The information and opinions on this blog come from parents, and the blog is not associated with Primary Children´s Medical Center or any other institution.


This site is specifically for parents of kids with clefts being treated at Primary Children's Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, but I hope that there will be information that is helpful to all parents of kids with clefts. If you are just starting to learn about clefts, I would suggest starting with the "General Information" topic and going from there. To find information on a specific doctor or topic, click on one of the links on the right. You can also search the blog using the box below the topic list. If you have information or experiences to share, please leave comments or contact me to do a guest post at Thanks for visiting!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Surgery Day

I know that someone in the group wrote a great, detailed description of what happens when you come in for surgery. Unfortunately, I haven't located it just yet. So while I am here in the waiting room, here's a quick rundown of surgery day.

The business day before surgery (i.e. Friday if surgery is on Monday), the hospital will call to tell you what time to come to the hospital, what time your child can eat, etc. The call will usually come in the mid to late afternoon (they called me at 2pm on Friday for Monday surgery this time, but last time it was closer to 4pm). Because of the risk of getting fluid in their lungs, babies cannot have any food or drink for several hours before surgery. This time, Ethan's schedule was this:

Solids: up until midnight
Breastmilk: until 5:15 a.m. (4 hours before surgery)
Pedialyte or Apple Juice: until 6:15 a.m. (3 hours before surgery)
Check-in: 7:45 a.m. (1 1/2 hours before surgery)
Surgery: 9:15 a.m.

When you arrive at the hospital, you check in at Same Day Surgery on the second floor. If you go up the elevators on the south side of the hospital (the opposite side from the Rainbow Cafe), the check-in area will be right near the elevators. When you walk in the room, there is an electronic kiosk to your right, and someone should be there to give you a beeper. They will beep you to go sign paperwork and give your insurance information at the desk, then they will beep you again to see a nurse before surgery.

Once they beep you the second time, a nursing assistant will weigh and measure the child, then you'll go in a room where they'll check temperature, blood pressure, oxygen, etc. and give you jammies to change them into. Then a nurse will come in and look at ears and mouth and listen to heart and lungs, then take you to the surgery waiting room. Last time the surgeons were running behind, so the nurse let us give Ethan some additional Pedialyte (so you might want to have some on hand, just in case).

While you are in the waiting room the surgeon will come talk to you and answer any questions that you have, then the anesthesiologist will come and do disclosures and have you sign paperwork. Then you will walk with the anesthesiologist down the hall toward the OR, and then the anesthesiologist will take the child in and send you to yet another waiting room. This point is one of the hardest, because you have to hand your baby over. We have been lucky, because Ethan has been fairly easy-going about it. Before the last surgery, he gave me a big smile as we handed him over. And this time he was totally happy to go off with the friendly anesthesiologist, who told the nurse that he was a sweetie and just cuddled up to her as he went to sleep. I'm not sure how I would have handled it if he was crying... =(

When you get to the surgery waiting room you'll check in with the people at the desk, then you can go get something to eat at the cafe or do anything else you need to do. Food and drink are welcome in the room, there is a courtesy phone and a TV. If you're there in the morning, a courtesy cart comes by between 10 and 11 with some complimentary snacks.

After the surgery is over, the surgeon will come tell you how it went, then once the child is waking up they will call for one parent (only one at that point) to go meet the child in post-op. You will stay there until the child is comfortable, then you will meet up with any other family members and head up to the 4th floor to a room (unless it's outpatient surgery, in which case you'll stay in the PACU area until you go home, which is usually as soon as the child has taken in enough liquids).

For me, this is where the hardest part begins. Ethan tends to wake up quickly and angrily, but the nurses are good at getting his pain managed and with some comforting he settles down fairly quickly. Then the next day is spent comforting and feeding and navigating several monitors plus an IV. Not to mention attempting to work in pumping milk and catching a few minutes for myself to eat and catch a few winks. We have been really lucky that Ethan hasn't had to stay for more than 24 hours as of yet; getting released and having all of those wires disconnected is always the greatest relief. Then we pack up, go home, and pray that it's not too long before Ethan gets to sleeping through the night again so that we're not perpetually exhausted. Yay for the end of surgery day!

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