Needless to say it is a heart wrenching experience for any parent to go through their children’s surgery especially when they are little babies.
I vividly remember about five years ago, I bumped into the mother of a boy in Olivia’s infant class asking why I had not seen her child in the class for a while. She told me that he had just recovered from a surgery. After the word “surgery” came out of her mouth, within a couple of words, her eyes welled up with tears and her voice choked. It was apparently a painful memory for her and I totally related to her feeling as Olivia just had her surgery not long before.
Now thinking back, the installation of Olivia’s ear tubes was one of the simplest procedures one can expect and it worked like a wonder against ear infections. However, as a first-time mom at the time, I was so nervous about the idea of putting my 16-month-old through anesthesia and surgery. I could not sleep well the night before and signing the consent form before the surgery sure did not help. All the disclaimers including using the word “death” to describe the potential side effects of anesthesia made you wonder whether you had made the right decision for your child. What if something happens? The hospital is not going to be responsible for it because I have signed this consent form?
What I would never forget about Olivia’s surgery is a medicine (forgot the name) they give to the little ones that is supposed to make them feel relaxed and “happy”. It prevents the little children from getting distressed when they are taken away from their parents to the surgery and is strongly recommended by the doctors.
I remember Olivia was sitting on the bed playing with some toys from the hospital. A nurse came over and gave a dose of that medicine to her. I did not know what to expect as far as how this medicine would work and I for sure was not prepared for what I saw.
In about a couple of minutes, Olivia’s eyes started to lose focus. She became disoriented and could not recognize me and my husband anymore. She would look around including make eye contact with me in the middle of the play and then just look back down and continue playing as if I was a total stranger who had nothing to do with her. As a mother, you sensed the difference how your child perceived you. I started to cry as I could not take that disoriented look on her face and the fact that my own child could not recognize me as her mother.
By the time the nurse came over to take Olivia to the surgery, I had lost control of my tears. I picked her up, held her tightly to my chest and kissed her. My husband did the same. Without any reaction to all of this, without fuss, without crying, without any sign of attachment to us in her eyes, Olivia was taken to the surgery just like that. I then realized that must had been the “relaxed” and “happy” state the nurse was referring to.
I won’t elaborate on Evan’s surgeries and recoveries that much as they were very painful memories for me. The procedures he went through were much harder for me to take, especially considering the fact that he was only three months old for the first one and nine months old for his second. One image stayed in my mind so clearly was when he was taken away to the surgery for the first time. He was so tiny, the patient uniform barely stayed on. He leaned on the nurse’s shoulder like a little animal, looking disoriented, not knowing what was going to happen to him, so helpless and vulnerable, it just broke my heart.Having gone through three surgeries for my children and many follow-up appointments, I have seen a lot in the children’s hospital. I realize how lucky my children are even with the problems they had. There are many children out there who are less fortunate, having problems which are much more serious. As a mother, I wish all the children well and hope they all live a healthy and happy life.