We were back. April 22-28 2015, a year ago this weekend. In just two short weeks since we last went down to London. We had to go down the day before and check in and have another blood test. As all of the forms had been signed last time, we were out again within an hour or so. Back to the same family accommodation, in a different room and with a lot less luggage. Something felt different this time, although I didn't want to believe it was going ahead in the event it was cancelled again, deep down I knew it would be.
|The morning of the surgery|
I took the same tablets, at the same time in the hope I would be able to sleep. Before we knew it we were bathing Elijah ready to be taken across the road. Again, he wasn't allowed anything to eat or drink. He was in such a playful mood that morning. He was booked in the first slot that day for surgery. I packed enough milk, food and nappies in the event it would get cancelled again.
|Ready to go across for surgery|
Then it was time. I thought I was going to be sick. We carried him up a level, my head was swimming. We were ushered into a room, I don't think she had to but Doreen came and stayed with us too. The surgical team were all there and we were told I could hold Elijah as he was put to sleep. He could keep his dummy in as he sat on my lap with the mask over him and he slowly closed his eyes. They took him off me and placed him on the table. They gave me his dummy. They took my baby, I broke down I couldn't even kiss him as they wheeled him away. Doreen and Greg had to carry me out of the room. I didn't know if I would ever see my baby again, well, happy and healthy.
|I wanted to have a pic of his chest before the surgery.|
It took a good half hour to try and calm myself into some sort of presentable state. Greg seemed so calm but I think he was hiding what he really felt and tried to keep it together for me. Now Elijah was in surgery we would get a call once he was out. Normally it takes 4-5 hours. We had to go and sort out accommodation for the time we were down there. Strangely, I had to leave. The compelling feeling I needed to get the hell out of this hospital. The hospital where my child was being opened up and operated on. The hospital which would either end or save my son's life.
|Elijah a few hours after surgery|
We decided after sorting out everything that we would walk. We would walk to a fixed point and back again. I remember it was such a nice day, the sun was out, it was warm and there were tourists everywhere. We walked from Great Ormond Street to Buckingham Palace and back, we watched the changing of the guard, and we got to Buckingham Palace. We must have looked like a normal couple walking hand in hand in London. No one knew that actually our son was having open heart surgery.
I think we got back to Great Ormond Street at about 13.00, we needed to eat. I was living of coffee as I couldn't face food. No sooner as we got back we got the call. He was out of surgery, it went well. We couldn't see him for another hour or so but they would call us when we could. Relief filled me like it never has before. Could I dare believe that my baby boy was going to be okay and this was over?
Elijah was on the Cardiac Intensive Care Ward and this is where he would be for the fist 24-48 hours. From all the reading I had done I didn't know what to expect he would look like. I expected him to look a mess, but when I saw my baby he wasn't. Although he had a breathing tube, he looked like my baby. My baby that I grew and carried for 9 months. That I gave birth to, and raised for 6 months. Something changed in me, right at this second. I don't know how or what but it did, all of those months imagining the worst. He was okay. My maternal instinct took over, I asked how I could help, how I could make him comfortable. I wanted to know everything that were doing. Greg however, finally broke down. He couldn't cope with seeing Elijah who was still out of it lying there like that. He had to leave. I couldn't go and comfort him, I had to stay with Elijah. I just had to. I couldn't leave him.
The incision mark was small, skinny and basically had a plaster on it. The only thing that really frightened me was the chest drain. Three plastic tubes were stitched into his chest and carried out the blood into a box filled with water on the floor at the bottom of the bed. It looked like there was so much blood coming out but was assured this was normal. He was on morphine (enough to knock a horse out) but the nurse kept laughing as soon as he heard my voice he was turning his head and trying to wake up.
I spent the next few hours at his side on the ward. There was a lot going on. He had one to one care and was in a room with 4 other patients. The nurses were lovely and explained everything to me. Things were going really well. He wasn't even on a breathing tube now. He was still bleeding out of his drain quite a bit so they gave him plasma and this seemed to stem the flow. I busied myself bringing him dummies, teddies, blankets it made me feel like I was in control and I was being a mother.
|Dad hugs, pretty out of it still|
We were not allowed to stay in the intensive care ward overnight so we had to sleep in the shared accommodation we had down the road. I think we may have gone for a walk to get something to eat. I took some tablets and after calling the ward to check on Elijah and I actually slept.
As soon as we woke up, I called the ward and we got dressed and went straight there. The bleeding had stopped nearly all together and it looked like the drains would be taken out soon. This means he would be able to be dressed. He was barely even on any medication, all this just 24 hours from coming up from surgery. We couldn't believe it, he was doing so well. At times even the nurses were surprised. He opened his eyes, and held our hands. I made Greg find a book shop so we could read to him even when he was asleep. I was also getting some weird looks reading Hannibal Rising by his bedside. I let Greg talk me into going out in the evening for a meal when the nurses were on watch with Elijah. It was good to get out but my mind wasn't too far from Elijah. I remember us arguing one night and I have no clue what that even was about. Emotions were high, I still was in shock with all of this.
|Only a few days after surgery|
We had begun to get a routine of the day, and then on the Sunday we were told Elijah was well enough to be taken to Bear Ward. This was amazing in three days he was off every medication, except Calpol and Ibuprofen, he had every tube, his chest drain removed and was eating and drinking milk again! Elijah was still not quite himself but he just had major surgery. I remember Greg saying he was worried Elijah may never smile and again and that he was broken!
|Dressings were off.|
Bear Ward was slightly different and there was not one to one care (as I found out even less on a Sunday) but we adjusted and began to hold and cuddle our little boy again. This was however quite a feat and he could no longer be picked up under the arms and instead had to be scooped up. One of us could stay in a sofa bed next to Elijah but we decided it was best as he was cared for throughout the night we would stay in the flat. The wards are so busy, noisy with the machines and constant people I knew we were better getting a full nights sleep and going over first thing.
|Still smiling the sign of a true heart warrior|
Monday, when the Doctors and Consultants came round again after the weekend, things looked good, maybe too good as we would later learn today. Tests were done, things were monitored and it looked like after just 4 days after surgery WE WERE GOING HOME! Except the dozy cow doing the ECG didn't listen to me when I said he had just had another test and was quite agitated. He wouldn't lay still so they got a inaccurate reading. Cue us no longer going home (after might I add we had told everyone and even arranged a bloody lift and packed), as he needed to be monitored for 24 hours with a device on his chest. As I not so politely told them the next morning when the results were back and in fact normal, he was agitated at the time.
|First night at home|
After 5 of both the slowest and quickest days (even the consultants were shocked) we were coming home! We had lunch in the hospital restaurant for the last time. We packed our bags. We left Great Ormond Street with our son the heart warrior in his pram and as a family again.
|Yeah I had open heart surgery 6 days ago, so what?|