Today was a milestone day in Ben's recovery from his abdominal surgery. This morning he returned to school for the first time since his surgery on January 31st. He was very happy to be there, and everyone was thrilled to see him. Overall he had a good day, but as expected he ran out of steam before the day was over. He returns to school with several significant limitations: no lifting anything heavier than his lunchbox, no PE or other strenuous tasks, and of course no tickling or poking at his belly. The plan at this point is for him to continue going to school each day and to stay as long as he is physically able without overextending himself. We expect that it will be half days for a while, but for him to improve day by day. There are two and a half weeks left before Spring Break, and ideally he should be back up to speed and attending normal full days by March 31st.
As exciting as it is to see him improving each day, his rapid weight loss has become a real concern. He was 173 lbs when he entered the hospital in Alabama, and 167 lbs when he left. That was fully expected. It was also predictable that he would continue to lose some weight in the weeks immediately following, given that his appetite would be significantly reduced in the aftermath of having major abdominal surgery. What we didn't expect was for him to have lost another 14 lbs in the following 13 days. He is currently weighing in at around 151 - 153 lbs, and seems to have stabilized. His appetite has improved, but he is not able to eat much in a single sitting. He will eat a small breakfast (a cereal bar, maybe some fruit chews or Nilla wafers), and later in the morning he will drink at least half a can of Ensure (some days as much as a full can). At lunchtime he might eat around four chicken nuggets and a couple of french fries, and usually the same again around dinner time. He is drinking plenty of fluids, so that is good.
As a companion to the reduced appetite, his sleep schedule is all over the board these days. When he runs out of energy it is not a gradual thing. It is literally like seeing an android being powered down -- he will just suddenly sag and fold over, and then he is asleep. That might last 30 minutes or it might last several hours. Then when he wakes up he is full of energy... until it runs out again. So he might be up until midnight, or he might wake up from 2am to 4am, with no rhyme or reason. The hope is that getting him back onto some kind of normal school schedule will help get his body clock back into sync. Getting more exercise (within reasonable limits and without overextending him) should also help.
The big excitement this weekend was going to the mall. That consisted of walking from the car into the mall, going to his favorite shop and getting a small treat, sitting for about a half hour in his favorite people-watching spot, and then walking back to the car. That was followed by a nap. So yeah, he is nowhere near healthy yet and certainly not ready to try visiting Disney. My best guess is that it will be April before he sets foot in the Magic Kingdom again.
So that's the plan for this month. School as much as possible, gentle walks on easy outings while he continues to build strength, and on April 27th he has another short endoscopic procedure to remove the stent that was placed in his bile duct on Valentine's day. It's big excitement around here.
Thank you so much for all of your well wishes and kind thoughts!