Monday, December 30, 2013

Two and a half weeks Post Op: Resting and on the Mend!

Hi everybody! Here is my two and a half week status update! I'm feeling leaps and bounds better while still on the road to recovery.  Enjoy the video!  I will have the Week in the Hospital update soon! It seems to be a little longer than I thought it would, but is full of tons of information. Until next time!

Friday, December 20, 2013

One week post op!

Hey everyone! I'm back! It's one week post op.  and I'm feeling really great! There are lots of new things I'm adjusting to so my body is a bit out of wack, but overall I'm feeling pretty good. I've included a video with an update on how I'm feeling now and will work in the coming weeks on a post explaining the entire week following surgery since it was filled with exponential change in my activity and lots of unexpected turns.  In the mean-time enjoy this video!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Day 1 of Recovery

December 13, 2013

Today Katherine looked a little less puffy, was in good spirits and wanted Mom to begin Harry Potter - Book 1 soon after we settled in.  So the day was spent alternating reading, trading spots with grandparents and Aunt Margaret, and allowing the nurse to tend to Katherine's medical needs. At this point Katherine had a port in her neck and one in each arm.  She was receiving saline, fluids, norepinephrine, magnesium, potassium, pain medications and probably a few other things.  We nicknamed the IV tree her "Christmas Tree" as it had so many branches. She also had a catheter and had 3 drainage tubes in her chest.  Forgot to mention that yesterday in ICU they had given her FFP (fresh frozen plasma) due to her blood disorder (Factor V deficiency) causing her to continue bleeding. We found out that the key to moving from ICU to a room was to get her blood pressure regulated without norepinephrine and to get her drains to slow down in their production.  Since this wasn't happening today Katherine spent another night in ICU.  We were kicked out at 8 pm, but Katherine was much more awake by the end of the day then she had been.  We even watched "The Grinch Who Stole Christmas"!

Let the Waiting Begin

Then next entry or two will be from Katherine's parents:

December 11, 2013

Tonight Katherine, her parents and grandparents went out for nice dinner in the neighborhood.  She fit in between treating herself to 2 wipe downs with antibiotic wipes to all areas to be touched by surgery.  She felt itchy after each one and thus a little irritable.  Anxiety was at an all time high, something she only later realized would be the only time she would feel it during the surgery and recovery.  Truly, the dread and anxiety leading up to the actual event was harder to bear than the actual experience.

December 12, 2013

We awoke at 4:45 am in order to get to the hospital by 5:30 am more or less dressed and ready.
Katherine was very calm through out everything - prayer works!  She wore her Team Katherine jacket her Aunt Becky and monogrammed for her to help her feel motivated!

We only waited 10 minutes before we were called back to begin the getting ready routine.  We learned that we would be able to see her to her "curtain-icle" for a few minutes and then ushered out while that shaved the critical parts and put an IV in.

While she was being tended to the surgeon spoke to her parents advising them the surgery was to begin at 8:30 am and should be just fine.  He is one of those rare types of surgeons who has wonderful bedside manner in addition to knife skills.

When we returned to Katherine's side, we all tried to comment on the obvious while we waited.  Katherine was still very calm - so much so we thought she had already been given the Versed, when in fact that was not the case! One of the anesthetists came to talk to us about the sedation process - versed, followed by the general anesthetic.  She assured Katherine she wouldn't feel or remember a thing.  As 7:30 am drew closer we noticed a little more anxiety but Katherine held up very well, shedding only a few tears as she rolled out with her nice anesthetists.

At 11:14 am they called from the operating room to say things were going well and that the surgery had actually begun at 9:15 am (so we wouldn't worry unnecessarily if it seemed to run long).  They said the surgeon had not had to use a femoral artery to hook her to the heart lung machine and that currently the valve was being sewn into place at that time. 

At 12:45 pm they notified us that Katherine was off the heart lung machine and the assistants were sewing her up.

About 1:15 pm or so the surgeon came out to tell us the specifics of the surgery.  He said he tried really hard to repair the existing valve so that it would close properly but it just wasn't a satisfactory fix so he ended up cutting it out and replacing it with the bio-prosthetic one we had agreed upon in the case of a replacement. He said she did very well even though he had to keep her on the heart lung machine longer than he wanted. He said she would probably be ready for us to see her in ICU about 3:00 pm.  We told the giant crowd of wonderful friends and family the news and prepared to get lunch and move to the ICU waiting room.

At 3:00 pm or so we were allowed a quick peak at Katherine.  As has been the case in the past it was shocking to see her being controlled by the respirator like a life sized doll but we still recognized her determination and stroked her hands and told her we'd be back in as soon as we could but they needed to get the respirator out.  She had 2 male nurses who were easy on the eyes and personable to boot which eased our minds and souls.  
About 5:00 pm or so we went back in and things were much calmer. She event managed a little smile.  We sat with her until 8 pm (when they kicked us out) and then left for dinner and a few hours sleep.  All in all a VERY successful day!!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Quick catch up and its time to go!

Hey Everyone! So its the night before and I'm going to play a little catch up! This blog post will include my symptoms a week before surgery, what to expect from pre-op and all of the wonderful blessings I have received!

Here is my symptom update from a week before the surgery:

-Out of breath easily from walking and running
-Tiredness after days of exertion
-Heart Palpitations
-General exhaustion
-Extreme anxiety mixed with some calmness

I made sure to do as much as I could during the week and a half before!  Being outgoing and wishing to defy my leaking valve I did all of my exams, sang in two concerts and continued to go to class and stay involved as much as I could.  Of course, my body decided to laugh at me by making me sick, but I made it through with the help of many wonderful friends, professors and family.  As the weekend before approached I had a chance to begin the relaxation process and enjoy the Christmas cheer.

 Since my surgery has been set for tomorrow (Thursday) I spent the entire first part of the week enjoying myself.  On Monday a very kind and anonymous member of Team Katherine provided me the opportunity to have a full body massage (which was WONDERFUL). It was a great chance to de-stress before the big day.  Then for Tuesday lots of fun was in store.  My dad and I went shopping for a diamond necklace to show off my scar after this entire ordeal is done.  After finding nothing in our meager price range we decided to just get a pair of cute pajamas instead and go out to eat with the rest of the family that night in order to celebrate our last meal together before pre-op. Little did I know what surprise was lurking! As dessert was brought out, my creme brulee turned into a Tiffany Box!!!  My parents had secretly purchased a necklace of the highest brand in order to show off my scar.  It was such a surprise and quite a waterworks show, but a very special night.

Soooo... the Pre-Op

We arrived in Atlanta at 10:00 and began the Pre-op process.  I had a wonderful nurse who laughed with me the entire way through.  We got there, checked in and met with the anesthesiologist PA.  She explained what kind of medicine we were using and how the whole process would go.  Then the surgeon PA came and explained their process.  A nurse later came in to do an EKG for the Surgeon and the anesthesiologist.  After the EKG they drew some blood and asked for a urine sample.  Finally it was time for the chest x-ray and we ended with any last questions.  They gave me some wipes to bring back to our hotel to prep for surgery and also instructed that I use the mouthwash and nose ointment still (I have been using those for three days).

So now its 10:35 and my heart surgery is scheduled for 8:30.  I'm scared as anything, but ready to get this show on the road! Tomorrow my mom and dad will be posting updates on the surgery through this blog! What a great Team Katherine I have behind me!

See y'all on the other side!