For Posterior-ity


I did not anticipate that Patrick would start fighting in the operating room, sobbing and pleading with me not to let them near him. I did not anticipate that they would not come and get me before he regained consciousness; so he woke up alone and frantic and by the time I got in there his eyes were swollen and red with misery. I did not anticipate the choking or the fact that the anesthesia made him claw at his face with his hands. I did not anticipate that he would be desperate to cough but be unable to do so and as a result he struggled for air until his face was dark purple and the veins on his neck stuck out like cords. I did not anticipate that he would vomit in the parking lot after being released, showering the side of the car with every last bit of the rainbow-colored popsicles he had obediently consumed despite having zero enthusiasm for them. And I did not anticipate that he would proceed to throw up repeatedly in the car or again at home... or again or again or again.

Fortunately, you had warned me about all of these things and while I was not truly expecting any of it I was somewhat prepared for it. As Patrick cried in the OR I remembered the comment Sarah left about how hard the same thing had been for her and her child. When he woke up in misery I was reminded of what Isa had told me about the choking and the blood and how it would get better as the anesthesia wore off. And Gina and Jennifer, to name just two, had warned about the nausea and vomiting; so I had brought in my purse a big Ziploc bag lined with a paper towel or two, as well as a stack of wipes and a change of clothes for Patrick. Cris had told me that outpatient means anything less than 24 hours but can mean as many as 23 and she reminded me how important it is to bring your own pillow if you are sleeping at the hospital. So I packed a just-in-case overnight bag and I remembered the pillow. It served a dual purpose because Patrick saw the bag with the pillow and asked about it as we were leaving. I said the plan was to come home after the surgery but any number of things might happen to change that plan and I wanted to make sure he had a lot of special things from home in that case. Patrick thought that sounded reasonable. We didn't need it but we had it and I was glad.

All of which is to say: Patrick had a hard day, I had a hard day; however, the blog comments that I had received prior to this hard day made it better for both of us - significantly, measurably - and I am  more grateful than I can say for your generosity in sharing your experiences.  

I made the BONEHEADED decision not to wake him up at 7:30 this morning for his next dose of tylenol with codeine. Yesterday he was not able to fall back asleep afterwards and I thought I would let him wake up on his own this time (I still woke him up last night at 11:30 and 3:30... why is it that they can make regular tylenol taste like bubblegum but the addition of codeine tuns it into battery acid? Patrick keeps wanting to punch me in the middle of the night.) When he finally got up at 10:00 he said his throat hurt. It was the first time in recorded history that he has ever said this. I think we can conclude that Patrick either has an insanely high pain threshold or he has diminished nerve function in that area for some reason. I asked him to rate his pain on that nifty hospital 0-10 scale - immediately after the surgery he was at 3.5, last night he was at 1/8. This morning after almost seven hours without pain killer he hit his all-time high of FOUR. I gave him more medicine and he ate a bowl of sorbet and another one of oatmeal. He seems to be eating better than ever although he obviously feels terrible. I guess giving him carte blanche was all he needed to be an enthusiastic diner.

Despite the, what, two hundred comments you guys left all more or less saying that the first couple of days can be very rough, I am surprisingly overwhelmed by this whole thing. Patrick is being... there are no words to describe the mood he is in. Awful? Godawful? That's during the day. At night he is pitiful and still sleeping in our bed. Yesterday afternoon he curled up in there around 4 and slept until almost ten. Then he was awake until one in the morning; I starting reading him Ribsy and did not even notice when he fell asleep and I just kept reading. Yes, last night I stayed up until 2 am reading a Beverly Cleary book - and not even the sublimely good Fifteen or the slightly less good but still ok Luckiest Girl. Nope. Ribsy. 

I feel drained and tired and I hate listening to Patrick's raspy breathing and watching him dissolve every five seconds.

So I have got nothing funny, nothing...

oh wait.

BEFORE surgery Patrick was in rare form.

My mother was flying in while he was in surgery so the plan was that she would come from the airport directly to the family waiting room. The nurse asked if I was alone. Patrick answered for me, saying yes, for now. The nurse said, oh who else is coming? Patrick said, well, if she (pointing at me) were me; then her (pointing at me again.)

I said, what?
The nurse said, what?

Patrick sighed and said, my mom's mom is coming.


The ENT asked if he has any questions.

Patrick said, "Yes. In your office you said you had removed 8000 tonsils. Was that 8000 individual tonsils or 8000 pairs?"

"Pairs," she said promptly, "so 16000 total."

"Have you ever removed just one tonsil?"

"Almost never and then only if the patient was already missing the other one for some reason."

"Have you ever considered removing half of each tonsil?"


"Did you just tell my mommy... my MOM... that you would probably remove the adenoids too?"


"But I have never had an issue with the adenoids before!"

"Actually you have. Your file shows that your adenoids were severely inflamed during your hospital stay. Also, removing the adenoids does not increase surgical risk or recovery time while keeping them in does increase risk of future illness. So if I think they need to go while I am in there I will take them out."

"Are you trying to kill me?"

"No. I have never killed a kid. Never. It is not happening."

"OK," said Patrick.


The anesthesiologist asked if he had any questions after telling him that he was going to "take a little nap" after breathing "some goofy gas" out of a "cool fighter pilot mask."

Patrick asked, "Do you still use ether?"

"Uh, no actually we use [long name] but it is a great great grandchild of ether. That and nitrous oxide to help relax you."

"Why did doctors stop using ether?"

"Well, the two major reasons were the incredible risk of fire associated with ether and the difficulty of controlling the dose."

"Did people used to wake up during surgery?"

"Uh, yes, I have heard that they did."

"Will I wake up during surgery?"

"No way."

I said, brightly, "Is nitrous oxide a combination of nitrogen and oxygen?"

"NO," said the anesthesiologist and Patrick in unison. Patrick looked mortified and said, "I think we're done here."


If I could I would curl up in a ball on your living room rug. This suuuuuucks.

In the meantime I am working through all of the non-traditional households stuff. THANK YOU. Your response was exactly what I was hoping for and I should have more than enough material once I interview gobs of you to write something interesting. It is, by the way, tentatively slated for January but I'll let you know when we get closer.

Speaking of writing, I have another request for interviews. This article is dear to my heart (for obvious reasons): I am looking for stories about close friendships that started online or, as my editor put it, ways that women have been able to use the internet to "find their own tribe." For me the starting point was infertility/pregnancy loss but I know there are about a billion other little subcultures out there and I would love to hear about them (as well - don't feel like you are being redundant if your friendships started with infertility too.) So if you met your very best friend or close group of friends through blogs or message boards or chat rooms or mailing lists or... YOU KNOW... and feel like talking to me please let me know. Send me an email or leave a comment. I am really looking forward to this one.

I know there was something else but... meh. I need to get back to Patrick. The eating is ok but he only seems to drink anything if I am sitting next to him offering sips every other minute.

This is hard. Hope you are well.

PS I got to use my voice recorder last night. It was totally cool.

PPS I just asked this at Scrambled but... any protein suggestions for a kid who hates eggs?