Mason was a little over 5 hours on the operating table before we would receive that call from the surgeon to say everything went as well as they could have planned.
When we met back up with him he was disguised with a mass of cables and tubes. This would have been distressing to see right back at the beginning of this journey but we’ve become so used to him connected to various lines and machines that we were just glad to see him back, in one piece, minus a few other pieces.
He was prepped to go to ICU but was released to the High dependency unit (HDU) before then moving down to the ward. The procedure was deemed a success, and his recovery would be a testament to that. His time on the table felt like an eternity, and during the day we didn’t really have anything planned but knew we needed to do ‘stuff’ to help distract and speed things up. After Dad took him down to theatre we headed out for breakfast, we decided to divert attention onto Mason's big sister Paige by shopping for a few things for her before she started back at ‘big school’. Whilst roaming around town we decided to Strava our walk, to make those miles count towards the latest monthly challenge.
And, all these things seem to work well – before we knew it we were back at a café sinking a cuppa on the doorstep of the hospital when Em received the phone call that things went well and Maso was being moved from theatre. Well, that was it, our drinks were finished quicker than a 50p lap dance and we were heading back to the ward with Em going for gold down the B4051.
Recovery from the op was expected to last around seven days, maybe a bit longer. He spent a short period of time on the HDU, with the majority of recovery time spent back down on the children’s ward. The reality was that Mason was out in 5 days, Op on Monday out on the Friday…. awesome!
During that period though we had a rough couple of nights on the ward, our main challenge was to get him back drinking and eating with a slow steady removal of all his support equipment. As previously noted, the surgeon warned us that just displacing his insides could make his digestive system go on strike, so the first few days Mason continued to be intravenously fed. He started back on small volumes of water with the support of an NG tube to remove any excess that his stomach may have not processed. He loved his NG tube, NOT..... and I don’t blame him. As soon as he consciously came back to earth from his anaesthetic, he yanked his NG tube out of his nose and started investigating the arterial lines in both arms. We relied on that tube to confirm if he was making progress which meant we had to reinstall a new one whilst he was awake, and then wrap his hands up so he couldn’t grip it again (hence the makeshift boxing mitts).
The first 3 days he required continuous IV morphine and additional pain relief to the site of his stomach wound, they seemed to work very well and if he got a little grizzly we were able to play God and hit the button and give him a booster shot. Coupled with our ODESZA Spotify playlist on his Bluetooth speaker he looked to be having some amazing naps! Sleep was good, allowing time to pass and for him to repair slowly.
Our champ operates at his best when he's eaten, as I'm sure almost every other kid does, so we were thrilled when he started to sip fluid without tubes and then work back onto milk which he loves! Slowly increasing the volume over intervals, he worked his way back up to his normal bottle. His energy started coming back and he was itching to get back on his feet.
Before soon, he was standing in his cot-bed, albeit quite wobbly and relying on the rails but this was progress. We were also relieved that he was showing promising signs that he could feel and use his left leg, The following morning we let him loose on the floor where he would endeavour to find his balance, his left leg appearing lazy and being dragged along. But, one step, fall, turned into two steps which turned into him limping around the ward, frustrated & puzzled as to why he couldn't go faster or do as much as before.
On day 5 both we and the medical team were happy that Mason had made enough progress that we could take him home. He was eating, drinking and moving as well as we could have hoped for. Returning home meant that he was free to roam around in the house and garden as he pleased, that he could wrestle and fight over toys with his big sister and he could have a lie-in without someone taking his blood pressure at 2am.
Keeping busy was the best thing we could have done, us waiting on the ward all day wasn’t going to help anyone. It’s not as if the surgeon is going to rush out and ask for a hand from mum or dad to complete a procedure.
Huge credit to the Bristol team and especially:
Consultant Surgeon - Robin Garrett-Cox
Anaesthetist - Nick Boyd