Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Not Quite Bouncing Back

For a few days I've been wanting to sit down and write a post, any post, about Sean's procedure and recuperation. But between the rather slow recuperation and a few work deadlines, downtime has been kind of limited.

Tonight, I am not working. I should be, but nyahh, nyahh, nyahh to the deadlines.

Sean's procedure went fine. The traumatic separation I had feared didn't materialize, thanks to the nursing staff's no-fuss, low-key approach. This approach might also be described as "slightly duplicitous" -- Jeff and I didn't realize when Sean left our preop room that he was going straight to the operating room. I'm sure that was a deliberate maneuver designed to avoid upsetting the patient. It worked: a pre-sedated Sean wasn't perturbed at all by the lack of fanfare. Not so much his parents, of course.

The hardest part for us came when Sean woke up, distraught, from the anesthesia. We'd been told that young children are often confused and upset as the anesthesia wears off. Like so many things, grasping this fact in the abstract is one thing; seeing your child writhing about and crying in a hospital bed is quite another.

I'll spare you all the details, but it did get worse before it got better. At one point I was holding Sean in a rocking chair as he cried hysterically, yanking at his IV line and shouting "Let go of me, Mommy!" over and over again. My tears, I think, exceeded his.

Painful as that experience was, it didn't last more than an hour. In fact, we were home about five hours after we arrived at the surgical center. I've been feeling a little sheepish that I felt so traumatized by something as rote and uncomplicated as a tonsillectomy/adenoidectomy, when other parents (Moreena springs immediately to mind) are battling life-threatening illnesses in their children. Still, I suppose it's healthier to feel what I'm feeling and not deny that the experience was heart-wrenching in its own way.

Since we've been home, Sean is slowly regaining strength. He's still pretty weak, though, and very tired. The circles under his eyes are striking. He isn't eating much (not even the fun stuff like ice cream), contributing to the malaise. His emotional state is fragile at best; he's needed me right by his side since Friday, and he dissolves into tears over the slightest blip. Last night, he fell asleep in my arms after crying hysterically over the fact that his Thomas the Tank Engine pajamas were in the hamper.

And I mentioned his voice, right? It used to be low and kind of thick, clogged almost. Now, it's high-pitched and nasal. Think Truman Capote without the lisp. This is supposed to be temporary -- it should readjust to a more normal-sounding pitch and tone in a few weeks. In the meantime, though, it makes him seem so much younger than he is, so incredibly vulnerable. He doesn't sound anything like my little boy. I'm not sure why, but this makes me so sad, as if by assenting to this procedure we have taken away part of what made him Sean.

(You'd be entirely justified to think, right about now, "Melodramatic much, Suzanne?" I know, I'm probably over-reacting.)

Today was Sean's best day, I think, even if he has been up since 5 freaking a.m. He spent more of the day playing than he did lying on the couch, a rubric I've found to be useful for assessing return to normalcy after illness. If the playing/lying down ratio continues to reverse itself, I'd cautiously say we have a good trend on our hands.