Sunday, December 25, 2011

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Scarred for Life

No surgery feels "minor" when your child is the one having it.

Something didn't look quite right when Tate stepped out of the shower a few weeks ago. A bulge right above his skinny little leg. I got him in to see his pediatrician that very afternoon. Diagnosis: Hernia. He got in to see a surgeon at Children's Mercy the very next day, and surgery was scheduled for the next Monday. Whew.

Here he is, all set with the surgery doll they gave him. He named him "Dolly". Very creative, that boy. I, for one, was surprised that he put down the DS they let him play so he could decorate his doll. And on the ride home, in his semi sleepy state, he squeaked, "Did you get Dolly?".
Since everything happened so quickly from finding the hernia, to getting him in for surgery, I didn't really have a lot of time to worry about it. But with what little time I had, I started Googling. Googling "hernias in children", "hernia surgery", and of course, finding all the worst case scenarios in the process. Why do I do that to myself?

In my head I knew it was just hernia surgery. One of the most common outpatient surgeries done on children. But he still had to be under anesthesia. And have an incision made in his tiny little body. And have an internal organ worked on. I would have taken his place in a milisecond. At least the decision was made easy for us. Surgery is always recommended for children with inguinal hernias. So, it wasn't even like we had options to stew over. This was the only course of action we could take. Apparently, he'd had this hernia for awhile and it had just now decided to show itself.
We were first told the surgery would take about 45 minutes. The surgeon then said, it would probably be closer to 30 minutes, since it was just on one side. I still tear up when they are just getting shots, so watching him being wheeled away was a wee bit tear jerking, to say the least. And it wasn't fun listening to the anesthesiologist read off all the possible side effects of the anesthesia. Of course, my eyes skipped forward to the last two listed, and a gulp formed in my throat.

We kissed the top of his little head and parted ways. He, down the hall on his little gurney, us to the waiting room. 30 minutes went by...45 minutes went hour went by. At about an hour and 15 minutes, the door opened and in came the surgeon. Huh? All the other parents were beckoned back by a nurse to see their little ones. Why was the surgeon, himself, coming to get us? Then he started explaining why the surgery took longer than expected. We already knew Tate had one hydrocele (fluid filled sac) as a result of the hernia. A second was found during surgery. An intraabdominal hydrocele, which are pretty rare. His surgeon had only seen this one other time in his practice. Lovely.

He finally got to the part where he told us everything went well, and he was able to repair everything, etc. That may have been a good place to start prior to his medical explanation. We thanked him over and over again and headed back to see the little fella.

He was lying on his side, under about 3 blankets. The nurse said, "He just wants to be held by his Mommy". Tear-ful. They gingerly scooped him up,pushed aside his IV tubing and monitors, and placed him on my lap. He wasn't fully awake yet, but he was crying, and was able to tell us that it hurt. After a few minutes they gave him some oral pain meds and put him back to sleep through his IV until it took effect.
After a bit, they tapered his IV meds and woke him back up. We headed home and made him a little nest on the couch. All he wanted to do was play wii. After just a few hours, he got tired of sitting there and wanted to get up and walk around. He put aside his wii remote and stood up on the couch like he always does, perched to jump off. "Noooooo!" we hollered as we held our hands up to stop him.

I guess I never realized how much that boy runs. And how he's constantly in motion, running, jumping, throwing himself on the floor during a pretend battle. Just going into the kitchen to get a drink, he runs. And his surgery only slowed him down for an evening. He would start to take off, then stop and kind of half limp, half trot, the rest of the way. His discharge instructions read: No athletic activity for 14 days. This means I have one more week of hollering out every 5 minutes, "Tate, slow down! No jumping! Remember your surgery!".

He is already proud of his incision site, which should turn into a pretty cool scar. He didn't really understand what a scar was, because this will be his first. "Why are scars so cool Mom?" he asked. "Because behind every scar is a pretty neat story of how it came to be," I explained.

And I'm sure behind every scar, there's also a few gray hairs added to a worried mother's head.
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Friday, December 09, 2011

Bunk Bed Drama

August. That's when the girls got their bunk beds. Almost a full 4 months ago. I knew bringing bunk beds into our home meant welcoming unfortunate incidents and a whole new host of injuries. But I assumed it would be from one or more of the children falling off the top bunk, jumping off the top bunk, or missing a rung on the ladder.

It never crossed my mind that so many ice packs would be used on their little heads, as a result of them banging into the bars of the top bunk. That's right, folks. We administer multiple ice packs a week because the girls forget there is a bed above them. Made of metal bars. They currently both share the bottom bunk, which is a full size bed, because after learning that smoke rises...Reese will have no part of the top bunk. They giggle and carry on at night when we first put them to bed, and inevitably, one of them, usually Drue, will either stand up, or jump up from the bottom bunk and clang their head against the bars.

The explanation for their injury is always the same, "I forgot there was a bed above me".

Last weekend they all three were going to try sleeping together on the bottom bunk. Drue came into our room for something and then headed back into her room. Reese and Tate thought it would be fun to scream out and scare her. I heard them scream. A few seconds later I heard a familiar thud and Drue's unmistakable wail. By this time of the night, my patience is always a bit thinned out as I'm about to slip into a few hours of uninterrupted slumber. It is during these few hours I get a break from playing referee, maid, cook, and chauffeur.

She wailed for longer than her norm. I finally shuffled in there to re-tuck them in, and she was whimpering pitifully curled up on the side of the bed by the wall. "Do you need an ice pack?" I asked in a monotone voice. I could just make out the nod of her head in the dim light. So I shuffled downstairs to retrieve one from the freezer.

I crawled back into my bed after delivering it to her and just felt strange. Maybe I felt bad that I hadn't been more tender with her. It had just become such a regular occurrence lately, I had kind of lost my compassion for it. But I didn't want Drue to go to bed sad, so I called her into my room. She climbed into my bed, holding her ice pack to her head, and I pulled her into my lap. When she pulled the ice pack off to settle in a little more, I felt even more terrible. Her right eyelid was swollen and purple, and a bloody cut under her eyebrow was reflected in the light of my bedside lamp.

Ok, so this was way worse than her weekly bumps and bonks. I called David up there to assess whether or not the cut required stitches or glue. He assured me it did not. Then he went and got her a bag of frozen vegetables to mold easier to her injury than a hard ice pack. Of course, any type of head injury wins them an automatic pass to sleep in our bed with us. I even turned on the tv to keep her up for a little while, lest she fall into a deep state of unconsciousness. Only after I performed amateur neuro checks, making sure she was oriented and could track my finger, was I able to settle in for the night.

When she came home from school Monday she announced, "Four teachers asked me what happened to my eye!". Awesome. No really, I'm very glad they were doing their job. The sarcastic "awesome" refers to the reason all 4 teachers had to ask that question in the first place.

Hopefully, another 4 months won't go by before the girls get used to their bunk bed. Oh, and I completely skipped over the rest of the story in explaining how her injury played out that night. So the other two screamed, which scared her, but it wasn't her jumping from fright that caused her to slam into the bed. After the initial shock of getting scared, she got mad. And she wanted to pounce on them for scaring her. So she leaped into the air to land on them.

Forgetting about that darned top bunk again...

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