Cleft Palate Surgery

A fellow reader wrote to me awhile ago to ask about Ern Ern’s surgery. I’ve e-mailed him the details. Here’s the e-mail to Mr N. I am sharing this e-mail so that, if anybody has a child with the same condition, hope this would be of help.

Dear N,

I am writing to inform you of my niece’s surgery. She went for surgery on 5th December 2011 (Monday) and was discharged the following day (Tuesday). Everything was good.

What I need to prepare you for, is the preparation for the surgery and after.

My sis took Ern Ern to University Hospital (UMMC) on Friday, 2 December 2011 for prior surgery check up. On Friday, blood samples were taken. Altogether they took 3 vials of blood. It was rather difficult because my niece was screaming all the time. She’s quite ferocious for someone her age. I wonder where she got that from? Hehehe. She is afterall, 1 year and 2 months old now. So I guess she knew how to protest!

The waiting was really torturous. My sis and husband went to hospital since 10 am in the morning. They waited till almost lunch before they were summoned to have blood drawn. After that, they had to wait 3-4 hours for the test results. So you need to prepare – bring books, toys, food – anything to make your toddler comfortable when you go for pre-surgery check up. I guess that is why UMMC is semi govt/private.. All the waiting seems endless.

Ern ern came back, exhausted and totally phobic of doctors.

On Sunday afternoon, my sis and husband went again to the hospital to prepare for admission. They went to UMMC around 2 pm and got admitted. Nurses would come to check blood pressure. This also was met with protest by Ern Ern. They had to strap her to the bed to take her blood pressure. Then, at around 6 pm, the doctor came to insert IV into the veins on her hand. She was screaming, kicking and protesting, but somehow it needed to be done. The IV is for her glucose drip when she’s out of surgery and couldn’t consume food. Then, Ern Ern was supposed to fast from 2 am onwards. The last sip of water is at 4 am and at 5 am, they came to gave her glucose via IV.

The next morning, another waiting agony. Since there’s another case – a 4 month old baby with cleft lips, and it doesn’t make sense to make the baby fast too long so they started surgery on him first. So, the waiting game started again till around 1.30 pm. Ern Ern was wheeled into the operating theatre. My sis waited together with her till she was given the anesthesia mask to put her into unconsciousness. My sis left the operating theatre and waited outside.

Ern Ern is considered lucky because all she had was soft palate cleft. My sis said that, if she has hard palate cleft, they might have to extract a part from her body to repair the cleft. The surgery took only 1.5 hours. After that, they were cleaning her up at the observation room, Ern Ern woke up to strangers in white coats and she was screaming her lungs out again. The nurses couldn’t pacify her so they had to bring my sister and husband into the room. Her face was covered with blood because they were cleaning her up half way when she suddenly woke up. I could only imagine the scene. I guess in a way, it’s also good that they didn’t overdose her on anesthetic.. Or perhaps, my niece is just born with extra energy pent up somewhere in her which made her wake up so suddenly! Anyway, it was all good after that. She managed to calm down immediately after my sis held her tightly. She got out from surgery hall around 4 pm

Her face and eyes were swollen – I think due to anesthesia and also too much crying. It was such pain to see her like that.

After a few hours, there will still be bleeding from her mouth, so you need to place her sleeping down, to her side so that the blood would come out from the mouth. My niece refused to sleep on the bed and refused to be left alone. So, my sis had to carry her all night long on her shoulder, while sleeping on the couch. The IV drip would be attached to her hand too, so it’s really an awkward position to sleep in when you are carrying her. I guess you would need to have both parents there – to rotate. How else are you supposed to go to the bathroom if she kept on clinging on you. Children would need to be assured that they are safe at all times, so that they are not traumatized. She was tossing and turning the whole night even in my sis’ arms. Occasionally sobbed and cried. Remember also to change diapers. After all the ordeal the whole day, my sis forgotten to change her diapers till we came to visit.

Doctor said, once she’s ok to drink some water and pass urine, she would be discharged.

I was so worried that I sms to my sis after visiting her at the hospital and by 12.35 am, my sis sms me and said, she was able to drink now and when she saw her dad eating bread, she managed to say “Mum mum”. LOL. I guess the gluttony in her prevails at all times.

Ok. What does she eat post-surgery, I guess you must be asking – We gave her E Excel Millenium, cactus juice. It was supposed to build up her immune system or something. She doesn’t want to drink water totally – she’s like that, never liked water. So when my sis gave her water, she kept crying. She just hate to drink plain water. But, when we gave her E Excel Millenium, she seemed to like it and drank it quietly. We also gave her some Nutrifresh – a soy based with fruit drink – also from E Excel.

She couldn’t sleep the whole night. So my sis kena entertain her lah. She didn’t sleep till the next morning and then, by afternoon, doctor gave her the greenlight to be discharged. Bill surprisingly came up to only RM200! It was a shocker! Thanks to CLAPAM!

Then, immediately after she got home, Ern Ern was all excited to see her grand aunties and aunt again. So now, she’s at home, we are feeding her with ice cream (doctor’s advice to numb the pain and we gotten Haagen Das vanilla flavor for her). Don’t feed in large quantities lah. We only gave her one table spoon – and to be taken a small bite one at a time. We also continue feeding her e excel Millenium and Nutrifresh, as well as cold milk. She has been responding rather well. No more bleeding once she got out from the hospital, however, she is still salivating. Today, Wednesday, her saliva had been reduced considerably.

After surgery, feeding bottle is not allowed, no solid food, only liquid room temperature things or cold milk. Can also eat yogurt.

Her next appointment is this coming Monday. So, I guess all is good and I hope your baby would be alright too.


11 thoughts on “Cleft Palate Surgery

  1. Recently my son also went through a surgery on his face by the name called oralmaxillofacial procedure to correct his under bite condition. His face was swollen and bleed through nose and mouth.Now he is apparently a bionic man with titanium wire, screws and bolts within his skull. He is 17 and rather brave to go through the painful 2.5 hours procedures. He wanted to play the game he likes most…squash with his face still swollen, just after 1 month of surgery procedure… really worried me! Nice snow flakes, Merry X’mas!

    • Ooh.. that sounded painful. *Yikes* Anyway, boys will always be boys.. Am sure your son knows how to handle himself well. Do not worry lah. :D

      My niece is still very little, just a little over 1 year old. So that is why we need to supervise her 24/7. She still doesn’t understand what is going on and I think she blames us still for her pain because she would throw fit anytime! Really ferocious like Tiger! Haha. She was born in the year of Tiger mah.. so we have a little Tigress here.

  2. I go thru this exercise with UMMC every 3 weeks. You never get use to the time wasting so I keep myself busy with work stuff and reading the newspaper until I can memorize every article. Hospitals suck but we still need them. What to do?

    Glad to know your niece is ok, I too when much younger use to be holy terror. Now just a horror and a terror. No longer holy…

    • Yip.. ya.. luckily, we have the internet and wifi now… otherwise, how to even last the waiting in the hospital neh? Haha. Nowadays, even if we can afford to pay, it’s not necessary that they have a place for us in the hospital

      Ya, thanks for your concern. Haha.. you were holy before meh? LOL

  3. oh, glad to know that ern ern is healing well… my niece had hard palate cleft and had to go thru 2 rounds of surgery, once when she was a baby, and another time when she was 9, where they had to remove a small piece of bone from her thigh to repair the cleft. anyway, send my regards to san and kc. they must be exhausted…

    • Oh.. didn’t know you have a niece with hard palate cleft! I am glad Ern Ern’s case seemed minor compared to others. Nevertheless, it was painful to see her suffering. She’s going again for check up this Monday. So hope everything will be okay. She seems to miss her pacifier. Didn’t really have good sleep at night.. and refused to sleep in the afternoon for a week now! And her mouth stinks.. big time!

  4. Oh dear … What an ordeal your poor little niece had to go through ….. Am happy to hear all is well and Ern Ern will have a big wide smile on her face when she’s fully recovered! Hooray to the quiet hero here i.e. your sis! She sounds like a cool, resilient gal! I say this coz I would have gone weak kneed if confronted with a child bleeding in the face!

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