January 9, 2008

Whitney's Surgery (Now Illustrated)

Whitney's surgery to repair her myelomeningocele took about four hours today. As we mentioned yesterday, Whitney's lesion was a little larger than a half dollar. It was slightly wider than it was long. The area under the skin was somewhat larger yet. I took the picture to the right shortly after Whitney was born. You can see that there is a membrane over the lesion and that there is no cerebro-spinal fluid escaping from the site. That was good news. From birth until the surgery, the nurses in the NICU kept the lesion moist.

Our pediatric neurosurgeon operated to place the spinal cord back in the spine. That part of the operation took about two hours. The pediatric plastic surgeon took the better part of an additional two hours to close the skin and muscle over the wound. You can see what Whitney's repair looks like in the picture on the right. The doctors said that Whitney will not be able to lay on her back for about two weeks to allow the wound time to heal. Because of the heat from the incubator, the wound is covered with a piece of moist gauze to keep it cool.

Both surgeons gave us positive reports. The pediatric neurosurgeon reported that the injury to Whitney's spinal cord started around L3-L4 (lumbar vertebrae 3 & 4 or roughly near her waist), which is slightly lower than we expected. She retains a small measure of nerve function below that point. The pediatric plastic surgeon reported that the skin closure went well. If Whitney did not have enough skin around the lesion, the plastic surgeon would have had to make additional incisions to gather more skin from Whitney's sides or use skin grafts. Praise God that the plastic surgeon was able to pull her skin together without resorting to either process. In the picture above, you can see wrinkles in Whitney's skin (they look like they're covered with plastic). The doctor assured us that those wrinkles will disappear as the wound heals.

Whitney is back in the NICU. Shortly before the surgery, her IV malfunctioned and they had to remove it from her hand (again). They were unable to start it in her hand or arm, so they had to place it in her head after shaving a small amount of her hair. We were warned this might happen, but it still made us feel queasy. After the surgery, she remained on a ventilator until about 8:30. We were told to expect that Whitney would be on the ventilator for up to 48 hours. So we were very pleased that she was off it in less than 4.

Whitney continues to lie in the ventilator with small rolled towels under her waist to prop her up. Her feet are angled up against her legs, and her knees are locked into a shallow "V" position. Her hips, as we mentioned yesterday, are slightly drawn towards her. She seems comfortable now, but we will be taking her to physical therapy to hopefully loosen her legs. We were told to expect that she will need pediatric orthopedic surgery to improve her comfort and the stability of her hips. No idea when that will be yet, but we'll find out soon enough. Frankly, I'm going to try to get out of the scheduling business because the Lord has taken all of that firmly in hand over the last few days!


Anonymous said...

Rest assured that our prayers have been and continue to be for all of you. We praise Him for His grace and mercy shown thus far.

Whitney is beautiful...and yes we are the proud grandparents...we get to admire and stare at pictures until Friday.

Love Mom & Dad

Emily Vedra said...

Thanks for the detailed report! I hate skull IV's! I hope this IV site lasts a little longer for her. prayers for you as you go through this busy time--

Anonymous said...

Congratulations and thanks be to God, who has kept Whitney and all of you in His loving arms. May her scars heal fast, and her little legs move normally.
God bless.......

Anonymous said...

Scalp IV's are actually an old way of inserting. They stay put pretty well because of the location, as opposed to hands and feet. Looks worse than it really is!

Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you thank you for the GREAT and specific updates. I just love seeing your faith in HIM during your stay in the hospital. Thanks for the pictures. The kids and I love seeing your daughter and what seems to us progress already in what was determined invetro...What a mighty God we serve and what a blessing He has given to you both to have her as your SECOND daughter. I love knowing that no matter who we are or how we look is all IN HIS PLANS. We are made perfectly by HIS GREAT AND PERFECT plan. We will always keep you in our prayers as you train up your daughters in love of the Lord.
Blessings to you...and PLEASE continue as time permits these GREAT updates!

Tony R. said...

Thanks for taking the time to share details. Sarah and I will continue to pray for you all. She is a beautiful baby girl! Congratulations!

Cindy Seif said...

Matt and Susan,
Congratulations on the birth of Whitney! She is a beautiful baby! Your posts and pictures bring us back to the NICU 13 years ago (Jan 12) when Nicole was born. We will continue to cover you in prayers.
Ken and Cindy Seif

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the details and the pictures. It helps us all feel more a part of what you're experiencing so we can keep lifting you up in prayer throughout the day! We pray you will continue to receive good reports!
Love in Christ,
Laura Wiese

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for all the info, Matt, we know it takes time to keep up this blog....Whitney is beautiful!!! She is a Special wrapped gift for you and Susan from the creator of Life...What a Gift!!! We hope and pray Susan and Whitney will both be on the road to recovery. Wishing you all the Lords continued guidence! Love from us in B.C.

Missy said...

Congratulations, Susan and Matt, on the birth of another beautiful daughter! I will keep praying for all of you, especially little Whitney as she heals. God is faithful and I can't help but praise Him for the medical care Whitney can receive and the skills God has given the doctors to be able to help a child just one day old! May God continue to sustain and bless your family in the days ahead.
In Christ,
Melissa Schneider