The Post-Op Debrief

I’ve never felt more grown up than I did on Tuesday. Watching a your child go through something like surgery is never easy, no matter how simple the procedure, and with Josh’s op there were so many unknowns. In trying to improve his eyesight we could very easily have made it worse. Making the decision to go ahead with Josh’s surgery was ours alone to make, and all we could do was hope that we had made the right one. I wanted to write down all the details of Josh’s procedure in the hope that it might help parents who have may have to go through it one day. 

Josh had to fast from 7am so we woke him at 6 to make sure he had time to eat a decent breakfast. He was pretty excited as he’d watched us pack his new toys and favourite pyjamas into his bag the night before. We were told to be at the hospital at 12, for a 1pm procedure. We arrived and went through the mountains of paperwork and then the waiting began. It seems endless, and there are constantly people coming to see you, running checks and asking the same questions. The surgeon arrived just before 1 and although we were supposed to be first, they called up another patient ahead of Josh…

We’ve come to learn that waiting longer than you want to is all part of the game. We were lucky that there were some really nice families waiting with us, some who had been there before too many times to count. Josh was really well behaved given the wait, but he was tired and starting to get impatient by about 2 o’clock. We both gave him lots of cuddles and convinced him to sit on Dave’s lap and have a rest. Within minutes he was asleep…

ImageHe stayed asleep until they came to get him and the anaesthetist put the mask on his little face so gently that he was completely unaware of what was happening. It was such a contrast to his last experience with anaesthetic, and it meant that he woke up calmly and gently too.

We were told the whole thing would only take 45 minutes and were sent to a recovery ward on the other side of the hospital. We checked on Charlie who was outside with his grandparents, and went back in to wait. The waiting is the hardest part. It’s unbearable, and unavoidable. After an hour and a half someone came and found us and said that Josh was actually back over where we had left him so we dashed across, afraid that he had woken up and we weren’t there.

He was slowly drifting in and out of consciousness with a large patch over his eye. We didn’t get to see the doctors straight away but the nurses told us everything had gone really well. A huge sigh of relief! I sat with him a while listening to him breathing, but by that stage Charlie’s patience had run out, and he was hungry and tired. I had to make the tough decision to leave before Josh was awake, but Dave stayed with him and reported back.Image

Within a couple of hours he was up and devouring a bowl of spaghetti and toast. He was pretty heavily medicated so there was no pain, and there really hasn’t been any since. The following morning he saw an ophthalmologist at the hospital’s eye clinic and there was minimal swelling and very little bleeding so he was allowed to come home. We have to put in eye drops every few hours and keep the eye clean. No swimming or sandpits for a few weeks, and no “rough play” until the stitches dissolve (not an easy ask for a 3 year old!), but other than that it’s business as usual. 

We have another follow-up appointment tomorrow, where he’ll hopefully have a vision assessment for his new prescription, and then we wait for the lenses to be fitted… We’ll be back to do the other eye later in the year.

We’ve been overwhelmed by all the love and support, and want to say a big thanks to those who sent messages this week. We still have a long way to go but we are over the first hurdle!



3 thoughts on “The Post-Op Debrief

  1. Great news Brooke. Thanks for posting the update. Dumb Q: Can Joshie see at all with his eye or does he have to wait til the contact lens is fitted? I guess he is wearing a patch? Love Steph, J & A x

    • Thanks Steph, not a dumb question at all! A very important one actually… It’s hard to tell how the vision in his right eye compares to how it was before surgery but the best we can guess is its very blurry. It’ll improve as the swelling goes down but until he gets a contact in there it’ll be very distorted and unclear. He has to wear the patch at night to protect the eye but during the day just his glasses. He’s a bit sensitive to light at the moment so he’s getting around in sunglasses a bit! He’ll need a patch again regularly soon to strengthen the ‘new eye’ but he doesn’t mind them now.

      Sent from my iPhone

  2. My son Roman, adopted from Russia at 20 months, had a juvenile cataract in his left eye which was removed at 28 months. We had almost three years of contact lens trauma until he was finally able to have an IOL inserted at age 5. This was the mid- nineties, and the lens cost $150 at the time and often took 45 minutes to insert because of all his flailing about, closing his eyes, etc. We actually had to sit on him most days with his head between our legs to get it in. He lost the lens a couple times a month and insurance covered only one a year, so the costs were astronomical.
    But we were trying to preserve his sight in that eye, otherwise he was going to go blind.

    I empathize with the journey you are embarking on, it is not easy, but what else can you do- but do what is best for your son Josh. I hope the surgery and the contact lens go well. I understand that they blur the vision of the stronger eye these days to strengthen the weak eye, to prevent the amblyopia. We struggled with eye patches which were a challenge with a toddler. My best wishes for you and Josh.

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