Monday, September 15, 2008

Mama Monday - Buddy Post: Children and Surgery

"Doesn't it just seem insane? Nobody wakes up, at least nobody who is sane, and thinks it is a good idea to cause their child pain that day. It wars with everything a parent is supposed to do. We are supposed to love, nurture and care. We are supposed to protect them from pain. But yet, it is the right thing to do. So we do it because we have the courage to do so. To be brave when our children want us to cut and run. To force them into these impossible situations because it is the right thing to do. We do it because we have the courage to do so. We do it because we love our children so much that we have to no matter how much it tears us apart on the inside while we do it. We are their advocates."

The above quote was taken from a blog about a mother with a special needs child in need of many surgeries, therapies and procedures.

My children have only had to endure minor surgeries but none the less, I feel the same way. Looking back on them now, I am certain that it was much more traumatic to me than it was to them but going through it was heart wrenching - each and every one.

I also have utmost respect for my mom and her ability to survive day to day with a disabled child, needing many surgeries as a small child and still to this day enduring many procedures and therapies that many of us would find excruciating to go through and heart breaking to watch as a parent.

I am doing this post as a way to shed light on the experience of a child having surgery. Erin's sweet little boy will be going in for surgery on Tuesday and she needs support and prayers from all! Please refer her to her blog for more info.

On to my stories. First we have Elizabeth. For those of you that did not know her as a little girl (and by little, I mean younger than three), she had what is called a hemangioma above her left eye. A hemangioma is a benign growth of blood vessels. They are in the category of birth marks and rarely cause problems - much more cosmetic than anything else. That being said, we decided to have hers removed. Our thought was that children can be very mean and we didn't want Elizabeth to have to deal with that. (I also have to add that she actually had a total of three but we only decided to remove the one above her eye.)

Anyway, back to the surgery. In preparation for her surgery, we went to Build-A-Bear to make something special that she could have at the hospital. I had read once somewhere that this was helpful with children and made them feel safe. She picked out the bear and dressed it in scrubs. She told us it was her nurse bear that would take care of her and keep her safe. We also let her bring her favorite blanket with her.

She was given Versed (a relaxant) before she was taken back. The surgeon let me hold her as they put the gas mask on her to put her out. We were then told it would be about 45 minutes so off we went to the waiting room. I was a wreck, not because she was in pain or having something major but the thought of her going under anesthesia killed me especially knowing it was elective. Mike was nice enough to go get us some lunch so we could take our mind off of it for a little while. After an hour had gone by and no news, I started to worry even more. Finally at the 1 hour 20 minute mark (yes I was watching the minutes tick by), the doctor came out and got us. He took us into the consultation room and explained that everything went well and what to expect. We then headed off to the recovery room to find a very sleepy little girl with her requested Dora band-aid upon her head. I had been warned that children wake up confused, upset and mad so I was prepared but luckily she woke up peacefully and then drifted back to sleep. She did encounter some vomiting afterwards that the nurses gave her some medicine for but it just extended our stay in the recovery room a little longer.

In the end, her surgery was easy and she recovered very well. By the time we made it back home in the afternoon, she was asking for chicken nuggets from McDonald's as a special treat. She was pretty sleepy the next day but never had any pain. She did encounter some itching when the incision started to heal but I just kept Vitamin E oil on it and that helped quite a bit. The doc also told me that would help the scar be less noticeable as well. She has healed great and looking back I am very happy that we made the decision to have it removed.

On to AJ:
Unfortunately I don't have any pictures to go along with AJ's surgery as I was the only one with him and didn't have my head on straight enough to think of taking pictures. AJ was tongue tied and was showing signs of speech delay. It was recommended to us by a developmental specialist and a speech therapist to have his tongue clipped to see if it helped. I have a hard time even calling his a surgery as they only clipped his frenulum (the small tag of skin under your tongue) but, he was put under general anesthesia for it and this is where my mommy emotions kick in.

My experience with him was much of the same as it was with Elizabeth, with the same drugs and the same procedure for putting him under general. We let him take his blankets as well. The BIG difference was when he came back - he was psycho! I am not exaggerating here! As I stated before, I had been warned about how kids react when they wake up but man - this little guy was M-A-D!!! It took two nurses and myself to hold him down so that he wouldn't hurt himself from all of the flailing and thrashing that he did. He also just screamed, not cried, but screamed for about 30 minutes. To my amazement though, you could see the effects of the drugs wear off as he gradually came around to his normal self. It broke my heart to see him like this and know that there was nothing that I could do but wait.

When we got home in the afternoon, he was back to his old self. He didn't show signs of sleepiness but I think that was because he was only out for about 5 minutes.

Jacob's story:
Jacob was my most recent experience with surgery. I did a post on his surgery here. I'm not sure if I was just used to the effects of the drugs or numb to it all but I found myself laughing at Jacob most of the time before hand because he seemed so drunk and happy. They did run into complications with his. (He had to have reconstructive penis surgery - isn't he going to love me for posting that?!) So much as the same as Elizabeth, we waited a lot longer than they said it would take and every foot step that I heard down the hall I would jump hoping they were coming to get me to see my little man. The waiting is horrible. I tried reading, eating, talking to my mom, watching TV, pacing and so on but the minutes just tick by so slow.

At last, after almost 2 hours, the doctor came and got us and let us know how things went. He took us back to recovery and this time I could hear him screaming down the hallway. It kills me to hear them scream but I know it was the drugs. He was inconsolable and mad. For him, having his blanket over his head was the only thing that calmed him down. I must say that the nurse in recovery bugged me this time as she kept telling him to calm down. Jeez lady, he's only one.

In the end, no matter how upset and cranky they all seemed, I know that I as a parent made the right choice.

Erin, I wish you the best with your little guy tomorrow and I will be thinking of you. Hang in there and know that what you are doing is because you love him and want what is best for him in the end.


Shelley said...

Josh woke up a mad little monster from both of his surgeries this year too! It's horrible when you can't do anything to make them calm down.

Mom/Gamma said...

I sympathize with any parent that has to go through an unpleasant event with their child. When you have children you always think that you can be their hero and protect them from any harm. As you said, sometimes you have to endure the agony of making a decision that isn't easy to do but you know there's no other way. Luckily children seem to forget some of the unpleasantness of some of those choices. As a veteran of many hospital visits with our daughter Melissa I know first hand how slow the time goes when you are waiting to hear their sweet voices again. Sometimes being a parent means making the hard decisions but only out of love for your child. If nothing else it makes you appreciate even more every other day that your child is healthy and happy and you have much more empathy for others going through the same. Kids are tougher than we think and they handle so much when they have to. I will have Erin's son in my thoughts and know that it will all go fine.

erin said...

THANK YOU so much for posting these experiences. It really means a lot to me to read about all these other mamas and babies that have had similar experiences. Bless you!

Janice said...

That quote you put up about being advocates for our children got me all teary eyed. Even though your children had minor surgeries, I am sure it was still a hard thing to watch. No one wants to see their chldren in pain. I hope everything with your children are ok now. :)