I promise we'll get back to our regularly scheduled snarky SAM soon, but first we'll conclude the synopsis of our Two Weeks Of Drama.
Miss M finally succumbed to the scalpel today, after nearly two years of eye-patching and frequent visits with our friendly neighborhood opthamologist. We came to accept that her left eye just wasn't going to strengthen up on its own and something permanent needed to be done before her vision was affected. It wasn't a way we ever longed to spend a Thursday morning, but it went as well as we could have possibly hoped.
With everything else going on, I'd sort of pushed this particular soul-bruiser to the back of my mind, but there was no getting around the phone calls from the pre-op nurse and anesthesiologist yesterday or the alarm going off at 6:00 this morning. We arrived at the surgery center at 7:30am, armed with the pajama bottoms, blanket and extra lovey (in M's case, a folding feather fan, because I guess looking like an 1880's madam makes her feel secure). A very Grisham-esque medical professional of some unknown title (is there such a thing as a 60-year-old male nurse?) came out right away and tried to warm M up with the booming, cartoony persona that she never really appreciates. He got up to take her back into the check-in area and asked which one of us would be going with her. The Admiral and I looked at each other with barely concealed panic. The pre-op nurse had said we could all stay with her, including her infant sibling, but Murse Oxford seemed to be balking at Mr. Baby's attendance. I wanted to protest but was afraid I'd tear up in front of Miss M (it's been happening a lot lately), so I just said I'd stay with the baby and would see her soon.
While I was trying to figure out how to talk my way back to my child, The Admiral was guiding her through the check-in process. According to him, this went pretty smoothly, with the staff pulling out special pediatric tricks like blowing bubbles and having her reach out to catch them so she'd be distracted while they checked her vitals. The only problem was when they wanted her to change into the cute little hospital gown. As anyone in the waiting area could attest to, she resisted this procedure as if she were being asked to put on a straight-jacket. Made of glass shards and fireants. They finally got the gown on, but she refused the modesty-enhancing pajama bottoms and the non-skid slipper-socks.
This is how she was looking - post-tantrum and half-naked - when I was finally brought back into a conference room for a pre-op chat with Dr. H. I know he really wanted us to have questions, and I desperately wanted to show my parental responsibility by having some, but after three phone calls with surgical staff the day before, I really couldn't think of anything I still needed to know. We got our post-surgical instructions and were ushered into the main waiting room where the time passed surprisingly quickly thanks to the piles of toys and Nurse T's perfectly timed loading of The Little Mermaid video.
M was still telling us that she had no intention of going anywhere without us when the anesthesiologist and her nurse came out for a final briefing. I thought this was just another little conference but it ended with them asking us to follow them out into the fabled Bunny Room, a little narthex outside the surgical area absolutely stocked with brand-new toys. Miss M was given a chance to pick one, and after realizing how overwhelmed she was by her choices, I pointed her towards the familiar Play-Doh logo. Thus distracted (these people are brilliant!), Nurse J gently took her out of The Admiral's arms and let her push the big button to open the automatic doors leading to the unknown. She turned back and waved and said good-bye without a single note of distress in her voice.
Her parents weren't quite as carefree. We headed back to the non-Disneyfied waiting zone and tried to keep our minds on other things. Mr. Baby made this easier with his between-nap fussing and diaper-filling. I was actually kneeling over his changing pad in the bathroom when I heard Dr. H's voice in the hall outside. When I got back outside, The Admiral informed me that the surgery was over (all of 20 minutes after she went in), she'd done great, and that they'd come get us when she started waking up. Dr. H said this would be in about five minutes, but having paid attention to all those details from the anesthesia professionals, I knew it would be more like 20-30.
Sure enough, an hour after our initial separation, we were called back into the recovery area. She was still 93% unconscious, a tiny little oxygen mask blowing into her face. All hair-matted and blanket-bundled, it was a pretty pitiful sight. We sat next to her bed and waited for her to come around completely, which was signaled by her trying desperately to climb out of the bed and onto The Admiral's lap. This effort was stymied by her IV tubing, and I had a moment of queasiness as I remembered the tale of my sister's midnight battle with an IV stand that involved the unsupervised removal of an inserted needle and resulted in my lifelong fear of intravenous ports. Nurse C came over quickly, though, and helped get her out of bed and cuddled into The Admiral's lap. While Mr. Baby and I rocked in the chair beside them, we spent the next half-hour trying to get Miss M fully awake and distracted away from her efforts to rub her eyeball completely out of the socket. Other than being a bit bloodshot and having one pupil all blown so she bore an admirable resemblance to David Bowie, she was already looking much better. After she got down some ice chips and half a popsicle, we were ready to leave the medical bubble and move on to the home-based recuperation.
And now, after an afternoon on the couch followed by a rigorous walk to her bedroom, she's crashed out on crushed Tylenol. As hard as it was to see her in discomfort today, the grogginess was sort of a pleasant change from her usual mania. Tomorrow's going to be a whole new adventure, as she'll likely be feeling like her old self, which exists in direct violation of most post-op instructions. In M's world, a day without excessive activity hardly counts as a day at all.