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Surgery Recap - Pre-Op Day

I have started writing blog posts for Nolan's surgery a handful of times now. They are hard to write. Each time I start to think about the days of surgery, the days leading up to it, the days right after, my heart starts to race, and I stop. These were the hardest and best days of my life all in one. The hospital hangover is a real thing. Post surgery PTSD is also a real thing. Joel and I were so focused on preparing Nolan for surgery, we never prepared ourselves for what was next, how would WE feel, etc.

Nolan is now 72 days post-op and I finally feel strong enough to get through this entire post.

Please know that everything in these Surgery Recap posts is how WE felt. How WE coped. How WE processed. How WE interpreted what was going on. At times what felt like the end of the world to us, was day to day life in the cardiac unit.

We are sharing Nolan's story to document how far he has come. To document how far we have come as a family. And to document how hard he has fought. I continue to be amazing at how much life he has in his tiny body. Nolan is the strongest person I know.


Pre-Op - November 14, 2018

Nolan was six months old on this day. We celebrated half a year by prepping for his surgery the following day.

We had to be at CHOA Egleston by 7:00 am. We left at 5:30 am to ensure we got there on time. We pulled in the parking lot at 6:50 am and walked through the pre-op doors at 7:05 am.

It was a large yellow room with countless chairs and children's artwork hanging on the walls. There was a door on the left wall that led to the pre-op rooms and a door on the right that led to the day of surgery rooms. They shared a waiting room called "Day Surgery".

We sat and waited for about 10 minutes before being called back to a pre-op room. Joel and I were both quiet. We knew pre-op day could be long, but we didn't fully know what to expect.

When we got into our room the nurse handed us a green folder with over 20 pages of information for cardiac surgery pre-op. Yes... this giant packet was just for what to know for the pre-op day and surgery day. After we reviewed some of the information she gave us our agenda for the day:

1) Meet with the surgeon - Dr. Kanter

2) Meet with his team

3) Meet with anesthesiology

4) Get a chest x-ray

5) Get an echocardiogram

6) Get blood drawn

1) Meet with the surgeon - Dr. Kanter

Dr. Kanter came into the room and looked at Nolan. Started to walk back out. Checked Nolan's name on his chart. Came back in and said, "Is this Nolan Moore? With the size of his VSD & ASD holes I was expecting a scrawny kid!"

Most heart babies are unable to gain weight and often need a feeding tube. While feeding was NEVER easy, we were thankfully able to avoid a feeding tube and work with feeding therapists for Nolan's weight gain.

Dr. Kanter was brief. He told us about the procedure - they would go through the chest to have access to his heart. Nolan would be put on a heart and lung bypass machine. He would use a patch to close Nolan's "gigantic" VSD and stitch close his smaller ASD. He told us Nolan would be away from us for about 5 hours. 1 hour to get him to sleep and prep him, 2-3 hours for surgery, 1 hour for him to get to CICU for recovery.

He told us Nolan size would help him do well. And that for cardiac surgery this was one of the "easier" procedures. He also told us the risks. Wow -- This was getting real.

2) Meet with his team

Over the next 2 hours, we met with TONS of nurses, doctors, fellows, students, etc. Too many people to name or count. All going over surgery, timelines, recovery, eating, therapy, coping, healing.. so many things. Each one putting us at ease, each one treating us with kindness and patience.

3) Meet with anesthesiology

Theresa was the anesthesiology assistant that came and met with us. She was one of our first guardian angels we would meet at CHOA. She was the type of person that instantly put you at ease. She made everything scary somehow sound wonderful (this is obviously why they have her in the room when you are signing consent forms). Joel and I both said we wanted to bring her home to rub out backs when we were sad... but all jokes aside she is one of those kind souls I will remember for the rest of my life.

4) Get a chest x-ray

After meeting with everyone we headed on our hospital scavenger hunt for the next three steps in our process.

First, we went to radiology to get a chest x-ray. As we got closer to the room Joel and I got more and more nervous. This was the EXACT same room we were in for Nolan's skeletal survey x-rays. Until surgery, this was the hardest thing we had ever done. We hated this room and wanted to get out!

Nolan, being the champion he is laid perfectly still for his x-ray. He let us hold him down, pull his arms above his head, and he did it all with a smile. He amazes me.

5) Get an echocardiogram

Next, we went for an echocardiogram. This was the first echo he had done in the hospital, all the others had been done in his cardiologist's office. As always, he was a champion for this too.

An echo can take up to 45-50 minutes and most kids have a meltdown at some point. Not Nolan.

He laid there, smiles, rolled around, tried to help, and laughed. The ultrasound tech even said, "Okay he wins! He wins most well-behaved infant to ever have an echo!" (Sadly, there wasn't a trophy).

6) Get blood drawn

This was last on the list because of well... needles. The hospital is like a well-oiled machine and they have to go to this last so that if your child is melting down you get to leave soon, and not have other tests to be completed.

They got out a tiny needle and stuck Nolan's arm. He looked at the lady, grabbed her hand and smiled. She told us she couldn't believe he was so strong and was able to get his blood drawn with no tears.

We knew he was tough but at this moment we got a glimpse of just how strong he actually was.

We finished up and headed back upstairs to our pre-op room. By this time it was 3:00 pm and our 8-hour pre-op appointment was coming to an end.

We headed out to get something to eat and the rest of our day was nothing short of unexpected.

Here is a video recapping what happened that day after leaving the hospital (you can't make this stuff up) - CLICK HERE FOR VIDEO.

Up next... Surgery day!

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What a journey you all have gone on so far. Thank you for sharing and keeping us up to date. Nolan is an amazing little man. You and Joel are amazing parents. You have all our love and support.


Laina, the way your write makes it seem as though we aren’t right there with you. Nolan’s is a champion because he has two strong, faith-filled parents who constantly let him know how loved he is. Thank you for sharing your courageous story!


Jani Forest-wyatt
Jani Forest-wyatt

You're my heroes!

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