Saturday, December 8, 2007

The Tonsillectomy, or as we like to call it, Medicine Hell.

Two posts in one day! This one's a long one; grab a cup of coffee and settle in...

Prior to Surgery
Ethan was getting very sad and anxious about it – we had taken a book out of the library that was supposed to help him by demystifying the whole event. Instead, in his words, “It just makes me feel in my tummy like I’m getting my tonsils out right now.” So after realizing that I’m grossing him out – just like I would be if I were in his place – we abandoned the prep attempt. We reserved our babysitters and rallied the grandparents (essentially the same thing!) and Susan came the night before, after a giant snowstorm threw a spanner in the works. We were worried now about making it to the hospital in time for our 7:30 am check-in. Ethan’s pre-op fast began after dinner Sunday night. I was too nervous to sleep, just as I was for the whole previous week.

Day of Surgery
5:55 am
The alarm goes off and I hop into the shower.
6:10 am
Mike has his shower and I go to wake Ethan. He immediately starts to cry, “I don’t want to go!” It takes three of us to dress him (kicking and screaming).
6:30 am
I scramble around, trying to make sure everything we need is packed, and that Jack’s preschool stuff is together for the next day. In the flurry we forget to leave a key for Susan or my parents to lock up later. I also almost forget to give Susan her car keys back after pulling her car out of the driveway so we can get out. Mike sets Ethan up with a movie playing on the iPod so he relaxes enough to watch that as we drive. I think this was the only way he would have gotten in the car!
6:45 am
The roads aren’t as bad as we’d feared, although they’re starting to flood. It was pouring through the night, and it got warmer so the snow is melting – but there’s nowhere for all the wet to go.
7:20 am
We park and check in at the reception for Child and Youth Services at Surrey Memorial Hospital. We recite his allergies for the first of a hundred times that day.
7:40 am
We are installed in a room in the CYS ward. Ethan’s nervous, we try to grab a video to play for him but there’s business to take care of first: weighing him, taking his blood pressure and his temperature. He gets weighed no problem but has a FIT when it’s time for the “arm hug” and the thermometer.
7:50 am
Paula, the child psychologist, comes in with a book full of photos of other children going through all the same steps Ethan will go through today. They’ve done a wonderful job of explaining everything to make it less scary but he’s still terrified. She tells him that they promise not to lie to him ever. If something’s going to hurt, they’ll tell him – but these procedures won’t hurt. He still screams through the arm hug blood pressure reading and the placing of “marshmallows” on his hands – white numbing cream under clear bandages so it won’t hurt when he gets the IV. They leave us with instructions to dress him in the surgical pyjamas, and for me to dress myself in the cover-all thing, complete with paper slippers and an awesome hat.
8:05 am
Slightly sweating, I manage to complete Ethan’s pyjama dressing. Mike has had to take a walk to calm down or he might have broken Ethan’s arms trying to get him into those darn things while he was kicking and screaming. We have to add extra bandages to contain the numbing marshmallows as he’s partially torn them off.
9:45 am
We’re still waiting in our room. Dr. McNeilly (I think) comes in to say that he needs to assess E’s cough that they detected during his fit earlier. Although he did cough a bit, I think it was more freak-out related since he hasn’t coughed at all since. Regardless, they have shuffled the schedule to do this assessment so now he won’t go in for a while.
10:00 am
Ethan starts to complain about being hungry. Uh-oh, here we go.
11:35 am
The guy with a bad attitude shows up to transfer Ethan to a portable bed to wheel him to surgery. Mike doesn’t even get a chance to say goodbye as we sprint off down the hall.
11:45 am
We’re in the hallway outside the OR. E looks very cute in his slippers, scrubs and hat, but he’s very pale – he’s scared to death. He hops off the bed when told and holds my hand as we walk into the OR, but when the anaesthesiologist asks him to get up onto the bed, I turn around to help him and he’s bolting for the door! We wrestle him onto the table and with me on his shoulders and holding one hand, the OR nurse holding tummy and other hand, Dr. Kwak on his legs and Dr. McNeilly holding his head, he screams his way to sleep. I get to kiss his cheek and I’m whisked out the door. Dr. Kwak comes with me and tells me the surgery will be quick, and then they’ll get us just before he wakes up in recovery. I’m crying pretty hard at this point and make several wrong turns trying to find our room again.
12:10 pm
Mike and I get food from the cafeteria and eat it back at the room. Tastes like cardboard.
12:30 ??
We get called to the Recovery waiting room where we – you guessed it – wait a little longer.
1:30 ??
He’s awake! We get called in to see him and are told he’s doing well, by all accounts. I still want to cry; he’s so small in that big bed and the recovery area is so... hospitallish. He’s trying to talk through rubber lips and tongue and it’s adorable and heart-breaking all at once. We need a post-op translator! He’s worried because his surgery slippers came off, and he thinks he’s in trouble for that. He also wants to make sure that Daddy eats the same things as him; so when he’s offered a popsicle he wants Daddy to get one too.
2:15 pm
We’re taken back to room 115. He’s doing great; his colour is returning to normal and the fuzziness is fading from his speech. He gets the first of what will be six popsicles that afternoon. He also gets juice and ice chips. Not surprisingly, he’s stopped talking about being hungry.
3:00 pm
Grandma (Kittycat) and Granddad bring Jack to visit. Ethan is very pleased to see them and they’ve given him a stuffed dog who, later that night, he christens “Tonsil”. My dad runs out to get Ethan a slurpee, which he tackles immediately. He is in really good spirits and gets his arm hugs and vitals checked with no complaints.
4:15 ??
After Grandma and Granddad leave, Mike takes Jack home too. E and I watch videos, play cards and do some crafts. He’s drinking lots and feeling good.
6:05 pm
I decide to run up to the cafeteria before they close. On the way out, I bump into Gramps and Connie trying to find E’s room. I take them to visit while I eat. E’s happy they’re there, loves the balloons they’ve brought, and they have a good visit.
7:05 pm
E and I are alone. He’s getting a bit quiet, but he says he’s not ready for bed yet. We’re told he has to go on an overnight monitor as his apnea could be pretty bad tonight. It’s nice to know that the nurses will respond if he stops breathing – it’s usually me running down the hall to shift his position!
8:50 pm
We finally get E hooked up to the sleep monitor, then read a few more books.
9:40 pm
Ethan’s very sad; he misses Daddy and Jack. We call home so he can say good night to Daddy again. I crawl into his hospital bed with him and hug him as he falls asleep.
10:05 pm
E falls asleep. I make up my bed and get ready to go to sleep.
10:45 pm
Just as I’m laying down, he wakes up crying from a nightmare. As I’m soothing him, the nurse comes in to give him his meds. OH. MY. GOD. My own nightmare begins. He screams, he flails, he’s SO upset.
11:45 pm
We finally get the Tylenol down. Nurse Stephanie is an angel.
?:?? am
He’s been up every 10 – 15 minutes. I haven’t even gotten back into my bed.
2:?? am
Stephanie comes back in – no meds this time, just vitals. The apnea monitor had started beeping again but he’d started breathing by the time she got to the room.
3:?? am
Uh-oh. More medicine. This time it only (!) takes 30 minutes.
6:15 am
A nurse slams the door open, mutters sorry, and backs out, closing the door again. WTF? I’d finally gotten to sleep on the corner of Ethan’s bed, with the cold metal guardrail lodged in my back. E’s sleeping, though – he hasn’t woken up since 4.
7:00 am
Stephanie comes back to give one last dose before she goes off shift. He opens his mouth without protest and she’s out of the room in 30 seconds. Somebody please tell me why he wasn’t like that in the middle of the night?

The Recovery
We’re discharged and Mike picks us up after dropping Jack at preschool. Ethan is starting to fade a bit, and is very huggy and clingy. We get him home and drop off his prescription for the antibiotics. We go through the first nightmare medicine dose of Tylenol (grape flavour) and amoxicillin (banana berry flavour). Apparently he feels we are poisoning him, and the only way to get it down him is to literally sit on him and hold his nose until he opens his mouth to breathe. I am crying every time; it’s excruciating to do this. He gets balloons and a teddy bear from Aunty Briana and the gang, but he's not cheered up much. Tuesday night, Grandma (Sugar) stops by and E’s a bear. He’s just miserable and very traumatized by the whole ordeal. The night is tough, too, as I sleep on the trundle bed in his room. He doesn’t snore any more, and the trigger for me to wake up and stop his apnea has always been the cessation of snoring. So this night, my “no snore” radar is on high and I check him every 5 minutes, it seems. He sleeps peacefully in between medication forcefeeds.

Today I get up early – I have to train a class from 9-5. I miss my first bus so I’m running 15 minutes late, I still have to drop a toy off at the Toy Drive but I miss the pancake breakfast. I am frantically trying to set up my classroom when the first participants arrive. I start class at 9:02 and it goes well, but I phone home every break. Things aren’t going well at home. Mike drops Jack off at daycare for the day, but Ethan pukes in the car on the way over. It’s all medicine that comes up, so it’s probably an anxiety-puke after a forcefeed. E and Mike have a hard day. It takes me forever to get home – I leave early but it takes me twice as long. I stop for a slurpee and a freezie on the way home, but Ethan refuses both. Desperate to give him some energy, I feed him ketchup for dinner – the only thing he will take. He eats one spoonful, then two of applesauce. He goes to bed exhausted and I collapse on his trundle again. The night goes a little better; we decide not to wake him for his Tylenol and he sleeps in 4 hour stretches, only waking up to have water. Overall I get 7 hours sleep so I’m feeling more human.

We get up and get the Rabbit-man to preschool. I wear my dark glasses – thankfully it’s sunny out! E’s a little better but the medicine – dear God! I take a little longer getting Jack, stopping to buy Ethan some comfy pyjamas. I have the Cars movie timed perfectly and arrive home just as the credits are rolling. He’s stopped talking altogether, only using his voice when he’s pleading me not to sit on him for his meds. His voice has changed, too, it’s higher and Kermit the Froggy. It also makes him sound younger and more vulnerable. When will I stop crying? My parents visit, and uncharacteristically E wants nothing to do with them. It’s heartbreaking for them, and an indication of how bad he’s feeling. I cuddle him all day long. He’s traumatized and depressed. Susan stops by on her way home from work, and he’s thankfully perked up since the last medicine. 4 pm to 7:30, he feels great so Susan is able to stay for dinner. He eats! He has the equivalent of one egg between breakfast and lunch, and plain pasta for dinner – two helpings! Susan heads for home and Mike has to run out, so the bedtime meds are all on me. Me, J, and E all end up sobbing in each other’s arms. I tell him I can’t do my job as a mommy if he won’t try to do what the nurses asked of him. I also warn him (not for the first time) that we’ll be back in hospital if he keeps this up. PJs and bed and lots of “I love you”s shortly after, and he sleeps 12 hours. I’m ecstatic!

We all wake up in better spirits. We are able to take our time getting up as nobody has to be anywhere. Ethan has two pieces of apple cake for breakfast and lots to drink. Medicine is still the same but we’ve now told him we’re only doing Tylenol if he has a fever, or if he wants it for pain. We’re not pushing it any more. Lunch goes well – more pasta. Just around noon, we peek in his throat again and we’re not sure it looks so good. It’s disgusting in there anyway, all white and black and a stench you would not believe. But we are unprepared for the rim of red that is appearing around the surgery site. I call Dr. Kwak and he’s in the OR until 4 pm. So I take him to the clinic and they don’t seem too worried. She listens to his lungs and tells him it’s ok to spit some of his drool instead of swallowing it. Then he won’t cough on it and irritate the throat more. She is unfortunately exposed to the smell of his breath too, but she assures me she’s seen it before. Ethan has a good afternoon and Dr. Kwak phones shortly before 5 pm. He’s very reassuring and tells me that the red and pink is new tissue growing, which is a very good thing. If there was bleeding we would need to get to the ER pronto. Or “stat” as they say on the medical shows. Ethan eats and drinks well, and even has a jam sandwich after dinner. For the very first time, he takes his own medicine from the measuring spoon. It takes him a few minutes, and several gulps of water in between, but I am so proud. He goes to bed actually smiling. Me too.

Hopefully this trend will continue. Keep the little man in your thoughts and let’s wish for a speedy recovery, for all of our sakes!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Oy. You all are in our prayers. Chris was beastly in hospital, but was always a power sleeper when we got home. Unfortunately, no one gets rest in a hospital, not patients and especially NOT the Mommy. For drugging, we would pop his jaw, and used syringes to shoot the medicine into the back of his throat. But then...he usually liked the taste of tylenol, antibiotics were another story. I would be covered in sticky slime. Ugh. May Ethan's recovery be speedy, and may he sleep many MANY hours this weekend, and wake as your sweetboy of old. -Cathy