I was debating whether to write this up or not; but finally decided to go for it. We had very stressful last couple of days since the time the doctor declared Varun has some foreign body in his nose.The actual scheduling of the operation, financial counseling, the fast and the long wait, actual surgery and the post op waking up – was an ordeal.
I have had one surgery in US and it was smooth. I knew what they are going to do to me and when. We knew what to expect. Here other than a number for taking an appointment and a vague idea of the procedure we didn’t know much. I was in too much of a shock to really ask anything to the doctor.
Day before the procedure
After the initial shock of prospect of Varun having to undergo a nasal procedure and more importantly be sedated/ get anesthesia, I read up online and found that it’s not as uncommon as I believed. I mean there are other kids who put stuff up their lil noses.
With that sorted, I called the number to schedule the appointment. Of course it was too early to call them at 9:00 am so we had to wait till 10:30 am when the scheduling guy, Mr D, came to office. Once in office, Mr. D wanted to know about insurance before he would give us an appointment. He told me about hospital package – can you believe it – like a vacation package that includes doctors charge, anesthesia charge, Operation room charges, medicines and being in the common recovery room for 6-8 hours. I actually didn’t care about the charges. I told him if the insurance doesn’t cover it I will pay for it – just schedule the damn procedure!
My bigger worry was about fasting and how to keep Varun distracted while he was bound to get hungry and want milk at the very least ; and the side effects of anesthesia.
At the end of the day almost around 5:00 pm, after making several calls and back and forth on insurance, we got an appointment for 3:00 pm. With a stern instruction to not to eat or drink after 9:30 am. Okie. It wasn’t gong to be easy.
The evening before the procedure
I had read on parenting sites that kids handle hospitals and surgeries better if they know what to expect. But other than the fasting aspect and sedation and I V, I didn’t know what to tell him without scaring him.
So, I told him that it was a special day when the doctor was going to fix his nose and his cold and for that we all had to fast – which means no milk, no food and no water. He nodded and laughed and went about playing with his blocks. I think I must have repeated it all evening. Before going to bed he said ‘no water, no food – but mama give milk!’
I felt so bad but simply held him while he went to bed.
The morning of the procedure
We woke up by 7:45 am and decided that we will give him a nice breakfast so he won’t feel hungry. But unlike adults, kids don’t eat more than what they are used to and so he ate half a pancake, some milk, and some pomegranate.
By 9:00 am I tried to give him some juice and water but he simply refused.
He was busy playing with his cycle, blocks, pillows that he didn’t miss food till at 11:00 am he asked for water. We tried to distract him with some cartoons. In the car, he asked for milk and even took out the bottle from the diaper bag. Anticipating this we had kept the bottle empty so he knew there was no milk. Again, I reminded him about the fast and distracted him with hoardings on the road. Thankfully he cooperated.
Once in hospital, we were asked to go to the emergency room for checkup: weight, temperature, heart rate, blood pressure. Varun was irritated with the cuff on his arm but somehow managed to keep it on. The nurse wrote his weight and temperature incorrectly and we had to correct it – and began to wonder what all we would have to watch for that day.
After the check, we went to meet the anesthesiologist. She asked for allergies and Varuns history. In turn, I asked her questions – how will they give him anesthesia ( via IV), do they have pediatric IV’s ( plastic v/s metal – they do have kid friendly baby ones), when will they give IV ( while he is awake), can they sedate him before IV ( she was OK with it), how long before the sedative takes effect ( 5- 10 mins), when will they give sedative ( 30 mins before surgery), side effects of anesthesia and sedative ( nothing major) , and when pressed for side effects ( Said something about taking long to wakeup from anesthesia and irritability then).
I was a bit worried but didn’t really have much of an option.
After the meeting we were asked to wait in the lobby and then get admitted at 1:30 pm.
Varun got hungry and thirsty. Every time he saw anyone pass by with water bottle he asked me for water. It’s so hard to refuse water but I knew if he did drink any we would have to reschedule and go through this ordeal all over again. Somehow we distracted him with other people waiting and tired, he fell asleep. I also slept with him sitting up in the lobby.
In the meantime Vipul went and paid the deposit for the operation’s package. And we waited.
Before the procedure
Promptly at 1:30 pm, we were asked to admit him. We went back to the ER where I waited with sleeping Varun. One attendant came to give Varun IV which I refused. I asked that he be admitted first and given sedative before IV.
Eventually 15 – 20 mins later, we were in a waiting room outside the operation room. The nurse gave him grape flavored syrup which was supposed to make him sleep in 5- 10 mins. Varun was grateful to drink something after the long morning and was asking for more. In 5 mins he was loopy but not at all sleepy. He tried getting up and reaching for cartoon posters and climbing down the chair but his hands and legs gave away and he was like a little drunk bouncing around. I had to hold him tight to prevent any other injuries – but in hindsight it was cute to see him like that giving our big smiles.
His doctor came at 2:45 pm to check on him. I asked him more anesthesia related questions – is general needed or will local be enough? what happens if you don’t find anything etc. He answered briefly and went away to scrub in. Couple of minutes later, the nurse whisked him away to operation room luring him with ice cream.
We were not allowed in.
After the procedure
My heart sank as I saw the double doors close behind him and we were asked to wait outside.
Barely 10 mins had passed when an attendant called us in. I was sure that they were unable to get the IV in or some such. But the doctor stood with a metal tray with 4 thumb nail sized sponge pieces on white sterile gauze. Shock, awe, relief , disbelief swept over as the doctor recounted how they found one piece after another ( 3 in one nostril and 1 in another) and were amused in the operation room. He wondered how it didn’t cause him any symptoms and how we could not have noticed it/ brought him in earlier. I was so ashamed, embarrassed and annoyed at myself for not catching this earlier. What kind of parents are we if we can’t keep tab on our only child??
The doctor left asking us to be careful next time. I guess if we were in Norway, we would be in jail and Varun would be in a foster home. A new low even by our standards 🙁
Post Operation Recovery
Happy that it went well, Vipul and I waited for Varun to come out. A few minutes later we heard low earthy moans of ‘mamma mamma’ with the nurses fervent pleas to hold him. I ran to the door and saw Varun, drugged and disoriented, trying to take out the IV and the ID bracelet. He looked scared on not finding us around.
I ran in to pick him up but in that semi awake state he was irritated with the nurses and the restrictions. He wouldn’t calm down till we took out the ID bracelet. He was so agitated that the nurses had to give him more sedative. Those 10 minutes were the craziest part of the day. Varun screaming to remove the IV, couple of nurses trying to pin him down, others trying to give him sedative, yet another trying to tie the IV to a splint around his wrist with tape. Finally I asked them to take off the IV and they begrudging did. They got this giant cotton swab to prevent blood loss and that started another bout of screaming and crying. He simply didn’t like them touching him. Luckily another nurse had sense to get a small cotton ball and I held it on his hand while we waited for the blood to stop flowing out.
After a long time he calmed down and asked to lie down on the bed.
The sedative was finally taking effect – or so I thought. Varun then realized that he hadn’t seen Vipul and woke up agitated asking for Dada. It took few more minutes to calm him down. Then he wanted me to lay on one side of the bed and Vipul on other while he nuzzled between us. The hospital bed was so narrow that we couldn’t fit. That brought a fresh bout of tears.
We moved the bed around so Vipul could sit on another side while I climbed into the bed with him. The nurses were amused but I couldn’t really see a way out. Thankfully they drew the curtain to give us some privacy and dimmed the lights.
I hoped that Varun would calm down but some nurses – doctors were talking on the other side of curtain waking Varun every time with their conversation. By this time I was losing my patience and mentally was on verge of asking everyone to shut up! Finally after desperate pleas, being hit by him in the process, and after drinking a bottle of water and another of milk he calmed down.
Within minutes, another patient was rolled in for post operative recovery and the fresh activity aroused Varun. The nurses put the lights back on and woke him up. More whining, crying, begging followed. Fed up, I picked him up and took him to show the other recovering girl. Distracted he began to calm down. Even in this state, he noticed that the girl was crying and repeatedly asked her to ‘not cry’. Don’t cry didi, don’t cry! My baby !
Vipul used the opportunity to pay the bills, collect medicines and leave. We had to pay more than the package price which Vipul was in no mood to argue about.
The sedative that was supposed to knock him out didn’t work at all. Varun felt better once we were in the car. He had more water, paratha en-route. By the time we got home, he was back to his usual self. Playing with the cushions, his car, blocks etc
We were exhausted and starving after a long day. We had some tea and quick dinner and then climbed into the bed to watch TV and just vegetate while Varun continued to play.
I am so glad 12/12/12 was over. It was a memorable day. There is no better way to secure a seat in ‘lousy parents’ camp. The sight of Varun disoriented and groggy, struggling like a chained lion to break free and asking for us is etched in my memory. That’s enough for me to ensure we strive hard we don’t have to go through this again.But with both our childhoods being ‘eventful’ its not going to be an easy task!