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Austin is having surgery this Friday at Akron Children’s. Surgeries, actually, two procedures rolled into one. They’re minor and non-cancer related.  Just a long overdue tonsillectomy and finger repair. You may remember that his swollen tonsils (besides keeping us all up at night) prevented him from being sedated for his May MRI, requiring us to go through the surgical department for full-blown anesthesia. While we hope he’ll have no future reasons to be sedated, we also realize that’s pretty unlikely given his history (and his future). And the poor finger . . . well, that thing’s been bothering him for more than a year as it’s now clawed and  unable to fully straighten. The lovely surgeons at Akron have coordinated their schedules so he only has to have one surgery, which I think (I lose track of these things) brings him up to eleven.

The interesting thing about this time is how nervous Austin is. He’s been so young every time in the past that all these crazy things happened to him without his full (or at times, even partial) understanding.  This time, he is well aware and asking many many questions: “What day are we going again? Is tomorrow when we leave at 6 in the morning? How long will I have a cast on my hand?” I don’t think he’ll have a cast on his hand at all, more like a bandage, but he’s definitely concerned about not being able to write at school.  His teacher has assured me this won’t be an issue (he is in kindergarten, after all), but Austin is a participator — he joins in to any and every activity possible with his full self, so standing on the sidelines will be tough. Especially when it comes to missing his regular Wednesday and Saturday tumbling classes. I already have to set silly rules to contain the near constant acrobatics, like no cartwheeling while crossing the street and no flips after 8pm. Of course, I think it’ll probably be his tonsils that cause the most pain, but that seems a bit too abstract for him to worry about. And I don’t exactly want to encourage him to fear something else!

Sp we go in early Friday morning and will stay over that night. Of course these are both typically out-patient procedures but since Austin is in no way typical, they want to observe his blood pressure and hydration. This will be our first overnight in the hospital in a record-breaking two-and-a-half years, since an unexpected fever in August of 2010. I just reread that old post, “Interruption,” not quite remembering the circumstances of that particular stay. Its closing lines were right on. It finally seems that, despite swollen tonsils or Franken-fingers, we have indeed made it safely to that wide-open future I could only hope for back then. We are living it.

 

. . . another hospital.  A new hospital this time, too.

Don’t worry — nothing bad happened. I just finally got around to making appointments for the non-essential, non-emergency, non-cancer-related issues that have been bothering Austin for the past six months.  First, those pesky tonsils.  Which don’t actually bother Austin at all.  I mean, he snores, loudly, but that doesn’t bother him. But we simply have to make sure he’s able to be safely sedated for any future procedures so today we visited an ear, nose and throat specialist at Akron Children’s (long story there, related to annoying health insurance issues, but I must say that even with an hour drive, Akron Children’s was very pleasant to deal with).

Then it was off down the hall to see the “plastics” guy. No, Austin’s not getting a new nose (his current one will have to do).  Remember the dreaded finger injury?  (God, how could we forget the dreaded finger?) It’s turned into quite a claw lately, which we’ve labeled the Franken-finger, and which causes him a lot of pain and discomfort. It’s always the little things . . .

Both doctors agreed that “quick” surgeries are in the books. Luckily, they will coordinate their schedules so we can wrap both procedures up into one surgery, likely over winter vacation (since, you know, kindergarten is the new first grade and the kid’s gotta be able to hold a pencil!).

It was relatively easy, but there’s something about hospital days that exhausts me. I think I’ve finally accepted that it’s not the actual day or anything in it that’s tiring (I mean, today was mostly spent on the freeway) but something much more psychological for me. Maybe it’s the reliving I’m forced through (multiple times) as I recount the date of each and every surgery and list the names of all the current and past medications and check the damn Yes box next to so many of the “Has your child ever….” questions, complete with the wide-eyed amazement of the nurse who unsuspectingly asked our medical history. I inevitably come home and feel completely wiped, like I’ve done something so stressful, and then have to, ugh, make dinner and, ugh, oversee homework. It’s a bit silly, I guess, but also completely logical. Ah, it’s always the little things. . .

But tomorrow really IS another day . . .

Didn’t expect to hear from me so quickly, huh?

Have I ever told you that Austin is a snorer? Like a hear-him-from downstairs-snorer? He’s loud, all night long, snargling and snuffling and waking anyone around him. This is relevant because sedation can be dangerous for those at risk of respiratory failure. We’ve run into this problem before over the years, but he usually needs to be sedated for only a short period of time. For radiation or CTs with contrast, it’s a half hour maximum that he’s actually sedated and only a few minutes in the machine and out of the range of the doctor’s watchful eyes. MRIs can take up to two hours.

We went to sedation today around 12:30, after steering Austin away from food all morning. We had packed a good “lunch” for him to eat around 4pm when he would finally wake up. The nurse went through her procedures and then the doctor arrived. He looked in Austin’s mouth and quickly left the room, returning a minute later with a tongue depressor. He called me over to show me Austin’s huge and swollen tonsils, explaining how this is a problem, and all along I’m thinking he’s just pointing them out, advising me kindly to see an ENT, sharing tangential information. But no. Then he drops the bomb. “We can’t sedate him; it’s too dangerous.”

He has to go through anesthesia instead, which doesn’t hold these same respiratory risks (although is a bigger deal in other ways that I can’t quite explain). Of course, anesthesia couldn’t fit us in today and the MRI has now been rescheduled for next Wednesday. In the afternoon. On a day when his class is going on an end-of-the-year field trip to Beachwood playground that will inevitably include many delicious snacks.  Uuuuuuugggggghhhhhhhhh. I will bring him anyway that day, convince the class to hold off as long as possible on putting out the food, offer more popsicles and leave early.

I guess we weren’t quite specific enough with our wishes. Next time, we have to include the date.

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February 2020
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