Saturday, January 21, 2012

Kelton's Surgery

On Wednesday I packed a bag for Kelton and myself with our basic necessities and a few toys, drove 3 hours, and checked into a hotel.  Kelton was scheduled for surgery the next day.  Our perfect little boy had one minor problem; he was born with a rare gingival tumor called a congenital epulis of the newborn.  

At first I thought it was just a nursing blister on the roof of his mouth.  That is the best description I can give it, but  about a month passed and it din't go away.  Kai researched it a little and took a picture to his previous oral path professor.  She seemed to think that it was a congenital epulis of the newborn.  I took Kelton to his doctor, who referred us to an ENT.  The ENT's diagnosis was that it was likely a hemangioma and that we should wait and watch and have it removed if it changed.  When she found out that we would be switching insurances at the end of the month, she opted to have it removed right away just to be safe.  However, Kelton would have been only 2 months old so we opted to wait since he was so young and the risks were greater due to his age.

We changed insurances after the move and decided to get it reevaluated by an oral surgeon.  After taking some pictures and doing some research he concluded that it was a gingival cyst.  His diagnosis was to wait and do nothing unless it changed significantly, in which case it would need to be removed immediately.

All was fine until about 2 months ago.  Kelton's two lower teeth broke through and immediately the bump tripled in size.  I immediately called the previous oral surgeon and emailed him pictures since we had moved again.  He said that it was time for it to come out.  I found a trusted oral surgeon that my little sister, Stephanie, works for and scheduled a consult.  By the time I got him in to see him, the bump had grown a tooth.  Not kidding.  Yes, it grew a tiny tooth.  This oral surgeon decided that it was a congenital epulis of the newborn and that it needed to come out.  (First diagnosis that actually agreed with one of the previous ones!  4 doctors; 3 different diagnosis's.)  Since about 7 months had passed from the first surgery treatment plan making Kelton much larger and having a better ability to handle the surgery, and since the bump had changed significantly, we decided to go ahead and schedule it.  A week later, the tiny tooth fell out and another appeared in it's place.  A week after that, the second tooth fell out and the bump returned to it's original size (maybe even a little smaller).  Still the oral surgeon said that we needed to go ahead and get it removed.  We scheduled the date and I prepared.

I checked into a Westin with a great city view, and the front desk upgraded me to a large quiet room to accommodate Kelton better.  They were fantastic every step of the way.  I was so thankful for a nice, safe hotel since Kelton and I were staying alone.  His surgery was scheduled for 8 a.m. and we needed to be there at 6:30.  The hardest part about this was that he wouldn't be able to eat or drink anything after 4 a.m.  He is still nursing on demand and nurses first thing in the morning (and loves solid food as well).  I didn't get much sleep the night before.  I went to bed late and being the worrier that I am, tried not to think of all the possible things that could go wrong.  I slept with Kelton in the large bed and let him nurse as often as he wanted all night long.  I set my alarm for 3:30, made sure he got one good and final feeding in, and then reset my alarm for 5 a.m.  Thankfully Kelton slept soundly until 6:15 when I scooped him up and put him in my ergo carrier and made the short trip to the children's hospital.

Everyone was extremely helpful and kind.  Kelton did well until the last 45 minutes when he kept looking directly at my chest and screaming because I wouldn't let him nurse.  "How could you DO this to me, Mommy?!?!?!"  He seemed beside himself at my refusal to give in and let him nurse.  I tried to face him away from me and keep him distracted, but it was a pretty miserable time for everyone.  Finally, it was time to go, so I got suited up to go back with him while they put him to sleep.  It was so hard to watch!  He screamed for an excruciating minute while they held the mask over him; his body squirming, trying to wriggle free of the doctors and nurses hands that gently pinned him to the bed.  Then his eyes lost focus, and he dropped off to quiet breathing.  Parents weren't allowed to stay beyond this point, but I was very thankful that I was able to be there to comfort him during what must have been a scary time for him.

20 minutes passed and the oral surgeon came and said that all went well and Kelton should be back with me soon.  About 20 minutes later they finally brought him to me and he almost lept into my arms the second he saw me.  I half ran to hold him as well.  He immediately nursed and continued nursing for the next 3 hours!!  I was so thankful that he was done and okay.  The time that I spent waiting for him to be brought back was similar to the time you spend in labor waiting to see and hold your baby for the first time.  The anticipation is palpable and you can hardly contain your eagerness to hold your baby.  Every single baby I heard, every set of footsteps that came near to our area, I jumped up to see if it was Kelton.  I was so relieved and thankful when I finally had him in my arms again.

When they finally discharged us, I gathered him in my arms and started out of the hospital.  I had to walk right by the children's oncology department.  I hadn't noticed it on my way in, and my heart sank as soon as I read the sign.  My mind immediately prayed without consciously intending to do so , God, please, let it be empty.  I knew this was irrational as soon as I prayed it, but I hoped that the number of children battling cancer would be so small that it would be empty.  Instead as I got closer I saw children of varying ages, with bald heads, still full of youth, yet robbed of the ability to live the carefree life they were intended to enjoy.  I fought back tears imagining what they and their parents must be going through, realizing that for whatever reason, they were going through something so terrible and awful while I was walking out of the hospital with my healthy child in my arms.  I thanked God for the health we all have enjoyed to this point, and prayed that it would continue.  I also silently prayed for the children I had just seen and their families.  I prayed that they would be able to fight and win the terrible battle raging in their tiny little bodies.

Once we left, we went back to the hotel for a couple of hours.  They had given us a complimentary late checkout, so we didn't have to rush.  Kelton still wanted to nurse and took a short nap.  I packed up our bags, called for our car, and started the 3 hour drive back home.  Kelton slept the whole way home and then continued to nurse almost constantly the next 2 days.  Then he got ravenously hungry and ate 5 servings of his favorite veggie at the moment--steamed and pureed cauliflower.  The next morning he ate a piece of wheat toast, a hard boiled egg, oatmeal, and fruit.  You wouldn't know he just had surgery.  He is still full of smiles and has loads of energy.  We are so thankful he's back to normal so quickly!  Here are some pictures from the experience.  

Just before we went back for surgery.  Glad I'm not a surgeon.  This look in not flattering on me ;-)  
Just after he got back from surgery.  He just wanted to nurse and cuddle.  So sweet.  They had to unattach his iv because he kept setting off the alarms because he wouldn't leave it alone.  
A very thankful mommy to have her little boy safely back.  
Ready to leave the hospital.   Hard to tell that he just had surgery.  
Nap in the hotel.  
Exploring the hotel when we got back.  
He's so happy and full of energy--even after surgery! 
 The congenital epulis at 2 months old.
 Again when his 2 lower teeth came in at about 8 months old.
About a week later (8 months and a week).  See the tiny tooth?  It was a bloody mess during that time.  
 About a month later after the teeth fell out.  (approx 9 months)  

His top 2 teeth have come in on one side, but not on the side where the congenital epulis was.  They may or may not come in, but we honestly don't care.  He's still as cute as ever to us and if his baby teeth don't come in in that spot, most likely his adult teeth will.  If not, God thankfully let him be born as the son of a dentist so it could be fixed one day.