Four point
If Yes Then No

Aw He-ctomy

Five days after Patrick was released from the hospital we went to his pediatrician for a post-antibiotic deluge tonsil check. The upshot was that Patrick needed to stay inflammation free for about a month after which time his doctor would be willing to consider the severe bacterial infection more of a fluke and less of a trend. Patrick circled the day on the calendar.

Four and a half weeks later the pediatrician and I were peering into Patrick's mouth and tsk'ing over the scarlet and white masses that were on the verge of strangling his uvula.

"I agree," said his doctor, "his tonsils are enlarged again."

Patrick knows that his pediatrician said that he would give him one more shot with antibiotics to clear out those tonsils and after that he would probably need to get them taken out. That was even before he wound up in the hospital.

Patrick said, "OH NO!"

Patrick pointed out that it had been more than a month since he was sick the last time.

Patrick started to cry.

Despite all of these things his pediatrician called the ENT (the same one who treated Edward when he kept trying to drown himself in two ounces of milk. I really like her) and said he had a kid about whom he was worried. She agreed to squeeze Patrick in as soon as she could and today we saw her for a consult.

Actually, before we saw her I made three major directional errors (for those of you with a pop-up map of the Twin Cities in front of you, picture this: the appointment was in downtown Saint Paul and the mistakes I made forced me to make not one but two U-turns; one at the airport and one at the Mall of America. bear in mind that I approach Saint Paul from the east, which means I overshot things by about ten miles. yes. I know. I am an idiot.) Once we finally arrived at our appointment I discovered that I had gotten the time wrong and we were an entire hour early. Then I lost my parking ticket. Twice. When we returned at the actual appointment time after having lunch the receptionist asked "Are you checking in?"

Patrick said, "I have no idea what we are doing today. Going in circles mainly."

The ENT read over her notes from the pediatrician, listened to me explain what happened in the spring and early summer, and then took a look at Patrick's throat. 

It is always helpful when you show up with a handy visual, so the fact that Patrick is waltzing around like a dandelion seed in May despite his significantly inflamed tonsils made a nice counterpoint to his claim that he is Capital F-I-N-E Fiiiiiiiiiiine.

She said there is a clinical something something in which white blood cells simply cease to function in the presence of chronic infection. She said it appears that Patrick is playing host to a perpetual low-grade whatsit and that additional antibiotics would most likely be ineffective. She acknowledged that she has no crystal ball but in her considered opinion Patrick will continue to cycle through tonsillar infections of varying severity with the unlikely but possible risk of another hospital stay. She said she has seen several many dozen thousand tonsils and that she thinks Patrick will be healthier if his come out.

Patrick was sitting in the exam chair that looks a lot like a very old-fashioned dental ditto.

As she made her recommendation his eyes swam with tears, he gripped the seat arms and he said, brokenly, "This... this is not what we were hoping to hear."

I said, "Patrick, I... "

He waved one hand and dropped his face into the other. "I'll need a minute," he said.

Somewhere in the imaginary distance a violin held its plaintive note. 

I said, "Patrick, baby, I know it is a little scary right now but it will be ok. And I really don't want you getting so sick again. Neither do you."

The ENT told him exactly what she would do and how it would all go and feel. She admitted that he would have a very sore throat for a week. His major worry was the IV (god he hated that IV in June) and he was marginally reassured when she told him they would give him "goofy gas" (he liked this) and he would be unconscious when they put the IV in this time. Still, he wept as she talked.

He was mostly silent as she went through her description of the procedure and expected recovery times. When he did speak it was to make morbid observations, like, "But everyone at school will know I am not like them! I will walk among them... BUT I WILL HAVE NOOOOO TONSILLLLLSSS!"

At that point I stopped feeling quite so guilty because clearly he was enjoying himself on some level. When she asked if there was anything she said that had sounded confusing or especially scary he said, "I'm sorry but I haven't liked a single word you said since you walked in the room."

She was halfway out the door when she looked back at Patrick, still crying in the chair. She came over. She bent down.

She said, "Sweetie. When I was just about your age my parents decided not to have my tonsils taken out. And I missed every class trip. Every class party. My mom had to keep picking me up because I was sick again. And when I was seventeen I knew I wanted to go to college and I wanted to go to medical school and I knew that I could not keep missing school. So I had my tonsils out when I was seventeen and it... it was pretty hard because I was older and bigger. And when I went to med school I decided that no kid was going to go through what I went through. I really think that if we don't take your tonsils out now you are going to be sitting here when you are seventeen telling me you don't want to be sick anymore. And I don't want that. OK?"

Patrick stopped crying and said, "OK."

He is going in a week from Thursday. I feel bad for the poor little pumpkin but I believe that he is being worn down by battling a chronic infection and I am hopeful that his iron ability to disregard throat pain (to this day he has never ever once said his throat hurts) will serve him well.

Any tonsil experience to share? We (and by we I mean everyone I know - I just asked) have never had our tonsils out and are unsure how it will be. I could also use some recovery time help, namely: book suggestions (let's say ages 7 to 11 range?) movie suggestions (Patrick loves Tom & Jerry right now. also this is probably weird but Patrick has never watched a non-animated film. I think he is probably due although he prefers the sweet security of Pixar) and sit around on the floor while your throat hurts suggestions (my brother sent K'nex for his birthday. wow! highly recommended with the caveat that they are NOT for kids who are not pretty savvy with spatial relations. I literally could not follow the diagrams and I am 37 - of course I get lost when I drive to a hospital I have only been to like twenty times.) Oh and food! What sounds good when your throat hurts?

Hey, can you tell I am sort of stressed about this? I mean, look at him driving his brother around. He's so full of life! And tonsils! (oh golly, you can see his weird swollen lymph thing even in this picture, can't you?)


And Caroline, just because.


PS And for you, Patrick likes to read lots of things: A-Z mysteries, Weird School, Weird Planet, the Littles, he just started the Warriors series, very abstruse astrophysics stuff but ignore that, Calvin & Hobbes of course... I am drawing a blank.