Post Surgery – Day 3. Change isn’t always bad

A queasy feeling churned in the pit of my stomach when I realized my child was being moved to the ICU.

At 8 a.m. the night nurse told me Deane had had a fever that spiked in the middle of the night. It had been another night of constant de-sats and suctioning.

Within an hour, Deane was breathing heavily and de-satting down to 60, 50 and even 40 as his nurses desperately tried to suction enough secretions out of his airway so that he could breathe properly. He was struggling.

The nurses suggested that maybe he should be moved into his own room with his own nurse so that it would be quieter and he could get some rest.

The critical care team was called. The physiotherapist arrived. The respirologist took over his oxygen supply. The orthopedic resident – who was still responsible for Deane’s case – arrived. It was clear that Deane was no longer primarily a orthopedic patient.

Sometime in the midst of many people, many conversations, many reports, the decision was made to move Deane to the pediatric intensive care unit.

Immediately, my stomach ran cold and got that queasy feeling. ICU? Was Deane in that desperate a situation? Was he that sick? What was I not understanding?

The last time I had been in an ICU was when Deane was born. Despite the incredible care both Deane and I received from the staff in the neonatal ICU, it is a place associated with worry and stress.

The whole trip through the hallways, I was trying to calm my stomach and make nice conversations with the staff. When we arrived, there was a flurry of activity as Deane’s oxygen, epidural and IVs were transferred to ICU equipment. Then reports were given, nurses and doctors brought up to speed and information was entered into the computer. My stomach churned, my head felt light and the tears were ready to roll.

All I could think was the ICU handles complex patients. It is for serious cases. Deane came to have hip surgery and is just struggling with stuff in his throat because he can’t sit up. Again I was left saying it was supposed to be straight-forward.

Once everything settled, Deane was put on CPAP – continuous positive airway pressure – to open up his lungs. When all the fiddling with sizes of masks and the head gear that straps it on and, of course, some more suctioning,  Deane fell into the most sound and relaxed sleep he has had since he arrived in the hospital. All day, he has been comfortable and more himself.

In the end, I realized – as everyone had told me – the ICU was the best place for Deane. His respiratory issues are being looked after, his hips and legs are  being followed and the relative quiet was soothing everyone’s nerves – including mine.


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