24 hours later

WOW, what a difference 24 hours makes! That is 24 hours after the completion of Kirsten’s surgery.

I will start this update from this morning, it started as the usual chaos in getting Alannah up, changed and out the door to day care, albeit a different day to her usual Friday. It must have been a little confusing for our little darling but she stepped up to the plate like a veteran and off we went. (I think she thought it was early morning cafe time).

We arrived at day care and that’s when I think Alannah realised that something really was up, she clung to me and didn’t want to let go, thankfully her favourite carer was there to help calm her down.

Off I went about a few morning tasks, trying to fill the void of time before I am allowed to visit Kirsten.. Mail from post office, CHECK, dry cleaning, CHECK.. coffee.. CHECK (boy I needed that one) then home only to realise about an hour had passed……..

I received a phone call from the ICU about 9am telling me that Kirsten had woken up and was asking for me and when was I coming in? During the call Kirsten also managed to ask about her photo’s of Alannah in her ward room, great to hear that she was so awake. The ICU nurse said she would make arrangements for me to enter earlier than the permitted time of 11am so off I went to the hospital.

First stop.. Kirsten’s ward room to pick up a few pictures of Alannah

Second stop.. ICU waiting room… Stopped in my tracks… ICU door troll said I couldn’t enter and would have to wait until her doctors had finished checking up on her.. I nearly lost it… but managed to remain calm, it would have been nice to have a chat with Dr A who was checking on her.. but alas, not this day.

I was finally permitted in, rushed to her room only to stand in her blind spot, you see her sight was all foggy from the pain medication. So we rearranged to room a little to have the pictures of Alannah at the end of the bed where she could look at them constantly. Once settled, a small precession of nurses came to check out our pretty little Alannah, they say she looks like me.. HAHAH!!

So enough rambling, on to what you all want to know.

Kirsten woke around 7:30am this morning and was able to respond positively to all the doctors pokes and prods, the ICU nurse told me she is progressing as expected, following the experts guide to Recovering from a Mandibulectomy and Fibulectomy, the Fibula Flap is also taking nicely, so far so good! After this initial diagnosis, she was hooked up to the feeding bag. The feeding bad is a lovely protein liquid administered through the nose directly to the stomach.

The pain relief drug being administered is called Fentanyl (this is the same one that kept her asleep) and is now being slowly withdrawn to bring Kirsten to a greater awareness, but also has a self-administering system.. all it takes is one little push of the green button and WHACK!! in it goes that extra little kick of relief.. one little side effect, it can cause vomiting, which, precisely 10 minutes into my visit happened to Kirsten. I must say, not a fun thing for me to see, how do you react to something like that when you know you are helpless to resolve the issue.. anyways, the nurses cleaned her up and took the opportunity to clean all her dressings too.

For those that have a slightly perverse interest in the surgery (I admit, I’m one of them), I got to see all the stitching and drains and blood and everything about the surgical site, quite fascinating if you have the stomach for it.

Kirsten is able to write notes and is able to ask questions so we had a good little conversation between her Fentanyl induces dozes. But she did instruct me to be honest on HER Blog, and am doing so, hence the story above. Kirsten has vowed that this will be the only time she gives me a vomiting story to blog about. (I do have more, but mum’s the word)

One thing I forgot to mention last night is that the lovely Nurse R informed me after some prodding that Kirsten didn’t need a blood transfusion, small victory for her, she found it “icky” to have someone else’s blood in her, but not he leg in her mouth 🙂

So I left the hospital and spoke to Kristen’s parents who had a visit planned for later in the day at 3pm (ICU opening hours again for visitors), gave them directions to ICU.. quite simple really, get out of the lift, turn left to the ICU waiting room….  I received a call from the ICU nurse at 3:10pm with questions from Kirsten about her parents whereabouts.. even in her state she is on the ball!.. I called them.. they were in the waiting room on level 1, but not the ICU.. 2 phones, 3 conversations on the go (I had work on hold) and managed to ease Kristen’s mind about her parents whereabouts.

During her parents visit, the ventilator connected to Kirsten was removed and she is now breathing by herself, albeit from the tracheostomy.

I’ve received strict instructions that I must include the following in tonight’s blog post

1. Her chest is clear. (i can only assume fluid in her lungs is a concern here)

2. No Blood transfusions (mentioned above)

3. She is off the ventilator (mentioned above)

4. This is interesting, her blood pressure is being measures via an arterial line directly attached to her main artery to the heart via her arm (I think). Her blood pressure is being measured at 110 over 50 and the pressure with which the blood flows is around 70, minimum accepted is 50. (I may need to clarify this second statement as I received the information 4th hand). You can learn all about it here… really you can LEARN it 🙂

Let me clarify, the last point above is my best guess, I can clarify it tomorrow if anyone’s interested, or someone may be able to comment on it here accurately

My conclusion for the day..

If Kirsten is able to wake up, asks many questions and be satisfied with the answers she is receiving 12 – 24 hours after the surgery, I’m quietly confident she will come through this early stage mind in tact and at ease with the process. All we need to hope for now is that the Fibula Flap continues to remain healthy and she will be on the fast track to healing and then home!

– Darren



  1. Actually, his instructions were: go up to first floor, turn left out of lift. Walk to the door which says ‘Prohibited – staff only’. On yer left there is a door to the ICU sitting room. Walk across that room to the door on the other side. Next to the door is a buzzer. Press buzzer, talk to troll.

    The arterial line minimum pressure acceptable (I heard) was 60. Kirsten’s measure flicked from 69 to 70. Nurse M said they were more interested in that than the BP. The heart rate was high 70s.

    The BP reading was 104/49 but Nurse M said not to worry about the 49 because they apply a wind-chill factor to it which equates to about 69.

    Kirsten could wriggle the toes of the donor leg. They were not puffy and were a good colour. The leg does not have plaster on (yet) but a massive bandage which is totally clean, no seepage. The ‘excess’ is draining into a bag beneath the bed. Her fingers aren’t puffy any more.

    Darren, how come the donor leg was the left leg? I though it was meant to be a left jaw/right leg combination. And, El, there was no need to use butt-skin.

    You know that rugby chap who married a nearly-princess this weekend just gone? Kirsten bears an uncanny resemblance to him – but at least SHE will grow out of it!

  2. Thanks for the clarification Julie.

    To your questions about the Donor Leg, I never have received a valid reason, the best i get is that most people drive automatic cars.. no clutch, no left leg requirement..

    thankfully the clutch in the car Kirsten drives is quite light on pressure requirements.
    Ill add that to the list of questions for Dr A.

  3. Hurrrah for all of you. Very detailed post which is much appreciated by a stranger who is pulling for the entire family.

  4. Darren, we just might make a writer out of you. Glad to hear things are looking good!

  5. Truely one amazing women! We are relieved to hear the surgery went well and so happy to hear kirsten is so coherent and aware! Thanks for keeping us informed darren, i know it must be the last thing on your mind, we are grateful hat you have, we are constantly thinking of you all and send all our love! Tamms xx

  6. Thanks for the updates, Darren. Thinking of you all often. Glad to here positive report so far.

  7. I mean ‘hear’ of course…..

  8. Well Done Kirsten. You are a little fighter. Well done Darren for keeping life outside hospital going for your lovely Alannah. Also for the great updates. Much appreciated when we are so far away. Thinking of you all and sending lots of luck and love your way. Jan and Ian xxx

  9. Man! She IS on the ball!
    Isn’t that wonderful!?
    I’m not saying she’s bossy……….. 🙂

    Julie – you freaked me out when you said “donor” leg – I thought
    oh no – they’ve replaced her fibula with a dead person’s!
    If she hates the thought of someone else’s blood………
    (yes, the penny dropped)

    PS – what’s the door troll look like?

  10. The door troll has wild hair, fangs dripping blood, and a voice from hell … ‘name, rank, serial #’.

    We are taking photographs, but the patient-troll has right of veto, so youse just have to wait ’til she can use her i-stuff..

  11. Wonderful news, Darren. You married a little dynamo, no doubt about it. Imagine being coherent and specific so soon after such a massive surgery! I wasn’t doing that well after a mere gallbladder operation.
    Please give your mother-in-law a hug from me and tell her to get some rest. Impossible idea, but she probably needs it.
    Julie, if you’re reading this — listen to Darren.

  12. I’m sure you’re all running on adreneline right now. I’m really pleased she’s doing so well. Thanks for the updates.

  13. Keeping y’all in my prayers…

  14. It’s done….. hurray and well done. You pulled through like a trooper, and Darren didn’t melt into a puddle of anxiety. I’m so glad to hear it happened the way it was suppose to, no nasty surprises. Best Wishes. Marlies and Phil

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