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Monday, 6 June 2005

Things are looking good!

Isabel was transferred to the CK-3 Ward of Children’s Hospital in room #25 today. They removed her epidural and her catheter (which she complained more about the tape than anything else). I told the staff that the more tubes they pull out of her, the better I’m going to feel! They were quick to find a portable DVD player so that she could watch her beloved Shrek 2… really, for someone so little she truly does have quite a demanding presence sometimes.

I held her for the first time since Friday. Boy, did it feel good. She and I were just hanging out together watching Shrek. It was quiet time together, but we could both feel the healing happening from being together as mother and daughter.

They removed her dressing and her incision looks amazingly clean! Even the surgeon came by and was quite pleased. I told her she should be as there were nearly a hundred people praying for her AND Isabel on Friday. I jokingly said she was practically part of the family!

Izzy still needs a little oxygen but otherwise things are really looking up.

Thanks again to you all!

A bit of a scare

It’s been another couple of rollercoaster days…

Saturday began with a phone call on my way to the hospital. To my horror, I could hear Isabel screaming in the background. “Will you be coming in to the hospital anytime this morning?” asked a shaky nurse. “I’m only 10 minutes away.” (After that conversation, I was in her hospital room within 5) “Good, we haven’t been able to settle her for quite some time now and she seems quite distressed.” (That was an understatement)

At her bedside, she was nearly inconsolable and in obvious pain. They had lowered her epidural dosage because they wanted to see her more alert… well they got their wish. Isabel has a very high threshold for pain, so when she’s screaming with discomfort the way she was, you know it’s because she’s in great amounts of pain. Needless to say, they resumed a higher dosage of the epidural and all was better. Once Shrek 2 was started, she actually flashed me a few of her big grins. She expressed through her little singing voice that she was feeling much better. Other than puffy eyes, she was looking in good spirits. James eventually showed up several hours later when it was time to change shifts and he spent the remainder of the evening with her. A routine call prior to leaving her confirmed that she was still in good spirits and doing well.

I phoned first thing yesterday morning to ask about her night. Not much of a reply. Hmmm, why the hesitancy?

When I arrived at the hospital yesterday, my heart nearly leaped out of my chest. Isabel’s head was wrapped in a cold wet cloth, her eyes seemed to be rolling, her breathing was very laboured and she was on oxygen. My face must have said it all. The nurse approached me and said “She’s had a very rough night. Her oxygen sats dropped at 2:00 am and she’s on small amounts of oxygen. Since this morning, she has developed an alarmingly high fever of 40 degrees. They were concerned about a collapsed lung but X-rays show that they are hyper-extended, an indication that her asthma is causing some stress. They have taken blood cultures to check for infection and the preliminary results won’t be back until tomorrow and final results won’t be in for another 3 days. We’re still waiting for blood work results on her white blood cell counts. If they are abnormally high, it will confirm the presence of infection and we will begin a broad spectrum antibiotic. Other than that, there isn’t much else we can do.”

I looked down to her little face. Her nose was bloody from the nose prongs and she slept as though in a coma. For the first time, I truly saw her fragile little body and not her immeasurable spirit. I held her little hand in mine and prayed fervently. I couldn’t stop the tears and I couldn’t stop the thoughts… those horrible thoughts. I spoke to her in her sleep of strong soldiers working in her body as they have since the day she was born and that she needed lots of rest so the soldiers could continue to fight and protect her. I told her she was the bravest little girl I knew and that I was so proud to be her mother. I told her about all of you and how you have been touched by her presence and how you pray for her now. “My heart aches, my darling little one, to see you struggle as you are in this moment. It has never occurred to me until now to give you permission to stop fighting as you have all these years should you simply find it too much anymore. You have taught so many and I am forever changed.”

Thoughts of infections claiming people’s lives after surgeries… thoughts of funeral arrangements… thoughts of the emptiness in my heart… thoughts of the moments I’d wished this would all end… so many thoughts, good and bad, flooding me with a thousand feelings… they all poured into me and I thought I would burst from their weight.

Prayer… I needed to silence them all with prayer…

“Blessed Father, you have graced my life in so many ways and I am humbled by the children who teach me. Be with our Isabel now and fill her little body with your love and healing. May you continue to nourish her spirit with your Truth and your Will and may her path be journeyed as it was meant to be.”

I envisioned that path. I saw flowers and trees, birds and sunlight. I saw a forest but did not fear its darkness. I heard the wind and felt joy… immeasurable joy. It was a path journeyed with great faith and resolution. Our little Isabel may not be able to walk, but this path she has journeyed in her own little way has surpassed any path I have ever known. There was a feeling of great hope as though her sacrifices alone meant to teach us this very thing… to believe.

Somewhere amidst this whirlwind, her fever broke and her little hand tightened around my fingers, whether by fluke or in confirmation, I’m not sure… but I know which I believe. Blood results came back and her white blood cell counts were normal. She still looked frail, but she looked as though she’d resolved to journey yet a little further.

Thank God.

My Dad came by, and we went for lunch together. James sat by Isabel’s side when we returned and she looked so much better than when I’d first seen her just hours before. Even Dad smiled that smile when he quietly acknowledges what seems like a little Divine intervention.

By the time evening came along, Isabel was alert and content. I quacked her toy duck and showered her with kisses. She looked amused and somewhat annoyed but still looked at me and gave me her little verbal sigh as though to say, “Yes yes, mother, I know already.”

I have just phoned this morning, and she is off the oxygen, she has had a very good night, they will likely be removing the epidural today, they will begin introducing foods into her tummy, and admitting her to a regular ward. Hallelujah chorus, anyone?

Thank you to Mireille who forced me (quite literally) to come by her place last night with my guitar and to simply loose myself to laughter, songs and tears. You are wonderful for reminding me to smile and to find comfort in things that bring me joy. And thank you to Mom and David for the delicious rib dinner and mind release of playing Kenasta. And thank you, Linda and Jorge, for watching over Mélina when I am at the hospital. So much collaboration, so much support… what a blessing.

God bless you all!

Saturday, 4 June 2005

Isabel's surgery today

Hello, my loved ones…

Isabel rests peacefully in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit on the 3rd floor at Children’s Hospital. After a tumultuous couple of days, she has finally received her Fund Placation. I feel exhausted and ready for a hot bubble bath with a glass of wine!

It began yesterday afternoon at work. I can’t seem to sleep the few nights before her surgery so my coping resources were nil. Thank God for understanding co-workers because it took everything I had to dress myself beyond flannel PJs. I got the call at 2:30 pm. The surgeon’s office wanted to give me the heads up on the fact that the ICU beds were full and surgery might be cancelled again.

Remember my comment about coping mechanisms being nil? Remember the saying “don’t shoot the messenger”? The poor receptionist heard my spheal on booking time off work… AGAIN, rescheduling transportation, educational assistants and day care staff and the darned fact that my nerves couldn’t handle this much more. I asked, “Does she need to be in the resuscitation room again before she finally gets the surgery??” Poor gal felt so bad and I apologized for letting loose on her.

After cooling off and shedding a few tears, my co-workers (who overheard the whole thing) offered to pitch in and buy a private bed if necessary or anything to help make this happen for Izzy. (God bless you all for that). I phoned the Unit Manager and asked what the issue was and what I could do. I was told “nothing”.

Miraculously, I managed to sleep last night and phoned the surgeon’s office at 10:00 this morning to see if the surgery was a go. Things looked promising but they would call and let me know. Fifteen minutes later, the call came in to bring her down. I didn’t realize you could swallow Cheerios whole… however, I do not recommend it.

Once at the hospital, she got weighed, they measured her oxygen saturation, put her in her little yellow gown and placed some numbing cream on her hands where they would attempt to insert the I.V. Isabel was in a wonderful mood, full of smiles and happy toothy grins. Always a cheerful disposition.

After several hours of waiting, we were taken up to the O.R. area where we waited another little while before speaking with the anesthetist. Everything was looking good. Finally, the nurse came to get Isabel so we carried her to the doors, gave her big hugs and kisses, felt the butterflies in the tummy come back and swallowed the lump in the throat. There she was with her big smile about to begin this 3 ½ hour procedure and not knowing what the outcome would be. The nurse opened the big doors and began to walk through carrying Isabel when another nurse ran up to her and said “Is this the Fundo?”, “yes”, “well, someone just came in Emergency. This procedure is being delayed and possibly cancelled.”

Remember my comment about coping mechanisms being nil? Have you ever been nauseated by a rollercoaster ride? Well, I was nearly ready to puke!

Off to the waiting room again. Twenty minutes later, they came back and said “it’s still a go”. I jokingly said to the nurse “Quick, take her and run!!! And if anyone tries to tell you something, play deaf!”

We said our goodbyes once again and watched the big doors shut behind our little Isabel being carried off to the O.R. with her little pony tail sticking out one side of the nurse’s back and her long little legs dangling on the other side. I knew she was probably giving that nurse a big smile.

And then the anxiety set in. Now it was real. Now I felt a little scared.

James, James’ mom, my dad and I sat together discussing various things. Thank God for family. To my surprise, my cousin Michelle, Aunt Val and her mother showed up and we exchanged hugs and a few tears. Two hours, three hours… No news is good news, right?

Finally, gloriously finally, the surgeon came out and said… “Isabel’s Fundo is complete and she did amazingly well. She is still asleep but everything looks really good.”

I think the ceiling opened up and a chorus of angels sang Hallelujah, or was it the TV?

There she was being wheeled past us into the PICU… so tiny and lost in all the blankets, but her colour was perfectly pink and my little Isabel was there before me again. I cannot describe the weight that was lifted. We all stood there and stared at her for a moment before they continued to wheel her by and we all slumped into eachother’s arms and wept. Your prayers were with her. God bless you all, your prayers were with her!!!

She rests peacefully now. Her blood pressure is lower than they would like, but they are not overly alarmed. Her breathing tube was removed at 7:00 pm and she fusses now and again to let you know she’s really not happy about all of this. She seems a bit puffy, but all in all, she is gloriously well, stubborn as always and continues to be a testament of survival.

I am so exhausted that I could fall asleep typing. I will let you all go with a smile on my lips. It is done, and our little Izzy is well.

I think I can sleep now.

Bless you all and may my prayers find you tonight and warm you with my gratitude. It takes a village to raise a child and a child to change a village. May my prayers bless you in your times of need as you have been there in ours.