Giggles N Shit

Join me as I narrate my first attempt at parenting. As a stay at home daddy, it is not your most conventional family life. Expect lots of love, laughter and poo mixed into these stories!

Summer in the Six: Part III

October 16th, 2016

Isla was on her way to surgery and I had gained a modest sense of relief knowing that she would be given some good drugs to ease her pain. The next time I would see her she would be on the road to recovery and a new life. The next six to eight hours I tried my best to keep my mind from wandering, I jumped at so much as a beep from my phone, and I kept all of the loved ones updated via a Facebook messaging group. Now it was time to cross the street and head towards the surgical waiting room of the Toronto General Hospital. First thing’s first, I had to hook myself up with a Venti Iced Passion Tango Tea from Starbucks (the employees didn’t know it at the time, but they would soon know me by name).

My Baby Momma

I’m going to let you in on a little secret (well it won’t be any more after this post). People who know me, know that not much gets under my skin. They always know where they stand with me due to my incessant need to “say it like it is.” I am probably this way because I cannot stand phoniness and I believe there is a serious lack of genuine people out there. In order to survive growing up with most of my friends, I developed a sarcastic sense of humour, to which my closest friends also share. I have been told that I am very level-headed so I have been successful, so far, with internalizing very stressful dilemmas. However, anything that is a little too much to handle, I talk it through with Katie. Luckily, Katie and I have not been faced with much stress in our lives until Isla arrived. So you can imagine how quiet and reserved I became when the two things I care about most were both in surgery (Katie, my therapist, and Isla, my ham). Internalizing things was probably not the healthiest strategy, but I do not think you can prepare for an event such as this (momma/momma-in-law, I am sure glad you were there with me)

Waiting Around

The Nannies and I waiting in the surgical waiting room to hear about Katie's surgery progress. My mom is in behind and Katie's mom to my right

Anyways, back to the main story after that small tangent. I introduced mom to that deliciously red and refreshing drink from Starbucks (she quickly developed an addiction, too), we jay-walked across Gerrard street (Uh oh, bunch of criminals), and entered the Peter Munk building. From there, we headed straight to the transplant surgical waiting area. Thankfully, the waiting room was very comfortable, because we had a long wait ahead of us. It was an interesting setup:

Waiting Area
A bunch of high-stressed people in a room
Volunteers working the “information booth”
Doors behind the booth to which doctors magically appear, almost like a rotary
The doctors would give a quick update to the families
Then the doctors would magically disappear back into the rotary

The Nannies and I waited for a couple of hours before Katie’s surgeon appeared. He told us that Katie’s surgery went well, her piece of liver was removed, the piece was heading over to Sick Kids Hospital, and she was being closed up as we spoke. He also made a point to say how beautiful her liver looked and that if he ever needed one, hers would be the one he wanted (quite a bit of relief with that comment). It would be another couple of hours before we could go see Katie. She needed to be stitched up and prepared for her stay in the transplant step down unit (kind of like an in-between for the regular ward and intensive care).

During the wait, one of the volunteers came over to talk to us. Turns out that she had a liver transplant forty years ago! Since Isla was diagnosed with her rare disease, we have scoured the internet for some hint of a life expectancy. We have access to some legitimate resources (for example, medical journals, which are far more reliable than Wikipedia or some ad on a porn site) and even with those resources all we could gather was patchy data with no definitive answers. I guess the lack of consistent info is one more difficulty when it comes to learning about rare diseases. So hearing from this lady, who was in her sixties, provided a much needed hope. Those couple of hours dragged by then the liver transplant volunteer came over to let us know that we could now head up to the 7th floor to see Katie.

Post-Transplant Donor

Once we arrived on the 7th floor we headed towards the two large doors leading to the step down unit. They advised us via the PA system that we would have to wait in another waiting room until someone from the unit gathered us up to head in. I finally had one of my ladies pull through their surgery with flying colours so you can imagine how much patience I had at this moment. Luckily, it was not much of a wait and a nurse arrived to the waiting room soon after we sat down. Each patient in this ward had their own large glass room. Katie was at the other end of the ward opposite the two large doors. The three of us entered her room and I gave her a gentle kiss on the forehead as to not hurt her in this delicate state. She was a little red and puffy, she had a central line in her neck (for her pain medications, antibiotics and fluids), and an ART line in her wrist (measures her arterial pressure). She was quite drowsy and nauseous, but doing very well. Not surprisingly, her first question was how her baby was doing. At this time all we knew was that she was still in surgery and they were most likely putting her new piece of liver in. Katie ate a few ice chips, said she wanted to catch some sleep, and we headed back to the Sick Kids hospital waiting room.

Back to SickKids

Besides waiting to bring Isla down for surgery, this was the next hardest wait. I knew Katie would be fine because she was healthy and a tough SOB, but there were so many unknowns when it came to Isla. In the waiting room there was a big LCD display with letter codes signifying your child’s name as well as their status (in surgery, in recovery, etc). The volunteer who worked in the waiting room explained that she would let us know when it would be OK to see Isla. I put in my headphones to listen to some music and pass the time, but I found I wasn’t really listening to it. My mind was racing as I am sure my mom’s mind was as well (Katie’s mom was out grabbing some supper). After a couple of hours Isla’s surgeon came out to provide me with an update. My stomach dropped through the floor to the basement as soon as I saw him. He assured me that Isla’s surgery went very well. Katie provided her with a beautiful gift and they would be sewing her up soon. He mentioned that she lost three units of blood (and needed a transfusion), which is very normal for the extent of this type of surgery. He also advised me that her abdomen was not able to be closed completely and that she would have a vacuum dressing (also very normal for a baby her size receiving a piece of an adult liver). They would close her up at a later date when all of her swelling went down and she was stable. The doctors did a very good job at explaining all of these outcomes to me prior to surgery so it did not come as a shock. I just wanted to see my little lady and hear that there were no complications.


Soon after meeting with the surgeon the waiting room volunteer advised us that Isla’s surgery was complete and that we could now see her. The ICU was quite different than the unit Katie was in. It had its own waiting room where you had to call into the unit and they would let you know if you could go in or not (they could be performing a sterile procedure on a patient, a new patient could have just arrived to the unit, etc. So they needed to control the traffic into this unit). Even when you arrived at Isla’s room, only two people were allowed in at a time (even though some nurses stretched this rule at times). I thought it would be hard to see all of the tubes, leads, and the breathing apparatus attached to my tiny baby, but it wasn’t so bad. She was unconscious and heavily sedated (the nurse said it would probably be a few days before they lowered the sedation and she would wake up). Not seeing her eyes light up with a big smile as soon as she saw me was harder than seeing all of the apparatuses attached to her. The nurses assured me that there was nothing unexpected happening for a post-transplant patient and I knew she was in good hands. The ICU (intensive care unit) room was divided into four beds divided by curtains. Each patient had their own dedicated nurse. It was a very quiet and comfortable setup. After the nannies and I stared at her, kissed her forehead, and held her hand for a few more moments we headed back to the Ronald McDonald House for some Swiss Chalet supper. I provided my final update of the stressful day to our friends and family back home then we headed back to see Katie one more time before bed (longest day of my life, that’s for damn sure). All of the staff and the nannies were trying to provide me with a sense of relief all day, but nothing quite provided the relief I needed as well as being able to see both of my ladies pull through their surgeries without complications.

Post Transplant

My two tough SOBs. I can't imagine what they went through but I sure as hell am happy all went well!

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