Life in Starship

For 5 days

Elsa had a really good first night. She slept most of the time even when the nurses came in to do their hourly obs. I didn’t get much sleep due to a 3 year old next to us crying most of the night but was glad Elsa had a good rest.

The day starts early in Starship with the surgeons doing their rounds between 7am-8am. We saw Mr Nicol who was happy with how Elsa was doing. She did have some oozing from her incision site on her top hip but this was sorted out with pressure bandages. On the second day Elsa had an x-ray done of her hip to check that the metal ware was all okay and securely in place which they were.

Being in Starship for 5 days you live in a sort of bubble. People come and visit, you go as far as Muffin Break in Auckland hospital to get some decent coffee and anything else you might need either gets brought in for you or you can buy it from the few shops close by. You don’t get to venture outside in the fresh air much and you get to know life in the ward pretty well. Facebook becomes your only connection to the outside well as well as text messages!

You soon get to know the patients in the same room as you and soon learn why they are there and how long they have been in there for. You start chatting to the other parents in the kitchen when you’re making your 5th cup of tea and soon you are this little Orthopedic community.

Our neighbours who live down the end of our ROW were also in hospital which was really bizarre! What were the odds of being in Starship at the same time as them, let alone being in the same ward?! Their 4 year old daughter was having surgery done on her spine and so we would often pass each other in the hall way and have a quick catch up.

I am part of a FB support group called Spica Mums and Bubs NZ and a 2 year old girl was having her metal ware removed and she ended up in the same room as us and they were part of that FB group too! I knew them by name and had been reading about them preparing for this surgery so it was nice to meet face to face and the fact they ended up in the same room as us was uncanny.

You get to know the nurses and soon you have your favourites and the ones you joke with. Our favourite nurse was called Liz. She was the one who first saw us when we arrived and took us back up to the ward after Elsa’s surgery. She was a no nonsense nurse but also very fair and very good. Her favourite colour was purple and Elsa really took to her.

We had our routine whereby Daniel would leave in the evenings after rush hour and then in the mornings he would drop Lucas off at school and then continue on in to Starship where he would spend the day. We had visitors come in every day which was really nice. Elsa got very spoilt with presents and surprises and it was nice for me to see my friends. I would often leave Daniel with Elsa, and have a coffee with a friend and get to catch up with what was going on in the outside world!

Friday and Saturday weren’t very good days for Elsa. Her hemoglobin levels kept dropping which was worrying. They started at 123, then dropped to 88, then 83 and then 77. She was also still throwing up. They stopped the ibuprofen which helped and started anti-nausea medication again which helped. There was talk about Elsa having a blood transfusion on Sunday depending on what her hemoglobin levels were at the following morning. Elsa was pretty listless and not her usual cheery self and Saturday was the hardest day out of them all.

On Sunday Mr Nicol cancelled the blood test and blood transfusion as he said if her levels were at 70 then he would be worried. As Elsa wasn’t moving around much this slows down the production of red blood cells and as she did loose quite a bit of blood during surgery, her body was just taking a bit longer to boost her levels. So this was comforting to hear and we were now on a mission to get red blood cell friendly foods into her!

As all was going well in terms of looking after Elsa with regards to sponge bathing her and moving her from her back to her side, and we were confident and comfortable with doing this, we were able to be discharged on the Monday. An occupational therapist checked to see that Elsa could be secured in her car seat safely and now we had a wheelchair for her, we were good to go.

So farewell Starship and hello home!

Liz changing Elsa’s epidural. She was, Elsa’s favourite nurse.
X-ray showing the metal ware in Elsa’s hip — the two pins in her pelvis and the plate and pins in her femur.
Lucas visiting his sister.
My living quarters.
Ready to go home!
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