Friday, February 28, 2014

It's Over--We're done!

This will be the last post of this blog.  With social media serving the purpose this blog used to serve, we haven't exactly been good at updating.  However, we have been made aware that our blog is being used by doctors and nurses to show parents what they're in for, so we'll give it some closure.  Literally.  Karsie has just had her closure surgery and is completely done barring any unforeseen complications.

Since our last blog, Karsie has been getting tissue expansion.  She had two small ones put in, but the balloon on her right side somehow slipped under the third layer of muscle tissue and dropped into her abdominal cavity, causing her pain every now and then.  So, we had to take her back to get the one balloon replaced.  The good news with that was that the doctors were able to advance the tissue by putting in a larger balloon and expanding it to look like this:
This is what Karsie's belly looked like the day before her closure surgery.

The plastic surgeon told us at the second expansion surgery (to repair the shifted balloon) that she was close to being ready for closure.  Michelle took Karsie (and our new little boy, Reuben) to San Diego every couple weeks during the fall to expand her balloons until sometime in December.  Then, we were told she was ready for closure.  There was talk that she was not quite ready to close because the surgeons weren't sure she would have enough muscle tissue and skin to cover, but when they took us in the back to tell us how the surgery went, they said they had enough to close and that she did great.  This is what she looked like just after surgery in the ICU next to her old belly:

On our last post, we talked about how frustrating it was that Karsie was in so much longer than we expected.  Turns out, it was a blessing in disguise because by going through that, we knew how her body was going to respond.  We knew we needed to put in a central line.  We knew we needed to keep the NG tube in so she wouldn't develop an ileus.  We knew she needed to have an epidural to keep the narcotic level down, which slows down motility.  So when the big surgery came, she had literally NO complications.  She was only in the hospital for 11 day, and for her, that's "extraordinary" as the doctors said.  The fact that she was bouncing around the day we took her home was amazing, albeit a stress for her parents to keep her resting.

And this is how she looks now, her skin being continually rubbed with ointment (which is why it's so shiny):
The brown at the top is extra skin healing, which the plastic surgeon left in case later on she wants a belly button.  They can apparently just take it from there.

So...this journey started almost exactly 5 years ago to this day, and is finally done.  We're not really sure how to feel yet.  So much of our life and energy has been spent either dealing directly with or in anticipation of this surgical process, and now that it's done, it feels somewhere between relieve and disbelief.  But we appreciate all the prayers and support.  We'll close out with a picture taken on Valentine's Day of our kiddos.  We hope this blog will continue to help out any of you who will go through this process in the future.  It's emotionally draining, but worth every second.  God bless and good luck.