Chronicling The Comerfords

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cholesteatoma Surgery

We did it!  We made it through our first surgery!  I hope and pray it is a long, long, long time before any of us requires another surgery.  Amelia did great!  Turns out the tumor was still very small and had not grown towards the inside at all.  This is a huge deal! It meant that the surgeon was able to go in through the ear canal rather than cutting the backside of her ear open.  Surgery only took about 45 mins.  The cholesteatoma was attached to the eardrum which left a small hole in it when it was removed.  He left the hole in the ear because the skin graph he could have put in would be much thicker skin than the eardrum.  Cholesteatomas have a chance of growing back and if he would have used the thicker skin then he would have to go in surgically again in about a year to check her.  Apparently the eardrum is very forgiving and should grow back together really quickly (hopefully within a few weeks).  Since she has never even had an earache, he thinks this will be perfectly fine.

Amelia had so much fun staying at the hotel Thursday night! Too bad it wasn't for a better reason. Surgery was not scheduled until 9:50am and she could not eat anything after midnight.  We knew it would be easier to let her sleep as long as possible. Having to get up and make the commute to Atlanta in traffic with a hungry toddler would have been miserable.  Nana rode up with us Thursday night and Grandma and PawPaw showed up about 8:30.  Grandma and PawPaw brought late night snacks of blueberries, popcorn and juice boxes.  PawPaw took Annie home with him and Grandma stayed with us.  Between the special fairy princess nightgown from Nana and all the late night snacks from Grandma and PawPaw, Amelia now loves hotels!

Friday morning Amelia knew something was up, but really didn't know what.

This is what we think of surgery!

I hope we never, ever have to go through another childhood surgery but if we do it will be at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  Every single person we came in contact with was amazing!  Children are definitely first priority but a close second are the parents.  These people are obviously trained to know how to give children and their extremely nervous parents (and Grandmothers) a comfort level at such a stressful time.

I know this sweet lady's professional title is not Bubble Blower, but that is what she did. I think her tag said something about Client Relations Assistant. She had tons of bubbles and walked around loving on babies and letting them blow bubbles in her face (up high! down low!  In your daddy's face!)  I have no idea how much she gets paid, but her sweet spirit is worth every penny, probably more!

About 9:15 or so we were called back to our room. They weighed her, checked her temp and blood pressure.  After asking a thousand questions over and over and meeting with the doctor and anesthesiologist they gave Amelia "goofy juice".  We were told it would make her so silly, but it really didn't.  At first it made her kind of mean and upset. I think it probably just felt weird and she didn't know how to react to those feelings.  We turned on some You Tube videos of Wheels on the Bus and she calmed down and the zoned out.  We did not get to go back to the operating room where she was put to sleep like they said we would.  They were just too busy that morning.  Honestly I am grateful for this.  I  would have done it if she needed me to, but I had no desires to watch my baby be put to sleep.  She was so out of it by the time they wheeled her bed out that she had no idea she was leaving.  The nurse called us about 30 mins later and said surgery had started and she went to sleep really easy.
Blowing bubbles waiting on the goofy juice

The thing about Amelia not being able to eat was we did not eat either (How mean would that have been?!).  I was only able to sneak one little cup of coffee too.  By the time she went back for surgery I was having caffeine withdrawals and was so hungry I was shaky.  The good thing was that consumed my brain for a little while so I didn't think about surgery.  We all went down to the cafeteria to eat an early lunch as Amelia was wheeled into surgery.  When we were on our way back up to our room, Dr Sipp was walking right in front of us going to our room.  He came in to tell us how great surgery went and that everything was quicker and better than expected.  So now I am full and hearing my baby is doing great.  Best part of the day!
Here is the culprit.  Amelia's cholesteatoma was about the size of a little girl's pearl earring.  He got in there, pulled it loose and "it rolled out like a meatball on spaghetti".  I'm sure that is a very fancy term he learned in medical school.

After she got back to our room, the drama began.  I heard the anesthesia would be worse than the surgery and that is a true statement.  I am sure she was scared and disoriented and probably felt terrible.  We stayed there about 2 hours waiting on her to wake up, get to feeling better and drink some icee.  Thank goodness she never once threw up.
We were both recovering at this point.  She was trying to wake up and I was finally able to rest.

We are now recovering at Grandma and PawPaw's.  She is doing much better than I thought she would.  She still gets mad and is pretty emotional.  I'm not sure if the meds are still working their way out or if it is the pain.  She really doesn't seem to be in that much pain though.  After Friday night we changed over from Lortab to ibuprofen.  That has helped her personality a lot.
Daddy said it looks like she has a Big Bird Bluetooth.

I have no doubt that the tumor was smaller than they thought, surgery was less invasive than planned and we were surrounded by such a calming spirit because of all the prayers that were spoken on our behalf. If we ever wondered if our community cares about us, there is no doubting it now.  Our pastor made the hour and a half commute to Atlanta to be with us that morning and say a prayer for our family, we were inundated with texts, phone calls and emails and have received get well packages for our sweet patient.  We are SO grateful for our Lord and all the people he has put in our lives to love on our family.  Thank you, thank you, thank you a million times over!

Also, if you get a second say a little prayer for all the families at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta.  All it takes is a short walk through the doors of that hospital to make you so grateful for your little lovebugs.  There are some sick babies there and some amazingly strong parents. 


  1. Wonder if the lady with the bubbles was a Child Life assistant?? Glad all went well.

  2. I know it didn't say Child Life because that is what I was looking for :)