Minor toddler surgery, Major Mummy meltdown ~ My IdeaLife

Monday 11 June 2012

Minor toddler surgery, Major Mummy meltdown

Pre and post-op, or you could say blissfully ignorant and not so.
The sun was still asleep as I woke Bang on Friday morning at 6am. Clutching his beloved blankie with one hand, and with the other warming my own, he followed me down a dark path we'd both never seen before to automatic doors into fluorescent lights. 

The nurse, used to early mornings, was alert and kind in the face of our vagueness. Bang was being brilliantly brave despite telling me the day before he didn't want to go to hospital. 

I filled out the necessary paperwork, signed that I didn't mind them deducting lots of money from my credit card if need be and we were on our way to the waiting room with TV and toys! I knew that this operation was minor and very likely to improve Bang's quality of life. His ears were blocked with fluid and had been for months since the last ear infection, and his hearing was at about 60% of where it should be. 

But there is no escaping the feeling of betrayal as you lull him into a false sense of security, with smiles and half truths. That feeling reached a crescendo as I lay him on the operating table and sang to him as a mask was forced on to his face. His eyes darted from the massive operating light back to my forced smile that existed in opposition to my arms holding his still. 

"1,2,3,4,5, once I caught a fish alive, 6,7,8,9,10 then I let him go again, why did you let him go, because he bit my finger so, which finger did he bite? this little finger on my right" floated in the space between us as his eyes went bloodshot and filled with tears moments before the anesthetic took him away. The doctor singsonged "don't worry we'll bring him back", my smile was displaced suddenly with all seriousness "You better" I almost threatened. 

Through tears I tried to understand the instructions that would have me back in the waiting room, "your shoe covers here, and your hat and gown, through the double doors, use the exit button on the right and then turn left." By the time I saw my husband through glass I was a mess, demolished at the thought of leaving him with strangers who had his small, trusting life in their hands. As I buried my face in my husbands hug all I could remember was him lying on the hard metal table, no pillow under his head and the anesthetists hand holding the mask roughly on his tilted perfect face, his body limp, unknowingly lead to a place where a surgeon would operate on him.

Half an hour later the same surgeon was in front of us with a reassuring smile, and good news. Bang's ears had been full of fluid which he drained before putting in grommets and cutting away his adenoids. Winter would be a lot more pleasant for our little man, not to mention a lot louder.

Lucky for us the surgeon was a lovely, kind man and the surgery was as minor as you can really get. It didn't make seeing him after the surgery writhing around disoriented and confused by all the drugs any easier. I wondered if his subconscious would remember his misplaced trust as he arched his back and yelled out against the world. Half an hour later he was asleep in my arms and three hours later, two more than both the other patients, he was awake and happily devouring sandwiches and a neon-coloured tub of jelly. The blood in his ear the only sign that something was amiss.

And when we asked him "Can you hear better punky?" A huge smile and a resounding "YES!" made me realise it was worth all my angst and his discomfort to get to this better place. There's a lesson in there somewhere, I hope I apply it to the larger decisions I am sure will come.... but for now I'm just happy he is back in my arms and no where near sharp metal instruments and gases that mysteriously send him unconscious and temporarily mad. 

Has your child had surgery? Were you worse off than they were?


  1. Nicole, you did so well to sing to Bang while he was going under! I would have been a MESS, I'm sure. You did good! :)

  2. Yes and Yes. I was sooooo ignorant and am guilty even writing this. In (wait for it) 1972...our DD was under 12 months and a nasty lump had appeared on her neck. Yikes for lumps, and the GP in little country town said "I'll get a surgeon to take it off, and biopsy so we know what it is". OK.
    Yep. Sure. DD LEFT in hospital ward on night before surgery by us, and we went home ...(I know I know, even writing this makes me feel bad)....and I went in the next morning before surgery scheduled to a confused, and cranky little girl. In those days, parents were NOT welcome in hospital, nor anywhere near theatre, so when time to go, the anaesthetist picked her up from my arms and off she went.
    The good news,was the lump was benign and just one of those things, and she woke up cranky but OK and I got to take her home. 
    It was only as I got older, and she needed some other surgery, did I realised how bad that must have been. I didn't leave her at all next time round, except when she went into theatre.
    HOWEVER...she has not regressed nor been to therapy as a result and she is such a calm mum with her own 4. Unlike moi. A mess
    So glad to hear your ever handsome man is better....maybe a more pleasant winter coming up for all.
    Denyse XX

  3. Thanks Laura, I held it together to the second he went under then I realised how messed up I was when I threatened the anesthetist - I think my voice went all Damien from Omen like LOL. xxx

  4. Oh Denyse that is tough, we forget how rigid and weird the hospitals were. I do thank goodness I gave birth this side of the 70s and that we get to go with them until they go under. So good health professionals realised a calm patient is going to recover faster than a freaked out one. xx

  5. I will never forget hearing Boyo scream as he woke up from his grommet surgery, as I sprinted from the waiting room to recovery. I feel for you xxx

  6. my son has had several operations and its always difficult to watch him go under he doesnt close his eyes,so i have to watch his eyes roll back as he goes under but its always worth it

  7. Oh Nicole. This is in our very near future as my little mate is having dental surgery. I know it is for the greater good. I know it will improve his life. But my gosh I am dreading it so very much :(

  8. Same - the anesthetist said "oooh the devil's got him" I think trying to make light of a terrible sight - didn't help! But you are right it is worth it x

  9. Oh that's awful... I never understand why they don't get you there earlier, Bang was a wreck by the time I got there too. Worst part. xxx

  10. It was just after Christian's 2nd birthday when he had to have surgery to have his tongue released. He was born with tongue-tie. The surgery all up took about 20 minutes. But like you described, they put the mask over Christian's face. Well he started to cry and freak out in my arms. The dr's told me not to worry because he was taking such deep breaths from his crying that the anaesthetic would work faster. And it did. He was out cold. His head just fell limp as did the rest of his body. The dr's told me to put him down gently because he head would jump fall if I didn't cradle it as I put him down on the bed. And I had the most horrible of thoughts. I thought, 'this is what it must feel like to hold a completely limp dead child'. 

    I have no idea why that thought came into my head. So, so horrible. Maybe I was just trying to be clinical. I don't know. But his body under anaesthetic felt different to that sleep limp body that I often carried to bed. It was weird. 

    I actually decided when I was pregnant with Lucas that if he was tongue tied I would get his tongue snipped as a newborn (no surgery needed) than to have to go through all that again.

    I hope Bang is better this winter.

    Love & stuff
    Mrs M

  11. So glad it went well. I hate it when they go limp... I can't handle that bit!!! 

  12. Thanks sweet. Am so relieved it's over and hoping it's the last time. I so agree on the limp part - does my head in xx

  13. That's awful, I know what you mean about getting those horror visions - I have them all the time now I'm a Mum, so glad I'm not the only one. Glad it all went well with Christian,  Nxxx


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