Ella - Update4 - Ella's stay in hospital

Ella and Chris before heading into hospital

<Chris> (email sent 21st November 2007)

We know many of you have been waiting anxiously for news on our little Ella. Short story, she has had her operation and all appears to be going as well as can be expected at the moment.

We arrived at hospital on Sunday afternoon for a period of waiting. For those of you that have any familiarity with hospitals, you'll understand. Basically they wanted to make sure that she had a period of nil by mouth before her operation in the morning. It's so hard witholding food from a hungry baby!

A registrar that was going to be performing the surgery with the surgeon/consultant came and discussed the operation with us. It was very enlightening. For some of you that I had explained the surgery to, it was more like what I had initially understood than what I explained. They do totally seperate a piece of small intestine, rejoin it and use the removed piece to re-connect to the liver after removing the biliary duct and gallbladder.

She needed a number of blood tests prior to surgery, and unfortunately these did not go easily. It's really hard to get blood out of tiny veins without wrecking them so the preferred method is a "heel prick" (it's a cut) and "milking" the blood from it. They had many attempts and didn't get enough because the blood kept clotting (ironically they wanted blood to test for a clotting factor). I had to go home as only one of us was allowed to stay with her overnight and they finally woke Paula and Ella at 2am again when a lab worker finally brought a machine to the room so they could test with a smaller amount of blood than taking a tube to the lab. Needless to say, Paula and baby did not have a great nights rest.

In the morning we meet with the anaethetist and surgeon. Neither was keen on us going into the theatre with her, but as Paula and I really wanted to make sure one of us was still with her until she was asleep, they let me take her into the theatre. They had a lovely heated gel pad to keep her warm while they operated. She was given gas and I stayed until her little arms went floppy and her eyes stopped following me.

Paula and I then went and waited. There is a lovely lounge provided by the Ronald McDonald foundation with sponsorship from other businesses like Noel Leeming. They also provided a room as we weren't going to be allowed to stay in the high dependency ward with her. Paula tried to make up for the sleepless night by napping. To say we were anxious is an understatement. We finally received a call on our mobile from the surgeon at 12:57pm saying the surgery was finished and it was "textbook".

She has been recovering well since, but we haven't had much of a chance to sit down and write, so we'll update you on that later. Keep an eye on the website.

<Paula> 22nd November 2007 - It is now the wee hours of the morning and Ella is sleeping peacefully so I thought I would take the opportunity to write down a few things to record the events of the last couple of days. People have been praying for our little Ella from all over the world, thank you, and I praise God for His presence, assurance and guidance through this. If you have had a child who has been through a general anaesthetic you will understand what I mean when I say that the recovery room was rather traumatic. Chris took some photos while we were there and most of them I decided were personal family photos that we will keep to share with Ella one day. We even have some photos of the surgery as the surgeon asked if he could take some to use for education. We have found them very interesting to look at and even comforting to see that what we have allowed to happen to our little girl has been the right thing. While we find these photos interesting we have decided to keep these private as well.

In recovery and for many hours after she just did not want to close her eyes and stayed focused on us, she would not take her eyes off us. It is ok, we were not going to leave her. The first afternoon and evening she was very unsettled. They decided to increase her morphine which helped and she was able to get some rest. Since then they have been decreasing her pain medication and she is fine. Every day we have seen improvements in her level of alertness, her colour, her vital signs are becoming more settled and stable, her urine has gone to a normal colour. We are very proud of our baby girl, but mostly thankful for God's blessings.

There is really not much to write about the last couple of days. Chris and I take it in turns at sitting by her bedside, we can't bear the thought of her waking up and one of us not being there. Because she is in a high dependency room we are unable to sleep by her bedside, but the Ronald McDonald Trust has provided family rooms for people and they have given us a room to sleep in. It is really nice, they have a lounge and provide linen and showers. They have a full kitchen that you have use of, including real plates and cultery, instead of the plastic on the ward. They are really helpful and nice. The facility is great and it is the type of place you would really enjoy staying in if it wasn't for the fact that you don't want to be in this situation at all. I now understand what the Ronald McDonald Houses are all about and from our experience they are fantastic. They provide a haven and portion of normality at a time of extreme stress.

We have tried to take photos of Ella on a daily basis to see if we can see any colour changes. We think we can see differences, the whites of her eyes are not so green and we are convinced that her skin is not so yellow even though they keep telling us that it will take a while for it to clear. Our challenge at the moment is stopping her from pulling her nasal tube out. She has discovered it and we now have to keep her hands wrapped at her sides to stop her. In her attempt to free her hands she managed to remove her hand from the bandaged splint keeping the cannular covered. She has been hooked up to six different things and I am so thankful that some of them are being disconnected as time goes on. The nasal tube should be coming out tomorrow, and the catheter came out this evening. The drainage tube is supposed to come out tomorrow too, the site is leaking so they are going to review that tomorrow morning.

The really positive thing is that they have allowed her to start feeding, albeit small amounts to start with, which she is not happy with. They are allowing us to increase the amounts each feed. She is tolerating the food really well, none of it has come up yet. She is not allowed milk yet but rather she has bubble gum flavoured electrolyte water. I am not too keen on the flavour, but what can you do, she is 8 weeks old and enjoying the flavour of bubble gum! Actually I think she would enjoy any flavour as long as it was in her stomach, she doesn't even spit her vitamins out which she did before.

Her morphine has decreased significantly and they hope that she will be off it by the end of the day, they may even move her off the high dependency ward. Her initial blood tests after the operation have come back very positive and everything is going in the right direction. Her liver function is improving daily.

Ella sleeping before her operation.

The only photo from recovery room that I will allow on the website.

Playing with Daddy and Mr Giggles, the day after the surgery.

Sleeping peacefully.