Counting Blessings

7 weeks home; 2 surgeries; 6 whole hospital days plus visits; 9 wound sites; 16 medications; many hours of extra help…but not enough; 1 tired, crazy mamma and infinite trust and patience (mostly) from a 14 year old girl. The numbers are overwhelming but can never tell the whole story (as a maths head it pains me a little to say that!). It is the moments between the numbers that count. (Pun unintended…or was it?)
To say Missy’s orthopaedic surgeon is amazing is both unusual (orthos are not always renowned for their sunny disposition) and an understatement. The work he does on my girl scares me but, even when he changed the consent form moments before I signed, he has the skill, confidence and charm to win us over. He is dedicated and fiercely supportive. He pauses and takes the time to talk with her.
There have been times of pain and grumpiness for Missy…too many. Amongst it though the girl has used her words. She worked so hard to describe how she was feeling and what she needed. Her ability to differentiate between discomfort due to muscle spasms and other pain and then request the specific medication blew me away. She is proud of herself too.
And the difference? She is only just out of plaster so it’s not all apparent yet but what we can see is wow! Imagine trying to sit a plank of wood in a wheelchair. Then, just when you manage to bend enough to get in, it straightens again…that was our girl. Now she sits tall and proud with her bottom all the way back in her chair. And her feet! Her left foot has been transformed from a twisted mess to an actual foot. Dancing is already more comfortable for her which is great because her motivation for all of this was …”I dance”.
The irony of this little post-surgical contemplation and finally having a few minutes to sit and write? The draft was written on the only piece of paper I had with me…the back of a hospital appointment letter. This life! Amongst the challenges and fatigue and heartache there are blessings. And I am glad of a little time and quiet to count them.


Vulpius Frost

He stopped just short of the open doorway. Vulpius Frost turned to peer into the darkness outside. He couldn’t shake the feeling he was being observed.” Sounds apt doesn’t it! Strangely enough Vulpius Frost is not a character from Harry Potter. It is an orthopaedic procedure common on kids with Cerebral Palsy. It involves cutting and lengthening of the tib post and calf muscles followed by plaster for many weeks. I say procedure as though it is a simple exercise. It isn’t. There are risks with any surgery and general anaesthetic. The risks were weighed and the decision was made.

The anticipation was awful. Waiting while she was in theatre was torturous. But the worst moment is always walking out of the anaesthetic room. I can be there calmly reassuring her as she drifts into a mask-induced sleep. Then comes the time to trust the professionals to do their job well and look after her. One step out of that room and and I become a soggy mess on the floor. This time I felt lucky to have a friend up on the ward to run to, so I saved most of my blubbering for her. There’s nothing quite like being in a common experience club.

And then there were the amazing moments. The little things that make me so grateful she receives care at a top notch children’s hospital. The senior orthopaedic surgeon asked if I had any concerns. A pre-teen red-haired girl tolerating plaster on both legs for weeks…umm yes. So he ran (and the registrar later emphasised that he ran) to another floor to get purple plaster hoping her favourite colour would make it pretty and easier for her to tolerate. But wait there’s more…he sprinkled glitter on top. Delightful. Sparkly purple plaster.

In the pre-op room the assistant made Missy laugh by dancing her doll around while the gentle anaesthetist placed the mask near and then over her face. She went under laughing which made me want to climb on the bed and snuggle with her while she slept…but the dreaded walk out awaited. Later, in recovery, I was comforted by the lilting Irish accent of the anaesthetist relaying that all had gone well. Amidst discussion of preferred oxygen saturations I noticed my daughters hair was different. (Insert Irish accent here) I fixed it up a little. This gorgeous lady had noticed a little girl with long-day-waiting-messy-hair and fixed it while the surgeon was plastering. She braided my girl’s hair in theatre. Tears of gratitude welled at this simple act by a compassionate soul. The nurse in recovery reported progress and details of missy’s well being in a sympathetic tone and patiently waited for her to tell us her needs with her communication book. Eisha the dolly still proudly wears the oxygen mask this nurse gave to her to ease Missy’s anxiety. Handover had the usual numbers and medical-ese with one exception. She’s doing well…and she’s a delight. A busy nurse doesn’t have to say that. She didn’t have to but she did…and at the end of a stressful day I smiled.

So from the surgery that sounds at home in the hallowed halls of Hogwarts  to the professionals who carried it out and cared afterwards…magic happens.