The Family

The Family
For Christmas 2010

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Friday, February 12, 2010

Shunt Surgery

We awoke early on the day after Christmas so that we could get to get to the hospital in time to be with Nathan for a little while before surgery.  His eyes were starting to freak out again and he had become tired and sleepy all the time.  So we were relieved that this day had finally come.

Nathan's surgeon was Dr. Jay Riva-Cambrin.  Dr. Riva-Cambrin attended medical school at the University of Alberta, did his residency at the University of Toronto, and did a Fellowship at The Hospital for Sick Children, all in Canada.

He had been the one who had been following and checking on Nathan nearly every day for the past 3 weeks.  So we were very confident that he was familiar with Nathan and his situation and that he was more than qualified to take care of our boy and do a fantastic job with the surgery.

But, and I am ashamed to say this now, I wasn't too fond of him the first few times we met him.  At first he wanted to do surgery on Nathan to install a shunt, but we didn't want Nathan to have a shunt.  Then when we realized that the shunt was probably the best way to go, Nathan had somewhat stabilized and he didn't want to do the surgery unless Nathan absolutely needed it.

So, for our part, it was a little bit of a rocky relationship at first.  Looking back now, with tons of experience and retrospect, we realize that Dr. Riva-Cambrin really did have Nathan's best interests at heart.  In clinical terms, which can be hard to understand for a nervous and loving parent, Nathan barely needed a shunt.  But in our terms, it was an important step in improving Nathan's health and enabling him to be able to come home. 

Normally, when you go in for a planned surgery, the surgeon will let you know about how long the surgery should take.  A shunt surgery normally takes about an hour and a half.  But once you reach the magic "supposed to" time and the surgeon has yet to reappear to let you know how the surgery went, you start to worry about every complication, real or imagined, that could possibly happen.

So we were extremely relieved when Dr. Riva-Cambrin finally reemerged to let us know how that everything went well.  When placing the distal (draining) end of the shunt, the surgeon makes an incision in the tummy to help get it in the right place.  Nathan's surgery took a little longer than normal because of Nathan's huge scar from the hernia repair surgery.  So the doctor had to kind of work around it and make a bigger incision than he normally would.  But he got it in place and Nathan was doing very well.

As we were speaking with Dr. Riva-Cambrin, a nurse was taking Nathan back up to the NICU, where we would be able to see him again.

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