After meeting up with my parents who drove in from southern Virginia, her father who drove up from Florida (he had been visiting relatives there) and picking her mom up from BWI Airport, we drove into Baltimore and checked in at Hotel Monaco downtown, which is convenient due to its proximity to Johns Hopkins. After a nice dinner out with both sets of parents, we ventured back to the hotel to get as much sleep as possible, because we needed to be awake at 4:00 am Monday morning.
Day 1, Monday 21 March.
Had to be at Hopkins at 5:30 am. If you ever need to have surgery at Johns Hopkins, book your hotel the night before at Hotel Monaco. In addition to having an excellent & friendly staff, they offer a Johns Hopkins special rate that includes car service to and from the hospital. This is essential when both sets of your parents are from rural areas and aren't used to driving or parking in the "big city". This was a godsend. The car service had a nice big vehicle there at 5:00 am sharp which deposited us at the main entrance of Hopkins by 5:15. Once inside we checked in with the security desk and received out complimentary security arm bands which all non-employees of Hopkins must wear. Steffanie got a special yellow band that I jokingly told her let the security folks know to grab her if she tried to make a run for it out the door. We were able to find the right set of elevators quickly and found where to go to check into pre-op fairly quickly. They shuffled us into a special pre-op waiting room and told us they would call her when they were ready. They also assured us that once they prepped her, we could go back and see her in the prep room before she was carted off. We waited in the waiting from for about 30 minutes before they took her back to the prep room which involved in meeting with her doctor, hooking her up with a few IVs, prepping with her anesthesiologist, and then after about 1 hour and a half of waiting, we got to see her. She was noticeably nervous which quickly turned to tears. They let her keep her stuffed Corgi puppy (thanks Allison) to hold on to at least until they took her into the surgery room. We spoke with both anesthesiologists(Hopkins is a teaching hospital after all - there are two of everyone I quickly found - the teacher and the student). After hugs, kisses and a few goodbyes they kicked us out. While she was taken of to wherever it is they take her to do whatever it was they did (I wont go into details because I do not wish to pass out sitting here at my desk as I type this, as I did several weeks ago when her doctor explained the procedure to us. There is a reason I code websites and am not a doctor). They sent us to yet another waiting room where a nurse/liaison met us, collected our names and phone numbers and sent us to a waiting room on the ground floor that was roomier and more food-accessible. They advised us that this would be a good time to try to get some breakfast. After a quick search, we found the cafeteria and ate. Returning to the waiting room at around 8:30 or so it was only a short while until at 8:45 they called us to say surgery had begun. The nurse told us she would give us updates every 2 hours until it was over. I managed to keep myself occupied with Twitter, watching Andy Carvin's Libya/Yemmen updates or responding to folks who were giving Steff well wishes via email/Twitter/Facebook/text. At 10:40 they told us that she was still in surgery but that everyone was good. That's it. No other information. We waited longer - and then finally, at around 11:10 (give or take 15 minutes, I didn't bother to check my watch), she was out of surgery. Myself and 2 other people could go up to the waiting room on her floor to speak with the doctor. I went up with her Mom & Dad and after checking in with them and a short wait, Dr. Jon Weingart (Who is awesome btw. Did I tell you how awesome he is? Oh, no? Well he is awesome. Very awesome.) came to see us and told us that everyone went great. No problems. Completely routine. He answered a few of our cursory questions and then told us we could go into the NCCU (Neurosciences Critical Care Unit) to see her. A short walk later, we managed to find it without getting lost and made our way to the, yet another, even more special waiting room. A very nice lady who staffs this waiting room has the sole job of keeping track of which patient belongs to which family in the room and allowing them to find out any information they need to. We had to wait a bit longer for them to finish cleaning Steffanie up but around 11:45 me and her Mom got in to see her (only 2 people allowed into her room at a time). She was very red in the face, flush, probably from the medication. Very very groggy and out of it, but awake. Still recovered from the anesthetics I guess. She could open her eyes but just barely, and talk, but just barely. She complained about her head hurting and her arms hurting (they have something like 5 IVs in her giving her various pain meds & fluids). One by one we brought her Mom, Dad and my parents into see her. We began a "watch" of sorts over the next few hours, where we would take turns sitting with her while other pairs went off to get lunch. Her father had to leave to go back to Indiana so by 1:00 or 2:00 (again I lost track of time by this point) he said his goodbyes and headed back to Indiana for his 14 hour drive. At around 2:00 or so I headed off with my Dad and found some lunch downstairs but was back "on duty" by 3:00. I stayed with her until they kicked us out at 6:00 (visiting hours are from noon-6:00). At around 4:00 pm she started to be able to get to sleep. I think the pain meds were finally overruling the pain enough that she could get to sleep. She could only sleep for 10-20 minutes at a time though because the nurses have to check on her very often for her vitals and fluids. At one point Marlon (who is her primary attending nurse and completely awesome, btw) managed to get her pain dosage increased because the pain was simply too much. Bt the time we left her at 6:00 she was able to fall asleep much faster after each interruption and I am hoping is sleeping well right now as I write this. It's been a long day and I've very tired. I wanted to get this update out before I went to sleep. We're heading back to Baltimore tomorrow morning (I'm here in Alexandria with my Dad. Her Mom & my Mom are at the hotel in Baltimore) to get there by noon for visiting hours again. Oh and her MacBook Pro arrived today (to replace the one I spilled water on 2 weeks ago, on our anniversary, yeah..that one) and I've made good progress in getting it setup so it's ready for her as a coming home present. Thanks for all the well wishes, tweets, emails, Facebook messages and texts. We really appreciate it. I've been reading them to her all day when she was able to stay awake to listen. Please excuse any typos/horrible grammar. I didn't proof this. Hitting the post button now.