Friday, July 4, 2014

Surgery #4: Centennial Women's and Children's Hospital

We kissed them goodbye.  The remaining nevi on her cheek and neck were the last to go.  The last reminder of what God used to bring her to us were about to disappear forever.  It was a bittersweet moment, knowing our daughter would come out of surgery with only scars to tell her story.  

On July 2nd we woke up early, packed the car, dropped off the boys at Kris' parents' house, and headed to Nashville.  Anna Faith was perfectly behaved, despite the fact she couldn't eat anything, or drink shortly after leaving home.  When we got to the hospital she showed no signs of anxiety and just wanted to play.  We knew she remembered a lot from her past surgeries.  She knew the routine of getting on the scale and getting her ID band put on, getting her vital signs taken, etc.  She did it all with a smile and politely said "thank you" to the nurses.  This was the first time she kind of understood why we were at the hospital.  I asked her about her spots and she could answer "spots go bye bye".  She knew there would be more boo boo's which made her unhappy when I mentioned it.  She remembered the stitches and bandages that bothered her in the past.

With Nikki and Sam Carter who were waiting news on their daughter in surgery
After checking in, we discovered a fellow family on our nevus removal support group Facebook page was next door to us.  We knew ahead of time that their daughter would be getting surgery just before Anna Faith, and were thrilled we could pass the time getting to know each other better and sharing stories about our daughters.  The girls never got to meet since one girl was leaving surgery while the other was going in, but if they ever do meet, we determined they would make great friends!  It is wonderful having people in your life who understand your anxieties, experiences, frustrations and victories.

Anna Faith was taken back to surgery about 1:30, an hour after it was scheduled.  Shortly after they began, a code blue was called in the hospital.  I could barely hear the location, but when it was repeated, my heart returned to my chest as they announced it was in a diagnostic lab, not the Operating Room.  I prayed for the family affected that may have lost a loved one while Anna Faith was safe in surgery. We got an update after an hour telling us the back of her neck and cheek were finished and Dr. Chester was now working on the front of her neck. This turned out to be the shortest surgery she's had, lasting about 2 hours.  We were pleasantly surprised when Dr. Chester came into our holding room to tell us the news: 99% of her nevi were now removed!  She couldn't quite get a couple tiny spots on the front of her neck, but if the incision heals well and makes a pretty scar, she may be able to remove them in her office in several months.  This was wonderful news!
After another half an hour we were told we could come see her in the PACU.  The anesthesiologist gave her medication to help with her anxiety when waking up, since the first two surgeries were rough in recovery for her with anxiety and vomiting. They also gave something for nausea which was very helpful in past surgeries as well.  She was so tired when we found her on the bed we had to wait for her to open her eyes.  She was a little upset and didn't want to be held, but after she was awake enough to go back to her holding room, she drank a little apple juice, was given an iPad to play on, and became calm.  She was still loopy and grumpy for another hour, as you can see in this photo:

We were able to leave the hospital at 5:30 p.m. and had an uneventful ride home.  Anna Faith got hungry and ate a ton of crackers on the way, then drifted to sleep until we got home.  She slept through the night just on a dose of Tylenol and Motrin, and when I woke up, I discovered she had already been fed breakfast by her 4 year old brother, Nathanael.  He was snuggling with her in a chair watching her cartoons when I walked into the living room.  Her brothers are so compassionate to her when she's had surgery.  It won't take long before they start teasing her to make her fuss at them again!

Before surgery #2 to begin removal on anterior neck
Here are the before and after surgery #2 which removed the first part of the cheek and neck and 2 day after surgery #4 photos which finished removal in these areas:  Her neck is looking wonderful already.  Her cheek is covered with steri-strips so we won't be able to see the incision line well until after they wear off.   She had some bleeding through them the first day, but from what we can see, it is a very neatly done incision and should heal beautifully.  I will take her stitches out of her neck in a week after making sure her surgeon is OK with it when I send photos to her.  We don't have to go back to Nashville for a visit until this fall so she can assess what will become of the last couple tiny spots after everything has completely healed and we can see how the scars will look.

before surgery #4 to finish removal

one day post-op 07/03/14

before surgery #2 to begin removal on right cheek
before surgery #4 to complete removal
2 days post-op: no more cheek nevus!
It is hard to believe her journey of nevus removal is probably over!  Her first surgery was 11 months ago, and we were never sure how many surgeries she would need.  She has done amazingly well with pain control and anxiety, especially for a two year old!  We are blessed to have all of these events fall into place: a great surgeon, successful, uncomplicated surgeries, timing of surgeries around the farm's schedule so Kris could come to the hospital with us, good health of our family, good weather, available childcare for the boys, and no bad infections during healing.  We have felt the many prayers from Facebook friends and family who support us and love our Little Lady.  

To the nevus families who were given a child by birth who was created with nevi, you have my admiration and respect.  You are strong in going down a road that you did not know you would be taking until your child was born.  God doesn't have accidents when He weaves our children in our wombs.  He has a special plan, and sometimes it is so hard to trust Him when we can't see the end of the tunnel.  Keep trusting, keep fighting for your child, and keep your hope.

To the nevus families who chose their child with nevi:  You also have my admiration and respect.  You chose this road, because you chose your child(ten) who were rejected by their birth parents, whether out of fear or out of another unknown reason.  You grafted your beautiful child into your family and have loved and prayed them through the removal process.  I understand your hearts, and they are precious in the sight of the Lord for your courageous and loving choice to take this journey with your little one(s).   Our daughter only needed 4 surgeries, yet many others of you have dozens upon dozens of surgeries over the span of several years for your children.  You are so strong, so brave, and so admired.  Keep going and trust the Lord to carry you through.

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