It's been an unusual few days for us since I last posted. Every person--and family--reacts differently to stress. Our way of preparing for Willem's surgery has been to hunker down, stay close to home, and enjoy spending some time together with just the four of us.
Over the weekend, we watched some TV, finished up a few house projects, and got caught up on laundry and dish washing. Shaun took the boys for a drizzly walk around the lake in the last hour of daylight. It's too bad that it always takes some major upheaval in my life for me to appreciate how precious these seemingly mundane moments are.
This morning we roused our protesting boys at 6:30 to try to get to the hospital in time for our 8:00 appointment. Shaun's folks came and got Nels while the rest of us did all of the pre-op stuff. Willem was a champ like he's never been when it came to all of the tests and procedures. Up until now he has refused to lay on a table to be looked at, but today he seemed excited to have the opportunity to show how grown up he is. He was perfectly still when they drew six vials of blood. His only response was to say "Ouch."
We met several of the people who'd be working on Willem's case and then took a tour of the PICU. It was really helpful to see everything and have a better idea of what to expect. It's pretty amazing how involved heart surgery is.
My sister prayed that Willem would be the first case of the day (so he wouldn't have to go too long without eating or drinking), so I'm going to blame her that we have to be at the hospital at 6:30 tomorrow morning. Actually, I'm very thankful. Willem wakes up ready to eat as soon as he jumps out of bed, so the early hour will hold him off a bit. They'll come take him between 7:00 and 7:30 and get started.
Once they have him under, they'll do an echocardiogram down his esophagus. This will give them better pictures than they've had so far, and they can confirm what they need to do. At this point the plan is to close the hole (VSD), break up a muscle bundle (they just snip it and it comes apart), and trim an area near the base of the valve that is obstructing the blood flow. The last problem has the potential to recur after the surgery, but the first two should be fixed for good.
If all goes well, he'll spend 1-2 days in the PICU and then a few more days in a normal room, with a stay of about 5-6 days. They gave Willem a bunch of toys today, so he's quite looking forward to going back tomorrow. I really feel for the parents whose children are old enough to be anxious.
Speaking of anxious...well...Shaun and I could use your prayers in that area. They expect to be all done in about 5 hours, and I'm sure that will be the longest 5 hours of our lives. Of course there is a risk anytime anyone undergoes anaesthesia, so we will be praying for Willem to come safely through that.
We'll also pray that the surgeon will be able to make the repairs without damaging anything else, and that the heart will return to its regular, healthy beat once it is restarted. This is considered a low-risk operation (which somehow does not do much to make me feel better.) The surgeon said the risk of fatality is about 2%, and the risk of needing a permanent pacemaker (if the heart's electrical system is accidentally disrupted by the location of a stitch) is around 5%. My step-brother's baby had a large VSD and came through surgery swimmingly, and my brain knows that that is the norm. Sometimes, though, my heart does a very good job of disregarding the facts.
I don't know how much I'll be posting over the next week, but I will make sure to share all of the major things, like how the surgery went, when we leave the PICU, and when Willem is discharged. We'll be in touch with my mom and Shaun's folks by phone, so family members can call them for updates. And I'm sure that Willem would love some visitors after the first few days, for those who live nearby.
Deep breath and here we go!