Friday, December 19, 2008

Ear tubes

I'm home from work 'cause we didn't know how yesterday would go, so I took 2 days off.

It went pretty well.

We had to be at the hospital at 7am, but it is amazing how much easier is it to "pop" out of bed when it is for something other than work. JB woke up at 4am, but I rocked him back to sleep and by the time we had to wake him to get going, kt was already back from a DD run and Nana was here to help get him dressed.

When we arrived, the place was already packed and I remembered something I hadn't considered: Most kids who get surgery are not that healthy. Most of the kids in the waiting room had physical, mental, or emotional disabilities. There was an adorable boy with a trach that was making playful eyes at JB. You couldn't sit in this waiting room and not wallow in gratitude for all your blessings when your toe-head is toddling around, the picture of sweetness, health, and stereotypical perfection.

The staff at the Children's Hospital was fantastic. The kid hung in there, good-spirited for all the necessary "hanging around". They brought him an oxygen mask smeared in strawberry smelling stuff to play with- that would be the same mask that would deliver the gas that would put him to sleep. Katy elected me "parent that goes in the OR". I'm sure if she had wanted to go I would have let her, but truth be told, I was glad she wasn't interested. This part was harder than I imagined and that's why my wife is (simply put) smarter than me. She knows her limitations and is okay opting out of some things. I barely know what I can do, let alone have a grasp on what I can't (I'm constantly lying to myself and others: "I'll definitely be there by 10am..." Sound familiar to anyone out there?!?) Truth is, I like to be there for the really hard shit, I think it is part of my ICU training/hero complex. But I'm pretty sure watching my baby's screaming face through the mask, and the lolling of his eyes and head before he finally went limp was the reason I woke up every 20 minute in a panic last night. I have a history of processing stressful events (that have already been resolved) in dreams that I only occasionally remember. All through college, I would have nightmares about finals, weeks after the coursework was over and the textbooks were sold back.

Anyway, the staff prepared me sufficiently for the exact events described above (which occurred exactly as predicted). I left the OR at that point only because there was a staff member assigned to walk me out of there. If not, I'm sure I would have involuntarily knelt by his head, blocking the ENT's access.

They also warned us that he would wake up very upset- which he did- AND that after he napped again for a short time, he would wake up feeling himself (which also happened exactly as they predicted.) The staff warned us the bloody drainage would be leaking out of his ears for a few days. That is a little more disconcerting than I thought it would be.

The rest of the day, the kid was really sweet and loving... Laughing, smiling, playing, seeming to want to talk a lot. Until bed time when all of us were pretty exhausted and he had a melt down. He didn't appreciate the ear drops and tried to refuse tylenol (he is no match for the brute strength and resolve of two mommies, however.) He fell into a hard sleep on his back, while I held him on my chest. The tears had stopped but the tracked wet paths on his cheeks weren't yet dry. And the recently placed Otic Solution caused tiny streams of reconstituted blood to drip silently onto my shirt. I transferred him to his crib and when we checked him several hours later, he had not changed position. He slept until late in the AM (6:30 means sleeping in around here, folks.)

Other stories of note from the hospital:

1) The crazy fish of a mom who seemed way too into her cell phone to be bothered to notice her son was having surgery. Before his procedure, she refused to hold his ipod telling him, "I have my own stuff to carry." Though Nana reported to me in no uncertain terms that the mom was not carrying anything EXCEPT her cell phone. Then later in the recovery waiting room, when they came to tell her his procedure was completed, she held up her finger to the hospital staff as if to say, "wait a minute," and spoke loudly into the phone, "Well, I guess I have to go see what is going on, I'll call you back."
Sweet. Really.

2) As I promised my friends, when the anesthesiologist asked, "do you have any questions?" I posed the only one that mattered to me, "You're sober right?" Contrary to public opinion, I wasn't merely being a wise ass. I'm in health care. I know these people (not anesthesiologists, just health care workers in general) can not all be trusted. As I predicted, he dodged the question, not really laughing, but sort of looking annoyed which of course sort of annoyed me. I mean is there any reason why that question shouldn't be taken seriously? I'm not kidding. The nurse laughed and asked him, "Have you ever been asked that before?" and he said no and walked away, but if he had looked in my eyes I would have said, "Hey, I don't know you. You can't deny that's a valid question." I'm going to tell you this- when I worked in the hospital, if someone asked me that, I would have looked them in the eye and stated clearly. "Yes, I am glad to report I am sober." I think it's a valid question. The only reasons I can conjure not to answer it are ONE: you can't truthfully say 'yes', TWO: You think no one should ever question your integrity even if the life of their most beloved is about to be placed in your hands, or a possible THREE: you were drunk or high during a procedure once and you think someone has "found out."

Anyway, I think it's a valid question and I'm almost done perseverating on why he didn't' give me the respect or courtesy of an answer.

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