Truman’s Surgery Story

Thanks everyone for your well wishes for Truman. He is recovering
nicely but still does not yet have his usual engergy level back. His
scrotum and other incision sites are heavily bruised (this is normal)
& the places where the internal stitches are are still visible. It’s
necessary for him to have a mild pain reliever sometimes, esp at
night. Certain positions are uncomfortable & the sling is out for
right now. WE ARE OVER ALL THIS NOW!

We had the surgery at St. Louis Children’s Same Day Surgery. they
call you the day b/4 and schedule the littlest first, so we were the
first patient of the day & had to be there at 6 am. We got the boys
out of bed at 5:30 w/ the intention of putting them in the car in
their pj’s, but Truman woke up on the way to the car seat &
emphatically told me he did not want to wear his, but wanted to get
dressed. “Jammies are too cold to wear out, Mommy” (didn’t I know
that??). As someone who has woken up w/ cuddles every day for over 4
years, he was surprisinlgy easy to distract on the way there–we
talked about how we were up & out of the house when the streetlights
were still on & the sun was just waking up. We had talked many times
about how his tummy had to be empty (not even “cuddles”) b/4 surgery
so that the anesthesia would work ok & he was fine w/ this. I was
worried b/c sometimes there is just no reasoning w/ a sleepy-wanting-
to-nurse child but there were no problems w/ this at all that day.
My little boy is really growing up!

When we got there, it was exciting for him to see the model train
that runs around the lobby area near the ceiling. we had toured the
previous day and had read some books about going to the hospital so
he seemed fairly confident going in, although he does not warm to
adults who are too eager or spit out questions one after the other in
fake sing song voices (shouldn’t these people know kids better?).
So, he didn’t like the “welcome nurse” but he cooperated w/ the check
of his vitals and had very definite opinions of which finger would
get the “band-aid” (heart monitor), which arm for the hug (b.p.),
etc. The doc came in, did his examination, marked the spot for the
incisions (and said, “are we going to fix your thing?” how weird for
a pediatric urologist, no? Truman didn’t know what he was talking
about b/c we use all the correct words. I had liked the doc b/4 but
that was just odd.)

I had spoken w/ all of the nurses and staff about my concern
regarding the separation point. This was a huge worry for me. What
they typically do is give them versed (kinda like kiddie valium) to
calm them down, then take them from you to the OR. They kept
saying, “he won’t remember anything”; he’ll be too drugged to know.”
But I know Truman, and the moment they took him out of my arms, he
would start complaining & be terriried. They had told me they
sometimes make exceptions & let the parent accompany the child to the
OR & not leave until the child is out. Once I knew this, I kept
insisting. They kept putting me off until I finally said, “I’m his
mother, I know him best.” Why this worked, I don’t know, but the
next moment I was brought surgical scrubs and the anesthisiologist
came to talk to me. She explained what to do, how to hold him, and
what happens when the gas begins to get into his system. She
explained that he would wiggle/twitch & make snoring noises. It
seems to me that if most parents were told this, they would not have
trouble being prestent in the OR until the child is out. This would
be less traumatic for the child, IMO.

I did not particularly like seeing him anesthetized, nor leaving him
on the table but by that point I had done everything to make his
pscho-social adjustment positive & knew I had to go. After all, I
had already relinquished his life to them by agreeing to the surgery
in the first place & I wanted them to do their job as quickly as
possible so he could get back to us.

We waited in our room (thankfully, they allowed Isaiah to be with me
since he was a nursing infant, and he cooperated by nursing
peacefully to sleep) for the longest hour of our lives. But, soon,
the doc was peeking his head in & telling us that everything had been
fine. They found a normal testicle, made it a home in the right
spot, and found a hernia that they removed. sShortly after, I got
the call to go to the recovery room to see him. They were supposed
to notify me immediately when he woke. I wished I had insisted on
being there waiting or earlier, because by the time I got there,
Truman was flailing & shouting. Of course, they said, “He won’t
remember it.” and “They all wake up combative like this.” I’m
thinking–of course–they wake combative–they wake up in a strange
place surrounded by strangers–what do they expect!! Perhaps if they
worked on being a little more attachment-friendly they could warn
parents of what to expect and then allow them to be there to help
ease the child back into the present (like they did w/ me b/4
surgery).

As soon as Truman saw me, I took him in my arms, we settled in a
chair and he began to nurse. He loooked white as snow, was
shivering, and shaking. He put the breast in his mouth & just held
it there and drifted off. The nurse said, “You probably shouldn’t
nurse him, he might get sick.” Apparently she is clueless about
breastmilk’s digestibility and ease on the tummy. He rested a little
longer, then began to nurse. He never vomited. I was so thankful
that I was able to comfort him instantaneously this way. All the
extended & tandem nursing, all the rough moments we’ve had were wiped
away by the comfort of that moment. It was frightening to see him
like that and I realized how truly blessed we are that our children
are healthy. The stress and feelings of helplessness for parents of
sick children must be extraordinary. We are richly & truly blessed.

To get back to our room, the nurse & I decided I would get back on
Truman’s hospital bed and she would roll us back. When we were
situated & she started the journey to the room, she pulled up the
blanket to cover a small portion of my breast that was exposed–but
in the process covered a little of Truman’s face. I thought it
equally funny & irritating–don’t I know how I’m comfortable nursing
(I wasn’t showing much, if anything, from most people’s viewpoints)
Maybe that’ just how hospital staff take over for you–just another
reaason I am so uncomfy there.

The rest of the time we nursed and cuddled. Before long, Truman was
awake & asking for his promised treats of mango juice and peanut
butter cookies. I also nursed Isaiah. Whenever the nurse saw me
nursing one of the boys, she’d say “Wow what a busy woman.” Or some
such. Guess she didn’t have anything positive to say or didn’t know
how to react–but why say anything, then?

One reason the tell you for not allowing you back b/4 your child
wakes is “Your child won’t remember anything.” Unprompted by me,
Truman told me while we were still there that after he woke up from
surgery “I let out a screech so you would hear me Mommy, and come to
me.” “I kicked off my sock because I didn’t want them [the
nurses].” So much for him not remembering! With a little
preparation, like the anesthesiologist gave me b/4 surgery, I think
parents could ease this time for their children and they would have a
lot less “combative” little children.

So as far as “grading” this experience at this hospital:
Breastfeeding: No raised eyebrows (as far as I know) about nursing a
4 year old, but also, no where in any material was breastmilk
mentioned. On the list of items to give to make your child feel
better and recover they list instead soda, gatorade, etc. How
tanking up with HCFS instead of breastmilk is a benefit, I don’t
know. So,acceptance (but not encouragment) of BF–Grade B

Attachment Parenting Friendly:–Willing to work with parents & family
(At one point I was told that the hospital was a “family-centered
place). They let Isaiah stay & me go w/ Truman to the OR (but only
after ALOT of lobbying. Leave children on their own to wake up
(albeit for a short time): Grade C

While everything went pretty well & turned out all right I hope this
is not an experience we get to repeat!

Aletha & Truman & Isaiah

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