Friday, September 5, 2008


Last Friday Mateo had his third surgery in his two years of life. But it was the first one we were with him so, of course, I was a bit nervous. Here's a quick background. It was discovered a couple months ago that Mateo has sleep apnea. The ENT doctor decided that taking out the adenoids (which are like the tonsils but in the back of your nasal cavity) would help his breathing. It was actually a good thing we did it because once the doctor started the surgery she realized the adenoids were huge and blocking a lot of the airway. So there's a shortened version of what the surgery was for. On with the story.

We got to the hospital and went through the registration, then he got to put on little clown hospital pajamas and bright yellow socks that were too big and made his feet look like duck feet. The nurses explained everything that was going to happen and we met with the anesthesiologist, the surgeon, all the resident staff, the interns, the surgical nurses and their mothers, and everyone else who worked in the hospital or has ever worked in any hospital. Seriously, who are all these people?

Mateo was pretty unhappy, if you can imagine that, the pajamas were kind of fruity. But more than that, he wanted out of that place and he wanted out now! I really believe he remembers, at least on an instinctual level, his past surgeries.

So, soon it was time to go into the surgical room. I got all dressed up in a gown and hairnet thingy and mask so that I could hold him while he went under. They started with a gas mask and it took all of 5 seconds before he was getting a nice high and nodding off to la la land. Wouldn't it be nice if we could use that every night to put our kids to sleep? We looked into it but it's expensive! Then Dave and I were escorted to a waiting room that featured free hot chocolate and graham crackers (nice!) for the next hour.

The next part was not so smooth. They had warned us that young kids coming out of anesthesia are usually very irritable and angry. But since Mateo is normally pretty irritable and angry, I figured we were in for a fight. The nursing staff, however, did not know Mateo out of this environment and only saw this sweet angelic sleeping baby. After the surgery the doctor came to talk to us about how everything went. At our appointment with the ENT to decide on the surgery, the doctor said that there was a possibility we would be staying over night and to pack an over night bag just in case. After the surgery, the doctor concluded that we should most definitely stay over night because, "he's a complicated guy." You're telling me! Well, she meant physically, his nose and mouth because of the cleft palate. She was worried about him swelling up in the middle of the night and stopping breathing. Yes, we'll stay over please, thank you. As she was talking, I could hear this horrible screaming from down the hallway and it sounded oddly familiar.

Sure enough, that was our Mateo screaming his little head off and beating up the nurse. Actually, right when we walked into the recovery area, the first thing the nurse said was, "he's strong!" (And not in a positive complimentary tone). Apparently he had beaten her up pretty bad, pulled out his IV spilling fluid all over her, and needed 3 nurses just to hold him to get the monitors on. When he saw me he went right to me and stopped screaming but was still writhing around and yelling for juice. The nurses were still trying to put the monitors on him and I finally yelled, "would somebody please get this kid some juice!"

So between the Cowie, juice, and a Barney DVD, he settled down on my lap and began to calm down. Then he was admitted to the inpatient area on the 7th floor. So, now we have more nurses, and nurse managers, and dieticians, and child life experts, and doctors of all specialties, and more nurses, and nurse interns, and what the heck? But we did have a room to ourselves complete with TV and DVD and a plethora of entertaining videos that my son wanted nothing to do with. Instead he opted for more screaming then running around the hallways bothering other sick children and busy nurses. And they wanted us to stay there 24 hours?

That night Dave and I ordered pizza to the room for dinner. I should mention Mateo had not eaten since the following evening at dinner and had only drank juice up to this point. So he hadn't had solid food for 24 hours and he was starving! Unfortunately he could only have liquids for dinner that night which included chicken broth, jello, popsicle, and some vitamin supplement juice that smelled weird. As soon as he saw the pizza box he started begging desperately for it. I felt horrible. Dave started eating and it was like having a 5 course meal in front of starving children in Africa that you see in National Geographic. So I made Dave eat the pizza in the waiting room and continued sounding excited about the chicken broth. He was so hungry though he would've eaten anything.

Since only one of us could stay over night in the hospital with him, it was me. Not because Dave couldn't or wouldn't, but I wanted to. Last time he had a night in the hospital, when he had his sleep study, Dave took him and stayed there. So, it was my turn. But it really sucked. The pull out was really uncomfortable and there were noises all night long. A baby crying, nurses talking outside our door, carts rolling up and down the hallway, machines beeping, cats meowing, gun shots, boat blow horn, etc.

So the next morning, Mateo was up around 6:30, which is a little early for him but it was a new place and all. So I called the nurse in to get him some breakfast, cause the first thing most kids want to do when they wake up is eat. Normal enough, right? Well, I guess not because they don't give breakfast till 8:30. Okay, I think to myself, I'll just distract him till then. We'll go in the playroom. Nope. Playroom doesn't open till 8. The lights are off in the hallways, the wagons are locked up in the playroom, there is literally nothing to do. Do these people realize they have toddlers on this floor! Toddlers don't sleep in! I was very annoyed. So I called for backup. Dave. Who was supposed to pick us up when we were discharged, but came early with cars and toys from home (and my toothbrush, which I never knew I would be so happy to see). Finally the playroom opened, finally the breakfast came, and finally this very insecure ENT resident who couldn't have been older than me, came to discharge us. And we were going home!

Oh, sidenote, the day of surgery we got free valet parking at the hospital. When Dave went to pick up the car it seems the valet did not know how to drive stick and spent 30 minutes finding someone who does! Seriously, who hires a valet that can't drive stick? Does that seem so obviously stupid to anyone else?

Anyway, Mateo is doing fine now. And hopefully he will turn from rhino with a bad head cold to normal sleeping toddler and be much healthier from now on. Actually, we're hoping that since the growth hormones are released at night and can be stunted from not getting enough oxygen that now he'll actually start growing and not be in the bottom 5th percentile for height and weight anymore. Of course, we'll still love him even if he never gets past the 5th percentile but are worried kids at school will call him "shrimp". Not for his sake. Mateo is not a kid you want to pick a fight with. I just don't want to end up in the guidance counselor's office talking about why my son beat up a kid for the 5th time that year and it's only October. Oh, what we have to look forward to!

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