Monday, February 14, 2011

Brave Max

Max and I came home from the hospital last Sunday to a group of excited older brothers. What a joy it was to be there with my sons! 
I was disappointed to leave them Monday morning, when we were to meet with a neurosurgeon to investigate a small dimple on Max's back. Because the dimple was located near Max's spine, the surgeon was concerned that it communicated with the spinal cord, creating a tract that would put him at risk for serious infection. We scheduled an MRI for Wednesday, which required general anesthesia and, subsequently, an overnight stay in the hospital. How brave Max was! At just five days old, he took the monitoring like a champ.
His bravery didn't end there: we ended up staying at the hospital for four exhausting days. We learned through the MRI that Max has spina bifida occulta, marked by a fatty mass that tethered his spinal cord. Without surgery, Max would most likely lose complete function in his bladder and legs. We decided to operate immediately to minimize the risk of infection. So at six days old, baby Max underwent a four-hour spinal surgery. Here he is the night before the surgery:
And here he is post-surgery, holding up his wrapped IV hand:
The days spent in recovery were full for us: managing Max's pain, caring for his wound, and attending to  his blood and urine work seemed to leave no time even for sleep. Although Max received excellent care and loving attention from the hospital staff,
it was a relief to finally unplug him from everything and take him home, again.
Max's prognosis could be excellent--he may need no further surgeries and enjoy full use of his legs and bladder. He may not. For now we are grateful for the gift of this beautiful boy, for the medical experts who have cared so well for him, and for the generous kindnesses shown to us by friends and family.