Posted by O. | Filed under Ophelia's Diary
Another early morning ride in a car to a Hospital, but this time instead of being inside of Mamma’s tummy I was sitting in a car seat. I slept all the way, even though I was a little hungry. We drove into New York City on a Wednesday morning catching the beginning of the rush hour just as we reached the George Washington Bridge.
The Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of Columbia Presbyterian Medical Center, sits on Washington Heights at 168th Street and Broadway. Poppy was a General Surgery Resident at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital in 1982 but he had not been back since. Now there was a new Children’s Hospital and the neighborhood had improved a lot. Rents had doubled and the crime rate had dwindled to a fraction of its 1982 levels.
When we arrived at 6:30 a.m., I was carried up to a waiting area on the 9th Floor, where a nurse weighed me again and took my temperature with a thermometer under my arm. Finally I saw an Anesthesiologist who would make me sleepy during my surgery and the nurse who would be helping Dr. Q. The last thing I remember was Poppy handing me to the nurse at the door of the Operating Room and saying ‘Good Luck’.
The next few hours were a little tense. Mamma and Poppy had a snooze on the sofas in the 9th Floor ICU waiting room and at one point Dr. Snyder came by to tell them that I was on the ‘pump’ which meant that they had redirected my blood through a machine which would breath for me whilst they fixed my heart. The next news to arrive about three hours later from my ICU Nurse Gillian was that I was off the ‘pump’ and that everything so far was going well. They were looking at the heart with a probe (Called an ‘Echo’) to see the valves and make sure that inside, hidden out of sight, the blood was pumping in and out of the heart without getting mixed up or going the wrong way.
My heart used to be like a busy freeway without a median so that cars traveling in opposite directions would crash into each other. This used to cause a lot of traffic jams and the cars would get backed up. In the same way, the blood in the heart would get jammed right back into my lungs and when your lungs are full of blood they get very heavy and hard to move. Now I had a median, thanks to Dr. ‘Q’ and the cars would swish by each other without any rubber-necking or crashing and no traffic jams. My lungs were beginning to empty and it was a lot easier to breathe.
My Poppy was a Plastic Surgeon so after the heart was fixed they had to ‘close’. Everyone was little bit nervous about giving me a pretty scar. At the end of the surgery, Dr. ‘Q” came along and told my Mamma and Poppy that the surgery had gone well and that he was happy with the result. For a short life, it seemed that I had passed another big hurdle.
Most people lead lives of remarkable uneventful-ness. Mine so far, had lasted seven weeks and three days and I was beginning to hope that I could also lead a life, a little less eventful. Thoreau said something to the same effect before wandering off to Walden Pond in my own New England.
My first day after surgery was a blur. I remember waking up with a tube on each side of my nose and tubes coming out of each arm and yet another one coming out of my bladder. There was a bigger tube coming out of my chest that blew bubbles by the side of my bed. I was a very little baby in the middle of an adult size bed. I wanted to get my breathing tube out but my doctors felt it was safer to leave it in. I had to wait until the next morning. Mamma and Poppy went home.