Heart surgery | Day 18 | Going home

Hannah’s recovery from heart surgery | Day 18

Going home…

…with a touch of pneumonia!

As I’m writing this, it’s 10pm and we’ve been back home for a few hours.  Home!!

Hannah had a good night last night.  She woke up in the early hours, shivering but without a fever.  She went back to sleep until about 8.30am, on and off.  I, on the other hand, struggled a bit more but managed to get a bit of sleep in the end.

The Registrar that saw her yesterday came along relatively early for a Sunday ward round.  She said that the surgeons are confident that the fluid is a Seroma and not pus from an infection in the bone or the wound or around the conduit.

She said that as Hannah has had a bad bout of gastroenteritis, it will take her a while to feel 100% and get her appetite back etc.  She needs to take it easy at home and not expect a sudden turn-around.

We asked again about the pain in Hannah’s side (the pain that, a few days ago, the surgeons said might be linked to her kidneys due to dehydration).  The Registrar examined Hannah thoroughly and couldn’t work out what the pain was from, other than perhaps muscular from spending so much time in bed.  It was nowhere near kidneys, liver, stomach, ovaries or liver.  Then, she listened to Hannah’s chest and started looking pensive, getting Hannah to cough, listening again….and asked whether Hannah had been coughing.  We said (as we’d reported all along since it started) that she’d been coughing for a couple of days.

The Registrar reckons Hannah has a mild case of pneumonia, as she heard crackles low down in her right lung.  She said this could explain the pain in Hannah’s side, as it could be transmitted pain.

She wasn’t concerned, though, as she said they send even tiny babies home with pneumonia, on antibiotics.  She did say it might be viral pneumonia, but she’d prescribe antibiotics just in case.

The pneumonia probably explains the on-going low-grade fever (under 38°C) Hannah keeps getting, despite no longer having diarrhoea or any other gastroenteritis symptoms.  As the antibiotic (Co-Amoxiclav) could give Hannah more diarrhoea and/or vomiting and/or stomach cramps, she also recommended yoghurt or pro-biotic yoghurt drinks to protect Hannah’s gut.

The Registrar must have sensed our reticence at taking her home with pneumonia while she’s still recovering from her major heart surgery, because she stressed that they’re not kicking her out because they need the space; they have plenty of beds on the ward. But she does feel Hannah will do better at home.

And Hannah has her post-op follow-up with the other Cardiologist, Anthony, on Friday anyway.

Although Hannah hadn’t had breakfast, she had a reasonably-sized lunch, so her appetite is slowly coming back.  She hasn’t eaten anything else since though, as she still felt full tonight.  Simon’s mum had cooked us a lovely lamb roast dinner that we could all eat together at her house before coming home, but given we didn’t get there until about 4pm, she plated it up for us and we took the portions home, so we had a ready dinner to re-heat when we got back.  Yummy!

We’re so lucky to have had so much practical and emotional support through this difficult journey!

This evening, Simon sorted out our beds, including elevating the head end of Hannah’s bed so she’s not lying flat, while Hannah and I caught up on one of Hannah’s favourite programmes, Casualty (oh, the irony of watching that as soon as we got home!), and then tonight’s X Factor.

Then Hannah was very tired and went to bed, with a bit of a fever (38.2°C), having taken her regular Aspirin, as well as her Co-Amoxiclav for her pneumonia and Paracetamol for her fever and pain.  She also has a pain down her right arm when she breathes in, which I suspect is nerve pain from a nerve that’s being trapped every time the lump above her right breast pushes down on muscles and nerves when she breathes in and it gets squashed by the expanding ribcage.

She was a bit upset and emotional this evening, worried about ending up in hospital again.  I can understand where she’s coming from.  It will be a while before life returns to normal and we’re not wondering at every bit of paleness or tiredness or pain etc whether there’s a new symptom and something else is going wrong. 

Overall, though, although it’s taken longer than ‘the norm’ (I’m not sure how they get these ‘standard’ recovery times…as we know all too well, sometimes kids do go home in a week and then do come back with complications.  Most kids on that ward have been there a very long time – some 2-3 months!!), we’ve been extremely lucky so far.  The surgery has gone very well and having a bit of serum floating about under her skin is not a major complication.  Considering that a few days ago surgeons were considering whether they needed to open her up again to remove pus, we’ve got away quite lightly.  I’m sure she’ll overcome this pneumonia, too.  Being confined to her room, in isolation, won’t have helped as she couldn’t do her regular walking around and up and down stairs to give her lungs a good workout.  It’s no wonder so many bed-ridden people are susceptible to pneumonia!

I hope Hannah has a restful night and can get on with getting better and stronger.  And slowly, we can start getting back to normal life.

For a start, we now look forward to Charlie starting 6th Form on Wednesday.  Eeek!  That came around quickly!

On a final funny note for tonight, the nurse who discharged us and has known Hannah and Charlie for quite a few years said:

“You are NOT allowed to come back, Hannah, ok?  Much as we’ve enjoyed looking after the both of you over the years, we don’t want to see you again unless you’re visiting when you’re here for an outpatient appointment.  Your photo and name are with security; they’re under strict instructions not to allow you in! Now, off you go!”

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