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Saturday, August 05, 2006

A New Experience: Surgery Day...

Stryde, our youngest son, went through surgery about a month ago. He had his adenoids and tonsils removed in a surgery at the Fairfax Surgical Center. Researchers believe enlarged tonsils can cause sleep problems, and sleep problems can cause daytime behavior troubles. It was a needed surgery and we had a first time experience that was eye-opening for many reasons.

The day was not bad to start and the experience with the doctors and others at the center was great. We had a bunch of more stressful things happen afterwards, which I will blog about later, but think the experience is worth the time to read.

I actually wrote a few comments about our experience on that day. It was so crazy afterwards I never got a chance to post my thoughts. I think it is important for people that might be going through the same stuff…

From July 11th, 2006…

So our youngest son, Stryde, whom is just over 3 years old, had to get his tonsils and adenoids removed today. This was the day that we were finally scheduled to take the little guy and address his ongoing breathing problems at night. He has such a hard time breathing it is painful to listen to and I always worried that he would stop breathing one day in his sleep. You could hear how much stress was being put on his body at night. Many times I would just listen to him and you could hear the struggle and it would make me really sad. So after a few doctor visits and discussions, the doctors decided that the best thing for him was to have this surgery.

Now, I have never had any experience with surgery before, even being around someone that had surgery My dad, Step Mom, Mother, and both Sisters have all had at least one surgery in their lives, where they had to go under. My sister Abby even had brain surgery last year, which is much bigger than removing tonsils. I guess I have been pretty lucky so far in my lifetime, as I have never had to undergo surgery of any kind, except having some teeth fixed, where I was able to experience laughing gas!

The problem is the first time you do anything is the worst. You get nervous of the unknown, and even if it is a small thing, it can freak you out. It is like the first time I spoke at a conference in front of 100’s of people, I was really anxious, but now I never get nervous and really enjoy speaking. The first time we bought a house was stressful. The first time I interviewed for a job was scary. You get the idea.

Now of course, all fear and anxiety is compounded when it is your kids that are involved, that is part of parenthood. Then your fear is even more compounded by watching those shows on Sunday night such as 60 Minutes and Dateline. Remember the story about the doctor in Florida that removed the wrong leg on a guy? But of course you have to deal with it and hope that the first is also the last (at least in this case).

Anyway, we woke Stryde up at 7:15 this morning, just in time to get in the car and head to the surgical center. He was in great spirits, and my biggest fear of him throwing a fit about not having his morning sippy cup of milk was tempered when he did not even raise a peep about being thirsty. We put on a Thomas The Tank Engine video for him and headed out on our adventure. He was still wearing his Thomas PJ's and was happy to be with Mommy and Daddy on a trip. We had prepared him for today, and he did not seem to be too worried, though he had shown signs of being a little nervous the last few nights.

Typical traffic on The Beltway and the on-going struggle with which way to go to get where you want to end-up without too many roadblocks or delays in DC. We followed the GPS in our car and even hit some construction, but we made it just in time to check in at 8:15. His surgery was scheduled for 9:45 or so.

We got set-up, Stryde was busy with the really cool fish tank in the lobby. I paid the big bill, which was painful, but one of those bills you don’t mind paying, even if it was 10x more expensive. Stryde was actually in great spirits. He did not show any fear and was happy to be with the both of us.

The good news is we got rushed through. The usual experiences you have in today’s medical world is hurry up and wait. My experiences at the emergency room with the kids has been waiting and waiting and waiting. Then wait some more before you have to wait in another room.

This was totally different; we went from administration, to check-in, to prep, to nurses’ station to the playroom to surgery. This all occurred in less than about an hour. How amazing. The people we dealt with all were prepared and knew what we need to do. They explained everything to us and made sure we were comfortable.

The whole experience with the surgery staff was what made this whole experience so great. We were able to focus on Stryde and his surgery. Without having to worry about the small things and the administrative stuff, we could keep Stryde in our focus and he was really calm because of it.

We headed to the prep area and the nurse came in to speak to us. We had a short conversation with her and then she had Stryde put on his surgical garb. I was intending to go back in the surgery with him before they put him to sleep, but at the last minute we decided he would be better with Jennifer (his mom.) If you are taking your kids in for surgery where they get a general anesthetic you should be prepared to be flexible on the plans to make sure you make the kids feel as calm as possible.

They told us we would be going in to the actual surgery in about 10 minutes, and in the meantime we went to play in a small playroom. This is another great design of the Fairfax Center where they have put a bunch of great kids things together to keep them occupied. Though it was quick, this even made the whole prep thing feel less stressful.

Finally the nurse came for Stryde and Jennifer and they took him back into the surgical room. Jennifer was there with him while they put him under. The whole surgery was scheduled to take about 30-40 minutes. Jennifer said he went to sleep pretty quickly, less than 30 seconds. He was a little scared at the last minute, but she was there for him. This is a very important part of being with your child.

Then the surgery starts. They don't allow the parents in the operating room, so Jennifer came to sit with me in a private waiting room. It was nice and there were plenty of things to do. Magazines, Television, Wi-fi, and even a bathroom right outside the door. After about 25 minutes or so the doctor came out and told us Stryde did well. He said Stryde would be in a recovery room with us in about 20 minutes.

We headed to this joint recovery room, where the greatest nurses and doctors were there to help. They were very helpful in telling us what to do. They always kept us updated on what to expect. We waited there for about 2-3 hours while Stryde came out of the anesthetic. He was not happy and in pain. It was sad, he kept coming in and out of sleep. He was not happy, which I understood.

We watched some Disney channel with him, ate popsicles, and rested. Finally he was able to go home. The recovery time at home was a whole different and more stressful experience. It was stressful because of the pain he was in and the fact that it hurt to eat or drink. But that is a story for another day.

The day of surgery could have been terrible. It could have been extremely stressful. It could have been like a typical experience with US health care system. But it wasn't. It was stressful only because it was our youngest child. But the Fairfax Center made it so much less stressful and actually went out of their way to be a service oriented health care.

I wonder if there is something this hospital in Fairfax Virginia is doing that can be copied across the United States? I really hope so.

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