Our Journey of Ethan’s Head Surgery… Craniosynostosis: Monday

Our journey of Ethan's head surgery -- Part 4;  msalishacarlson.com/

I am thankful that I asked for prayer.  It is sometimes hard for me to ask for help or to let people know when I’m struggling.  But I couldn’t have been more thankful for all our friends and family praying for us.  Even people we had never met were praying.

Romans 15:30 I urge you, brothers and sisters, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to join me in my struggle by praying to God for me.


When it came time for surgery, I was amazingly at peace!  In pre-op we were bombarded with doctors and nurses that would be assisting in the surgery.  Ethan, who had been so sweetly and peacefully sleeping in my arms, was rudely awakened by a nurse jabbing a thermometer in his ear but he took it all in good stride and flirted and smiled at all the doctors that came in.  The hardest thing with him going into surgery was handing him over at “the red line.”  Kissing him that one last time before he was taken away from me.  However, the nurses called every hour of surgery after his incision to give us updates, and the plastic surgeon called once in between.

Pre-op pictures;  msalishacarlson.com/

Ronald McDonald House;  msalishacarlson.com/
So here’s our funny moment:  It was nice that we didn’t have to sit in the hospital during the surgery.  We got on the shuttle to go back to the Ronald McDonald House.  I wanted to make our first FB post so Brad got out his work phone.  I’ll just tell you know that I am technology challenged and I have no idea how to even type on his phone.  So he was helping me figure this out.  After a little bit I told Brad, “I think we missed the RMH.”  “No,” he says and looks around.  A few minutes later Brad says, “I think you’re right.  I think we missed it.”  I had to ask the shuttle driver and he said, “Yeah, that’s why I waited there for a few minutes.”  So we got a 30-minute tour of the neighborhood as we had to ride the shuttle on its route!


I am thankful for the doctor’s knowledge and wisdom, and for the steadiness in their hands.  This was our prayer during surgery.

Proverbs 2:6  For the LORD gives wisdom; from his mouth come knowledge and understanding.


Update #1 at 9:02 a.m. (from the nurse): Ethan’s incision was made at 8:57. He is doing well.

Update #2 at 9:56 a.m. (from the nurse): The doctors are resting for a minute. They are still working on cutting skull.

Update #3 at 10:29 a.m. (from the plastic/reconstructive surgeon): “The neurosurgeon is currently working on Ethan. I am right here with him and will be scrubbing back in. Just wanted to give you an update. Everything is going fine.”

Update #4 at 11:15 a.m. (from nurse): Neurologist part is done. We are working on recontructing his head now. Everything this going good.

Update #5 at 12:05 p.m. (from nurse): We are near the end of the surgery. Should be done in an hour to an hour and a half. The plastic surgeon will break early to speak with you in person in 30-45 minutes.


Afterwards, the plastic surgeon met us in person and said surgery went well and the bones restructured nicely.  (We found out afterwards from the neurosurgeon on Tuesday that the surgery was more “in depth” than we knew.  I don’t know if it was a misunderstanding on Brad & my part or if it just wasn’t clearly communicated.  Regardless, I’m glad I didn’t know all the gory details at the time of surgery for Brad & I don’t think we would’ve handled it well. But… the neurosurgeon’s job was to drill the skull.  We thought he would just be removing an inch of skull where the sutures had fused.  Instead, he drilled the skull and REMOVED all the plates but the back one.  The plastic surgeon then reconstructed Ethan’s whole head.  They widened his forehead and cut the plate in the crown where his bump had been to round out his head.  The neurosurgeon told me that when they removed the bone that the brain visibly expanded. , they couldn’t see the brain itself, but the meninges which is the protective membrane that surrounds the brain.

Knowing this, I am so thankful for the words of 1 Corinthians 10:13 (taken from The Message translation): 13 No test or temptation that comes your way is beyond the course of what others have had to face. All you need to remember is that God will never let you down; he’ll never let you be pushed past your limit; he’ll always be there to help you come through it.


I was so excited to see Ethan after the surgery.  I was between a run and a skip going between the surgery center and the Children’s Hospital to his recovery room.  But when we saw him, he was moaning & crying in pain.  It was the worst & most painful sound I’ve ever heard.  His head was bandaged in gauze, his little cheeks were very puffy, and he had a team of nurses surrounding his crib all rapidly working to hook him up to the monitor and IVs.  All I wanted to do was touch him, hold him, be close to him.  I asked the nurse if I could be there at the crib, but she asked that I give them a minute until they were done.  As his momma, I wanted to soothe him and make the pain go away, but all I could do was let the tears fall and watch the nurses take care of him.  It was really hard seeing him that way.

Ethan just after surger;  msalishacarlson.com/
Once the morphine kicked in, he finally calmed down and rested for most of the day.  Thankfully, the remainder of the day was pretty uneventful which was good as it had already been an emotional day.  Besides eating a late lunch, most of my day was spend standing at Ethan’s crib looking at my little precious.  Then, findally around 7:00-ish his eyes opened for the first time!  Just for a few seconds at a time, but enough for him to see Brad & I standing by his bed.  He also took his pacifier for a brief time and then took his first bottle about 7:45.  However, burping was agony for the poor little guy… as was sitting up to do so.

Ethan's 1st bottle post-op;  msalishacarlson.com/
Back to sleep our little one went.  He developed a fever overnight (which is common within 24 of surgery) and teetered on the line of being feverish for most of Tuesday.  The night was filled with so many nurses coming to test his vitals and give more morphine.  His shallow breathing kept setting his monitor off.  Or when it wasn’t Ethan’s monitor, it was a loud dinging monitor in the corridor of the PICU signaling another child was in need of a nurse.

It was a long night for Ethan and I.



Share this with your friends…