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Surgery surprises: what a difference a day can make

January 22nd, 2005 · 3 Comments


Yesterday Michaela had surgery. It was a minor procedure. And it was not a surprise. We had been watching this condition for two years, half her life, visiting various physicians and trying to determine when would be the best time to operate. I had asked questions and had expectations for how the process would happen at the hospital and healing. But there were a few surprises to note…

How the hospital handled information

Multiple times I was asked to confirm my daughter’s identification. I was grateful for the attention although it did seem a bit tedious. In the first waiting room, a pen mark “ML” was placed near where the surgery was to occur. I imagined that this was to prevent any errors. Stories of surgeons who removed the wrong leg etc. came to mind and so I appreciated any attempt to confirm the surgery site. There was some redundancy and paperwork but in general it was efficient.

How easy it was

Five hours total time for us from check-in to discharge, including two hours waiting before surgery. We walked in and walked out, except for Michaela enjoying a wheelchair ride from the nurse into the parking garage. In the middle we read books, played tic tac toe, listened to each other’s hearts, cuddled, ate and rested.

So far Michaela has recovered well. Leaving the hospital, she seemed almost normal. Today she has more swelling and discoloration than yesterday. But it’s been simple and easy to take care of her.

How well the staff and hospital accommodated our family

Our girls benefited from generous nurses, collecting stickers, popsicles and cute bears in green scrubs. We had toys and books to enjoy.Ted accompanied Michaela into the operating room until the anesthesia had taken its effect. Even though a nurse had told me otherwise, we were all allowed to be with her in the recovery room. Being the last patient of the day was probably helpful for our larger family.

I was impressed by the staff’s concern for Michaela and their attention to children’s needs. In the sugery waiting room, Michaela was offered lip gloss (bubble gum, watermelon, root beer flavors) to help scent the anesthesia mask. She liked it plain. But I appreciated the thought and the way the sleep medicine was explained to her, even the amount of time it would take her to go under.

How well Michaela did

I don’t think she mumbled one complaint. She didn’t cry or scream. Like a little adult she strode with Ted and the staff down the hall to the surgery room. In recovery, when the nurse took the IV out of her arm she didn’t wince. Even this morning, with some swelling on her face, deep purple, the color of grape jam, she’s playing and having fun. No Tylenol needed. She’s a great patient. Braver than I would have been, and braver than I was.

How afraid I was

Thursday night I wrote a post describing my fears in a vague way. I didn’t want to publish it then in case I frightened friends and family. Looking at what I wrote, I can’t remember or understand how fearful I felt. It is as if I have gone through a door to the other side of the experience.

How hard it was

It’s scary to let your child go under anesthesia. As a child I watched my brother undergo multiple medical procedures. Mistakes were made. Surgery was sad and stressful for our family. Whenever I take one of my kids to the doctor I feel the heaviness of history.

Letting your daughter undergo surgery means trusting physicians. Taking a chance with your child’s health. Physicians are people and people make mistakes. The news is filled with examples every day. It’s easy to feel nervous of the what ifs.

For a number of reasons I felt that I shouldn’t be scared. I needed to be brave as a mom, to be strong for my kids. Of course, these kind of procedures happen every day. Stats were in our favor. And didn’t I trust God to be in control of it all?

Talking to Ted and talking to other parents we happened to meet at the hospital helped me through my feelings. I felt calm although tears came once or twice. Today I’m glad it’s Saturday and we’re on the other side. I do feel stronger coming through it.

I’m finding my faith again. And the success of this surgery is helping me. As friend and physician enoch reminded me in a post of mine in December 2003, I need to trust God at work through my doctors. I had hoped that going through this surgery would not only heal Michaela but also heal me a little.

Most of all Michaela’s surgery has reminded again how precious our children are, and the gift of a day. I don’t know how many days my daughters have or how many are in my account either. They came from God and will go back to Him. This life is a swing ride inbetween, a time for us to enjoy and love each other. To hug and kiss and cuddle.

I’m surprised by how much more a hug means to me today.


Note: more pictures for friends and family in my flickr account.

Tags: family

3 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Patricia Taylor // Jan 23, 2005 at 5:44 am

    I am so happy that Michaela’s surgery went well and that your own healing of memories has advanced toward a more positive feeling. The support of both family and friends is not measurable, but the amount you have is palpable! I am glad you have Enoch as a friend, too. I don’t think I have seen him since K & D’s wedding, but the blogging is a blessing for catching up on lives being lived in distant places.
    Hugs to all of you,

  • 2 Robin Hebert // Jan 26, 2005 at 5:42 pm

    I’m glad that’s over with and now onto a speedy recovery! God bless you guys.

  • 3 Ducky // Jan 28, 2005 at 1:17 am

    BTW, I believe the reason they keep asking over and over again what your name is (or, in this case, what Michaela’s name is) is to make DANG sure that they actually have Jane when they think they have Jane, and don’t accidently do Jane’s procedure on Bob.

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