It was an early wake-up call this morning, as we wanted to be on our way to the hospital in West Los Angeles by 5:00am to beat the Monday morning traffic. Karlene and I were joined by Karlene’s parents,’ and my mother, as we rolled in the darkness toward Zachary’s big surgery day at the west LA Kaiser Medical Center – the home of Zachary’s cranio-facial team of doctors and two of his prior surgeries.
Zachary has actually been looking forward to this surgery. An opportunity to make some improvements in the looks of a teenager is generally a well-received proposition and with Zachary it is no different. However, as we arrived at the hospital at about 5:40 in the morning, his excitement and anticipation turned into nervousness and a bit of anxiousness as he was called into the pre-surgery prep room.
It had been eight years since Zachary had experienced his last surgery -- which meant that this time around, he was mature enough to realize the seriousness of having major surgery. He was especially concerned about the breathing tube they were to put down his throat during the surgery. Karlene stayed with him throughout the pre-op preparations as they would only allow one parent in with him until he was all prepped and ready to go – then I was able to join them.
The nurses, anesthesiologists, doctors and surgeons all filed through asking the same questions, getting the same answers and, of course, talking to Zachary. They started Zac on intravenous drugs and hooked him up to monitor his vital signs. The surgery resident, (Doctor Reiss) that would be assisting the surgical team (Doctors Turan and Wexler), came in and drew “X’s” on Zac’s left hip and the tip of his nose with a black marker --pinpointing the areas that he would be having work on.
For the uninitiated, Zachary was born with a cleft palate. He had two previous surgeries to repair the defect – one when he was only 5 months old and another when he was 7 years of age. The third surgery couldn’t (and wouldn’t) be done until his face had structurally matured in his mid-to-late teenage years. This third surgery was actually prompted by Zac’s orthodontist who wanted him to get a bone grafted into the cleft so that he can put a dental tooth implant into the area in the near future.
So, since he was going to have to do a bone-graft surgery on Zac, his Cranio-facial doctor (Doctor Turan -- pictured above) decided it would be wise to also surgically repair his nose and lip at the same time. The rhinoplasty would consist of removing cartilage from his left ear and rebuilding/repairing his nose with it. Since the nose would be reshaped, the upper lip would also need to be re-aligned. For the facial graft, bone was to be harvested from his left hip and implanted into the cleft area of his gums. I know, I know -- it hurts just to think about it!
They prepped Zac for over an hour and a half and then finally carted him off to surgery at around 8:00am. The team said that they should be done in a few hours with Zachary repaired, renewed and into the recovery room by 11:00am. It turned out that they were optimistic -- the best laid plans of docs and men.
At 11:00am, we got a call from the Operating Room apprising us that the surgery was going well, but (don't you just hate those "buts?") it was a bit more involved than they had anticipated and they wanted to let us know that they would be going into extra innings. Shortly after noon, they called us again and said that the surgery was finished. Zachary was heading to the recovery room and we would be able to come in and see him in a short while.
Because of a couple of small complications, (difficulties with the lip repair and his breaking out with a rash), we were unsure if Zac would be released to go home or if they would retain him and we spend the night in the hospital. God answered our prayers and Zachary was finally released at 3:00pm and we were able to bring him home. (Special thanks to Jay Garzon for coming by the hospital and assisting Zac when released.)
On the lighter side, back here at home, Zac is walking with a cane and acting quite funny (due to the effects of being drugged-up). He told his cousin, Bobby, that he is walking around with a cane just like "Dr. House" (from the TV show). Although he is in a fairly large amount of pain, he is resting comfortably at this writing – with the considerable assistance of a bottle of Vicodin.
Thank you for all of your prayers and kind thoughts for Zachary and our entire family. We are believing God for Zac’s speedy recovery.
We are also believing for a full-nights rest!
We all need it.