Monday, March 2, 2009

The AVM is GONE!!!!!!

Jake had his third surgery today, to remove the AVM. Going into this surgery, we were warned of the risks. The ultrasound on Wednesday revealed a vein was still being fed in the AVM, and there was a risk of Jake bleeding during the surgery. To help prepare for this, his blood type was taken, and the blood bank was made aware that there might be a need for a transfusion. The doctor explained to us also, that Jake would more than likely have a half dollar size open wound from taking off the mass of the AVM. He told us he would do his best to get it as closed as possible, but we were looking at another surgery or two of reconstruction.

We woke up at 5am this morning - none of us ready for the day. Being a family of mostly night owls, it was not an easy task. We were out the door, and on the road around 5:45, ready to be at the hospital at the 6:30 call time.

Getting into the hospital, we went right up to the OR check-in. They led us to a room for Jake to get his gown on, and we waited for his turn to be called into the OR. At almost 8:00, we met with the anesthesiologist. He was great with Jake and really put Jake's nerves to ease. Jake and Michael went back to the OR around 8:10, and Michael sat with him while he fell asleep.

After checking in at the OR Family Lounge (on floor higher), we went down to the cafeteria to get some breakfast. Since Jake couldn't eat anything after midnight, the rest of us did the same. Michael, Chris, and I ate a typical hospital cafeteria breakfast (not quite a "yum"), and headed back up to the lounge. We got settled in, just in time for Jake's doctor, Dr. Hamilton, to come find us. He had a thought about what could be done after the surgery to help speed the healing process of the wound (which again, he estimated to be around the size of a half dollar.) He let us know that they were starting late, and that they had just got Jake positioned correctly (he had to be on his stomach, since Dr. Hamilton was working on the back of his head.) Shortly after, Dr. Hamilton's secretary also stopped by to let us know that they had just started.

It looked like it was going to be a long day.

A few hours went by, and we all got a bit stir-crazy. Chris had played about every PSP game we had with us, and Michael and I were a bit tired of sitting as well. By that time, it was about 11:30, so we decided to go grab some lunch. We had found out from the gal in the Family Lounge that there was a better cafeteria located on the floor below us and decided to try it out. It was by far, much better food. We wished that we would have known about that cafeteria about 3 surgeries ago! :) We had a decent lunch, and headed back to the Family Lounge. Again, we got there just in time for an update. Jake was doing well, but we had no idea what time he'd be done.

Around 1:00, Dr. Hamilton came up with his camera. He was done! He turned on his camera, and showed us a picture of the back of Jake's head....he was able to close the wound COMPLETELY!!!! The AVM had actually swollen up during the surgery, and he said it was a bit difficult to work on, but once he got the outer edge of the AVM separated, the rest was easy sailing. He said that the vein that was still being fed was actually quite large, about the size of his pinky finger! He said there was some glue in the vein, so he tied up the vein with sutures, around the same area as the glue, and reinforced it with more sutures, so that is completely closed off. He said that as Jake heals, that vein will just become a dead end as tissue forms around it. He was quite amazed at how nicely Jake's wound closed.

Jake will have about a 9cm horizontal scar on the back of his scalp, but he was able to pull the scalp enough, that Jake's hair should grow nicely, and cover a lot of it. He said he wouldn't be surprised if, after a few months, he could have a haircut as short as Chris'! The best news of all - since the AVM was gone - there wasn't any need for more surgeries...HE'S DONE!!!!

On a humorous note, Dr. Hamilton knew that Jake wanted the AVM in a jar to bring home and show his friends. After the surgery, as per standard policy, the mass was to be taken to Pathology for study. Dr. Hamilton ran down to Pathology in hopes of getting the AVM for Jake, but was too late. Michael and I both thought it was very thoughtful for the doctor to indulge in a 10 year old's request - even though he wasn't able to fulfill it, it was a blessing that he was willing to try!

Waking up was a bit difficult for Jake. They had him wake up before we were in the room, and that scared him a bit. We were able to go in the room shortly after, and hold his hand. Chris was even able to be in there with us, and I think that helped Jake a bit as well. Since there was a lot of equipment, and technically, Chris wasn't supposed to be in the room (nobody under the age of 12 was supposed to be in there), Chris and I went out to the waiting room while Michael remained with Jake. It took a couple of hours for Jake to recover enough to be released to come home.


We're home now, and Jake's slowly getting back to normal as he can be with a swollen face (from being on his stomach for over 4 hours) and a huge bandage on his head. He's in really good spirits, and has enjoyed some chicken noodle soup. We go back to the hospital in the morning, to meet with Dr. Hamilton for his post-op check-up. Dr. Hamilton will remove the bandage then, and teach us how to care for the stitches and staples over the next few weeks.

We're so grateful that this is over for Jake, and that the wound was able to be closed completely. I joked with Dr. Hamilton that we're 10 months ahead of schedule now! It's such a relief to see the end of this. We've been so blessed with such amazing doctors, I can't begin to express our thanks to God for this! All the prayers of our friends and family have been felt every step of the way, and have been a real life line in this journey. Thank you, all of you, for all your support!

We're looking forward to these coming weeks of Jake healing. Dr. Hamilton is very hopeful that the stitches will heal nicely. The downfall of it is that we're going to have to shave/buzz Jake's hair, since so much of it had to be shaved off for today's surgery, Dr. Hamilton suggested we just take the rest of it off so that all his hair can grow out together, and be more manageable. Jake has been wearing a hat for some time now, since he's had to deal with the wound on the AVM. We were anticipating another open wound, and fully expected Jake to have to wear a hat for a lot longer. Well, he'll still wear the hat, but hopefully for not longer than a month - just long enough for his hair to grow out some.

I can't get over how faithful God is! He's simply amazing! I can see in Jake's eyes already, the peace overtaking him, knowing that he's done with this horrible ordeal. He's even joking and giggling at cartoons on tv tonight! Michael asked me this afternoon if I had a good day. I told him I did - because my baby is okay! Praise God!!!!!


Anonymous said...

Awesome news Deeters! God IS so good and we see Him be good everyday everywhere. Congratulations, Jake! You are done! Now, move on with your life as a kid. Have a blast and stay out of that hospital! That's where we're hoping to be one day. Still praying for all of you, especially Jake during this time of recovery. xoxo ani

Gary and Florence said...

We are grateful to God for his mercy to Jake, for all the details that seemed to be resolved. All during Monday we were steadily in prayer for Jacob and for the doctor and associated medical personnel. To have the wound closed is a special touch of grace.

Gary and Florence

Anonymous said...

Hello! I stumbled upon your blog today and was glad to hear of a succesful AVM surgery!

If you haven't already, you should check out our survivor network at

Lots of survivors and relatives online, as well as those just diagnosed and those currently being treated! Also many parents.

It's a nice place to be able to talk with people who know what you have just been through.

I hope Jake continues to heal and feel better!

Anonymous said...

Great news! We have been praying for you! B&J G

Dana said...

We are ever so thankful for God's watchful eye on Jake. May recovery continue to go well. (Jake: Eat lots of ice cream now -- you may be told "no" more often later!) Love you guys!! XO

Elan said...

What a wonderful blessing! All our prayers have been answered!