As most of you know, Catelin was hospitalized in September for idiopathic ketotic hypoglycemia (a critically low blood sugar for unknown reasons). We still have no idea why but thankfully she has not had any problems with her blood sugar since that time. During those three days in the hospital, one of the tests they did was a CT scan of her head. Everything looked great with her brain but they found she had a congenital abnormality called right coronal suture craniosynostosis- basically one of her skull bones was fused and it is not supposed to be yet. In early October, we met with a craniofacial plastic surgeon and a neurosurgeon who confirmed that she needed surgery which we scheduled for December 10th (after our wonderful trip to Disney)!
Those were the two most tearful and anxiety-ridden months of my life. Thankfully Catelin had no idea and went on being her sweet most adorable self. We felt so blessed to have amazing friends, family, and a church community who dedicated masses, rosaries, Bible studies, and special prayers to her in the days leading up to the surgery. It was truly humbling to see so many people lift her and our family up in prayer- we have never felt more loved.
The morning of December 10th was tough. We had to be at the hospital by 6:00 AM so it was an early morning for baby girl, but she didn’t mind as long as Curious George was along for the ride.
Catelin got a little Versed (a medication to make you relax) by mouth prior to heading back to surgery- it was funny to see her so loopy.
But when that OR nurse tried to take her out of my arms that Versed might as well have been water- she knew that someone was taking her from mommy and daddy and was not having it. So off she went into surgery kicking and screaming, and with tears streaming down my cheeks I threw George to the nurse so he could be in the operating room with her.
Both of our parents were with us and Lisa and Ty came for awhile too (MJ was in school). Although they called us every hour to update us on their progress, those were the longest 4.5 hours of my life. Catelin did require a blood transfusion (this was expected) so a big thank you to brothers Eddie and Mike for donating! Just before 1:00 pm they informed us that the surgery was over and she was headed to recovery. Unfortunately we weren’t allowed in the recovery room so we had yet another wait before we could see our baby girl. It seemed like forever before the nurse called us to say they were ready to transport her to the ICU and we would be able to see her for a few seconds in the hallway.
I swear I held my breath until they turned the corner and I saw my little angel – her head wrapped in gauze, her eyes swollen and bruised, her face with a look of confusion and fear …and then she saw us and I thought she was going to jump right off of that bed.
The mother in me was sobbing but the doctor in me did a quick neurological exam – vision intact, moving all extremities well, pupils equal round and reactive to light and accommodation, strength normal…and most importantly it was her …it was her personality- wanting nothing more in this world than to be in mommy’s arms. She grabbed my shirt so hard I thought she was going to pull me over the rails and into the bed. They allowed me to go back into the ICU with them and hold her while they hooked her up to all of the monitors.
Not long after, daddy was able to join us and hold his little girl. MJ and Ty weren’t allowed in the ICU so they came to the hospital but couldn’t see her that day. I “slept” in the metal crib with her that night – she did ok as long as the pain was controlled.
Unfortunately it takes about 36-48 hours for the swelling to peak so it was increasingly difficult for her to see as the hours passed. The next day she was stable enough to be transferred to the regular floor. She waxed and waned throughout the day- her bad moments were mostly due to pain but she really perked up when it was under control. Here she is playing with some of her balloons (thank you Lindz and Kim!):
The boys visited her after school that day – she was so excited to see them but they were a little worried about touching or hugging her. I explained that she could see them through a small slit in her left eye and that the swelling was going to get better in the days ahead.
Ms. Lisa had Ty on Thursday morning and all he could talk about was getting to the hospital to see “baby” (he still calls her baby even though she is catching up to him in size!). In fact, Lisa turned into the grocery store to grab a few things for us on the way and Ty screamed, “NO LISA! This is Publix; this is NOT the hospital and I need to go to the hospital RIGHT NOW to see baby.” Well, ok then…
Catelin was in such good spirits that morning- she even made her first trip to the playroom on her floor and went to a music class later that day.
We were able to transition her to an oral pain medication with no problem. The surgeons were so impressed with her progress that they told us to plan for discharge on Friday morning! MJ joined us after school and we had more fun in the playroom and went down to the Kid Zone where Home Depot was hosting a Despicable Me 2 party.
Catelin spiked a fever Friday morning so we decided to monitor it for a few more hours prior to leaving the hospital. Thankfully it came down quickly and we went home that afternoon – she was so happy (especially after she took her first bath on Saturday)!
She had a few fevers over the weekend but they resolved quickly. She is now sleeping through the night with no pain and I would honestly say she is back to 95% her old self.
Catelin has been through more in the 18 months of her life than most of us have gone through in a lifetime…she is one tough, amazing, strong-willed little girl. As my friend Kim M. said, I hope we look back on this as a “blip on the radar” of Catelin’s life. We have her first post-op appointment later this week and pray all goes well.
Thank you for ALL of your prayers- we are blessed; truly, truly blessed. This was the best Christmas present of all. Praise be to our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Oh, and by the way – we had her 18 month check up today…it turns out this did not slow her down at all! Her vocabulary has exploded and she is even talking in short sentences now! She is just shy of 31 pounds (99%) and almost 3 feet tall (35.5”; >99%).