Tuesday, March 26, 2013


Everything I know about tonsillectomies I learned from The Brady Bunch. I still have my tonsils though they are, apparently, very tiny. My brother has his. My husband has his and all of his sisters have theirs. So I didn't know what to expect, really. Except that Cindy and Carol enjoyed their big bowls of ice cream in the end.

There was no uncontrollable sobbing as the anesthesia wore off. There was no tearing out of the IV. There was no tonsil breath.

The reality is, well, a little different.

This morning I got up at 5:30 to have my boy at the hospital by 6:30. I woke Matthew up five minutes before we left.

"Where are we going?" he asked as I stuffed him into his booster.

"Well, remember how that doctor looked at your throat last week? We're going to go see him again. He's going to do some work on your throat and then you get to eat popsicles all day."

"OH MY GOSH!" he squealed. "REALLY?"

But then I made him take off his comfy clothes and put on a "dress" and Bro was not excited. At. All. This is evidenced by the expression on his face. Garrett saw this picture and asked me what the doctor did to Matthew's other leg.

Nothing, Son. Matthew just thought standing on one leg, looking like a war hero, would be a good idea. He was so ticked about the "dress" that he was yanking on it, trying to get it off. So I pointed at the wall. "Look! Look how cool that wall is!"

"Oh!" he yelled, "NEMO!" Thank goodness for easy distractions.

He had a hospital buddy and a warm blanket to keep him company. Plus, we'd brought his beloved monkey and blankie with us so we had our bases covered.

They gave him some medicine to make him less anxious. It was supposed to make him a little loopy so I had the video camera ready. Instead, all it really did was make him talk like a baby. And climb into the wagon all by himself with nothing more than a, "Bye, Mom." Which, really, means it's a miracle drug that I should carry around with me at all times.

Y'all. He was in the best mood. I felt like a bottom dweller feeding on the algae scum on the floor of the sea for handing him over to a surgeon who would slice apart his tiny, unsuspecting throat.

At 7:26 they took my baby away. About twenty minutes later, Troy got there after handing Garrett off to another kindergarten mom.

At 8:10 the surgeon came into the room to tell us that he'd flown through the surgery like a champion fighter pilot. Okay, that's not at all what he said but hurray! Matthew was alive and well and yes, it was just a routine tonsillectomy, but if you think that the thought never crossed my mind that I may never see him again, you'd be wrong. He told us that they would bring him to us once he was awake. Since Matthew was pretty much born a teenage boy, we thought that might never happen. He told us that Matthew would probably be upset.


My oldest child had surgery at 17 months old. He was weepy after surgery but he consoled very easily and that was what I was expecting.

Uh. No.

Matthew was hysterical. Sobbing and thrashing and writhing and shouting things that no one could understand. Then, shouting things we could understand. "GET THIS OUTTA MY HAND! GET THIS THING OUTTA MY HAND!" He was screaming at his IV. A nurse told him he needed to eat something first and offered him a melting popsicle. "NO!" Nothing I did would console him. I tried singing in his ear. I tried whispering in my most soothing voice. I tried rubbing his back. Nothing worked.

There were seven adults and one Matthew in a tiny room and he was groggy and fuzzy and angry and sore and sad. He seemed overwhelmed. At this point, I was lying in the bed and he was on my lap. In a furious outburst, he flopped from his back over onto his stomach. In that frantic motion, his IV popped out and blood started smearing all over the pillow, the sheets, the mom. Four of the five medical personnel rushed to fix the mess he was making. "Well," I said, "That's one way to get what you want."

A nurse flipped off the light.

We're just going to leave you alone for a few minutes to see if he'll calm down. The moment they left he nestled into my body and fell into an exhausted sleep.

He stayed that way for about an hour.

In the middle of that hour, the nurse came back and said that it was fine to let him sleep but that we would need to get him to eat or drink something before we could go. Eventually, I told Matthew as much.

He sat up and ate a melted popsicle. He drank half a cup of juice. He asked for another popsicle. They made it into a slush and brought it to him. He ate that one and asked for another. 

He watched TV. He said his "froat" was beeping which is what he always says when he can feel his heartbeat.

The nurses came back in to discharge us. They said that his hysterical, sad, angry, erratic behavior was totally normal. Then they gave us strict instructions on his diet for the next TWO WEEKS which is a bummer because EASTER CANDY.

We've been warned that he will feel fine today and miserable in a day or two. So far, yes. True. We just had to tell him to stop doing a headstand or he might have to go back to the hospital.

He stopped right quick.

I second guessed this surgery so much. He hadn't been snoring or waking up much this past week. I didn't want to spend a couple thousand dollars for no good reason at all. In the end, I decided that his constant waking (which never involved coming to get us but always involved whispering and giggling for large chunks of the night) and his snoring have been an ongoing problem for a long time and we would move forward with the surgery.

Turns out, Matthew's airway was 60% blocked by enlarged tonsils and adenoid tissue. So, yes, we will pay the bills. We will feed him Jello and popsicles. We will endure tonsil breath. And, I hope, that in return, Matthew's life will be improved by this procedure.

Although, our church secretary made an important observation. "If he was that energetic with only 40% oxygen, you'd better watch out now that he'll be getting 100%."

Hmmm...very good point.

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