February 23, 2007

Shawn’s surgery was successful. The surgeon was able to spare his aortic valve, so he will not need a mechanical valve with its attendant lifelong blood-thinning issues. The rest of his tissues look good, and the surgeon was impressed with the size of his coronary arteries (this is healthy, not related to the aortic dilation).

The surgery was long, about seven to seven and a half hours, which is normal for a valve-sparing aortic replacement. It was a long day, since we had to be at the hospital at 5:15am for the pre-op procedures.

His parents and I saw Shawn after the nurses settled him in the ICU. The team at Stanford had done a great job preparing us for the post-operative visit (more on this later), and so the various tubes, hanging bags of fluid, and machines that go “beep” were not a surprise. For the first couple of hours, Shawn was still sedated and intubated, so, although we talked to him and told him we loved him, I get the feeling that those first visits were more our well-being than his. Just a guess, and Shawn may have more to say more about this when he returns to Blogtown.

During our last visit, at 8pm, the doctor and nurses were bringing him out of sedation so that they could remove the breathing tube. He was conscious, though a bit groggy, and seemed very happy to see us. He held my hand and responded to yes/no questions by nodding/shaking his head. I asked him if he was comfortable (or as much as possible), and he nodded. We left after a few minutes so that he could rest and have the tube removed; he had said previously that he wanted the tube out as soon as possible, so I imagine that he felt better last night.

A word about the staff at Stanford: It’s easy to see why this is a top medical facility. Sure, they do the big research and the fancy procedures, but the fact is that the staff (nurses, PAs, desk workers, everyone, really) is fantastic. During the pre-op visit on Wednesday, the process was efficient and gave us ample opportunity to ask questions. We were told, in quite a bit of detail, what to expect for the next 24-48 hours, and this included not just visiting hours and “You’ll see a lot of tubes,” but why our visits were restricted and why the tube was there. We received updates during Shawn’s procedure from the nurse-coordinator for surgery and the ICU (not sure of her exact title, but this seemed to be her function), letting us know how things were progressing and how much longer it might take. When we had a question, someone was able and willing to answer it. I was just really impressed with the experience so far, as a family member. They do good work, and it’s at all of the levels I’ve seen so far.

Now I’m getting ready to see Shawn this morning. It will be my first time seeing (and hopefully hearing) him without intubation, and I’m quite looking forward to it.


6 Responses to “Success!”

  1. Sheba Says:

    When we saw Shawn last night right after his tube was removed, he was talking and even being witty in his usual way. I was amazed at how quickly after such a major surgery he was back to conversing. He looked great even as an ethernet hub lookalike, and was definitely happy the tube was out. Yay, way to go, Shawn!

  2. Sheba Najmi Says:

    And to agree with what you said about the staff, the nurse was indeed very nice, encouraging us to visit Shawn even after the visiting hours were over, since she had seen us waiting for the tube to be removed. They made us feel quite comfortable walking around the NICU, unlike the trespassing feeling I get in most hospitals.

  3. Scott Says:

    That’s fantastic news! Thanks so much for keeping all of us informed.

    How long will Shawn be in the hospital? Will non-family visitors be welcome at some point?

  4. Debbie Says:

    He’ll be in intensive care for the next day or two, so visiting hours are limited (about twenty minutes or so on the even hours between 10am and 10pm). Non-family members can visit in the ICU, and he might like to see a different face or two. After that, he’ll be in the Intermediate ICU, and I’m assuming that visitation policies will be more liberal.

  5. Ryan Kennedy Says:

    This is awesome news. Several of us were actually in a meeting when Skotch got the call. He left the room to take it and most conversation stopped until he came back and told us what the news was.

    I was hoping to pop down for a visit, but recently caught a cold. I’m guessing my presence with a cold in the ICU would not be welcomed by the staff, so I’ll just send some electronic well wishes to Shawn instead. đŸ™‚

  6. […] I’m so relieved Shawn made it through his operation swimmingly and am eagerly looking forward to going backpacking with him […]

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