Matthew has had a hard time focusing lately – and for good reason. On Friday morning, I attempted to have him finish his tutoring worksheets before we left for camping. He was fidgeting and goofing and all around unfocused. I really just needed him to give me ten minutes of quality “work time,” but it just was not going well.
When I asked him why he was having such a hard time, he said, “I’m worried that camping is going to start without us!”
Tuesday, after his tutoring session with my friend Megan, she actually told me that he was even fidgety with her – doing such HELPFUL things as resting his head on his arm and blowing fart noises. (OK, that is kind of funny, but not exactly appropriate). I told her that I was having the same issues (not me making farting noises but HIS general inability to focus), and – not to make excuses – but this week is probably a wash because right after tutoring our best buds Joshua and Noah were coming over (with mom Rebecca, of course). Matthew hadn’t seen them in one WHOLE day, since we’d spent the weekend together, so of course we were all excited. Plus, Joshua and Noah (and Rebecca) would be staying for an overnight and then Zachary had his surgery the next day (yesterday). Anyway, Matthew has tutoring this morning, so we’ll see how that goes. I’m personally not expecting amazing things. It would be nice if his session went fart-noise-free this time though.
So, Zachary’s surgery WAS yesterday. When he woke up in the morning, the first thing he asked me was, “Is my surgery today?” When I told him yes, he started to whine, “I don’t wanna go. You said that it wasn’t until tomorrow!!”
“Kiddo, today IS the tomorrow of yesterday.” (Yeah, that’s right. I’m deep).
I was concerned that the hardest part for him would be not getting to eat cereal (or anything – but especially cereal!) first thing in the morning. I let him have a bowl of frosted mini wheats before bed (not to mention whatever he wanted to eat for dinner). The novelty of that was a pretty exciting distraction. At 7:57 yesterday morning – just three minutes from our deadline – I force fed him a few gulps of apple juice. I think he was still slightly mad about not getting anything else, so he didn’t even take to the juice much.
To make matters worse, our check in time at Children’s wasn’t even until 11am, so it was going to be a LONG time until this snacky boy got to eat. Thankfully, with Joshua and Noah here and getting to watch a Diego show, Zachary was pretty distracted. When we were about to walk out the door – all the while, Zach reminding me that he didn’t want to have surgery (I certainly didn’t blame him!) – I told Matthew to give Zach a hug and tell him he loved him.
Matthew squeezed Zach for an extra long hug and said, “I love you. Good luck, Zachy, I hope your doctor isn’t Dr. CLAW!” [the bad guy from Inspector Gadget who – I’m fairly certain – lied about his MD status.]
With that pleasant thought, we walked out the door.
We picked up my mom who kindly came along. Mike is still in California, unfortunately, for a work conference, and mom didn’t want me to “go through that” by myself.
I was SO impressed with Children’s – as I knew I would be. I’d heard such amazing things about the facility, the programs, the staff that – this’ll sound weird, but it’s true – I was kind of excited about getting to go there. I just knew that I would be thankful that we were there for a small Hernia surgery and not something more serious. Zach seemed to enjoy the brightly painted murals and the fish tanks scattered throughout the waiting area. Mom did a superstar-grandma-move and surprised Zach in the waiting room with a new toy (a Luke Skywalker action figure). Go Grandma! Eventually we were called back to the pre-op (and later post-op) area. After meeting several different nurses and doctors (some of them QUITE handsome, I might add. Mom and I were in agreement that any of them would rival “Dr. O’Hunk” – a doc that I saw in the hospital once in college). I think the hunky doctors were provided to boost the morale of the mothers (and grandmothers!). Literally, a moment after the Anesthesiologist walked out of the room we said at the same time, “GOOD lookin’ guy!” I would’ve guessed that these handsome men were just hired actors to appease the crowd, but I actually got to go in the OR and two of the hot-docs WERE in there doing actual doc-stuff, so I’m fairly certain they were the real thing. Or they just have the parents walk into a mock Grey’s Anatomy set room, and then once mom is gone, the real doctors take the patient to the real OR.
ANYWAY, Zach got super quiet when he was being asked questions by the doctors and nurses and I could tell that we were nearing some resistance. The fight came when it was time for me to take off his clothes and wipe him down with a warm-antibacterial cloth before putting on his backside-opened hospital gown. Yeah, that’s when he started saying, “I DON’T WANT SURGERY. I DON’T WANT SURGERY.” It broke my heart – of course. I just kept saying, “I know you don’t, baby, but you gotta do it. This would get way more owie if we didn’t do surgery now. And your tummy after the surgery won’t even hurt as bad as when you hurt your chin at Grandma’s last week….you’re being so brave.”
Things were made easier when they said 1.) That Zachary could bring Blanky back with him and 2.) That I could accompany Zach into the OR and be with him while that ‘put him under.’ I got to wear a big white suit over my clothes, a blue hair cover net and a blue mouth and nose mask. The doctor said that they would make “your mommy look like a big walking marshmallow.” Awesome. That’s hot. It cheered Zach up though.
Zach looked oh so tiny and vulnerable in his little blue hospital gown and red no-slippy socks. He clutched my hand tightly as we walked through the maze of halls to the operating room. Hot Doc asked Zach how old he was. When Zach quietly said, “Four,” Hot Doc said, “Well, I guess we better go in OR #4 then.” I thought that was impressive that he could just randomly pick the OR he wanted to use, but then we walked in and saw the room was already full of the several nurses and doctors who had come in to talk with us. Nice!
I sat Zach on the table and watched in amazement as the doctors and nurses showed him the squiggly lines on the screen that would show his heart and his breathing. Hot Doc said it was like a video game and every time Zach took a big breath he could make an even bigger mountain show up on the blue line. Zach had selected “bubble gum” smell for his mask and I watched as they placed the little cover over his nose and mouth telling him to breathe “slow and big” so that he could inflate a blue balloon that was attached to the end of a hose. Sure enough, every time Zach breathed in the anesthesia, the balloon got bigger. Eventually – maybe after a minute – Zach looked up at me with vacant eyes and Hot Doc quietly said, “OK, he’s starting to be disoriented and probably doesn’t even really see you right now.” A few moments later Zach started to feel heavy against my hand and a couple of nurses quickly stepped forward to lie him down.
“Now, he’s getting fidgety, just like we talked about,” Hot Doc said. Earlier, in pre-op, he’d walked me through how Zach’s body would react to the anesthesia. He’d said, “It can look a little scary – like he’s having a seizure. They wiggle around. Sometimes their eyes don’t close right away, and then they’ll start taking short quick breaths like they’re panting. It’s all totally normal but can look a little scary if you aren’t prepared for it.”
I thought it was incredible how he talked me through it all right then too.
Zach’s eyes slowly closed and I did notice him starting to take short, quick breaths. Hot Doc put his hand on my back and gently nudged me towards Zach. “Mom, go ahead and lift your mask and give him a kiss on the cheek, then nurse Kelly will take you back to the waiting area.”
Ahhhh. That is the hardest thing to see ever. I KNEW he’d be fine. I KNEW the surgery was very low risk and not that big of a deal. It’s just so hard to leave your baby lying on the table like that. Anyway, I walked out and was fine until I got to the small room that my mom was in. That’s when I let myself have a little cry.
My gosh, if this is how I respond for a hernia (and I have had experience watching the boys as preemies get feeding tubes, breathing tubes, etc.), I cannot even imagine what it’s like for parents who have to watch their child get wheeled in for open heart surgery or go through the awful-torture of treatment for leukemia or the emotional rollercoaster of Cystic Fibrosis. It makes my heart ache for them in a thousand different places.
So, I pulled myself together – disrobed from the marshmallow suit – and mom and I went to find the cafeteria.
Zach was away from me for only 1hr.5minutes. We were paged first to meet with the surgeon. We sat in the small meeting room until he came in. He had a grin on his face as he said, “He did great! You’d never even know he had surgery. And that was a nice BIG Hernia.” Alrighty then. I did find out – and I already thought this was the case – that his hernia WAS most likely caused by his preemie-hood. (It greatly increases the chances of little boys getting these Inguinal Hernias). Now, Zach’s good to go. There IS a chance that an Inguinal Hernia could develope on his right side or that he’ll be prone to Hernias as an adult. But for now…
When they wheeled Zachary back to us in the recovery room, he was definitely still sleepy and out of it. But he gave me a weak smile as he cuddled into my lap. And then, oh man, and then, the most stressful five minutes of the day: they had reassured us that Blanky could go with Zach. They even put a sticker with Zach’s name and patient number on Blanky. But when they returned, there was a Zachy but no Blanky. Obviously, I’d choose the Zanchet over the Blanket, but um, still. This comfort item is kind of crucial to our existence.
Mom and I both spoke up at once, “Um, he had a blue blanket with him…it’s not here not. Oh, and he had underwear on [which they’d told me to leave on] and he doesn’t have that now either. But yeah, this blanket is REALLY important.” And then under my breath, half-joking-but sorta-not-but-of-course-mostly-in-jest, I mumbled, “Seriously, if that Blanky does not come back, we may have to sue this hospital for all it’s worth.”
The nurse dude read us loud and clear and promised to come back with it. He was on a rescue mission and he didn’t dare return empty handed.
Thankfully, the longest five minutes of our lives did come to an end when blessed Blanky returned folded nicely in a marked bag with Zach’s name on it. Thank you, Jesus. Blanky returned safely, Zachary recovering nicely, Matthew vowing to not make farting noises at tutoring, Mike returning home today, oh, and a REALLY ideal adoption situation that I’m PRAYING works out….life is good.