Almost a year ago today we were headed to the surgery center for Emerie’s first eye surgery, to remove her cataract and hopefully improve use of her left eye. Today we are back for her third eye surgery (second strabismus procedures), and fourth overall surgery, in 365 days. It’s been quite a year and little did we know what was ahead of us as we walked into the center last June, but we’ve made it through with resilience and minimal scrapes and bruises.
Unlike last year, medical processes have changed a little to accommodate the worldwide pandemic. We’ve waited several months for this procedure while the medical field responded to the current COVID-19 crisis; i.e. it wasn’t on the approved, non-emergent surgery list. For us, this meant continuing to patch a few hours a day and convince Emerie to wear her glasses as much as possible, which is easier than this time last year, but still a fight.
All doctors appointments this spring only allowed one parent to attend, wearing a mask, with an attempt to keep all patients far apart to lessen the risk of spreading illness. The specialist appointment in late April was encouraging, with Dr. Winkle noting that he would determine which eye muscle to tighten once he was in there. Her eye was trending inward about 20%, as opposed to wandering outward as it did prior to October’s adjustment.
Unfortunately, when I took Emerie to her pre-op appointment last week, her left eye alignment is now trending inward at 50%, a significant change in about a month. This means that both muscles will likely need adjustment and he has shifted his prior surgical plan accordingly. When I asked why such a change in a short time period, he said sometimes this happens and there’s really no good explanation. If he had never done the first strabismus surgery, her eye would still not be aligned correctly (since I asked!). It also means that she is on the more severe scale for pediatric cases and will likely require additional surgeries going forward. Needless to say, I did not leave that visit feeling as optimistic as when we arrived.
All surgical procedures require a negative COVID-19 test within 48 hours of going in. I expected some screaming rage at the nose swab and had snacks and juice at hand as well as Bear and a wubbanub, but she did great! It was unexpectedly easy- we didn’t have to get out of the car and the nurse came down to our parking spot for the whole thing. She explained swabbing adults was more extensive than younger kids, and just swabbed her nostril and talked sweetly, evening producing a half toddler smile before heading back into the office. We found out right before surgery that her test returned negative, as we expected.
Emerie was ready to take on the day this morning. Little did she know where we were headed, but after Craig pulled her out of the nursery she was chatty and running around, even with our shhhhh’ing to not wake the other two.
We’ve had three prior surgeries at the surgery center and yet I’ve never noticed the pre-op playroom before today. Needless to say, Emerie much preferred exploring the enclosed room full of activities rather than be confined to my lap in the tiny pre-op space. Only one of us could go back into the area due to COVID-19 rules, so Craig waited in the waiting room out front while I went back with her. I gave her the purple, surgery monkey to cuddle with, which is almost as big as her, and she snuggled it, “changed” its diaper, and showed it the puppy book.
After the Versed kicked in she wanted to read her book on my lap, under her moose blanket. Adorably, she was super ticked off that she couldn’t shut! the door IN the book and kept repeating it. When I informed her we couldn’t shut the door, she told me no.
Also, the CUTEST thing ever….she wore two bracelets for her adventure today and look what colors they are! One pink and one blue, i.e. one in Harper’s color and one in Reagan’s. I melted when I noticed that! She is definitely the jewelry wearer of the three.
Dr. Winkle explained that the procedure would take a little longer the second time around, probably about 45 minutes versus the 25 previously, usually due to minimal scar tissue. He came out with an update about 40 minutes after I put her in the wheelchair and they wheeled her off.
The doctor noted that he was pleased to see part of the reason for the eye drift and decided to only tighten the outer muscle and not mess with the interior one as originally planned. He said she developed a type of scar tendon, about 5mm long, that was pulling the eye inward. This is actually good news, because he removed it and tighten the outer muscle, which was simplier than having to work on both sides. Hopefully this will keep her straight for a while.
Another hour passed before our surgical buzzer went off, allowing me to go back and see her. We actually saw Dr. Winkle come back out after his next procedure, looking surprised to see we were still waiting. The nurse told me later that they gave her a different type of sedation so she was coming out of it slower than her prior surgeries. I went back to find her still out. It took another 20 minutes or so until she started to come out of it. The interesting thing is that she caught me by surprise; she was out one second and trying to roll off the bed in quite a fluster the next. This is more-or-less how our naps go…fully asleep one second, screaming and wanting up the next.
Now that she is a bit older and more talkative since her surgeries at 19 months and 21 months old, she can better communicate her feelings and it is intriguing to see. Her first word was owie, of course, and reaching for her eye. The nurse asked if she wanted a yummy and handed her a lime popsicle, which for a few minutes fully distracted her pain and she laid on the bed, eyes closed, sucking on the popsicle calmly. At some point, about halfway through the popsicle, she noticed that the paper towel previously wrapped around it was on the sheet and frantically commanded trash! at me several times, then went back to owie and booboo, pointing to her eye. And repeat.
Eventually we made it home, after she threw away her popsicle wrapper in the trash without my assistance, had her blanket tucked on her, monkey and binkie in hand in the car, and we did our usual surgical routine of taking a short nap to settle and let more Advil kick in. She definitely went to sleep easier today than back in December and didn’t fight it or cry. As I write this, she’s down for her normal nap, although her eyes on the crib camera tell me she is fighting this one hard while Harper and Reagan are both out.
Thank you, everyone, for the prayers. Our littlest triplet was very brave today and behaved great! <3<3<3