Lessons from an adenoidectomy

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Jacob playing before surgery

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These instructions failed to mention that my child would still be miserable after a week.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It has been a week since Jacob underwent surgery to remove his adenoids – an Adenoidectomy.  I still don’t really understand exactly what adenoids are, where they are, and precisely how/why they are removed, so I will refer you to google or wikipedia if you would like more information.  I do know that at least four different medical professionals that have cared for Jacob over the past three years have told us that we should do this surgery and that removing his adenoids could help his breathing, sleeping (at least having more restful, restorative sleep), and even improve his speech.  Everyone we talked to, and everything I read on the internet, made this surgery seem like a fairly minor ordeal, with the inherent risks of anesthesia and an invasive procedure.

The surgery was originally scheduled in August, right after our trip to Philly for the Livestrong Challenge.  Sometime at the end of that trip, and especially on our first day home, Jacob started limping.  He also had a cold – runny nose, sneezing, coughing, and one low-grade fever.  I was paranoid about putting Jacob through surgery when he was not well.  As I have said before, Jacob is my child who has endured the most  in his young life.  Between the reflux, the stomach troubles, hypotonia, physical and social delays, food allergies, and his ongoing speech delays – nothing has seemed easy or typical with Jacob.  I am usually not a big worrier, but I just had a bad feeling about him undergoing a somewhat elective surgery while he was sick and mysteriously limping.  Jacob’s cold improved before the scheduled surgery, but the mysterious limp continued.  I did what all of us crazy moms do when we are worried – I looked on the internet for answers.  Yes, I may be married to a doctor, but doctors don’t know all the answers and Les was working the night that I was desperately searching for answers on the internet.  The internet as medical resource is a tricky thing.  My research told me that he could have a fairly benign condition called toxic synovitis or he could have something frightening like septic arthritis or leukemia.  Of course, I started obsessing about the worst possible cause of his limp and begged the pediatrician to do a CBC to rule out leukemia.  The pediatrician, and Les, agreed that he probably had toxic synovitis, but thankfully everyone also wanted to do the CBC, an x-ray, and a hip ultrasound just to be safe.  To our relief, all the tests came back normal and I guess we’ll just attribute the mysterious week-long limp to toxic synovitis.

Once Jacob was finally healthy and ready for surgery, I actually was not that worried.  As I said, most people we talked to and everything I had read made the surgery and the recovery seem very straightforward.  The patient instructions even told us that he could eat whatever he wanted and resume his normal activities, as soon as a wanted after surgery.  The surgery was on a Thursday, and I figured he would maybe miss a day of school and be back to himself by Monday at the latest.  The doctor was wonderful and the facility – CHKD Princess Anne – was top notch.  Jacob did pretty well during the surgery and immediately after.  He was tired and fairly clingy that first night and next day.  It was a struggle to get him to drink anything, and he had no interest in eating.  He had a fever over the next 48 hours and was pretty wiped out.  We have been giving him Tylenol or Motrin (usually not recommended after surgery, but ok by our doctor) every 8 hours or so every day for the past week.  Without the medicine he is pretty unhappy and runs a low grade fever.  He is finally drinking more, but is still not really eating much.

It is so hard to truly know if and where a toddler is in pain because he can’t quite verbalize what is bothering him.  It has been exactly one week since the surgery, and Jacob is not as well as I thought he would be by now.  He missed the entire week of school.  I tried to send him on Wednesday, but the nurse called after 2 hours and said he was pretty miserable and should come home.  We have a follow-up appointment tomorrow, so we will find out if all of this is within the realm of normal.  I suspect that it is, but I just wish my sweet little boy would hurry up and get better.  I just hope that this surgery leaves Jacob better than he was before and that we will feel like it was worth it.  I just want Jacob to be the best that he can be.  I just want Jacob to be healthy and happy.  Oh yeah, I would also like his breath to stop smelling so horrific.  Bad breath is a common side effect of this surgery and it should improve after 1-2 weeks, but this is some really stinky stuff.

In hindsight, I probably should not have expected an easy recovery.  I am glad I was not overly worried and stressed about the surgery, but I also could have prepared myself a little better for the possibility of a slower, longer recovery.  After all, everything up to this point with Jacob has been on a longer, slower timeline.  Nothing has been easy for him, so I am not sure why I expected that this would be.  I would just like to see Jacob’s recovery start picking up the pace a bit.  Once he starts sleeping better and eating and drinking more, his demeanor and mood should improve.  Once all of this gets going, I’ll finally feel like we are on the road to a real recovery.

3 thoughts on “Lessons from an adenoidectomy

  1. So, a little bird told me about your blog, and of course all of us who miss Jacob terribly have been reading it. 🙂 I am so sorry that he hasn’t quite recovered from this yet. I am sending you well wishes for a speedy recovery! Jacob has a wonderful spirit and is a determined little thing, so I’m sure his little body is just getting used to everything. Let me know if we can do anything. Miss you guys….

    • Allison,
      I am SO GLAD to hear from you. I would love to catch up with you. We need to meet for lunch, coffee, a playdate, or drinks or something. We miss you so much. Jacob still remembers you and when I ask him who his teacher is, he still says Allison. I am glad you found my blog. Please feel free to share with any other parents that might have kids like Jacob. I know I always craved information and any connection with other people with similar experiences – hence my connection to Caitlin (plus she is just awesome and so is her adorable family). I really would love to catch up with you and see how you and your family are doing. Maybe I can even bring Jacob by school one day to say hi. You really are an AMAZING teacher. I am thankful that our first experience with school was so special, but you may have ruined it for the rest of the teachers b/c I don’t know if anyone can compare to you. You have a gift and the school system is lucky to have someone with your talent, patience, connection you have to the children and their parents. I hope you are well and I look forward to catching up with you soon.

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