Thursday, May 28, 2015

T & A - Part I

Frequent Followers of This Space have heard us talk about Aiden's sinuses before. Unfortunately, I passed along my terrible sinus issues to my son and he seems to be headed down much of the same path I went down as a kid. Folks might recall about a year ago that we had to take him to the Emergency Room after he got sick and spiked a high fever. That trip (and sickness) set in motion a series of events that have led us to where we are this week. After that ER visit, we went to an ENT doctor to get a consult on what he thought about Aiden's condition. During that visit, I played the doctor a recording I made on my phone of Aiden trying to sleep a few night previous. It literally sounded like a 65-year-old overweight man with sleep apnea on the other end… and so the ENT doctor said we might want to consider having his tonsils and adenoids (a T&A) removed at some point to alleviate some of his discomfort while he's sleeping. I had the same procedure done when I was 5, so I was familiar with what he was talking about. I was at a point where I was getting sick every six weeks and that frequency was drastically cut down after I had mine taken out. So even though I cringed at the thought of sending my young son "under the knife," I held out hope that poor Bubby would be better for it in the long run. I knew it wasn't going to be a magic bullet (lord knows it wasn't for me) - but I was willing to take the gamble that having it done now would provide him with years of improved health like it did for me.

So after getting a second opinion a couple months ago, we decided to pull the trigger and get his procedure scheduled. Mommy B worked her magic at the hospital and made sure that he had the best people on the case - the best surgeon, best anesthesiologist and best nurses (outside of herself, of course) that would be on staff. It's good to have connections, yeah? We scheduled his procedure for last Monday, May 18th. Since he wasn't allowed to eat anything the morning of his surgery, Mommy B kept him up a little later the night before and let him snack on whatever he wanted just before bed time. We tried to explain to him all that weekend that he would be "going in to see the doctor" on Monday so they could "fix his nose," as he said. I told him that it would actually be his mouth/throat they would be working on, but it would hopefully help him breathe better after he was all healed. I have no idea how much he understood, but he seemed to be OK with the whole thing - especially getting to stay up late and snack that Sunday night.

The big day had finally arrived, and both Mommy B and I were dreading it. Mommy B had the day off, and I had taken the morning off as well to be with them both. So we made a plan that I would take Alli to school like normal, then have Mommy B and Aiden pick me up at the local tire shop (the new Pilot got a nail in the tire that weekend - perfect timing, huh?) on their way to the hospital. So while Mommy B and Aiden played at the house in an attempt to keep Aiden from wanting to eat something, I took Alli to school. When we got in the car, I told her it was a very important day for Aiden and asked her what she wanted for breakfast. Whatever she wanted (and was open,) I would take her there. She asked if Chick-fil-A was open, and I told her that it was. She then asked if they had French fries there. I replied by letting her know that they probably didn't have the waffle fries ready that early in the morning but that they would have hash rounds instead. She seemed satisfied with that answer, so that's where we went. As we munched on our morning chicken, I did my best to keep a smile on my face to ease any apprehension she had about what was happening to her "little bro" that day. I kept telling her that Aiden wasn't with us like he normally is because he was having surgery that day… and that she was going to have to be extra nice to him that afternoon since he wouldn't be feeling well. I also told her that Aiden wouldn't be going to school that week while he recovered, so there would be a few days where I would be taking her by herself. Again, I have no idea how much she understood about the situation, but she got the point that Aiden wouldn't be feeling well for a few days so she would need to "be the big sister" and help us take care of him.

I dropped Alli off at school and informed Aiden's teachers that it was the big day and to not expect him to be back at school that week. After I dropped off Mommy B's car to get the tire patched, she and Aiden scooped me up and we headed downtown to the hospital. After getting checked in, I thought I'd walk Aiden around (in my arms, of course) the hospital a bit while we waited to head back to the holding area. Well, much to my surprise, they brought us back almost right away. I was hoping that was a good thing and we'd get this thing over with sooner than expected. And sure enough, the kid who was scheduled in front of Aiden didn't show for some reason, so they told us that Aiden could get bumped up and take his place. This worked for us - less time the poor kid has to go without food!

After playing with a few toys and the iPad we brought, the anesthesiologist came back and said they were prepping the Operating Room and that Aiden could take some Versed to "relax him." This is a very common drug that they give to kids before surgery - it basically gets them drunk so they don't freak out when they are wheeled away from their parents to head into the OR or when the anesthesiologist puts the gas mask on to put them to sleep. I knew this would be absolutely necessary because there was about a snowball's chance in hell that Aiden would just let some stranger in a strange place wheel him away from us without losing his mind. So he took his "medicine" and about 15 minutes later we could see that he was starting to feel the effects. I got some of it on camera - it was hilarious to watch. Just picture a blackout-drunk person trying to figure out an iPad, slurring his words, head bobbing back and forth. Yeah, he was feelin' good at that point. And quite frankly, I think it helped both Mommy B and I to laugh given the current situation. I asked Mommy B how long this stuff lasted, and she said sometimes about an hour, depending on the kid.

So there we sat… and sat… and sat. We had thought they were going to come and take our little drunk child away any minute so we could go begin our nervous wait in peace… but that didn't happen. Then, my second-biggest fear slowly became a reality - the drugs began to wear off before they knocked him out. And what does any completely wasted person do when they start coming down? They start crying and getting upset - and combative. Here we were, in the middle of the holding area (with adults sitting on either side of us) having to try and comfort our now screaming, crying child. He just wanted to "get out" as he said, as he kept pointing towards the door we had come in. The sobs grew longer, the screams grew louder, and he started wiggling out of my arms… anything to get away from the current situation. Still, no anesthesiologist in sight to come take him to surgery. Needless to say, Mommy B and I were growing very anxious about what to do.

Finally, after what felt like forever, the nurses said the anesthesiologist was on his way. At that point, Aiden was inconsolable and was a blubbering mess. We were basically right back to where we started - the "good part" of the drugs had worn off and now he was even more scared and confused than he had been when we first got there. Mommy B had told me that morning that they typically don't let the parents come back into the OR with the child to minimize the drama - for all parties involved. Unless, the child is freaking out and a having a parent present will actually help the situation. Well, that would be us at this point. Since Mommy B does this for a living and might have had a nervous breakdown doing it to her own child, Dad-E stepped up to the plate. The nurses brought me a gown to put on while Mommy B got one last hug from her teary, scared, confused little boy. As soon as I was dressed, the anesthesiologists led the way out of the holding area.

With Aiden nestled into my shoulder, I calmly rubbed his back and told him that we were finally getting out of there. What he didn't realize was that we weren't leaving the hospital, but rather going down the hall into the OR instead. As we walked, he seemed to calm down a bit which I thought was a good sign. However, as soon as we turned into the OR, he took one look around at the room with no doors and people dressed in weird outfits (scrubs) and began to cry again. I knew that time was of the essence, so I quickly laid him down on the operating table while they began to pump the gas into the mask.

I promised Mommy B that would spare her the details of the next few moments before he zonked out, and I'm going to do the same for y'all. It was by far the hardest thing I've had to go through as a parent. Everyone keeps trying to reassure me that he won't remember any of it, especially as he gets older. Each time I reply with, "I know he won't… but I will." It is something that I'll never forget as long as I live, and I told Mommy B that I would shoulder that burden so she didn't have to. As Aiden began to close his eyes, I told him that I would see him when it was all over and would be there when he woke up. The nurses then led me back to the holding area, where Mommy B was waiting so we could embrace each other and let the tears go. They pulled the curtain around us and told us to come out when we were ready. I told myself that morning that I wasn't going to get all overly emotional about things and I had rationalized it as just a "minor surgery" - I mean, it's not like he was going in for brain surgery or something, right? Well, after all we had been through that morning, the Dad in me kicked in and I turned into a ball of mush. As strong as Mommy B was, she knew exactly what I was going through having seen it almost every day in her own job. We each tried to reassure the other that he was in great hands and that everything was going to be fine… that it would all be worth it soon once he was all healed up.

After a few minutes, we dried our eyes, collected our belongings and the nurse lead us to the waiting room. I checked a few work emails and Mommy B had a muffin - her first real food of the day as well. Before we knew it, the anesthesiologist came in and let us know that they were all finished and Aiden was in the recovery room. Everything had gone perfectly and he had been a real trooper. Mommy B and I each let out a sigh of relief - our first deep breath of the day. As he led us to the recovery room, he apologized profusely for the bad timing of the Versed application. There had been an unforeseen delay in getting the room prepped for Aiden's procedure, which was the reason for the delay in bringing him back. I just shrugged it off since there was nothing they could do about it at that point, and things were already burned into my memory by then.

We walked to the back of the recovery room to find our little man with an oxygen mask on still passed out from the anesthesia. They told us not to touch him until after he wakes up and that they had kept him pretty deep under since he had been in such rough shape getting put to sleep. While he was still sleeping, the surgeon came back and told us that the procedure went as good as it possibly could have. He also said that while Aiden's adenoids were pretty big, his tonsils were massive. He does 20 of these procedures a day for kids as old as 17, and Aiden won the "biggest tonsils of the day" award. Well, lucky him! We thanked him for taking such good care of our baby boy and he let us get back to waiting for Aiden to wake up. He started to come around a short time later, and as you can imagine he wasn't in the best mood. They gave him a little more morphine to help with the pain, which made him fall asleep on Mommy B. He woke up a little later and just wanted to get the IV out of his hand and get outta there. I completely sympathized with him, so I tried to get Mommy B to work her magic again and get us going. They eventually let us go even though he didn't drink anything, and I could tell he was so relieved to be heading out finally. He fell asleep again in the car and basically stayed that way for most of the ride home.

My mom had been nice enough to pick Alli up from school and take her to run some errands so we could get Aiden home and situated. He actually felt good enough later that afternoon to go on a golf cart ride with Mommy B and I, which I took as a good sign. He had a little ice cream and whatnot to sooth his throat, but really didn't want much else. It had been a pretty emotional day for everyone, and even though Mommy B was going to stay home the next day with him, I didn't want to go back to work. And little did we know that the day of the surgery was only a fraction of what we'd be dealing with…