Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Avoid the Adenoid

No matter how much you know that it is the right thing to do in the long run, sending your child off into the surgeon's care - even for minor surgery - is an anxious thing.

Lauren had her adenoids removed today, in what we hope will be a step toward improving her hearing. We got up earlier than usual, and as I took Tabitha over to the Montessori school for before-school care, Kim got Lauren bundled up and over to the Surgical Center. I met them there as they were checking in.

Now, whoever designed the Surgical Center had an odd sense of humor. It is located in a bare-concrete parking garage, so that whenever you look out the front windows it always seems like a dark and stormy night. Not that the windows are all that helpful anyway - they are all one-way glass, so you can sort of see out but as you approach to come in it seems as if someone who looks just like you is headed out.  It feels like you're about to enter a highly localized time warp that puts the Surgical Center a few hours ahead of the parking garage. This is just not what you need in a situation where you're already feeling out of kilter. If I had been in charge, I'd have put the whole thing somewhere more cheerful, preferably a location that didn't look like a Blade Runner set. But that's just me.

This was not the first time we've been to this particular establishment. Lauren had tubes put in her ears when she was about eighteen months old or so, which was another anxiety-ridden affair - like this one, more about the general anesthetic than the actual operation. It came out well, though. Her chronic ear infections cleared up, her balance improved, and that afternoon she was running happily down the sidewalk as if it never happened. The most harrowing part of the whole experience was actually Kim's highly unstable coffee mug. You would think a medical establishment would have towels aplenty, but you would be wrong.

So we walked Lauren in behind the reception desk, and got her ready for her operation. The nurse took a wide variety of measurements, and gave Lauren a packet of stickers and a small stuffed cat. The doctor dropped by for some last minute discussion. The anesthesiologist - a college buddy of Kim's, ironically enough - chatted for a bit.

I was tasked with getting Lauren into her gown.

Who designs those things - disgruntled origami masters? Wouldn't it be easier just to give people a gaily-patterned sheet and let them wrap up? It would certainly be warmer.  I got it on her eventually, but the resemblance to the scene in A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving where Snoopy squares off against the lawn chair was not entirely coincidental.

And then she was off, bravely following the nurse into the OR, where parents are forbidden. I understand that - any teacher will tell you that parents are generally the biggest obstacles to getting anything productive done with children, and really I had no great desire to see the actual operation anyway - but still it was an odd feeling when the door slowly closed behind her.

After about 45 minutes of grading exams (Kim's chemistry class is HUGE this year, and I can grade multiple choice as well as she can - besides, after 45 minutes of grading exams just about anything else seems pleasant), it was over.  The doctor called us into a small room and assured us that Lauren was just fine, that she had come through as a "star patient," and that she had what he referred to as "bonus-sized" adenoids.

Bonus-sized?  Do we get a decoder ring with that?

When she had recovered a bit they called us back to see Lauren as she drowsed in the recovery chair. She seemed quite fine - actually, the hardest part of recovery for her was when she discovered the IV in her foot. Her eyes got big and her face instantly assumed the "What the hell is that doing there?" look that said everything was back to normal.

Eventually I hauled her back to the car, and we took her home. After a few go-rounds of "Rocky and Bullwinkle," she perked up and had some toast and a popsicle. Then she got dressed and asked to go to the pharmacy, where the most wonderful candy counter in the world resides - I had promised her 3 candies after surgery, and she was cashing in.

Good to have you back, kiddo.

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