The Family

The Family
For Christmas 2010

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Hernia Repair Surgery

On the morning of Monday, September 10th, I received a phone call from the NICU letting me know that that they wanted to go ahead with Nathan's hernia repair surgery that afternoon and needed consent from us to proceed. I gave my consent and let them know that we were on our way and would be there within an hour.

The excitement of the moment was so intense. This was such an important event. There was no way that Nathan could start getting better without this surgery. We called everyone we could think of to let them know that this was the day.

As we would come to learn though, emergencies are the norm at Primary Children's and Nathan's surgery got bumped until the evening while the surgeon worked on other patients. Thankfully, that gave us the opportunity to have a friend come and assist in giving Nathan a blessing before the surgery.

By late afternoon/early evening, everything and everyone was ready to go. Because of the ECMO and the oscillator, Nathan was unable to be transported to the Operating Room. So they brought the OR to Nathan. They sterilized his room and closed the door to anyone not needed in the room.

Bekah, myself, and our mothers hung out in the waiting room and played games to try and keep our minds off of the surgery.

More than 2 hours into the surgery, one of the attendants came out to give us an update. It turned out that Nathan's hernia was worse than they had expected. Our hearts sunk into our stomachs at that news. She explained that Nathan basically had no left side of his diaphragm at all and that Dr. Scaife was working hard to repair it. It was likely to be another hour or so and he would be out to give us more details.

Frankly, we could have done without the update! It made it hard to focus on anything else!

Another hour or so later, we received another update. The procedure had gone well, but Dr. Scaife was having troubles re-inserting all of Nathan's "guts" back into his abdomen and Dr. Scaife was trying to decide what to do next. He would be out as soon as he was done to give us the final update.

At last--close to 4 hours after the surgery had started--Dr Scaife came out and explained the surgery to us. To repair the hernia, he had to cut away part of Nathan's oblique muscle, fold it over, and use that as the new diaphragm.

And, as it turned out, since there wasn't much in there while Nathan was in utero, his abdomen had not grown to accomodate everything that needed to be in there. As a result, he was unable to close Nathan's incision. Instead, he had temporarily housed a part of Nathan's insides inside a "silo" and every couple of days or so they would work to reduce the silo by "squishing" his insides back inside his body.

All of this news was extremely weird to us. Since know one had told us differently, both of us were more or less expecting the doctor to try and place everything back where it was supposed to be. So when we found out that everything was basically just in there "wherever it would fit," it threw us for quite a loop. In retrospect, we now realize of course how difficult (if not impossible) it would be to wind and layer the intestines and try to actually put things together "the way they're supposed to be."

After hearing the report, I asked what his overall prognosis was. His response was that Nathan was "stable, but critical." Very somberly he told us that even though the surgery was successful, because he was still on ECMO it presented problems that made his condition still serious.

We thanked him for his work and once he had left the waiting room, we gathered for a prayer and gave thanks to Heavenly Father for the successful surgery and prayed that He would continue to watch over Nathan in his critical condition.


  1. Hello, this is Shelly Thompson. I just found out that you have a blog. I hope you don't mind if I link it to mine so that I can see when you have a new post. We think about your family often. I just read all of the older posts and can't believe what you went through. I had no idea that he was that critical. I knew that he was very sick and that it was going to be a long and unsure road to recovery but I didn't know just how sick he really was or how difficult this has all been on you. Thank you so much for the posts. I look forward to more of your family's story. I'm so sorry that he is in the hospital again and will keep you all in my prayers. He is looking so grown up since the last time I saw him. He is such an amazing little miracle. There is a reason for him to be here on this earth and you were blessed to be his parents. He couldn't have chosen two more wonderful people to be his parents. Take care and know that you are not alone.