December 11, 2018
Umbilical hernia repair

Amelia has what's called an "umbilical hernia", which happens when the opening in the abdominal muscle that allows the umbilical cord through fails to close completely. Also known as an "outie" bellybutton, it's very common. Most of them resolve on their own by the time kids turn four.


Amelia's was quite large and not getting smaller. More importantly, she often complained about it hurting and pushing everything back in place stopped things from hurting. So we asked for a referral to someone who could check it out.


Turns out an umbilical cord hernia allows part of the intestine to protrude through the stomach wall and in rare cases it can get pinched. If it gets pinched too long that part of the intestine dies which is not good.


When we saw Dr Nasr, he decided that Amelia's hernia was unlikely to resolve on it's own even if we wait until she's four. Given that Amelia was having pain from the hernia we were already inclined to proceed. After talking to a family member with the same issue whose hernia was not repaired as a child, and hearing enthusiastic encouragement on going ahead we put Amelia's name on the list for surgery.


I wasn't terribly concerned about it; after all Elizabeth had day surgery around the same age. Then the pre-op nurse called and told me that she had to stay home from all activities for the first week of recovery and be kept quiet with NO JUMPING for a further two weeks and I started to freak out a bit. Then she was prescribed morphine for pain and let's just say I'm glad they checked her blood pressure and not mine.


The surgery was scheduled for 12:30-1:30pm. Amelia had yellow jello for breakfast and then we played upstairs for a while. She did not talk out loud much at all and I started to worry she was sick. Lorianne gave her a tin of stars "pretty like you" and a trumpet that Amelia thought sounded like an elephant. After that she forgot to be worried for a while and played being various animals, blowing her trumpet and stomping around.


Soon it was time to go. Daddy dropped us off at CHEO and we went to get her into her special pajamas. She was very very quiet, but after about twenty minutes in the playroom she started to relax a bit. We did crafts, played with their toys, played with toys we brought and played games. The volunteers quizzed her about how many brothers and sisters she had. Apparently she has one brother and one sister. No other brothers? I asked. Nope. Michael -as it turns out- is not a brother. He's a baby... They asked her if she had to travel a long way to get to the hospital. Answer? Yes. About ten minutes, I clarified.  The volunteers were quite amused.


Playtime flew by and it was time to go to the ER. She came so easily that the staff decided that she didn't need to premed to calm her down beforehand. I was a little surprised because admitting had strongly recommended it, saying that if she fought the mask the surgery would be delayed or cancelled, but the nurses really wanted her to try without so I got all gowned up ready to go to the operating room.


While I was getting dressed, the anesthesiologist was checking her heart and lungs and a volunteer was blowing bubbles to distract Amelia. Then it was Amelia's turn to blow bubbles and I don't know WHAT she was thinking but she popped the bubble wand into her mouth! Yuck! Everyone was quite surprised. It was quite a small one so I'm not sure if she didn't realize it was the bubble wand or what. Anyway, bubbles were blown and her lungs were deemed clear.


The nurses got me to put Paw Patrol on my phone for Amelia, and she proudly walked to the OR carrying my phone.


I lifted her onto the table and she picked cotton candy for the smell. I should have reread my blog entry about Elizabeth's surgery because I'd remembered that she'd fallen asleep almost instantly, and Amelia took ages to pass out. It was definitely longer than 30 seconds though and we had a whole conversation about how the cotton candy smell changed to smelly sock (probably Matthew's). She was watching Paw Patrol the whole time though so maybe she was trying to stay awake to see the end of the episode.


Then I was escorted back to the waiting room where I joined the throngs of anxious parents all watching the TV screen that had their child's unique number and current status. After only about 25 minutes, Dr Nasr came to tell me that she was all done and in recovery. The edict on NO JUMPING was repeated several times, but I was relieved to hear that we can otherwise take our cue from how she's feeling. Apparently they used a lot of freezing on her tummy.


I had to wait another twenty minutes or so before they finally fetched me. Amelia was calmly sitting in bed, eating a popsicle. The nurses all gushed about how good she was. "I know" she replied. Later she proudly told Matthew that she didn't cry at all "Not even a little waaah". The nurse suggested I might like to go downstairs to fill my prescription for morphine, because finding liquid morphine in a regular pharmacy is apparently hard. Amelia said it was fine if I ducked out to do that, so I did. Apparently she was a dream patient.


In recovery she had three popsicles and a container of jello. After which she claimed her tummy didn't hurt at all and she felt fine, so they removed her IV and let us go. Amelia liked getting to ride in the wheelchair and she liked getting to pick out the medication flavours (cherry Tylenol, bubblegum advil).


She spent the rest of the afternoon eating toast and popsicles, and watching Peppa Pig. It wasn't until late evening that she decided her tummy was starting to get a bit "owie", but only a bit. We aren't sure if that's because the freezing was starting to wear off but hopefully she has a good night! She sure is doing great so far.

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