Yesterday was Lucy’s six-week cast change at the hospital. Anyone unfamiliar with spicas might assume this would involve an hour or two at the plaster room and not much in the way of trauma for child or parents. Well, what we went through yesterday was an eight-plus hour affair involving many, many, many tears from our little one. Fortunately this time I managed to hold myself together and could comfort her through it all. It was also a huge help to have Jon there for the day.
One of the biggest challenges for Lucy is that she had to fast before having the general anaesthetic. This was the basic outline of our day:
No solids after 07h00
No breast milk after 11h15
No water after 12h15
Procedure at 14h15
The day started off in good cheer, particularly since our new friends were there too for their daughter’s cast change. There is a lot of waiting around between admission and the actual procedure so it was lovely to be able to chat and compare notes and keep the babies distracted from their growing hunger.
To save time in the operating theatre, the doctors like the casts to be split in the plaster room beforehand. By this stage of the day, Lucy was getting pretty darn cranky due to her very empty tummy and no sleep. She didn’t find the ear phones, loud sawing noise and weird vibrations fun at all and expressed her displeasure very loudly and vehemently in the plaster room.
Once the cast was split, the plaster lady bandaged it up to hold it in place while we continued our wait for the procedure. We didn’t get a chance to see what her skin was looking like underneath. Jon reckons it’s probably better that way! A few days ago we were very concerned about the skin at the back of her thighs because it was getting raw and weepy and very smelly. We tried to clean the area using a damp cloth and tea tree oil, then blow dried it before placing sanitary liners under the cast to draw moisture away and form a barrier between the skin and the cast. We also applied some Sudocrem to the affected skin. It seems to do the trick and the skin was looking better by the time we got to the hospital. Apparently in some cases they delay putting on the new cast in order to let the skin heal. This was the last thing we wanted so we were very relieved they were able to proceed with the new one.
Unfortunately the theatre was running late because there was a patient undergoing an operation who also had shingles. To prevent it from infecting other patients, they had to keep the patient in the theatre until he/she had come round from the anaesthetic rather than take them to the recovery room as per usual. Then they had to do a thorough scrub down of the theatre to make sure it was infection-free. So instead of a 14h15 theatre slot, Lucy only went in at 15h30. Jon took her in for the gas anaesthetic which they use to put them to sleep before being taken into theatre and given the stronger anaesthetic administered via a cannula in their hand. When he put her down on the table she got very upset but the gas quickly worked its magic and she was asleep within about twenty seconds.
An hour or so later, I was called to the recovery room to sit with Lucy while she came round from the anaesthetic. She was a very miserable baby at this point, crying inconsolably. I tried to breastfeed her to comfort her and get some food into her but she just kept on crying. The nurse gave her some Panadol via IV. Having a cast change can lead to some pain because the legs are accustomed to being in one position and the slightest change in this position can be sore. I also summoned my nappy bag to see if I could get some other food into her. She wolfed down a whole sachet of blueberry, apple and banana puree so she must have been famished. She eventually settled and her pulse calmed to a normal pace. She had, however, developed an intense dislike for anyone wearing a uniform and started crying angrily the moment any nurse came close to measure her temperature or check that her toes were warm and moving or even just to say hi! Any time I put her down on the bed she got worked up because I think she anticipated another unpleasant procedure. We had to wait an hour and a half in the recovery room because the surgeon hadn’t written an operation report and we weren’t allowed to leave until the report was available. The surgeon was busy with his next operation so only when he was done could we go.
But not go home. We then had to go to the next waiting room for observation and also to have the edges of Lucy’s cast taped to make them more waterproof and take care of any sharp bits. Lucy was beside herself at having to endure further treatment and wailed miserably the whole time the kind nurses were taping her up.
Eventually, at 19h15 we were discharged, exhausted and so happy to be able to get home and get our distressed child to bed.
The good news is that we are now half-way through our spica experience. May the next six weeks fly by…