Recovering from stoma reversal surgery

Some of my first few ‘neighbours’ on the ward were in for bowel reconnection, or stoma reversal, surgery. In fact, so many people have been and gone who brought their child in for this. At the time it was interesting to hear their story, but it had never really clicked that one day this would be our path too. I sit here, whilst Clara sleeps under a heavy sedation of morphine and IV paracetamol, and think back, straining my mind to remember every little detail or what they went through or said.

Clara’s surgery was a success. It went to plan. Mr Lee did his usual wonderful job with Clara and left her scars neat, one day to be just small reminders of her early years.

Dean and I went to recovery to collect Clara. As we walked in, Clara was there in the first bay in the arms of a recovery nurse dressed in scrubs with a friendly smile. She said “Hello mum, let me pass you your baby.” All of the previous times I’ve been to recovery to get Clara, she’d been laying in her cot wrapped up in medical blankets, so to be handed her straight into my arms was wonderful. We stayed in recovery for what felt like half an hour as they prepared to return Clara to the ward, handing over to our ward nurse Emma all of the details of Clara’s observations and care requirements.

Having Clara on the ward felt like little had changed, except this time our little girl was laying still in her cot whereas she’s usually cycling her legs fast at 7pm and squealing to all around. In her absence, various monitors and pumps had been placed ready to support Clara on her return. These were now on, various wiggly lines, alarms, and numbers on screens.

At first Clara was relatively settled, occasionally crying out but she could be reassured with us in sight, a handhold, and a cheek stroke. As the evening wore on, Clara became more unsettled – regularly crying out loudly, clearly in pain. Probably as the anesthetic began to wear off.

I usually sleep on a day bed parallel to the end of Clara’s cot, but last night I knew both she and I felt the need to be even closer. I was prepared to sit on a chair all night and just lean against the cot to doze if I could to be near her. I ended up being offered a recliner, a surprisingly comfortable chair that would allow me to lay next to Clara’s cot. The only thing reassuring Clara slightly was the squeezing of my finger, but she squeezed so firmly her finger tips were white with pressure.

We stayed like this most of the night. Occasionally she’d let go and settle, but when she cried out she’d grab my finger again.

Neither of us got much sleep last night, but this morning I didn’t feel tired. I just wanted to get through today and see if Clara felt better. Since the sunrise, Clara has relaxed more. My immediate thought was perhaps she finds the daylight reassuring? If she does have profound hearing loss then it’s understandable that at night time, when her vision isn’t clear, it all seems even more scary. And that’s without the pain!

As the morning has progressed, Clara has settled into sleep. She’s slept almost solidly for the last five hours, only waking briefly on the odd occasion for some reassurance. The pain relief is working, her heart rate is lower, she’s able to rest.

For now, our focus is entirely on getting Clara comfortable.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

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