I agonized about him having the surgery for many months, but his sleep apnea resulting from his swollen tonsils was something that couldn’t continue. He was gasping for breath every night.
The surgery was at 8 a.m. and they wanted us at the outpatient center at 7, so we had to wake him up to get ready. He didn’t ask for something to eat or drink and I was glad since he wasn’t allowed to have anything anyway. He had fallen asleep nursing the night before but I had had to refuse him more milk in the middle of the night.
In the week leading up to it I had prepared L for the surgery, talking to him about it in a gentle way, avoiding scary terms like “cut” or “pain,” but I also wanted him to understand that his throat would hurt afterward.
He didn’t once seem worried about the surgery and seemed to think that this was something most kids go through. He was actually exited about the surgery and jumping around, shouting, “I’m getting my tonsils out!”
I had made a point to buy him a new Playmobil toy for after the surgery and he was so exited to take it with him. I also brought Peter Bunny with us. L is not very attached to any plush toy, but I figure it’s always a good idea to have something familiar with you. Bunny usually comes with us when we see L’s dentist.
Can you believe this smile?
In the waiting room, I filled out all the paperwork while Don and L played “Little Bear” games on the computer. I had “medicated” myself with my trusty Bach Rescue Remedy drops and tried to get engrossed in watching L play just so I wouldn’t fall apart.
I was glad this day was finally here, I felt good about the decision to have the surgery after months of trying everything to avoid it, but I worried I’d loose it in front of L and scare him.
After a little while a nurse took us upstairs, L changed into his surgery gown, and he drank some medication to make him a little more mellow. He was watching Handy Manny when we met his ENT again and the anestesiologist for the first time. I had talked to him on the phone before, and after really liking him, insisted we’d get him for the surgery.
L’s ENT and I talked again about also taking out his adenoids. He said he usually always takes them out, but I had done my research and said I don’t want them taken out.
Adenoids, just like tonsils, are part of a person’s immune system and are bigger in small kids to help them avoid getting sick, and since L had never had an ear or sinus infection and we were only doing this because of the obstructed airway, I was against taking them out.
His doctor said he had never done that before, that I was over-analyzing things, and that the adenoids could get bigger and we might have to take them out in another surgery eventually, but I held my ground. Since we were taking out the tonsils, I wanted him to have at least the adenoids to fight off illnesses.
That doctor and I also disagree on giving L a prophylactic course of antibiotics. Since L was going to have the benefit of breast milk to help with his recovery, I didn’t feel he needed to be on antibiotics. I’m allergic to most of them, so why risk that he is as well, and why kill the good bacteria in his body while he is recovering from surgery? Instead, I had the prescription filled to give it to him if he ends up running a fever and shows signs of an infection. Of course I’d give it to him then.
They gave me a “space suit” to wear so I could take L into the OR myself. I have no idea why he made that face, he was fine, but I wouldn’t have been able to get Don to take another picture, so here you go. I looked like a huge marshmallow.
I would have never just handed him over to a nurse. I walked him into the OR, L got to pick the flavor he wanted the air to taste, and the anesthesiologist was making jokes that L was really lucky he was there on Friday because Wednesday is onion day, and who would want to taste onions.
While he was breathing into the mask, I kept talking to him and telling him I love him and smiling at him to ensure that he wasn’t getting scared, and a minute later he was asleep and Bunny and I walked out of the OR.
I was so relieved that I hadn’t started to cry. I met up with Don in the waiting room again and we had a cup of yucky hospital coffee. It wasn’t 20 minutes later that they already called us up again.
L was already awake and disoriented and the nurse was trying to make him comfortable when I got to him. I had really hoped he’d wake up with me at his side. He didn’t like the IV in his hand, but he calmed down after the nurse gave him some more meds in the IV and I rocked him on my lap in a rocker.
He fell asleep again for a good 20 minutes or so and that is when I think all the worry about this procedure overcame me and I welled up. Gosh, was I glad this was over! Now I just wanted to get him home.
We were there for another two hours to monitor him, but he was doing really well. He was his usual chipper self, and after eating two ice pops all he cared about was putting together his Playmobil police station. At one point he said: “I love you, mom” out of nowhere. That just made my day and is so typically him — he is such a sweet, sweet little boy. When I told him I was so proud of him, he answered, “I’m so proud of you, Mama.” Aw…
And then I got the high five. I was so, so proud of my little man.
At home, I gave him some arnica — it’s a homeopathic remedy that helps with healing. L couldn’t wait to play some more with his new Playmobil toys. He seemed just fine and wasn’t complaining about any pain.
I made sure I stayed on top of medicating him with the Tylenol with codeine every four hours, which was the hardest part of the whole day because he was really fighting that. But I had heard from many other moms that not having the meds wear off is key for pain management after a tonsillectomy.
After he played a bit, he ate some baby food in those pouches and nursed for the first time in 14 hours. At his usual time, around 9:30 p.m., he nursed to sleep.
Since I couldn’t find any information if I was allowed to nursing L after his tonsil surgery, I will write a separate post about that eventually. His doctor said he had never encountered a 4-year-old who still nurses, but he wasn’t against me breastfeeding him.
Oh, another thing: I love L’s new, higher voice. I remember reading about kid’s voices changing after having their tonsils removed but forgotten about it until L started talking. It’s like I have my baby back :)
So the big day is finally behind us. I’ll let you know how the night and Day 2 went in my next post.