Wednesday, January 11, 2006

PICU Memories

Sarahlynn posted a couple days ago on the anniversary of Ellie's heart surgery. We she mentioned it to me that night, I was amazed. It never occurred to me. I guess we're so far past it that I only think about that week in the hospital when I'm triggered by something else:
  • Seeing the cutest picture of Ellie ever taken (warning, she is bandaged here, so consider constraint if you're really sensitive to blood). We sometimes keep a framed copy of this on the coffee table.
  • Hearing the music from either her play Aquarium or the hanging star that we used to sooth her in the hospital.
  • Seeing the book of song lyrics that Sarahlynn and I put together and sang over and over and over during the whole first year of her life.
  • You might be surprised that seeing her scars doesn't usually trigger any hospital memories. I guess we see her shirtless enough that I'm used to it... except for the little scar on the inside of her left foot, from the "spare" IV line that they kept in throughout her stay.
Sarahlynn spent five installments recounting our stay in the hospital with Ellie two years ago. So, I'll just share my most impactful memories.

The first one was on the night before the surgery. The amazing surgeon, to whom we owe Ellie's life, came in to talk with us about what would happen the next day. He explained the procedure and some of the risks. He said something to the effect, "and I have to share with you that there is an ever so slight change the Ellie may not make it through the surgery because of complications that may arise." "What's the risk?" we asked. "On the order of 1-2%," he told us. We were openly taken aback by this answer, I guess. He repeated, "it's a very slight risk." I then explained to him that he was talking to people who had a 1 in 228 change of being in this position at all, but here we are. And he was telling us that it was 4 times more likely that Ellie would die, than that we would be in this position at all. It's not an entirely rational response, but I think we were both scared to begin with. After the fact, I admitted to Sarahlynn that I honestly believed that when we handed Ellie off to the anethesiologist, that was the last time we'd see her alive. Or worse, she'd come out of surgery, get worse, go back in, have some emergencies, battle on, and finally succumb to all the complications...

That memory will be very vivid for a long time, I think.

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