Surgery Update- How it Went

Well, we’re done with surgery. We still have a few phone calls from the surgeon and the hospital staff tomorrow, and then a follow-up appointment with the pediatric ophthalmologist next Friday. We’ve also got some antibiotic drops to put in her eye three times daily through Sunday. Otherwise, we’re home free.

Hula Girl had to get up super early to leave for the hospital. She was groggy and confused, but she got quite chipper when we arrived at the hospital. She thought it was fun to have so many people oohing and ahhing over her. Plus, she got to be out in public in her jammies with her blankies! Can’t beat that!

She was very compliant and friendly with all the nurses who were doing her pre-op vitals testing and whatnot. She liked changing into her hospital gown, which featured koala bears in rocket ships. It was also fun for her to be up in the big hospital bed, scrambling around and kicking up the covers.

We waited for a while before we talked with the surgeon and the anesthesiologist. The anesthesiologist was really nice and sweet. I trusted her to take care of my girl 100%. She had a very gentle manner while still acting quite in control, so that Hula Girl trusted her easily.

After speaking with both doctors, I got all dressed up in my “bunny suit” so that I was sterile enough to take Hula Girl back to the operating room. When she and I had to leave Daddy and Grampy behind in the pre-op room, she got a bit teary and her lip stuck out a bit. But she was fine- I just had to keep smiling and reminding her how much fun we were having. It was nice to be able to carry her back there myself and to be there while they put her under.

She was very compliant and obedient about the mask, and she was fast asleep within thirty seconds. I gave her a kiss, an “I love you,” and then I left the room. Apparently Jonathan had been warned that watching children fall asleep can sometimes be dramatic and trying for parents, so he needed to be prepared to support me no matter what. Maybe I’m just calloused, or maybe we were just busy, but I really didn’t see what the big deal was. I mean, yeah, anesthesia is scary and it can have some really bad side effects. But I trusted those doctors 100%, and if I was willing to watch it happen, that should say something about my resolve to help my kiddo get better, right? I should also mention here that she was able to have the mask only, and an IV was not required, much to my relief.

The surgery itself went really well. She had a blocked tear duct in her left eye, which is quite common. Most of them resolve on their own, but if they’re unresolved past 12 months, the general recommendation is to have it cleared out surgically. Hula Girl’s surgeon told me that Hula Girl’s duct was blocked by a pretty thick piece of bone, but that she was able to put two different-sized probes through. She did not feel any scar tissue from previous infections, and she was optimistic that Hula Girl’s duct will remain opened up (they can sometimes close over again, as in the case of pierced ears). We just have to do our massage and antibiotic routine for a few days.

During surgery we took a very brief break to run down the stairs to the billing office and get some insurance stuff straightened out. I left Jonathan down there with the financial lady and then booked it back upstairs to the waiting area. I arrived in time to use the restroom, and then I was called back into the recovery room, about 10 minutes after I had left Hula Girl in the OR.

They called me as soon as she started to stir, but by the time I arrived, she was already being rocked by a nurse while she screamed bloody murder. It seriously reminded me of her early reflux days. I said, “That’s my girl!” The nurse who brought me back thought it was funny that I could recognize her cry… but then can’t all parents recognize their own kids’ distress calls? I thought that was strange. Perhaps she doesn’t have kids and doesn’t work with them often.

I held and rocked Hula Girl in the recovery room for about fifteen minutes. I tried to get her to drink water or eat the popsicle offered, but she was going to have none of those crazy fluids. Every time I offered, she just started crying again. It’s pretty well-known that kids come out of anesthesia as whole different people than the ones who went in. Hula Girl went under laughing and cuddling with Mommy; she came out screaming and very confused. She did not struggle when I cuddled her, but she did not want me to do anything else- no singing, reading, humming, story-telling, stroking, or patting. Just light rocking and cuddling.

When her oxygen stats held steady enough for long enough, we were moved back to the pre-op room. She was still quite upset and the nurse kindly turned off the bright lights so we could make an attempt at a nap. The nap never happened. Jonathan joined us in the room, and she almost fell asleep. But then she gagged on her blood from the procedure, and that caused her to vomit a couple of times. The first time, her favorite blankie got covered. That was devastating for her, since she wasn’t able to cuddle with her blankie anymore. The nurse tried really hard to make her feel better and even gave her a new blankie, but to no avail. It was not her “neen wah nee-nee” (clean fresh blankie). We just had to deal. The second time she vomited, Jonathan was quick enough to remove her blankie so it stayed cleanish.

At that point, she was acting miserable, cranky, and tired. I decided to pull out the last resort- Elmo videos on youtube. She had a remarkable recovery after that! As soon as we got to the following video, she started bopping her head up and down and stroking Jonathan’s face in time to the music. There was even a lot of dancing involved. The nurse poked her head in and said, “Well, her color’s back.” She even decided it was okay to drink some water. Wahoo!

We ended up having to stay an extra 45 minutes due to the vomiting, but we were discharged pretty quickly after Elmo made us happy again. Our ride home was uneventful. We had been warned that she would have very little appetite and that she’d be somewhat cranky, wobbly, and have strange sleeping patterns. Well…

When we got home, she guzzled down two sippy cups full of “green juice” (Gatorade/water mix), and she ate two pancakes. She had a pancake picnic on the living room floor, much to her delight. Then she ran around laughing, screeching, and acting silly. She was doing somersaults, headstands, and spins. She was happy-go-lucky and she was perfectly fine. She took her nap at noon (an hour early due to her super early waking), and woke at three. She’ll go to bed tonight an hour early, and I have a feeling that we’ll be back on schedule starting tomorrow! Just in time for Easter!

All in all, surgery seems to be okay. I wasn’t a fan of the post-anesthesia funk, but after she was out of that, she was back to her perfectly normal, happy self. As I type this, she is in the other room with Jonathan, Grammy, and Great-Grandma and is running around showing everyone how the Weebles can “weeble wobble” on all kinds of surfaces. I can also hear some “chase” games being played. And lots and lots of laughter from all.

Thank you so much for all your prayers, advice, and words of encouragement. Everything went better than I hoped!

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