Archive | January, 2013

our hospital stay

31 Jan

After Britton’s surgery we spent one night in the ICU.  I couldn’t bear the thought of leaving him there alone over night so I slept on a cot in the corner of his room.  For the first two hours that he was in there, a nurse came in every 30 minutes to check on him and give him meds.  About every hour or two they would come in and move him around in his bed to avoid bed sores and stiffness.  He was on a Fentanyl drip that he could push a button and be delivered pain medication at six minute intervals if he needed it.  He was also hooked up to an IV, catheter and oxygen.  The first night was a rough one.  Once his family arrived on Saturday morning I left for a nap and shower.  While I was gone they moved Britton into his normal room.

photo 1

We decided to pay extra for a private room since we knew there would be so many family members stopping in to visit him.  His first day out of surgery was a quiet one and he slept most of the day.  He was taking regular dosage of Tylenol extra strength, Oxycodone and a steroid.   His head was still bandaged up and couldn’t wear his glasses so I had to help with dinner that night!

photo 2

As you can see, he was so pleased… The spaghetti dinner just wouldn’t stay on the spoon! So he had a lot of pasta on his gown.  Whoops!  That was the only night I didn’t stay in his room in an attempt to get some regular sleep.  It didn’t work.

Beware, the next picture is graphic. This was his incision after the bandages were removed.


They removed his bandages before 6 am on Sunday morning and I missed his doctor’s visit despite being there at 5:45 am.  That was a huge reason why I never stayed at the hotel again.  I hated missing the doctor’s morning rounds.  By this time he was feeling much more alert and decided to move to a chair next to his bed for some of the day.  Later in the day he felt comfortable removing the catheter too so he could be more mobile.

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By Sunday night he was even up for a walk down the hall with the help of a nurse and his lovely wife!  His dad even recorded his steps so we could watch his progress!

photo 4

Sunday night I stayed close by his side on a cot in the corner and was up to help him anytime he needed to move around or use the restroom.  We were so lucky that he was mobile, it meant we didn’t need to call a nurse to help him out of bed.  I was allowed to do that for him.

Monday was another good day for Britton.  His brother Jordan, as well as his aunts and uncles, Diane, Terry, Lee and Kathy, all came to visit.  Diane and Terry brought pizza and brownies although chocolate tasted funny to Britton.  I took a break with my mom while Britton visited family and got out and about for a few hours.  When I returned everyone was in the family waiting area watching the BCS championship and chowing down on pizza.

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While Britton was making great progress I had a few concerns.  He just wasn’t himself.  Sounds silly too, I realize, after surgery who would be their usual self?!  But I talked with the nurses to make sure it wasn’t abnormal.  Everyone knows Britton has a great sense of humor but it was gone and I was worried.  The nurses were very glad I addressed it too because they don’t know what their patients normal selves look like.  What we did find was that Britton was trying to go without as much pain medication as he probably needed and that made him more agitated than normal.  He didn’t get back to normal for another week or two but I was very glad to have discussed it with the nurse just to make sure something wasn’t wrong.  Our doctor said that the brain has a funny way of coping with something as traumatic as surgery and for Britton it was coping in this way.  He was short, never smiled and definitely never laughed.  Everything bothered him and no one could do anything right.  It was tough to watch but I am so glad he is back to normal now.

day of surgery

16 Jan

As you can probably imagine, it’s been a busy week and a half.  So tonight I am finally getting back to my mission to blog about this whole experience.

January 4th, when I wrote my last post, I was in the waiting room of St. Mary’s Hospital up at the Mayo Clinic.  Britton entered the OR at approximately 8 am and surgery began at 9:23 am.  The family started out in a large waiting area where we had access to a message board giving minimal updates on patient progress.  Before the surgery began they had his room ready in the ICU and moved all of us up to a family waiting area outside the ICU.  It was actually very nice!  We had a whole room to ourselves complete with a kitchenette.   We had a specific nurse communicator that came in to give us updates about every 2 hours.

waiting room

At about 10:30 am the nurse communicator came in and told us he was done with surgery.  I stood up and told him that couldn’t be possible.  He looked back at his notes, obviously confused and soon asked for my name.  We quickly realized he was referring to another patient, who was also wearing a grey sweatshirt, hence his confusion!  I thought Janet might have a heart attack!  I think she was pretty sure there had been complications since we knew we shouldn’t be getting another update for about an hour.  About 30 minutes later the nurse communicator came back with a real update.  Britton was under the microscope and he would be for the next 5 hours.  That was really the only update we would get, every 2 hours they would tell us he was under the microscope (whatever that means.)

Britton came out of surgery at about 4:30 that afternoon.  Janet and I headed downstairs to talk with the doctor about how surgery went.  It was tough talking to the doctor and still not being able to see our baby.  Britton’s surgery went well but the tumor was very tough to remove.  The doctor spent most of his time trying to unwrap the tumor from all of the nerves in Britton’s brain but he was confident they had been able to remove 99.9% of it.  Great news.  However, he wasn’t sure about his hearing.  Dr Link told us they were unable to get a good read on that nerve the whole surgery.  He was doubtful Britton would have the same function in his right ear that he had prior to surgery.  Speaking with the doctor was both terrifying and exhilarating.  It was tough to know how to feel about it.

Britton stayed in the recovery area for a long time.  Longer than he should have which is another story for another night.  At about 6 that evening I finally asked the nurses in the ICU where he was and they gave us an update that his blood pressure was too high and they had to get that regulated before he could come up to his room.  The news had us a little worried but we kept up the positive attitudes and played some games to pass the time.

At approximately 7:30 pm we were finally notified that Britton was in the ICU and his family was welcome to see him.  I had never been in a position like this before.  I had never seen a loved one go through serious surgery or witness any loved ones coming out of anesthesia.  When we first saw Britton it was hard not to be upset.  He yelled out in pain and I couldn’t hold back my tears until he turned to me, no glasses on to see my face, and said “I love you.”

While the wonderful nurses worked to get Britton’s pain under control the family all came in to see him and wish him well before they all headed out to dinner, acknowledging the fact that Britton wouldn’t be able to communicate anyway and would soon be so hyped up on pain meds he probably wouldn’t remember them.  Janet and I stayed put and I vowed to stay the night.  It was a long day and an even longer night but I was happy to have a cot in the corner of his room to keep watch over him all night.

day of pre op

4 Jan

Yesterday we got ready for our day of pre op appointments. We started the day with a good workout! As many of you know, that’s not something I get excited about because I hate to work out! But Britton loves to run and he won’t be able to for the next 3 months. So I ventured to the hotel gym with Britton to accompany him.

photo 1

We started at 1 with a general pre op appointment and the anesthesiologist. We loved him! We even talked a little with him about what it will look like if Britton looses hearing in his right ear. He’s had unilateral hearing loss since he was a kid. Because Britton is so healthy and young he has the lowest risk for complications. No one has 0 risk so we feel good about that.

Our second appointment was for an additional audiology test to get a base line for the doctors. His word recognition is at 80% which isn’t terrible but not great either.  Later the doctor told us he will most likely never regain all his hearing but the hope is that it will stay the same instead of get worse.


The final appointment of the day was with both our surgeons.  First we met with the ENT that will be assisting in the surgery.  His only role will be to assist the neurosurgeon with specific road blocks related to the auditory nerves.  For the most part, he will be on call to help but won’t be in the room for surgery unless necessary.  The second doctor is our neruosurgeon, Dr. Link.  He will be performing the majority of the surgery.  He will have a team of people working with him to assist and there will also be students as Mayo is a teaching hospital.  He did he will perform all of the most important parts of the surgery with helped us feel more comfortable.

After all of our appointments we got to relax! Our headcount for the waiting room is up to 8 now that Britton’s brother and sister in law were headed over from Minneapolis.  We spent the night laughing and filling our bellies before we headed to bed for a good night’s sleep.  Britton’s check in was 6 am and we were lucky to be able to get some rest.  Update on surgey to come!  Check our twitter @BrittonUpdates for more details on surgery!

it’s here.

2 Jan

This is the week. Tonight we are heading up to Rochester, MN to get ready for surgery. Britton has appointments most of the day tomorrow so we wanted to be up there and ready for the day.  Since my last post not a lot has happened.  We discovered MAYO has an awesome iPhone app to keep us in the loop of everything going on with Britton’s records, appointments, medications, etc.  I am serious when I say it’s awesome.  It has everything including notes from every conversation we have had with a doctor up at MAYO.

Over the holidays we were lucky to be able to spend a lot of time with all of Britton’s extended family.  They have kept us in their prayers!  Over the Christmas holiday we discovered that Britton’s sister will be joining us for surgery as well as both my parents.  So the waiting room head count as of right now is 6.  Its tough to know how to prepare for stuff like this including the waiting room! So I talked to Britton’s mom about it and we’re bringing some games, I’m bringing something to knit (I’m a beginner at best), something to read and we’ve all got smart phones.  Hopefully we can keep ourselves busy for the 8-10 hrs we are in a waiting room.  Here is my bag thanks to my sis Kristen’s wedding gift 🙂

packed bag

Some other things we’ve done to prepare: Dinner with most of Brittons good friends. Packed up Christmas.  Buzzed Britton’s head.

Britt buzzed

So that’s the only update for now.  Friday morning Britton will go into surgery so I will find a way to keep everyone up to date on whats happening with that.  We thank everyone for their prayers and positive thoughts!  Feel free to call/text/comment!