Sorry for the lack of posts this week. I have been on a bit of an emotional roller coaster.
Tomorrow Micah and Benji are getting their tonsils and adenoids removed. While this is a routine surgery and the most common surgery performed on children every year, these facts do not lessen my anxiety as a mother. It is always difficult to see your child in pain--whether it is skinned knee or an ear infection. But knowing that you are "deliberately" putting your child in pain--even though this pain will be beneficial in the long run--is downright nerve-wracking. I've even had nightmares off and on this week.
People have tried to comfort me:
"Oh, they'll be fine! Just give them lots of ice-cream."
"Kids are resilient. They'll bounce back in no time"
"They're going to be so excited about eating popsicles that they won't have time to think about being in pain"
I'm sure people mean well, but no amount of ice-cream will be able to take away the pain of a tonsillectomy--the doctor told us that the painkillers won't even do that.
Aaron and I are preparing for 10-14 days of constant, round-the-clock pain management for our precious three year old boys, pain that we are "deliberately" putting them in. And we can just pray that pain will be the only thing we have to worry about--I don't even want to think about post-op complications such as dehydration and break-through bleeding.
We know that the pain will be worth it in the end--that the surgery will help them sleep better, eliminate their sleep apnea, and maybe even help some of their speech problems and daytime crabbiness.
But every parent has doubts--that is normal. It is normal to second guess your decision to enter into any planned surgery. And like all parents, Aaron and I can only hope that with every decision, we are doing the best thing for our children.
So, knowing that pain is coming, pain that there is inevitable with no way for a parent to take it away, how do you prepare for your child's surgery?
Here are some things that we have done:
1. Educate yourself about the surgery and post-op care.
Doctors never want to freak parents out so they would rather reassure you that every is going to be fine than give you the gruesome details that you are in for a living hell after surgery.
Like most modern parents, I searched the internet for stories of parents who had "been there" with their kids. This website, in particular, was a goldmine of information about what to expect post-op for a child's tonsillectomy .
Knowledge is scary at first. But after it has been digested, it is empowering. The more you know, the more you can tell yourself, "I can do this," rather than later saying, "I never expected this. No one told me how hard this would be."
2. Educate your children
We told the boys about the surgery about a week and a half beforehand. Some parents may want to start sooner. Since we told them, we have talked about it almost every day. We try to use words and concepts that they will understand
"You are going to take a nap at the surgery center"
"Dr. Tim is going to take your tonsils out (avoiding scary words like "cut") so you can breathe better and sleep better at night"
"The doctors and nurses are our friends and are going to take good care of you."
"If you are scared, you can talk to mommy and daddy about it any time."
And of course, talk up the "good" things like the ice-cream, popsicles, DVDs, TV time, and new toys. Those are thing that they can look forward to.
3. Talk to your spouse
Confess fears to each other and support each other emotionally.
Make a plan for how you will handle post-op care. Aaron and I have talked at length about how many days he will take off work (being a teacher, I am off during the summer), how we will handle night-time meds administration, as well as sharing tips that we have learned from our personal research.
4. Enlist help
I fortunately have a best friend who will do anything for us (and vice versa) and she didn't bat an eye when we asked if she could take off a day of work to help me when Aaron goes back to work.
Even if you don't feel comfortable asking for help, people will most likely ask if they can help you. If you have no idea what you want them to do, don't reject the help--ask them to make a meal. That is always helpful and is one less thing mom and dad have to think about.
5. Eat ice-cream
It's not just for the kids. Mom and Dad need ice-cream too. Ice-cream is good for the soul.
I hope this is helpful for parents who are waiting and preparing for their child's surgery, either now or in the future. We can do this.
I'll keep everyone updated about how everything goes tomorrow and how we are doing in days and weeks to come!