Saturday, December 15, 2012

10 Things I Learned from Erin’s Surgery: Part I

You would think what with all the time I had to prepare for Erin’s tonsillectomy and adenoidectomy (T&A), I would have waltzed into the experience with nary a care.  After all, I’d been sure we were headed to this point for almost 10 months.  But, alas, when it was all said and done, I realized I knew NOTHING about what this “rite of passage,” if you will, would teach me.

I know several friends who have faced, or are facing a similar procedure, so I made a (not0even close to comprehensive) list of some of the things I learned during our T&A journey.

10. When your little one is scared, it seems to help if you, as the momma, fake bravery.  Even when you aren’t brave; only anxious.  And tired.  Because, man, you have to get to the hospital early for these things!

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9.  A good nurse is worth her weight, and then some, in gold.  Or other precious commodity of choice.  The longer we were in triage, the more antsy Erin and I both got.  Our nurse recognized this, and brought over stickers, and a strawberry-scented mask to get Erin used to it.  She was so wonderful, and one of several nurses we would have during our stay that made me, as a momma, feel so much better about this whole thing.

 8.  No matter how much faith you have, or how reassuring the doctor tries to be, seeing your little one being wheeled away on a gurney will pretty much shatter your heart.  I probably don’t have to elaborate on that point, do I?  Thank goodness that the separation, from this point, until she was back in my arms, was only about an hour.

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7. You’re going to experience a lot of physical discomfort during recovery.  Erin wanted to be held, or slept with, pretty much ‘round the clock after surgery, and no matter how willing my heart was to accommodate her, man, my body was not up to the task.  I came away with bruises and stiff muscles, and limbs that feel asleep to excruciating degrees.  Oh!  And did I mention being only inches away from her mouth was torture.  Seriously.  No one warns you that post-T&A breath is about the foulest thing you’ll ever smell.  Seriously.  It is SO BAD.  SO BAD.

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6.  They’re not gonna be themselves. =(  Erin vacillated between being loopy and drugged up from pain meds, to being still and listless due to pain.  She was quiet (because it hurt to talk) and she looked so sad and pathetic, I was often asking the nurse, “is this normal, is she okay?”  And of course I was reassured that it was just the anesthesia wearing off and that she’d be back to normal in no time.  But still, I wasn’t prepared for it.

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5.  A person can indeed watch entirely too much Nick Jr. in one setting.  OMG, seriously, I watched Team Umizoomi for 8 days straight.  EIGHT.  DAYS.  STRAIGHT.  With only limited breaks….and that was only to switch to the random Bubble Guppies episode.

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4.  Visiting siblings will have more fun with the hospital toys than the patient.  I shouldn’t have even bothered packing busy items (crayons, puzzles, etc.), or having the candy-stripers bring down rec room toys.  Erin was so miserable that first day, she couldn’t have cared less about playing with anything.

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3.  On the chance that your child perks up, and, oh, requests a cheeseburger for dinner, don’t hold your breath…..  Our nurses were SO thrilled with Erin’s desire to drink and eat about 8 hours after surgery.  She was mowing down popsicles and juice cups like nobody’s business, and even asked to have a cheeseburger for dinner.  Yea, Erin!  You’re a rockstar!!!!  Several nurses commented that they NEVER get toddlers to respond this well, since they are usually so overwhelmed by the pain.  I was proud of her, and so thankful that we were on track to be headed home the next day!

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2. …..because she can go from being the Cheeseburglar Reincarnate, to looking like death warmed over.   This photo pretty much sums up what this experience was really like.  Pale skin.  Sunken eyes.  Matted hair.  And popsicles melting, untouched, into a cup.  In hindsight, I can’t believe they actually let us leave the hospital, because it seems apparent (now) that she was headed for trouble once she was off the good pain meds.

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1. There may be a point after you’re released that the you-know-what hits the fan.  Or, as the case may be, doesn’t.  Let me explain.  The pain meds that were prescribed for us AT HOME were unacceptable to Erin’s palate, and she WOULD NOT take it.  Ergo, she would/could not swallow.  Ergo, she got dehydrated.  And constipated.  REALLY constipated.  Like, finally passed out on my bathroom floor from the pain and effort of trying to poop.  Oh, it was heartbreaking, and it was at this point, I pretty much knew we were headed back to the hospital.

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To be continued….

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