The surgery was fine. We were nervous, but prayed that all would go well. It did, thank goodness. The surgeon was amazing so was our time spent at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.
So here comes the BUT… you knew it was coming, right? The recovery was tough, very tough. In fact, I wish I would have known more about what to expect BEFORE we agreed to the procedure.
1) YOUR CHILD COULD FLIP OUT FROM THE ANESTHESIA
When I write “flip out” I mean “flip out”. Some kids (i.e.: my kid) can’t handle coming out of anesthesia. All hell broke loose the moment he woke up after surgery. He was beyond agitated. He was yelling for “mommy”, but he couldn’t grasp that I was right there next to him. The nurses thought it might help if I held him. As they were transferring him to me, he pulled out his I.V. (blood started squirting everywhere, for the record, blood is warm). The nurses kept him in my arms as they rehooked the IV into his arm. Then, the nurses gave him not one, but two doses of morphine. It didn’t calm him. They then paged the anesthesiologist who showed up a few minutes later with a vile of Propofol. Sound familiar? That’s the medicine (i.e.: “Milk”) that Michael Jackson used to help him sleep. As she injected the drug into his IV, the good doctor told me “Don’t worry mom, he’s going fall asleep, just hold onto him.” Within 20 seconds he went limp on my arms and they instructed me to help put him back on the recovery bed. Finally, he was at rest. But it wasn’t easy to watch. We stayed there from 9am until almost 6pm. It was a long recovery post surgery. It was a trigger of things to come.
2) RECOVERY CAN TAKE WEEKS
When we decided on the surgery, my child’s ENT doctor assured us that, while each child is different, his recovery from the surgery wouldn’t take more than a few days. He lied. Well… okay, perhaps he didn’t lie, but he didn’t tell us how rough it would be. My boy really didn’t start feeling well until day 11 days post surgery. And he wasn’t himself until almost three weeks after surgery. It wouldn’t have been so bad, except he was in a lot of pain and refused to take his pain medication regularly. That brings me to number three:
3) YOUR CHILD COULD FIGHT/REJECT PAIN MEDICATION
You might be thinking, “please, that’s not a big deal, just force it down them”. Uhm, good luck with that. Apparently the liquid codeine that hospital sends you home with actually stings the back of the throat. My boy would have nothing to do with it. He’s still a bit too young to reason with, so my husband and I had to plan surprise attacks to try and get him to swallow the medication. Normally, we would get him to take 1/2 of his recommended dose. This was the hardest part of the recovery for us and for my child. It was painful to watch him in so much pain.
4) THE POPSICLE/ICE CREAM MYTH
The first hours post surgery my kid had a few popsicles. Then the pain set in and he wanted NOTHING. In fact, it was a challenge to get him to drink and/or eat for the first week. We did what we could and my kid rejected the freezer full of treats that I had bought before we took him to the hospital. He lost about 8 pounds during his recovery (he’s a big kid so the doctors weren’t worried). We were told it was important to make sure he drank enough fluids and not to worry about him eating solids. It took sometime to get him to do both. And sadly, popsicles/ice cream were not part of his recovery.
5) YOUR CHILD WILL HAVE GNARLY BREATH
Notice I didn’t say “could” have gnarly breath. They WILL have the most foul smelling mouth you have ever witnessed, worse than your pets, worse than your husband’s after a long night of drinking. And you can’t do a dang thing about it until they allow you to start brushing their teeth. In my son’s case, that was probably around day 11 post surgery. In the scheme of things, this is a minor issue, but you should know about it none-the-less.
If you are a working parent, plan on taking at least 10 days off to help your child recover. Fortunately, I was between jobs and was able to stay home the entire time.
Lastly and most importantly, the surgery was a smashing success. He’s sleeping through the night and has never felt or looked better. So in the end, all the pain, the suffering, and the unknown was completely worth it.