Recovering from bowel reconnection surgery

Having intensive surgery is exactly that, intense. It’s not just a simple nip in and out in a ‘just popping to the Co-op to get some milk, some bread, and oh yep I’ll have a creme egg since they’re at the till’ kind of way.

Clara came back from theatre on morphine, but at a much lower rate to that she’d been on in intensive care after her emergency surgery. It was expected she would stay on morphine from her operation on Thursday to the following Tuesday, but by Saturday night it was turned off. It wasn’t relieving her of pain, it was sedating her. She was spaced out and clearly uncomfortable with it. With the morphine off, she was much calmer. We knew she didn’t need it anymore, regular pain relief would work better for her.

Sunday, Mother’s Day, has been difficult.

The day started off bright, I felt good, but Clara was unsettled.

Unfortunately as the day went on it became clear she was really uncomfortable, and we just felt more and more distressed we couldn’t help her.

Clara clearly has bad acid reflux. Her body shakes once, stronger than a hiccup and with no sound, and she cries. Sometimes she gags and then swallows and licks her mouth to try and clear away the horrible taste. Everytime it happens she cries more.

Clara’s also straining, tensing her torso and face – heavily at times and gently at others. She’s not familiar with bowel movements, and her intestines squeezing is an altogether new sensation. I’m hoping as she gets used to the sensation she’ll relax more. She’s not straining to poo, so we’re not exactly sure why she’s pushing so hard.

The two feelings combined has sent her heart rate through the roof.

Clara whimpers often, soft murmuring noises of discomfort, then a scream or shout comes out, then silence or whimpering again.

We think her morning medication, including pain relief, wasn’t successful as her cannula wasn’t in her hand properly. But we don’t know. So Clara spent most of the day in pain because we couldn’t give her anything as they couldn’t tell how much of the morning dose she absorbed.

I check her nappy often to ensure she’s not sat in anything acidic. The last time, I stripped her sleepsuit off more than normal and just happened to look at her tummy. I noticed it looked more solid, swollen, around one side of her wide wound. I’d not remembered noticing that before.

This makes us both nervous. A distended tummy was the sign everything was wrong that fateful day on January 2nd when we got the phone call to say she was going to intensive care and they needed to operate as an emergency. That, along with a high temperature, rings alarm bells. (NB: Clara’s tummy is nothing like it was on January 2nd, but a distended tummy is an indicator there’s a problem inside).

It could just be that we’re so used to a happy chirpy Clara now that anything else seems extreme. It could be there’s something wrong. She’s definitely not herself. We just don’t know.

The peadeatric doctor can’t visit until later to assess Clara so we likely won’t know her thoughts until morning. We have a room above Clara, kindly provided by Ronald Mcdonald House Charity, that means we both can stay the night, but it means neither of us is next to her. Luckily, Clara is the only baby in the neonatal bay of the ward so if it’s a peaceful night she’ll be particularly well monitored by the wonderful Carol.

I feel terrible not staying next to her, but with Clara crying out loudly when awake and in her sleep I know tomorrow will be that much harder if I don’t sleep either. It’ll already be midnight before I go to bed and I want to be back on the ward for 7am to get all the updates on how the night went for Clara before the nurses get tied up ready for handover.

It’ll be a long long wait until the morning.

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