I give you some random shots of Liam as I fill you in on the last few weeks of life in the Ohlsson household.
First about Liam’s surgery (Mom and Dad, you might as well just skip this part, as I scarped it from the e-mail I sent you)…Well, the short story is that Liam’s surgery went just fine, and he can now stick his tongue out just like any other kid. It amazes me that the recovery was instantaneous. He’s had no pain other than the sting from his toothpaste right before bed the first night. He can eat whatever he wants, move his tongue freely without any pain, and is already experimenting with the new sounds he can make as a result.
The long story is that the morning of the surgery was hell. We were supposed to be in the pediatric ward at 0715 — we got there five minutes early. Which was no small feat as there was no sign/label telling you where to check in once you got to the peds floor. Anyway, we figured that out and they put us in a room with CRIBS to get Liam undressed and into his hospital gown. Then they left us on our own — not a big deal, as we were there for Liam. My heart ached for the baby (6 months) in the same room that cried off and on the whole time we were there, sucking frantically on his fist, and NO ONE came to see him.
Nearly AN HOUR later, when I figured we’d be done with the surgery, a nurse finally came to give Liam his sedative. She said what we thought, he’s much too big to be in a crib. Then she and the nurse/orderly that checked us in got him an actual bed and we were off to the operating room. The sedative hit Liam pretty quickly, and although he was awake and talking with us, he didn’t really seem to care what was going on or be concerned. At the OR doors we had to kiss him goodbye.
About half an hour later a nurse came out and said one of us could go in. If I’d known what was awaiting me, I would have let Jesse go. Liam was fine, laying there peacefully drugged. His anesthesiologist came and told me everything had gone fine, no problems, and he’d wake up soon. His doctor came and told me that the surgery went fine, that his tongue has full mobility. He should be able to eat and drink right away. No stitches to worry about, tylenol for any pain. After about 5-10 minutes he started to move. The raspy, scared crying noises are probably normal, but they scared me a bit. But worse was that before he even opened his eyes and was fully conscious, he was desperately clawing at the IV trying to get it out of his arm. Now, I know he’s only 3, but he’s a strong little boy and it was everything I could do to keep him from ripping it out. His heart rate monitor was jumping all over the place which momentarily terrified me. Then he managed to pull the heart rate monitor off, wherever it was attached to him, and at least I didn’t have to see that, because the screen flat-lined. No worries, I could tell from the continuous crying and screaming that he, indeed, was still alive. All this time no one came to check or help me.
Finally, Jesse and the orderly arrived to move him back to the ped. wing. Jesse carried him back to the room, but Liam still wouldn’t stop trying to pull the IV out. The line filled with blood, which may be normal, but was pretty scary looking. Although there was probably only an ounce or two left in the drip bag (just glucose and water), they refused to remove the IV until it was empty. In the room, no medical help, no advice — they just walked away and left us. After a while I couldn’t bear it any more, and took a brief walk to the bathroom. When I came back it was quiet. Ahhh, they must’ve removed it. Nope, but there were some gummy worms on the table in our room and Jesse had given one to Liam and it had calmed him down.
Not for long though. That’s because the nurse from hell came in the room and yelled at us for letting him have a piece of candy. She was scolding us that he could not have anything for an hour, and then it must be water, and if he kept that down, then food. It was quite upsetting. Fine, if that’s the rule and that’s what’s best, ok. But since the doctor had said he could eat/drink right away, that’s what we had assumed. And why she had to yell at us like we were pre-teens egging her house I’m not quite sure. AND if they’d just given us some guidance, instead of leaving us completely on our own without any kind of acknowledgment at all, it wouldn’t have happened.
So now we’re back to Liam screaming and clawing at the IV. Finally the bag stopped dripping and they removed the needle from his hand. Instantly better. We had called for the SHAPE liaison — that’s a person employed by the hospital to work with SHAPE families, translating and working out any issues — and he arrived right about then. Of course, the worst of the problem was over once they took out the IV. We explained the situation and asked for clarification about the eating/drinking, explaining that the doctor had told us something different. Now the nurse was all helpful sweetness and light, just saying that he had to have water first before food, and she brought him some water. What happened to that hour long wait she was shrieking about, I’m not sure.
After that point, the drama ceases. Liam calmed down and I read him a book. He had some water and then a yogurt, after which we took him down to the playroom in the peds wing to wait out our 2.5 hour wait before we were allowed to leave. I tell you though, I never EVER want to take a child of mine to the hospital here again. The lack of communication was deplorable, and it wasn’t about a language barrier, it just seems to be the norm.
One other little bit of heartbreak: Liam told us later that when they put on the mask (for the anesthesia) he screamed for me, but I didn’t come. I’m so glad this is behind us now. He’d better never break an arm or leg or have to have his appendix out or get really sick or….
Harry seems to be doing just fine as well. He’s moving around a lot and definitely running out of room. And I’m running out of air. My midwife asks me at every appointment if my dates could be off and if Liam was a large baby. Long, yes; large, no. I think the truth of the matter is that I’m a short woman with an even shorter torso, and there’s nowhere for the baby to go but out! I’ve got about five and a half weeks left to go, but he’s welcome to arrive whenever he feels like putting in an appearance.
Today Liam and I have been butting heads, so I decided to forego our normal routine and get out of the house and do some shopping. We’ll try again tomorrow.