Monday, October 8, 2012

What can you do?

Little Man had surgery today.  He broke his nose this spring and as a side issue to that he developed a cyst between the bridge of his nose and his left eye.  After multiple rounds of antibiotics and draining the fluid from it by needle once, the doctor finally decided the only way to fix the issue was to put him under general anesthesia and excise the cyst. 

I think any surgery for a child, no matter how minimal, is emotionally fraught for the parents.  I may be biased but I think with a special needs child there are – well - maybe not more worries but special worries.  Because Little Man understands and operates younger than his 6 years it was very hard to explain to him what was going to happen.  I know his ENT doesn’t see him enough to understand his limitations so it’s not all that surprising he was unprepared for how freaked out Little Man was by the anesthesia mask.  I did warn the doctor that although Little Man listened calmly to his description and seemed unconcerned, that it was not going to go smoothly once we were in the operating room.  I don’t think he fully believed (or maybe just did not fully appreciate the magnitude of) my warning until I was pinning my screaming, flailing son to the gurney while he and the nurse tried to still his thrashing head enough to get the mask in place.  I cried the whole time I pressed his little body down and sang his favorite lullaby and eventually he succumbed.  I then cried my way out to the waiting room. 

Unfortunately - in addition to the delightful start to the process - Little Man had a reaction to the anesthesia and stopped breathing during the surgery so they had to intubate him.  What was supposed to be a 30 minute procedure ended up taking an hour and a half in the procedure room itself and four hours in recovery.    Little Man appears fine now, other than a sore throat and some itchy stitches (and he would have had the stitches regardless).  Mama however is traumatized by guilt - for restraining him while he cried and begged me to help him and they gave him the gas that could have killed him, by the scar he is certain to have, and by his pretend play since we got home, where he holds down his screaming teddy bear and smothers it with a pillow.  So much of my parenting is second guessing.  Is it like that with neuro-typical children?  I don't have any so I just don't know.
What could I do though?  I could not leave the cyst unaddressed.  We had tried that for months and at one point it swelled so large that it was affecting his vision.  That is when they did the needle draining.  Maybe if we'd done this sooner he would not have the scar.  It would not have gone any easier but I didn't gain anything by waiting either.  I guess I could have let strangers restrain him.  But wouldn’t that just be sparing me – not him?  I guess I should have tried harder, more, longer to make sure his specialist understood how the process was going to effect him emotionally.  I get so tired though of educating sometimes - especially the doctors and educators. 


  1. I had to hold H. down for dental work and I wasn't able to do it so they had to restrain her. I am still extremely upset and guilt ridden about it - so I understand your pain. I'm sorry that things did not go very well.

  2. Jennifer - the Dentist we work with is actually VERY understanding about his issues. We go all the time to just hang out and watch them. When he has an appointment they spend a ton of time showing him everything and even letting him play with / handle the instruments. He does ok for cleanings (now - after many many visits) and when they did his fillings they gave him some valium to calm him before they started. It is a pediatric practice and they show videos for the children during procedures. They even went out and got a specific video he likes that they did not have. I'm really lucky there.

  3. Our dentist does the same things - it is a pediatric dentist. H. even had sedatives but she fought like a banshee. The sad part is - she did fine with going in for cleanings before she had the fillings done. Now she's a wreck. I almost wish I had opted to get her cavities filled at the hospital under complete sedation. She has a cleaning next week. I'm hoping now that she is a little older - I will be able to talk her through it.