A Difficult Day

My son’s johnny had sleeping tigers and matching draw-string pants. I thought he looked adorable. He didn’t like it. Tigers are so last week!

My son’s adenoid and tonsillectomy

Nothing quite compares to the feeling of controlled, loss of control you experience with surgery.  Arrival and pre-op procedures are orderly, the hospital staff is calm and professional and inside you are crumbling.  What’s worse is the added feeling of betrayal, when that surgery is for your small, frightened child who has actually been looking forward to this day for the promise of toys.  And you are the one marching him into the operating room and lifting him onto the operating table and holding his hand as the anesthesiologist carefully puts him to sleep and then your job is done.

Now you wait.  And ignore the reading material you brought as you stare at the monitor waiting for your patient ID code to turn from fuchsia to blue, indicating the surgery is finish. Almost an hour goes by.

* * *

The doctor met us in the waiting room to let us know that my son’s adenoid and tonsillectomy was successful.  I felt significant relief.  He told us that his adenoids were especially enlarged and pus filled.  I went into the recovery area to be with him as he woke up.  I was glad he didn’t thrash as many small children do after anesthesia.  He wanted me to hold him so I got in the gurney too and he dozed.  Then we got a ride to and he stayed for a few groggy hours in the pediatric ward on IV fluids recovering.  For the last hour I was alone with him while he mostly slept and I was mostly as peace with my hand on his.  After a short walk, attached to the IV pole, down the hall he was deemed ready to go (no more stay-overs for tonsillectomies).  Then the super nice nurse helped us to the car with my son in a small wheel chair and he gave us a throw-up bag and a towel for just in case.

It has been hard going at home, especially trying to get him to drink and eat a little something.  He stopped talking altogether towards the evening on that first day.  He cried in pain during the night, threw up the antibiotics the next morning, and had an on and off slight fever.  But by this afternoon of day two he was starting to talk a lot more (even though he sounds like a mouse talking into a tin can) and feel a bit better.  A feeling enhanced by lots of great toys from Grandma to play with!

His favorite is the Imaginext Dragon World Fortress.  And it makes me so happy to see him share with his best friend and older sister!  I love watching them play together.

The back story…

My son has had a stuffy nose for more than a year.  I asked our pediatrician about it at his 4 year visit.  He said it was probably his adenoids and gave us a referral to see an ear, nose, and throat specialist; the same specialist who performed his son’s adenoidectomy.  Knowing the visit would likely result in a recommendation for surgery, I put it off.  A few months and 4 strep infections later, I made the appointment.  He has had a few other related issues including ear infections, excess saliva, and affected speech.

Here is a diagram I found which shows the location of the adenoids in relation to the tonsils (click on image for source).

I hope he spends less time being sick.  I really hope he doesn’t have recurring nightmares related to the experience like my husband and I do from our’s.  I am also hoping his speech will improve.  The doctor said it is like a switch for some and for others speech therapy is necessary.  We are waiting for a call from our district’s early ed to see if he qualifies for services.

I have so much to be thankful for.  I feel like we did the right thing but it was a very, very hard day!

Has your child had surgery?  Was it more traumatic for you or your child?  Please share.


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  1. My nephew just had to have his tonsils out, and he felt pretty awful afterwards.

    None of my kids have had surgery, but I remember my 3yo sister waking up from general anesthesia when I was 18, and it was not pretty. I’m glad your son stayed pretty calm. And I had surgery followed by several months of chemo at 22 months and drew myself attached to machines for YEARS afterwards. Modern medicine is amazing, but it can be tough!
    maryanne @ mama smiles recently posted..Imagination and Pretend Play with Sidewalk ChalkMy Profile

  2. Oh, little buddy. I’m so glad the surgery is over and it went well. What a relief- you are a good mom and maybe it’ll end up being something that’s fun to tell his friends about (you know- all that pus.)

    Interesting, too. I didn’t really know anything about adenoids.
    Artchoo! recently posted..Let’s Learn About Caldecott MedalsMy Profile

    • You know, now that you say that, I vaguely remember being a little proud of my tonsillectomy as a kid, huh…

    • I asked him tonight what he would choose. The toys and surgery or no toys and no surgery and he picked no surgery. Then he said that the surgery was good (he said good!) and that it is the medicine (antibiotics) he doesn’t like. 4 year old logic!

  3. girl, i’m glad you got it done now. i suffered with my tonsils my whole life until i took it out a few years ago. and when you take it out as an adult, recovery is longer. for a week i couldn’t eat. hubby and i were engaged at the time i think, but i remember him taking a week off of work to care for me. i cried in pain a lot. that thing that hangs down in the back of your mouth, i forget what it’s called all the time, they had to clamp it during surgery, so afterwards mine was flat and wide. took up the whole back of my mouth. i had to take liquid meds like a 5 year old. i took two weeks off of work i was in such bad condition and for weeks after i returned to work, i freaked my boss out every time i opened my mouth to say something because my voice was so different.
    surgery is scary whether your a child or an adult. as you know we just went through removing vanessa’s appendix and girl i now how horrible to waiting is. i know how hard it is to just hand your child over to others to care for, not being able to be there through the whole process. big hugs to you girl. happy your boy is on the mend!
    Vanita recently posted..Bomb In My Baby’s BellyMy Profile

    • Oh no! Yes, kids bounce back so much faster! I was thinking of you while writing this knowing you recently went through it too. Thanks, Vanita.

  4. So sorry he (and you!) had to go through this. :(

    Nikki had her frenulum cut surgically at a few weeks old. Not a major surgery but it was still tough. Totally worth it, though.
    Elisa | blissfulE recently posted..hugMy Profile

  5. I’m so sorry to hear this, Ann, and I’m so happy he’s recovered now. It is awful when a child is sick, and the idea of putting a child under with anesthesia scares me to no end. So thankful everything went well.

    I appreciate the backstory and all the extra information. As I read the story of the surgery I kept wondering “what the heck is a adenoid?”. Now I know. :)
    Tiffanie recently posted..donut-shaped chalkMy Profile

  6. Hi Ann!

    Good post. I appreciate your transparency about the whole experience- I think it’s comforting to other parents of kids that will be undergoing surgery. From a nurses standpoint, I think the diagram was good as well as providing additional resources at the end of your post. Congrats on a job well done! Hope you’re little guy is improving with each passing day.

    God Bless!

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    • He is and thanks for the nurse’s perspective! He had a follow up visit this past week (3 1/2 weeks out) and the doc mentioned his throat is still in spasm which is why he is talking like a mouse. Other than that he is all better and I am even noticing he has his mouth closed more often and his speech seems improved!

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