Sunday, October 23, 2011

A Surprisingly Easy, yet Difficult, Day

First off, I want to thank those of you who emailed me to wish us luck yesterday. Things went surprisingly well, yet it was surprisingly -- or perhaps not surprisingly -- difficult for Mommy and Daddy.

If you missed my post from Friday, then you have no idea what I'm talking about. Yesterday Bear had minor surgery to get some dental work done. Because of his ADHD and ODD and the amount of work that needed to be done, it required a general anaesthetic. The prospect of my baby boy having surgery was pretty scary, but I tried to keep it in perspective. Mind you, surgery is still surgery, and there's always a risk with anaesthetic.

In addition to the ADHD and ODD, Bear also has some anxiety issues. We think we're starting to see some improvements in his anxiety levels thanks to his new meds, but it's still a bit early to tell. With all his issues, yesterday could have gone so horribly, horribly wrong. TheODDDad and I had visions of having to carry him into the waiting room kicking and screaming (literally), or having to call in reinforcements to hold him down when they sedated him. That stuff we were prepared for, but it was nowhere near as bad as expected.

Not only did he go quite happily into the waiting room, but he also went quite happily into the operating room. Mind you, all we told him, and only in the minutes preceding his operation, was that the doctors would be putting a mask over his nose and mouth to help him sleep while they worked on his teeth. We didn't even tell him they would be pulling any teeth because that would just have freaked him out. Much to our surprise, he hopped up on the operating table and lay there quite nicely as they attached little electrode-doodads to him. He saw his heart beat on the monitor, and he thought that was pretty cool. He even allowed them to put the mask on and took a few breaths...and then it hit. The panic. The sheer "What are they doing to me, Mommy, and why are you letting them" panic.

The anaesthesiologist had warned us this might happen. As a pediatric doctor, I guess she probably sees this a lot. We had already discussed that if he were to put up a fight, I would hold his arms down while she held his mask on, so at least I knew what to do. The problem wasn't knowing what to do -- the problem was seeing the terrified look in his eyes and the tears streaming down his sweet face as he fought us with all the strength in his little body. At that moment it felt like I was betraying him. It was over in seconds and he probably doesn't even remember. But I do.

When I mentioned to TheODDDad that I was worried Bear would be mad at us when he woke up, he reminded me that Bear's always mad at us for something, so this really wouldn't be different from any other day. That made me giggle, which is one of the things I treasure most about TheODDDad. He's always had the gift of knowing exactly when to just hold me and when to make me laugh. I don't think he's every gotten it wrong.

An hour later we were allowed into recovery to see our boy, and that is another memory I could do without. My sweet Bear was curled up in the fetal position with a blanket tented over both him and one side of the bed, where a hose was hooked up to blow hot air under his blanket. He was so small that we couldn't even see him from the door. His perfect little mouth was swollen from the freezing and there was a little bit of dried blood in his nose from the breathing tube. His eyes, when he opened them, were blood shot, unfocused and puffy, with tears puddled in the corner of one eye. He looked so vulnerable and confused that it took an effort on my part to push over a bit so that TheODDDad could stroke his hair and his cheeks, too. Why is it that as moms we sometimes forget that dads need to do these things just as much as we do? We don't have the monopoly on loving our children more than life itself.

For a moment I got a glimpse into the world of parents with critically ill children, who have to see this over and over again, and even though my mind didn't form the words, my heart cried out a prayer for them. Here's what I would have said if I had been able to put it into words.

Dear Lord, please be with all the families who face the loss or the critical illness of a child. Give them the strength to do what they need to do and to face the days ahead. Please give them the comfort, Lord, that can only come from you.


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