Saturday, August 22, 2009

:: Surgery ::

On the tenth of August Liam had his first surgery, at 21 months of age. He had his enlarged adenoids removed, as they were obstructing his breathing, especially at night and when he had a cold, and his ears cleaned our and tubes put in his ears.

I was really anxious and worried in the weeks and days leading up to the day. I had the fear that something would go wrong, some complication, like an allergy or a reaction to the anesthetic or a mistake in the surgery. I'm sure that feeling was a result of natural mother-worry, combined with the horrible memories of our last hospital experience, Liam's birth.

Spencer and I decided to spend the night before in Duncan with friends, since the hospital we went to was more than a three hours' drive from our home. I'm really glad that we did, because we got to see our good friends, and it was relaxing and fun. Our friend Tami is a great host and her home is so warm and inviting. Plus it cut our drive in the morning down to about an hour.

this was taken during his bedtime snack. the bandage is from where he ripped his IV out.

As for the hospital experience, some parts of it were horrible and some parts were good. He did surprisingly well with no food for hours after he woke up, but we were very careful not to eat anything in front of him (we didn't actually eat much until he got out of surgery). He wasn't allowed to eat anything after midnight the night before, and not allowed to drink anything after 7 am, as our check-in time was 10 am.

We played in a little toy room full of toddler toys while we waited for the surgery, and they gave him some liquid drug that was supposed to make him sleepy. It did make him groggy, but he hated the drugged feeling and fought it really hard at the end. They also put some numbing cream on his hand (for the IV) and covered it with a little human saran wrap stuff. At first he was totally okay with the nurses touching him and coming near him, as long as we were around.

We decided that I would be the parent to take him in to the OR, so I had to change into scrubs and a stupid hat and booties. Then all of a sudden they were like, "We're ready," and Spencer handed him to me and we were walking down the hallway toward the OR. I started having harsh anxiety because Spencer didn't get to give him a kiss goodbye.

We got to this little room where you wait just before the OR, and it had dim lighting and kids books and bubbles. I asked the nurse to go get Spencer so he could give him a kiss. He liked the kids books for about five minutes, and then he couldn't handle the drugged feeling anymore and started wailing and thrashing around. Spencer ran to go get his pacifier and almost didn't make it back before they told us to come in so they could get started. He gave Liam a kiss and we walked down the hall to the OR where the surgeons and nurses and anesthesiologist were waiting.

He was totally freaking out by this time, especially when I had to sit him down on the operating table. He was mad at me and kept yelling at me and trying to rip my clothes up. The anesthesiologist decided that he wouldn't be able to find a vein in his hand while he was awake, so they had to put the gas mask on his face, which made him freak out even more. He held Liam's head to his chest and just rocked him back and forth until the gas started working and he stopped crying. A nurse and I had to hold his little arms down. Then he finally stopped crying and closed his eyes, and the anesthesiologist counted to three so we could all lay him down. I was totally crying, thinking that I had scarred my child for life. The ENT surgeon gave me a hug and said something nice, and then I had to leave and our volunteer nurse took me back to our original waiting room with Spencer.

It didn't take very long, maybe half an hour at the most, and a nurse told us that he was out of surgery and in the recovery room and they would bring him up right away. He looked so sad on the baby bed they wheeled him up on. It was sort of reclined, and he was just looking around with his huge eyes and hiccuping. We found out later that he was so pissed off when he woke up in recovery that he ripped his IV out of his little hand.

As soon as he saw me he freaked out and started yelling. He was super mad at us! Then the hospital people realized that we were actually supposed to be on the fourth floor because we were staying overnight. So we had to go up and he freaked out the whole time. They showed us our room and we had the sweet bed with a window area for my chair/cot where I sat down with him and he fell into a drugged sleep.

drugged hiccupy sleep

He slept most of the day either with me or Spencer and then woke up around three and ate a banana I had brought. He was not interested in the jello or popsicles that the nurse offered because he's never had either. He was super grouchy and agitated until he would get his meds (Tylenol and codeine combo, a nice mix) and then he'd be all sweet and druggy again.

cuddling with Daddy

He ate tons of dinner at five, and then I went and got some delicious chili from the cafeteria. Spencer left after I ate, s only on parent was allowed to spend the night, and Liam played for a bit and then slept again. He had a snack at around nine, and then I gave him a bath.

He has lots of dried blood in his ear, and some was dried in his nose, too. The ENT surgeon said that he didn't think Liam could really hear from his right ear because it was totally impacted with wax and there was a huge fluid build-up behind his ear drum. So hopefully the tubes will help with that. I think the adenoid removal was pretty standard.

I read two books while I was there. The Babysitter's Club "Stacey's Boy Crazy!" and "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh". Luckily I brought my headlamp because in the children's ward it's lights out at about nine. The Rats book was so good. I never got to read it in school so I'm glad I did. I loved the blend of nature and science and characters in the book. My mum and I watched the movie when I was a kid, and now I want to watch it again.

kisses for Daddy

I had a crappy sleep that night, but Liam slept well. The night nurse came in every four hours to check on and medicate Liam and our roommate who had his tonsils out. The chair/bed that I slept on was slippery and not too comfortable, but not terrible. The night nurse, Carla, was younger than I am, and she was great. She really liked Liam. Our day nurse Deb, who came back at 7 am, was amazing and Liam liked her the best.

Breakfast was at seven (!) and Liam was still sleeping so I went down to the cafeteria at eight to get some chow for myself. It wasn't open yet, which is very strange, so I didn't get any food. Liam ate almost all his breakfast except his scrambled eggs (can't blame him; no cheese). He was back to his usual self so I called Spencer and he came and got us.

The drive home was horrible. The sun was beating down directly on Liam and I through the hatch and we didn't have the sun-shade with us. The air vents in Spencer's car don't blow the air into the back, and because the hatch isn't sealed on properly, whenever I got Spencer to open the window the car would fill with exhaust instead of fresh air. I sort of half-slept the whole way back in an over-heated stupor.

We had lunch when we got home and then Liam and I slept most of the afternoon, until about seven. He was back to himself, just sleepier than usual and a bit cranky and sensitive about things.

still pretty tired and groggy

I kept him on Tylenol every four hours for a few days, and at first I didn't think he needed the codeine. But on the second night home he woke up every three hours or so, screaming in pain. I think that lying down made the pain in his ear worse. The right ear, the one that was totally impacted and blocked, was quite oozy and seemed painful to him - he wouldn't let me touch it. So I picked up the prescription for codeine that they had given us and he had that at night as well as Tylenol. There were still a few rough nights but we don't have to get up early so we would just sleep in to make up for it.

For a few days once we got home, I noticed he had bad breath. It took a bit longer for Spencer to realize it too, but when he did he said, "What's up with Liam's breath smelling like cat food?" which was exactly what it did smell like. He and Dexter Cat had matching breath for a few days, maybe three or four, but I had read that online and was expecting it. The hospital staff didn't mention it as a possibility at all.

piggy became his BFF

His ear was still oozy after more than a week, and when we happened to be in Comox for my first ultrasound and a coffee (thanks again, Lauren!) we stopped in to our doctor's office to make the follow-up appointment. There was opening right then and there because someone hadn't shown up, so the doctor took a look and a swab (not a fun experience for Liam) of the then green stuff that was oozing out of his right ear. She prescribed some antibiotic drops for his ear, which seem to be helping.

So he's doing well now, sleeping through the night again and hasn't had Tylenol since about day five or six. I'm glad we had the surgery done, but it certainly was an adventure, one that I'm glad we have public health care in Canada for!

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]


Jess said...

My little baby man, Liam. I love you, and I'm relieved your surgery and recovery went safely.
Chels, I admire your strength; you are such a good mom!
Love you Sparrow family, another well written blog!

Laura Wolf said...

Glad Liam is doing well. Love the pictures. Liam is such a cutie!!

Kim said...

WOW! What an adventure for you all. Liam is just a precious little thing in his little pjs. Preston needs his tonsils out soon so it will be interesting to see how that goes. Sorry the anesthesia was so rough. Poor little bugger. Hopefully the tubes work wonders-they have been great for Preston. hugs to you and hope you are feeling well!