Harriet`s operation day finally arrived and it was now time to get her ready for theatre, doctors had already checked Harriet`s health in the early hours of the morning, but came back for a final health check at 6.00 am and then gave her the green light for surgery .
We were told that Harriet was first on the list and would probably go down at 7.00am, but things took a little longer than expected and we finally walked down to the surgery room with the hospital porters just before 7.45 am.
The anaesthetist asked us if we would like to stay with Harriet while they slowly put her to sleep and we therefore followed her through into the anaesthetist’s room. Harriet woke up just before the anaesthetist put the gas down her tracheostomy tube; we both gave her a kiss and then watched Harriet slowly go to sleep.
As we walked out of the room we both got very upset and wondered whether this would be the last time that either of us would ever see Harriet again.
We knew that there were only about three surgeons within the United Kingdom that would attempt the life saving spinal operation Harriet was having and possibly only twenty surgeons worldwide, this again made us feel very anxious and really brought home the severity of Harriet`s operation .
The next hour seemed to last forever and there was no way of passing the time fast and therefore decided it was best to go home for a few hours as we were told that Harriet`s surgery could take up to ten hours .
A few hours passed and we decided to go back to the Queens Medical Hospital in Nottingham as we both felt guilty that we were not near Harriet. There was nothing we could do, spending time at the hospital just seemed to make us both anxious and time really started to go slow.
After a walk into Nottingham town centre, it was now 12.00am and we decided to have something to eat and then walked back to the hospital, it seemed pointless being at the hospital as there was nothing we could do and therefore decided to go for a drive to try and waste a few more hours.
When 3pm arrived we thought it was best to go back to the hospital as we would probably get caught in Nottingham`s rush hour traffic.
We had all Harriet`s medication in the car and knew that Harriet would be going onto the Peadiatric Intensive Care Unit at the QMC after her surgery and therefore decided to take the medication to the ward. After ringing the buzzer to the peadiatric ward I explained that I had Harriet`s medication and asked if they had heard anything from the surgeon or his team, the nurse took Harriet`s medication and told me that it would not be until about 5pm, before Harriet was on the ward, but would give me a call once she had arrived.
There was another two hours until Harriet would possibly be out of surgery and rather than just walk round the hospital grounds, we both went for a sleep in the car.
A couple of hours passed and it was now 5pm, we both wanted to know where Harriet was and went back to speak with the staff on PICU, they told us that Harriet was still in surgery, but let us onto the ward as Harriet was due up within the hour .
An hour passes alot quicker on PICU, but when 6pm finally arrived and there was no Harriet, we both started to get very worried and asked the staff where Harriet was. We were told that Harriet was being made stable in surgery recovery and would only come up to the Peadiatric Intensive Care Unit once the surgeon and his team were all happy with Harriet`s condition .
At 7.15pm – Harriet arrived on PICU, we were told to stay in the parent’s room until the team had made Harriet stable on the care unit.
Some 11 hours later we were both asked if we would like to see Harriet, Lesley was very upset and asked me to have a look at Harriet before her.
I was so relieved that Harriet was alive and quickly rushed to see her, at first I was quite shocked by the amount of wires and tubes coming out of Harriet`s body, but knew Harriet was now in a safe place recovering from major surgery .
Harriet was on her back attached to a ventilator machine that was now allowing her to rest while it took breathes for her, there was a tube coming from her lungs that was draining off excessive blood and many more lines that were for medicine, fluids and pain killers including morphine .
The one thing that really struck me was how straight Harriet`s chest and back were, it was just an amazing transformation, Harriet was no longer bent over and her chest looked so flat.
I assured Lesley that although Harriet did look in a bad way, that the surgery had done its job and looked alot better than I could ever have imagined.
Lesley went over to see Harriet and although she was still upset, the transformation from the surgery brought a smile to her face and she agreed that Mr. Michael Grevitt had done a fantastic job.
Mr. Michael Grevitt came onto the peaditric ward a couple of hours after Harriet`s surgery and told us that he was extremely happy with the way the procedure had gone, and was very impressed with Harriet`s ability to sustain such a long procedure. Mr.Grevitt then showed us Harriet`s x-rays from before and after the surgery, words just could not describe how different these x-rays were.
Mr. Grevitt explained to us that Harriet`s scoliosis and kyphosis had been substantially improved, the spine was no longer crushing down on Harriet`s lungs and hopefully the lungs would now have space to develop and grow.
We could not thank Mr.Grevitt enough, not only for saving Harriet`s life, but for giving Harriet a better quality of life.
Lesley and I would like to say a special thank you to the following people below, who really helped to make Harriet`s operation happen.
Mr. Michael Grevitt, Consultant Paediatric Spinal Surgeon
Kameron Hassan – Assistant Paediatric Surgeon
Dr Suzanne Wake, Consultant Peadiatric Spinal Anaesthetist
Professor Vyas, Consultant Peadiatric Respiratory Physician & Intensivist
Ms Ann Marriott, Scoliosis Nurse Specialist.
Harriet has lost alot of blood and fluids and therefore will now remain on peaditric Intensive Care Unit, until such a time that she is able to come home .
We know that Harriet still has alot of problems that could potentially kill her, but for now she has a chance to live a better quality of life for just that little bit longer.