, while the strings of tension were stretched tautly, and told us the final aim was for six that night, and because it was the first time we had actually seen someone in scrubs who had obviously just been in the operating room, or because we were just all out of steam, we believed him. And like clockwork things were finally starting to happen as they should. The assistant came up with a wheelchair right around six to escort Alexa to the operating floor to get prepared for the procedure. Of course that didn’t sit well with Lex because she gets really anxious, so you can imagine even though everyone from nursing students, to nurses, to doctors told her she wouldn’t feel a thing, that she was going under general anesthesia, she still got so upset.
When I say upset, I mean upset, too. She had a huge crying fit, punctuated by a series of coughing jags that led to her expelling a lot of mucous, and my wife worked hard to calm her down enough to get in the wheelchair for the ride downstairs. The whole ride downstairs was a series of the same question over and over, as she kept asking if it would hurt. We kept reassuring her that she would be asleep the whole time, and at moments it seemed like she believed us, but then when we got down to the operating room floor she started fretting again and spit up more mucous. We were lucky that the nursing student assigned to her at the time kept her occupied with this game of tic-tac-toe that was on the wall in the room they took us into for the final wait.
Then it was time. At approximately 6:22 they began to wheel the bed with my little darling on it into the operating room, and we were allowed to go only as far as the big yellow line on the floor. Alexa kept asking us why we couldn’t come in with her, and we kept telling her that they were all professionals and she would be fine, that she wouldn’t know or remember a thing, and we would see her after. It store tore me up inside, though, to let my daughter be wheeled off to surgery and we had to walk the other way to a waiting room… to wait. And the waiting is indeed the hardest part of it all for parents who just want to be involved as much as possible. We had to sit in that room, hoping and praying that they would find out what was really filling up that left lung and clean it out.
I busied myself with changing the television channel, and I found a series of Seinfeld reruns, which were perfect to try and keep our minds off of what was happening in the other room. About forty five minutes after she entered the operating room the primary surgeon came in to give us an update. Apparently they had found mucous,mucous, and more mucous, and nothing else. The main blockage of her lung, and what had caused it to collapse wasn’t a foreign body or a growth. It was merely miles upon miles of mucous that had built up and was stuck inside the lung. He said she must have had some form of pneumonia and her body just hadn’t gotten rid of the mucous. Instead it had backed up in the lung and created inflammation that kept it in and caused the eventual collapse.
And while it wasn’t what we had expected, it was an answer, an honest answer that we could do something with. They continued the scope procedure and vacuumed out a lot of the mucous they found, but there is still more in there to get out. So, she has to be on a regimen of vigorous shaking to help break it up, and using an inhaler to also help break up the remaining “stuff” and get it out. Now, the sound of her coughing is a precious sound because it means her body is helping to get itself back to normal, back to healthy. Which is a great start to yet another waiting game. It’s just good to have her back home, and thank you to everyone for their prayers and thoughts during this challenging time. On behalf of Alexa and our whole family.