In April 2011, we went to TCH in Houston to get Blake’s heart catheterized. Blake didn’t have any issues with this catheterization, and we were released as an outpatient the same day with a plan for his third (and last planned) surgery for June. The next surgery, the Fontan, is the final rerouting of his heart’s plumbing, allowing blood to flow directly to Blake’s lungs.
Surgery 3: The Fontan
7:30 AM: Anesthesia
8:30 AM: All lines in and prepped for surgery
10:30 AM: Still cutting through layers of scar tissue in his chest
12 PM: On the heart-lung bypass machine, they immediately give him a blood transfusion (because we donated directed blood) when his blood pressure dropped to not make his body work so hard.
1:30 PM: Surgery complete, chest closed, and coming out of anesthesia. They did an extra-cardiac conduit with no fenestration.
3:30 PM: Extubated and resting in ICU with minimal oxygen. Saturations at 99%.
When Blake came out of surgery, I saw a handsome pink little boy. I had never seen his lips, fingers, and skin so healthy and radiant. He looked amazing, and all he wanted was for somebody to hold him.
Recovery from the Fontan was emotionally trying. This time he spent a (very brief) two days in ICU before we were moved to the live-in floor. Due to the fluid that gathers around the heart and lungs during this procedure, chest tubes have to be placed to gather the fluid as it drains. As part of keeping fluid away from his chest and lungs, they put these kiddos on significant fluid restriction. When you have a kid who LOVES drinking milk, and you tell him he can only have one tablespoon per hour, he is not going to be happy.
Remarkably, within five days, he had weaned off of pain meds and was feeling like his old self. Unfortunately, we had to stay in the hospital a (grueling) 12 days until his chest tubes quit draining. The tubes were our nemesis during Blake’s recovery. The worst part of this recovery is the grumpiness that you have to restrain an active 3-year-old boy. It took about 6 weeks post surgery before we were able to allow Blake to drink unrestricted fluids, swim, and be picked up under the arms. All-in-all, as with all of Blake’s surgeries, we were blessed; his surgeries and recoveries went as well as possible.
It’s funny, but before the surgery, we never thought Blake was sick or slowed down by his heart. Before the Fontan, we used to be able to hear Blake breathing heavily from wherever we were in the house, and the other day we were playing Hide-N-Seek and I really couldn’t find him because I couldn’t hear him. The little things like his pink lips, and his lack of heavy breathing really make a world of difference.
Starting at four months post surgery, his oxygen saturations have been holding steady at 99-100%, and we have never seen him stronger or healthier. He truly is a miracle child.