Maggie has a “procedure” tomorrow. Procedure is the hospital word for pretty much everything from taking blood pressure to a heart transplant. This is falling somewhere in the middle of that realm – but what doesn’t?
I used to keep careful count of Maggie’s surgeries. I know the number exceeds 75 at this point, but I do not know the exact number. For one thing, it really does not matter; it’s a lot, no matter what the number. In addition, with the advances in medical techniques, many of these things are not “surgeries” in the manner they were when Maggie was little, so it is difficult to know what to count as surgeries any more.
Tomorrow she will be under anesthesia in the operating room with pediatric surgeons and a pediatric gastroenterologist in there. I guess that counts as a surgery, but maybe not. Happily, they will be using tubes and cameras instead of scalpels and clamps, which is a good thing. They are looking at her trachea and her esophagus to pin down more specific information about recurring problems. What we will be able to do with the information they may or may not get is a separate question entirely. That is a bridge to cross on another day; we take things one-step at a time.
Maggie has had this “procedure” several times. Generally, she comes home afterward, but it all depends on how she handles everything. She could be admitted to the hospital, but I certainly hope not. We have almost all the capability of the hospital at home, but if she is too precarious “almost” is not good enough.
From a parent’s perspective, this is an area where experience does not matter. Though I am very familiar with this procedure and confident in the doctors I promise you I will be a basket case while I am waiting. Knowing the routine and knowing what to expect are certainly helpful, but when they take her into the OR from Pre-op and I am standing alone in the hall with her empty wheelchair, my stomach is on the floor.
While she is in the OR I will likely wait in “surgical waiting area” for news. Anyone in surgery – who is not already an inpatient of the hospital with an assigned room – comes in through the surgical waiting room. In addition to families waiting for news of their loved one’s progress, there are patients waiting to be called into surgery. It may be the most stress-filled room in America. Some patients are alone or have one person with them. Others have entire families waiting for information. Children are bored and crying. People are exhausted and worried. Doctors come in and out talking to families. Privacy? Hard to come by. Often Doctors take families out into the hallway to talk to them, but sometimes not. I sit there with my crossword puzzle or something to keep me occupied and try not to listen. You cannot really just plug in the IPOD, because you do not want to miss when they call your name.
Because it is pediatrics, parents get to go into the recovery room. (Families of adult patients have to wait until recovery is complete. Steve and I hang out with Maggie while she comes out of anesthesia. That is always when I feel the stress of the day start to melt away. The tubes and machines do not concern me. That is something you can get used to and when you know what they all do, they are not scary at all. I generally scan all the monitors to see how she is doing. I might not interpret it all correctly from a medical standpoint, but I know what they mean for Maggie and they help me from a DR. MOM standpoint.
Recovery time is generally a couple of hours. If everything starts on time, Maggie will be gone about the length of the school day. While her classmates spend their school day enjoying a Halloween party, Maggie will be undergoing her “procedure.” Unfair.
I will be dressed as the unusually quiet, overwrought mother in surgical waiting studiously NOT listening to the stress of other families. Believe me when I tell you, that is plenty scary.
I'll check back in after the "procedure" because that's my "procedure."