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Sunday, February 04, 2007

The Adenoidectomy

I'm looking for the proper analogy.

You know when you go to a really fine restaurant, and the food is really great, first rate, but you can't find the waiter to fill your water glass or get/pay the check? Or when you order something online, and it is everything you wanted, but the shipping charge in the fine print is much more than you anticipated? Well, neither of these is exactly spot on, but I'll leave it there.

The process for the surgery starts with the phone call to the surgeon's office, which Carol tried several times unsuccessfully, before I called, and got the office on the first attempt. I was told by a very nice person all that would be taking place in the next eight weeks, only some of which actually happened.

For instance, we needed to have Lydia's pediatrician do a physical and fill out the surgeon's forms within the month before the surgery. This would mean we'd need to get the form in the mail, but that didn't happen until we called again, three weeks before the surgery; these did arrive promptly, so that we could schedule the pediatric visit.

I was told we'd be getting a phone call two weeks before the surgery. Well, no, not until Carol called them. We did, however, get the promised sheet of paper about the pre-surgical procedure, though it was a bit cryptic in places.

Carol took Lydia to the pre-surg visit a week before the procedure, and that was quite positive. Carol explained would be happening to Lydia, and even got her a couple books, one with Curious George and one with Madeleine, about hospitals. I wonder if they were too intense, for Lydia had a couple nightmares during that last week. She did, though, like playing with the doctor kit; she particularly liked giving me a "shot".

A couple days before the surgery was scheduled, we were concerned that her coughing might preclude Lydia from having the surgery that was desired so that she would be less susceptible to colds. That would have been ironic, but as long as she didn't have a fever, and she didn't, she was good to go.

The day of the surgery:

The procedure is scheduled for 10:40 a.m, and we're supposed to be there at 9:10. Lydia can't eat anything the day or the surgery, and we think this will be a problem, since what she usually wants to do is go for yogurt and/or cereal first thing. She also can't drink anything three hours before the surgery. She wakes up at 7:40, and we try to encourage her to drink something, to no success. Perhaps she's internalized the no food or drink rule.

We get to the place at 9:17, and we were already missed by the surgical team, apparently. So we waited a few minutes and then I met with the young woman who would take the insurance information. She was very nice. In her office were 8 by 10 pictures of Jon Bon Jovi, one with Richie Sambora, and, hanging prominently on another wall was a huge framed pic of JBJ. Somehow, I thought it was sweet that she could personalize her office so.

We get led upstairs by a nice woman named Lydia, as it turns out. We go into another waiting room for a short time, then to a pre-op room, where the very nice nurse and the anesthesiologist both check her out. I met the surgeon, who I'll call Jason, because that's his name, a very affable man, but how old IS he? I think I have socks that are his senior.

Lydia was given a nasal spray administered by machine to clear her air passages, then an inhaled drug to relax her. The latter made her really loopy (read: stoned).

So after we read her some stories, another nurse came by, introduced herself. Then, contrary to what Carol was told - and what Carol told Lydia, that Carol could accompany Lydia into the surgical room - the nurse carried off Lydia to surgery. Lydia was screaming, Carol was crying, and I was bewildered.

We went to the waiting room, where my parents-in-law were sitting. That was 11:20. By 11:40, Dr. Jason came out; the surgery was very successful. Her adenoids were "a mess". By noon, Dr. Jason was out again, telling another family that he'd removed the tonsils of their family member; he is very efficient, but one didn't feel rushed, as he answered any and all questions.

Carol and I go to recovery. Lydia is conscious, but crying uncontrollably, even when Carol holds and rocks her. She settles down with a Popsicle, but the waterworks begin again when we go to post-op. Eventually, she becomes more like herself. Around 1:30, I get Carol and me some food, with my mother-in-law helping to dress Lydia. We got a couple prescriptions, one for pain, one was an antibiotic. Then the in-laws bought some Boston Market meals for all of us, which served as comfort food. Carol and I were exhausted, as though we had done heavy manual labor.

So, the surgery went well. Most of the folks were great, including the surgeon and most of the staff. But at the pivotal point, the experience was...disappointing. More so, because that night, Lydia asked her mother, "Why did you leave me?" As parents, bumbling through as we do, we don't always get it right, but we do try to be honest with her. That nuance between being mistaken and telling an untruth isn't entirely clear. Another in one of those highly overrated "life lessons" is to never promise what you don't control, and probably not even then.


Scott said...

I can see why you said that it "technically" went well. That had to be very tough. I was so happy with our experience with Nigel's MRI, because everyone was helpful and we got to do or be where ever we were told we could.

I can't imagine what it is going to be like when my wife and I have to deal with telling him something that we have been told is true and turns out to be false. And in a scary situation like surgery, that's hard for everyone.

I hope that you never have to go through something like that again, Roger. And if you do, that things go more smoothly.

GayProf said...

I am glad that the procedure went well, but annoyed on your behalf about the lack of understanding. It seems logical that all procedures involving small children should include one parent as long as possible.

Anonymous said...

Hi Roger,

i appreciate your sharing about Lydia's surgery and hope she is doing ok now. Thanks for the profound learning you shared about not promising things we can't control....

We are just back late last night from our wedding and honeymoon. Went perfectly. More soon when we see each other.

Hope you and Carol are also well.