Jun 16, 2011

It Never Gets Easier

Zoe had the definitive test that showed she needed a surgery called the Pharyngeal flap or "p-flap". I cannot begin to describe this procedure accurately to convey how horrible this must feel.  But basically they take the back of your throat, cut 3 sides to it and then sew it to the palate (roof of your mouth).  Doesn't that sound pleasant??  Here's one artist's rendition of this procedure:

Just from the picture alone you can get the idea that this procedure can cause obstructive sleep apnea.  When tissue is cut it can swell so that's a problem for the first few days.  But this flap is now permanent so that is obstructing her airway.  So they keep you overnight in the hospital to monitor the bleeding and the airway. 

Zoe picked this dog to take with her. Ironically, it was the dog I sent to her in China that arrived while she was in the hospital for her Palate surgery.  She didn't know that until today!

So now about Zoe.  She was so excited this morning.  She was ready to GO!  I was very clear with her about what would happen, what it would feel like, etc.  Her only complaint was that she was hungry.  She had dinner about 5pm yesterday, a popsicle about 8pm and some gatorade at 8am.  That's it.  So by 1pm when the surgery started, she was hungry and thirsty. 

She was taken back about 12:45.

I sat in the waiting room all by myself.  I was struck by the notion of how this never gets easier.  I have been in the waiting room SOOO many times that I've lost count.  I have to remind myself to breathe in, breathe out.  Until the moment I hear the words, "Your child is in recovery." 

Eventually, Dr. Ricalde came in and said, "It was textbook."  There were no troubles, no complications, very little bleeding.  Always a higher risk of breathing troubles for Zoe due to the Goldenhar Syndrome ... it makes for a "difficult airway." But there were no troubles for that either. 

Dr. Ricalde did indeed take out 2 teeth.  She said one wasn't near the palate enough to affect it.  The other did leave a pretty big fistula (hole) but since we're going to do expansion of her palate soon, this shouldn't be a problem.  Whew! Big sigh of relief!  Now Zoe won't have that tooth pain any more. 

By the time I got back to the recovery room, she was in a lot of pain!  She was crying uncontrollably and they got me earlier than they normally would have so that I could calm her down.  Part of it was the anesthesia.  (She comes out of it hard.)  And some was due to pain.  They got morphine on board as soon as they could but it just took a while to kick in. 

I calmed her down by reminding her what we had talked about and letting her know the crying would make it hurt more.  She was trying soooo hard.  I told her how brave she is ... that she is the bravest person I know (and I truly mean that) and tears flooded my eyes as I said that.  I told her she was my warrior princess.  My mind filled with all the times she's been hurt in her life.  And the pain to my heart was overwhelming.

I put the prayer request out on Facebook and it only took a few minutes before she started to have a bit of relief.  It was like a lightswitch. 

See the 2 bears?  The surgical nurse said, "Want one or both?" She chose one. He then asked again, "Want one or BOTH?" She said, "One".  He insisted and shoved the other bear at her, "You want BOTH!"  He expected her to be typical, not so self-less.  Hearts melted as they saw that.

She was drifting in and out of sleep and as she would drift out, I allowed myself to think back on the last 4 years with her, but also of her first 2 years without us.  My little girl has been through a LOT.  And I shudder to think forward at the pain that is still in front of her.  Some of the barbaric surgeries are unthinkable! And I wondered if *I* am up to the task.  But of course, I HAVE to be ... I am her Mother. 

She had several moments of nausea.  That would be BAD to throw up with her throat like that!  She swallowed quite a lot of blood which can cause nausea.  Morphine can cause it.  Anesthesia can cause it.  So they gave her anti-nausea meds. 

We ended up staying in recovery for a very long time because there wasn't a bed ready in ICU.  But finally we got up to the floor.  As I type this, it's almost 7 hours posts surgery and there are no complications.  She's breathing great, doing well.  We're staying ahead of the pain we hope.  Praying for a great night sleep.  If all goes well tonight, we can go home tomorrow. 

Thanks for all the prayers for my Warrior Princess. 

And while you're at it, don't forget to pray for Dan at home with the other 5, including Manny who is sick.  It's my first night away from him ... and he has a fever. 


  1. It's so hard to believe it's been FOUR years already. Do you still keep in contact with Marlee (sp?) and her family?

    I am glad that Zoe has made it through surgery and am praying that you both are resting peacefully as I am typing this. I will be contacting you later next month about how you prepared Zoe for this because I have to prepare Sarah for surgery. It's easier, I think, when they are younger.

    I hope that recovery is textbook and this helps Zoe speech in a remarkable way. HUGS to you both.

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  3. Thank you so much for writing this. My daughter goes under for this procedure Thursday with Dr Ricalde. God bless your little girl! She's very cute. :)