Surgical Dress Rehearsals

Branko was scheduled for pretty major surgery this past March. Surprisingly, our orthopedic surgeon has somewhat neat handwriting, and he described the procedure as “B/C ankle pseudoarthoses correction i intramedullary stabilization and casting. Instrumentation: Williams Rod.” We are PRETTY SURE this means they are going to line up his tibia to his ankle to correct the bowing, clean up any weird (pseudoarthotic) scar tissue, and put some rods in there, rods that may or may not be in there forever. He will require a hip spica cast for 6-12 weeks afterwards.  The surgery is important; without at least one surgery, Branko’s chances of walking with his current deformities are minimal.

We arrived at Sick Kids at 6 am (brutal) and then waited around to be seen by a nurse.  We were all STARVING. Branko had to fast for 12 hours before the surgery (which really wasn’t that big of a deal… he’s done that before) and we were so rushed that I hadn’t eaten anything. I decided to take advantage of the scant 6:15 am line up at Starbucks and get me a breakfast sandwich and coffee. As I was pulling my disgusting/awesome sandwich out of my purse, the nurse calmly explained that “no food was allowed, to respect the children who have been fasting.” Of course! Why would I put my own needs before Billy, the sleepy boy in the bed across the room who literally could not care less if I experience the deliciousness of a greasy Starbucks breakfast creation? I was going to eat it discretely — I am the mother of a toddler, and I know how to keep food hidden so I don’t have to share anything.

ANYWAYS. Our orthopedic surgeon came in. He was pretty optimistic and confident about the surgery. He even took out a fancy permanent marker and drew all over Branko’s legs to show us exactly what they were doing. My feelings at that moment: No Big Deal. Piece of Cake. However, he reminded us that Branko still needed to see the Anesthesiologist, who would have the final say on whether or not Branko was ‘well’ enough for the procedure. A few months before, Branko had started taking asthma medication in order to treat some mild wheezing. Wheezing of any kind presents a rather large risk after a major surgery.

The Anesthesiologist examined Branko and immediately voiced his concerns over a small wheeze that he heard in his left lung. He hesitated before telling us that, no, we wouldn’t be having the surgery today. He seemed truly sorry.

We had scheduled the surgery during March break, since I would have two weeks off to be home with him, and wouldn’t have to use up my sick days. We had spent so much of ourselves mentally preparing for this. And now it was over.  The worst part was unpacking. I brought a lot of stuff to the hospital. I had spent about 3 days packing…  we had no idea of the type of clothing that would be best for a baby with an IV, epidural, and hip spica cast. It’s really hard to take shirts off with things sticking out all over your body. I realize now that he may just have to wear a girl’s nightgown for a few weeks…. sorry, Branko. A million times sorry. 

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