Wednesday, April 2, 2014
An Unplanned Trip
For several months Ella has been saying that food gets stuck in her throat. Sometimes, while she was eating, she would pause, put her hand to her throat and swallow, then she was fine. I, honestly, didn’t think much of it. She had a barium swallow done in August and they didn’t see any significant narrowing, so I figured it was something we could address on our next visit to Cincinnati.
Then Monday March 17th happened. It was about 11 pm and Ella had been asleep for hours. She woke up gagging and choking and unable to breathe. Finally, after a few seconds she threw up some blood and started breathing again. Ella had choked on her own phlegm. This was bad. Really bad.
I hate to say it, but I don’t panic very much anymore when it comes to Ella. We’ve experienced so much in her 6 years of life that in many ways I feel like I’ve seen it all. But this incident caused me to panic…I mean seriously panic. To the point where I didn’t sleep all night. I just lay in bed listening for her. Praying she would breathe the entire night.
Joe called Cincinnati Children’s Hospital first thing the next morning and the awesome EB nurse got to work. Within a couple of days we had Ella scheduled to go in for a throat dilatation. Basically, they go into her throat with a deflated balloon catheter and slowly inflate the balloon to stretch out any narrowing in her throat. We decided that since she was going to be under anyway, we’d go ahead and have her teeth cleaned too.
On the night of Wednesday March 26th we flew out for our whirlwind trip. Thursday morning at 6 am we checked into the hospital and got Ella all situated for her surgery. I don’t care how many times a parent has to leave their kid in the operating room, it is always difficult. No matter how big or small the surgery is, no matter how amazing the doctors are, it is heart wrenching to leave your precious child. Joe and I cry every single time…and Thursday was no different. I am convinced that they strategically plan the OR to be a long walk to the waiting room so that parents have several minutes to pull themselves together before going back into civilization.
I have to give a quick shout out to Joe’s sister Maureen. We are beyond thankful that she was willing to come to the hospital and help us with AJ. We really don’t know what we would have done without her.
In a nutshell, Ella’s throat was about 95% closed (insert another panic attack)! It was a very good call to go in when we did. As far as her teeth, we are running into a situation where she is losing her baby teeth, but her mouth isn’t big enough for her adult teeth. Things were very crowded in there! She had already lost 3 baby teeth on the bottom and the 2 adult teeth that were coming in were really cramming things up. The dentist (who we had never seen before, but who we now totally love and will see every time we go for a visit) pulled 7 of Ella’s baby teeth, 4 on top and 3 on bottom. The first few days of recovery were rough, but now that Ella is getting the hang of eating with her back teeth and now that her gums have healed, she’s doing great.
I am reminded, once again, of what a blessing Ella is and what an incredible little girl she is. I was afraid that she would be upset about losing so many teeth. That wasn’t the case at all. In fact, she was very excited that she didn’t have to feel it when her teeth were pulled. She is also beyond thrilled about the financial prospects with the tooth fairy. As far as her throat, it was sore for the first day, but now she is very happy that she can eat anything she wants to and doesn’t have to worry about things getting stuck.
Joe stayed the night with Ella in the hospital while I went back to the hotel with AJ. We left to come back home Friday afternoon. Unfortunately AJ didn’t sleep well at the hotel and cried half the flight to Cincinnati and half the flight home, making our travel even more stressful. We were all very glad to be home Friday night! We were so happy to be home, that we didn’t even leave the house on Saturday. Joe and I agreed that the kids could sleep as long as they wanted to, and all 4 of us stayed in our pajamas all day.
Ella had a lot to say about our trip and her surgery, but here are a few highlights:
* Before her surgery we were talking to Dr. A who was going to be doing her dilatation. She pointed to her throat and said, "It's right here." showing him where the stricture was. After the surgery he told us that she was exactly right. Where she pointed was the exact place where the stricture was.
* “Hey dad, do you like my teeth?” followed by the biggest smile she could give him.
* While sitting in her hospital bed, Ella spent a lot of time practicing saying words. Without your teeth some words can be hard to say. Finally she said, “Well, at least I can say the important words; mom, dad, AJ, Sabrina.”
* Ever since the surgery Ella has been calling herself either toothless or snaggletooth.
* And of course, the most important thing she said was, "Daddy, you were right: even though I have to see a lot of doctors, Cincinnati is still a fun place."