Pain, Blood and Tears

For the past 12 months our son has been battling with severe sleep apnea. It means he has had to sleep with a full-face mask that is connected to a CPAP machine.  Funnily enough, he actually doesn’t mind and sleeps well all night…Well, most nights.

After we moved the US, we had to transfer his records across and get him registered with various medical teams.  Part of that involved getting assessed again for sleep apnea and having his throat examined.

As the doctor inserted a tiny camera into my son’s nose, the doctor quickly realized that my son’s tonsils and adenoids were huge.  They were in fact blocking the airways and the tonsils had to be removed immediately. He literally wanted to remove them the following day!

Having had to put my kids under the knife before, I was not impressed with that assessment, as it meant that I had to do the honors and stay with my son in hospital! My wife did the last one, so it was my turn…

Anyway, enough of the background and on to the present.  Our son was scheduled to have his tonsils and adenoids removed to clear his airways.  Not a procedure that I would like to have done on myself, so I did not want my kids to go through this either.

My son and I arrived at 7.45am at the medical center (hospital) for his surgery.  It’s probably one of the nicest hospitals I’ve ever been too. It has excellent facilities and services.  Actually, it reminds me of a fancy hotel with a shiny reception, waterfall, high street coffee shops and room service.

Just like with any other surgery, the patient is not allowed to eat or drink before surgery. Unfortunately we were left waiting for almost 2.5 hours, before his surgery was up. It meant my son hadn’t drunk or eaten anything for 16 hours!

Damn it, I really hate putting my kids to sleep and preparing them for surgery.  I especially dislike the few seconds where the medication kicks in and fear enters their eyes. It’s N-O-T pleasant.

Removing tonsils, adenoid and other bits might sound fairly straight forward – an it is. HOWEVER, please consider that these pieces are situated in the throat, which you use all the time for eating and drinking.  Hence recovery will be difficult.

The surgery itself was quick, but it was the longest hour for me.  It was like sitting on needles or having to listen to Il Divo.  My personal suffering had to be endured.

Recovery wasn’t nice and it made me worried.  I really hate seeing my kids in pain, especially when there’s little I can do to comfort him.  His face and nose were a little bloody from the discharge. He was clearly suffering.  I hugged him and tried to calm him down, which seemed to work somewhat.

But, like any other boy, he wanted his mummy.  Nothing beats snuggling up to mummy, between the boobs, feeling the comfort, warmth and love. Luckily she then arrived to comfort him. 🙂

Within an hour of surgery, he started to drink juice and water.  Within 2 hours, he started to eat jello – and my God did he eat jello.  He consumed a massive 9 tubs of jello before going to bed, which was just 4 hours after the first tub was licked clean.

I was, and still am, amazed that I could notice a difference in his breathing as soon as he came out from surgery.  The wheezing was gone and, beside the snottiness, it was relaxed and quiet. He didn’t sound like Darth Vader anymore!

The doctor came around late afternoon to give his brief and direct feedback on how the surgery went.

“Went very well.  Tonsils the size of golf balls.  He might have severe pain for up to 10 days with high fever. If he bleeds heavily, bend him forwards and call 911. He needs to drink a lot for 2-3 days.  Expect excruciating bad breath while wounds heal.  Beside that, he’ll be fine.  No need to worry “

Perhaps too honest for my liking as a parent, but at least he was setting our expectation levels.  He could have lied and pretended it was an easy journey, but thankfully he didn’t.

The day after the little man continued to improve and his hunger was back.  Suddenly, he appeared to be in some discomfort, which just happened to coincide with some student nurses visiting him.  He pretended to be a bit in pain to get their attention. And guess who was smiling at me as they hugged him?  Man, I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.

Did I mention that his room was a fully private suite with toilet, TV, WIFI and of course minibar + room service.  They had an impressive breakfast and dinner menu, but he wasn’t allowed to eat anything else other than ice cream, jello and juice – nectar for the Gods themselves.

Recovery was in my opinion brilliant.  He was in little discomfort. He had great appetite and he was in great form throughout his stay.

The next few weeks will hopefully show a continuous improvement in his breathing and sleep.  You never know, we might even be able take him off the CPAP machine.

All research we did stated that he would be in pain for either a few days or a few weeks.  Most people agreed that the first 2-3 days were the most painful and everybody said eat plenty of ice cream, jello and juice.

Long story I know, but it was a bit of an emotional journey that I had to share with you guys, in case you are putting your kids under the knife and/or wondering whether to get tonsils/adenoids removed.

If you want any feedback or if you have questions, post a comment.


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