Wednesday, September 9, 2015

The Shrine Grind

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In the past several months our family has developed a special relationship with the Shriners. For those of you who don't know, Shriners International is a fraternity that describes itself as "a brotherhood based on fun,  fellowship and the Masonic principles of brotherly love, relief and truth." (Thank you Wikipedia for the description)

So....what does that have to do with us? The Shriners have several children's hospitals across the nation that specialize in orthopedics, spinal cord injuries, burn care, and.....dun dun dun...cleft lip and palate care! For all of the 4 people who may read this blog, if you did not know, baby Holland has (had!!) a cleft soft palate that she was born with.  When we moved to Utah we didn't know how the care was going to be and how we were going to pay for it. In Columbus we loved the children's hospital and had excellent insurance and we had Holland's care all planned out. Then we moved. We were nervous to say the least. 

On our way from Columbus to Salt Lake we stayed the night in Cheyenne where we met a woman who was associated with the Shriners and told us about their hospitals. 

Salt Lake has a Shriners hospital!! Awesome!! Oh but they don't do cleft care. Shoot. So they referred us to Portland, the closest Shriner hospital to do cleft care. I thought that was strange seeing as Portland is quite a distance from Salt Lake City, but we decided it was a good idea to get all the information before dismissing Shriners as an option for Holly's care. Within a very short time I learned a few things:

1. Southwest Airlines partners with the Shrine brotherhood and gives green passes (charitable flights) to patients, regardless of the family's financial status.. 

2. It doesn't matter who you are or what your income (high or low), everyone associated with the Shriners wants to help the children in need of medical care.

3. A lot of people with hearts of gold are helping children they will likely never meet in this life, and they are doing in because they want to. 

After a few days of research and talking to different sources I found myself with a Southwest flight reservation for Holland and myself to the Portland Shriners Hospital at no cost to us. And so we were off to Portland. We went about three months ago for an initial consultation and then scheduled her surgery, easy as that.

This past week Wednesday, September 2, Holland and I left Andrew and Keane at home and embarked on a 5 day Portland adventure with my mom, who flew out to help.

Airplane selfie!
Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

Let's cut to the chase, we arrived, we met "the moo" (that's an endearing name I've used for my mom for probably 17 years or so), we picked up the rental car and took off for the hospital. Holland had a pre-op appointment where we met with the nurse practitioner, the anesthesiologist, a clinical social worker and a handful of other people who deemed us (her) ready to go under the knife.

Another beautiful thing about this organization is that they provide free lodging for people traveling to receive care at their hospital.  There is a section of the hospital that has been transformed into "Family Guest Rooms".  Our room wasn't fancy, but it was a great place to be able to relax, yet be close to (as in..on the third floor of) the hospital.  This was especially useful because we had to check in the next morning (floor one) at 6am.

During the pre-op appointment the nurse gave us some Hibiclens (which is a soap that kills...everything) to wash Holls with that evening, as well as in the morning before we checked her in.  Remember how we had to check her in at 6 am?  That means we had to bathe her PRE-6am!
Evening bath in the giant, medical grade bathtub that floats above the ground and can be raised or lowered. 

The pre-6am bath was a little less formal and took place in the sink in our room...

AND then we found ourselves in our pre-op room, except it's pretty difficult to contain Holland anywhere so really, we started in the pre-op room, then ventured all over the surgical center.  We were the first ones there and Holland was the youngest patient being operated on that day so she pretty much had the attention of everyone: nurses, doctors of all sorts, other patients, other patients' parents, everyone.
Trying to check in
As in the previous blog about her ear tubes, even a children's hospital doesn't provide proper sized attire. This stunning gown was fit for a three year old, so we rigged it.

Nurse Rheannon was first to meet Holland 

We cruised the halls looking for other friends

Getting ready to go back with our good friend the anesthesiologist, Dr. Klein.
We were given a play by play before it even took place.  Dr. Klein takes her back, knocks her out within 3 minutes of being gone so she doesn't have time to miss mom, They intubeate her, put the heart and vital monitors on her, get her stabilized and watch her for awhile to be sure she is stable, then chop chop!

Our surgeon, Dr. Nguyen (pronounced WEN, you all probably knew that but I did not, and every time I saw that name previously I simply pronounced it "Nuh blah blah" in my head because I didn't know how to even pretend to say it), who stands about 5 feet tall, came and talked to us. He is fabulous, gave us some ideas of what to do for the rest of our stay in Portland, and seemed to think Holland wouldn't really need much down time except for the rest of that day.

I asked the OR (thats operating room in this context, not to be confused with the abbreviation for Oregon, HAH!) nurse if she would take my camera and snap some pictures during the operation.  She looked at me like I was totes cray-cray, but agreed.

Warning: the following picture is not for the faint of heart.  The only picture that was taken in the OR was this one:

Why the taped eyes?  Apparently the eyes flutter and even blink when under general anesthesia.  Apparently Dr. Nguyen didn't want Holland staring at him while he had his hands shoved in her mouth.

Well, Moo Face and I had 2 hours to kill and I'm not really the type to sit and worry about what COULD or MIGHT happen (plus they had our phone numbers so..) and so we ate breakfast and then went on a small exploration journey around the mountain that Shriners Hospital sits on.  

You know you are in Oregon when hospital employees camp out at a nearby park and walk up to work.

We walked briskly for an hour or so and then received the call that Holland was in recovery and would be waking up soon.  At that point we weren't totally sure where we were or how to get back.  We ended up going through the VA hospital, across a sky-walk to the main building of Oregon Health and Science University hospital and finally across the street to Shriners (apparently in Oregon all medical facilities must live on top of a hill).

We met with Dr. N and he told us everything went well.  The repair was totally successful.  Oh and Yahoo!  She gets to wear splints on her arms for 6 weeks!  Oh and even better, she has to eat mushy food for 6 weeks as well!  Wouldn't want her to rip up the sutures and land back for a second repair.  Finally we could go to recovery and see her.

She was less than thrilled with her then current state of being.

The only way to keep her from wailing a sad, painful cry was the keep the bottle (which had Pedialyte in it, hence the orange color) in her mouth.  She didn't drink, she just wanted it there.
They moved us back to the pre-op room and Holland went between a drowsy, half-drugged state and screaming what would have been obscenities if she knew how.

SUPER uncomfortable rocking chair
 After awhile the only way we could keep her calm was to turn on The Piano Guys youtube videos.  So for about an hour we watched those non stop.

After about 2.5 hours she was released!  We could go (up to our room on the third floor, which is where we spent the rest of the day)!

For the remainder of the day Holland was drowsy, super fussy, and unhappy with her new arm accessories.  When the pain meds wore off it was easy to tell because she just held her mouth open and whimpered.

Still sleeping off the anesthesia

Drugs make us happpyyy!
We didn't know what to expect from her the next day but what we got was a baby ready to CRUISE! (After she basically slept until 10:30am...)

Sleeping in...
 So we went to the beach!  We drove about an hour and a half to the Oregon coast to a little town called Cannon Beach.  It was freezing, but Holland was happy to be there, and all she wanted to do was crawl around!  So we let'er.

Moo face played in the tide pools with her.  Pants even came off after awhile.  Just for Holland, it was too cold for the rest of us.

The next day we went to Tillamook, Oregon and toured the cheese factory!  I mean as long as we had a happy baby and time to kill, why not make a vacation out of it!

She was way too comfortable behind the wheel.
 Now if you take a look in a lot of these POST-op pictures you will notice that Holland is wearing a head band.  Maybe this is cruel, I don't really know (or care?) but I decided that while she can't bend her elbows to put anything in her mouth and coincidentally pull things off of her head, I would take this time to teach the girl to leave a bow on her head.  In her previous, pre-splint life I had given up.  But now, ha HA, I win.  At least for  weeks.

 Then we journeyed back to Portland and met up with some of my cousins and their families (all of whom I had not seen in years and years and years. And years).  What better place to do that than Voodoo Doughnuts!

We got there early, I had to go potty, THIS was the key they gave me.

We ate our doughnuts, we visited with family.  And yes, the doughnuts are all they are hyped up to be.  Plus the atmosphere is so great.

The next day, our last day in Portland, was Sunday.  It was rainy, cold and pretty dreary.

We went to the Mormon temple in Portland (actually located about 15 minutes south in Tigard).  SOOO beautiful!  It's located right in the middle of the forest, and it was really just lovely.

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We then went and had some AMAZING Korean food with one of my companions from when I went on a Mormon Mission, SHOUT OUT SARAH HEALEY!

LOVE her

The only way she can hold her bottle
And then we came home.  That was it.  The Moo and I  (and Holland!) had a great time on a trip that was sort of supposed to be purely medical.  We stayed extra days to make sure that Holland was going to recover well as well as to be prepared for any complications that may arise, but instead we just got to hang out and see the sights!  Holland is doing great, by the way!

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