On Monday we will get up early and take our four and a half year-old boy, Alexander, to Renown Hospital in Reno. He is basically healthy…that is when he doesn’t stick a plastic bead up his nose,
but he snores and is awaken at night because his tonsils have grown too large and block his airway when he sleeps. He also has a persistent cough at night that comes and goes. We are confident this is absolutely necessary as his Dentist (Dr. Stoker), his Family Practitioner (Dr. McCarthy), and two Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) Specialist have all agreed: Tonsils Must Go.
Still, it is getting harder to shrug off that this surgery is going to hurt him and there are always risks and complications that can’t be anticipated. Parents may not be required to take the Hippocratic Oath (First, Do No Harm), but even so, it’s instinct for most of us, and when we turn Alexander over to Dr. Jenny Van Duyne on Monday morning we will be asking her to hurt our son. Yes, in the long run he will be better off, but that doesn’t change the fact that when he comes back from surgery he will be injured.
Ironically, I was pushing for us to have him checked out and to have this surgery done. I had my tonsils out when I was around six and I was eating crackers the next day. My older brother Mike had his done around the same time and as a teenager he had a much harder time recovering from the surgery. Of course, that was back in the days of rusty, old surgery instruments when doctors sharpened knives with a leather strap…okay, it wasn’t that bad, but it was almost 50 years ago.
It doesn’t seem that the surgery has changed that much and the recovery time is one to two weeks, so this is not an overnight hurt that will be better the next day. We also know he gets worried and scared in unfamiliar situations, so we took him for a tour of the Operating Room last week and Nurse Toni did a great job of reassuring him. He’s also watched a DVD over and over that was produced to help children overcome their fears of this surgery. Finally, we’ve been practicing the before, during, and after surgery with me as the doctor (complete with poofy shower cap) and him as the really good patient. So far, so good, but Monday morning will be the final exam for all of us.
I was thinking that this was going to be harder on Mom than Dad, and in the end I will likely push my fears aside for Alexander and Mom, but it still feels odd….I don’t know, maybe it’s just the poofy shower cap.
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