I have said this before, but I don't know how parents with really sick children do it. I honestly don't. I said this to the pharmacist as I was picking up his post-op prescriptions and she said, "You just do."
Yeah. Being there yesterday reminded me of all that we have to be grateful for. In our little corner of the world, this surgery was a big deal for us, but compared with some of the other things I saw yesterday, I know this wasn't even a blip!
The great thing about being at Children's Hospital was that each person we interacted with was obviously very used to dealing with children and that made a really big difference. Everything from the blood pressure cuffs to the gowns to the gas masks were all in miniature. When we have had other tests done other places, they either make do with the adult size or scramble around looking for a kid's size they know they have "somewhere." They were endlessly patient with Will. . . and also with Will's very pregnant Mommy. :)
I thought I would give more details today, because I know I googled (surprise, surprise) things to do to make our experience easier and found some good tips a long the way. Here are some things that worked for us and some things that I would do differently next time.
1) Bring a rolling suitcase.
I felt funny doing this even though I'd read it on many sites. Will has a cute Lightening McQueen suitcase that isn't that big, so I used that one to pack a sort of day bag for him. Again, I felt as if this might be overkill. . . until we got there. Pretty much everyone else had one and we used a lot of the stuff from it. And being able to just toss stuff in and roll it along, rather than have a bunch of different bags and try to carry them all? Genius. You move to a lot of different areas during the day, so it makes sense to make your travel as easy as possible.
2) Dress them in sweats and a t shirt.
I brought a pair of swears and a t shirt in our suitcase for him, but the hospital information had said to dress them in light pajamas. Right away, I felt as if that was a mistake. They had to put his hospital bracelet around his leg, which meant unzipping the jammies and pulling his leg out. Then they had to see the bracelet every time we got to a new station or area, which meant unzipping the jammies and pulling the leg out. He got into a hospital gown soon after we were actually in the pre-op area, but then afterward, when we had to get him dressed to go home, the sweatpants and sweatshirt were waaaay easier to get over his IV (they don't take that out until you are absolutely ready to go home) and to cut off his bracelet.
3) Ask to go all the way to the OR.
I was hopeful we could do this, but didn't know if they would allow it. They did. I couldn't go because of my pregnant status, which confused me, until M described how they got him to wear the mask. They turned the gas on and waved it in front of his different body parts before finally waving it in front of his little face. They didn't put it on until he was quite happy from the gas in the air. M had a contact high! The best part was that we never had the screaming, scared scenario that I thought we'd have when we were separated from him. I cried a lot, so much so that the nurses seemed more concerned about me, but they came in with a cup of water and some tissues, and pats on the shoulder, and I was okay after a few minutes.
4) Prepare yourself for after the surgery.
I thought that the hardest part would be saying good-bye, but it was actually post-op that was the most difficult. When they brought him in, he was still very out of it, but he was either in a lot of pain or just mad. I think he was mad, but they said the morphine would help with either! It was pretty traumatic to see him so upset. He cried and screamed so hard that he made himself gag and choke. He also had some (a very little amount) blood that came out with his tears and snot, which bothered me, even though I knew it was normal. He wasn't really calmed by our holding him or any usual tricks that would soothe him. What finally seemed to help was walking him around, outside of the recovery room. Well, that and the morphine didn't hurt. I saw younger babies and older kids who seemed to do better with the transition, but I saw another toddler get just as upset, and the nurse working with us said that toddlers have the worst time with coming out of anesthesia. They are scared, confused, etc., and have no way to communicate that. . . combine that with the drugs and it's like the recipe for the Perfect Tantrum.
5) Leave as soon as you can.
This seems obvious before surgery, but when you are actually dealing with your distraught toddler, you will suddenly feel like leaving the safety of the hospital is insane. But he was 150 million per cent better after we left the hospital. He was groggy and tired, but really wanted to be in his own comfort zone. Once we got to the car, he snuggled into his car seat and smiled for the first time since surgery. He wanted to hold my hand until he fell asleep and I was more than happy to let him.
6) Bring snacks and water for yourself.
I was so nervous the night before that I just picked at dinner and then had no breakfast. Will couldn't eat or drink anything, so I wasn't about to eat in front of him. But when he went into surgery, I had some water. I was still nervous to eat, but M ate something, which was probably a good idea since he needed energy heading into the post-op area. I was definitely light headed by the time we left the hospital and needed to eat. We didn't have long enough to head up to a cafeteria or anything because his surgery was so quick.
7) Use the hospital pharmacy.
Be sure to call ahead and ask your insurance company about this, because I had been told to never use the hospital pharmacy as it is usually more expensive. In our case, it was less expensive and the drugs were ready for us to pick up on the way out, so no extra stops. We had asked about filling the prescriptions ahead of time, but they won't do that for some reason.
Well, I think that's it. Will seems to be doing much better this morning, almost as if nothing happened. His face is a tiny bit swollen, but he ate breakfast and seems on the mend. We are staying home and taking it easy today, but I think he'll be back to normal by tomorrow.