Last Friday, Leo headed into hospital for a second attempt at his ileostomy reanastomosis (or “stoma closure” in layman’s terms). After the last attempt went so disastrously wrong, we were understandably nervous about how things were going to go this time.
The surgery went swimmingly well this time, and Leo and Kristy came home only three days later!
We had been “refeeding” Leo for the last few months in order to prepare for surgery. Basically, this involved inserting a foley catheter into the downstream side of his of his stoma, then injecting 30ml – 40ml of formula through it. I’ll be the first to admit that I will not miss doing this. The surgeons assured us that “nothing bad could go wrong”, but then in the same breath, warned us to be careful not to push too hard or we might “accidentally puncture his colon, and that would be really bad”.
But, the surgeons also informed us that successful refeeds would do wonders for a successful outcome in surgery, so we were determined to make it work. The idea was that it would start exercising his colon, which until this point really hadn’t been used much at all. It also provided us with some reassurance that his colon had full connectivity, and that his colon had good peristalsis.
Our first attempt was a complete disaster – after 20 minutes of trying to get the catheter in, we had no choice but to admit defeat. But after another lesson watching the surgeons do it, we managed to refine our technique, and subsequent efforts proved extremely successful. By the time his surgery date had come around, we must have clocked up at least 15 or 20 successful refeeds, so we were satisfied that we had done everything we possibly could to prime his colon.
We arrived at the hospital bright and early at 6:30 AM on Friday morning. Leo’s surgery was the first one on the roster, which meant that he had to be “nil by mouth” since 4 AM. After the usual routine of triple-checking his details, he was taken into surgery at about 8:30 AM.
His surgeon called us around an hour-and-a-half later to say that everything had gone really well. About 45 minutes after that, I was allowed to go and see him in surgical recovery. He was a bit dopey from the general anaesthetic, but otherwise was looking really good – and bag free! In fact, everyone was so impressed with how well his surgery had gone that they sent him straight up to the recovery ward (instead of the Intensive Care ward that he was originally scheduled for). This was both a good and bad thing – good, because it meant his surgery had gone even better than expected, but bad because his history of recovering after surgery wasn’t great, and Intensive Care is as good as it gets in terms of medical attention.
Waiting to hear that your six-month old has come through surgery is bad enough, but nervously waiting for “up to three days” afterwards to see if the surgery was successful is far worse. What we needed was for Leo to produce a dirty nappy, and ideally, for his stomach not to swell up (well – a little swelling was to be expected, given that he’d just had intestinal surgery, but after his first reanastomosis, his stomach became quite swollen within about eight hours, and by 24 hours afterwards it looked like he’d swallowed a small balloon).
I cannot tell you how overjoyed we were when about 6 AM the next morning, Leo produced his first ever dirty nappy. Kristy called me from the hospital with the news, and even sent me a photo of the evidence (which I’ll spare you from). The recovery was going very successfully indeed! The last thing Leo had to prove before he was discharged that he could keep producing dirty nappies, even when he was back on solid food. So, given the all clear from his medical team, he started back on food by Sunday morning. And, thankfully, the dirty nappies just kept on coming. The surgery was a complete success!
Leo was discharged mid-Morning on Monday, after barely three days in hospital. It was his shortest – and most successful – visit yet! We are overjoyed to have him home, back to his happy healthy self, and COMPLETELY BAG FREE!