Monday, August 10, 2009

My 4 Year Old's Tonsillectomy

This may be a routine surgery with few risks, but when it happens to your own child, nothing about it feels routine. Maya's tonsillectomy and adnoidectomy went exactly as the doctor predicted it would. Very routine. But it was difficult for us all.

Below is the first in a series of five posts from her week long recovery. It was a fairly miserable week, and as the doctor predicted, days 3 and 4 were the worst. She didn't feel good enough to play at our local park until day seven, and even then it was brief. Her refrain all week was a hoarse, "When will I feel better, Mama," alternating with, "When will this stop hurting." It was tough on everybody, but the next winter, our whole family was significantly healthier. In the end, it was worth it.

The surgery was a resounding success! Of course, that simply means that our four-year-old is now missing one set of tonsils and one set of adenoids. The recovery process stretches before us uncertainly.

I'm not sure how this day's story begins. Probably with Maya, at 5:30 AM.

"No, I am not getting my tonsils out." She declared sleepily. Then a moment later, after appraising our level of resolve, she made a quiet, mournful suggestion. "Well, can I bring Elliot? I want my sister."

Then we were in the "play room" at the hospital. The three of us laughed together at the antics of Micky Mouse and Donald Duck after the forms were filled out. Our collective mood was nervous, but light. That is, until the 2 and a half year old was taken back for his surgery.

"Why is he crying," Maya asked, her own tears making her voice quaver with both empathy for the little guy she had been talking to and fear for herself.

The doctors took one look at her, and offered her a very strong pre-surgery cocktail. Her words were slurring even as they peeled her off of me. That was a rough moment. I knew it would be, but there is no way to prepare for the unique combination of helplessness and guilt that smothered me at the moment.

The staff at Unity was fantastic: caring, helpful, and efficient. Dr. Yoon himself was a very calming person, in spite of his very forthright assertion that this week would be tough. For her and for us. According to him, the sweeling and pain typically increases until about the third day, and they don't really "turn the corner" and start perking up until the seventh. Yikes!

We were only away from Maya for about 20 minutes, most of which were spent taking shots of weak coffee in tiny Styrofoam cups. Then, after much back and forth about who should go in with her (Joe and his calm, gentle nature might weather the storm better, but I have the long hair she loves to play with), I joined Maya in Recovery Room 1. For thirty minutes I sang and cooed and rocked my baby, trying to calm her near-hyperventilating terror.

Later Joe joined us in Recovery Room 2, where the nurse gave her something to "calm her down" plus oxygen plus the vicodin. She couldn't calm down; she just passed out. Poor thing.

All of that, more than anyone wants to read, and, after a 7:55 AM surgery, we were home by 10:15 AM.

It was the second time I've been shocked that the Unity staff let me take Maya home under the assumption that I could handle it... the first time, of course, she was a new born.

The rest of the day has been nerve-wracking. She fights against taking her medicine, which tastes strongly medicinal in spite of its fruit punch flavoring. Adding jello powder to it seems to make it go down a little better (in the tradition of Mary Poppins).

All told, she is doing about as expected. She has slept a ton and hardly had anything to eat or drink (which we're working on correcting). It's a hard process on all of us, but of course, she'll be fine before we know it, and she is already breathing better!

1 comment:

Twinengine said...

I left a long post but have lost it in transit!!! I enjoyed reading your blog and have gone through this too!!! Thanks for your post!


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