We have now been out of the hospital and home for four days and the overall feeling of relief is immeasurable. I mean, it’s like way beyond that feeling of relief you get when you finally get into the rest stop bathroom after being stuck in a traffic jam for 4 hours on the PA Turnpike and let me tell you from experience, that is a euphoric level of relief. No, the relief of finally being on the other side of your baby’s surgery is something too complex for even a sassy wordsmith like myself to describe.
In the last four days I’ve had a lot of time to think while being trapped under the weight of a snuggling Nugget, staring blankly at a television streaming hour after hour of Sesame Street. (I hate to be snarky, but after 40 years of fixing toasters, Luis is starting to show his age.) Much like captives use visualization to remove themselves from their situations, I decided to ruminate to remove myself from Elmo. In my captive state, I decided to make a list of things I wish I’d know before my kid had surgery. Fortunately for you, dear reader, I was spared from a clinging Nugget for a few moments here and there so that I could share my new knowledge should you ever need it. You’re welcome.
- Handing your baby off to a surgical team will break even the toughest broad.
I’m a pretty tough broad, like ‘I can birth a baby in Turkey via c-section, and walk out the door 23 hours later with only Tylenol to ease my pain’ tough. I’ve also been through a butt-load of nerve-racking procedures with this little Nugget in the past two years so I was sure I could handle this. I couldn’t. The Turk couldn’t. I don’t really think anybody can.
- Even if your child is safely in your arms, there is no sound more terrifying than hearing the words “Code Blue” in a children’s hospital.
Fortunately, it was a false alarm but the speed at which a mass of professionals converged on the area was stunning and though it did cause me to pee my pants a little, I was grateful to know my baby was in good hands.
- Eating one’s weight in chocolate covered peanuts is perfectly ok when your child is in surgery – as is eating one’s weight in Italian hoagies and Smartfood popcorn.
I’ve never been a stress eater, or emotional eater or any of that. I’m just an I-really-love-food eater. But somehow, during this hospital stay I turned over a new leaf. Chocolate covered peanuts became my drug of choice and every time that poor Turk plunged his hand into the bag expecting a mighty pay-off in the form of chocolatey-peanuty goodness, he was denied. He now knows what it’s like to love an addict.
- Waiting rooms blow.
Everyone in there is under a heightened level of stress because they’ve all just handed their loved ones, in this case their children, over to be sliced open. In what world would it be comforting to provide these people with under-stuffed vinyl sofas, craptastic vending machines and water. Seriously, water? Can’t we even spring for a Keurig? I know my bill alone will pay for enough coffee pods to reach Pikes Peak (See what I did there? Coffee joke.) Did I mention the consistent blaring of Dr. Phil and Maury? (Who knew Maury was still on the air? Thank God paternity confusion is still going strong here in ‘merika) Why have there been no strides made towards turning these horrible rooms into something more like Starbucks with smooth jazz, cappuccino and soft, flattering lighting? Why not whip a nervous mother up a cup of chamomile? What about a stress-latte? Where is the innovation in customer satisfaction medical field? Let’s get someone on that.
- Every mother Boo Boos
After more than one night sleeping in one’s child’s hospital room, it is virtually impossible to not resemble a member of Honey Boo Boo’s family: disheveled, stained and smelling like a public restroom. By day two, my hair was beginning to form dread-locks and my clothes covered in Nugget bodily fluids, coffee stains and perhaps some rogue chocolate from my peanut binge. The extra girth my excessive hoagie consumption added to my midsection pushed me over the edge so that by the time the projectile barfing started on day 3, I was straight up Mama June Boo Boo.
- Pediatric nurses are amazing, especially when dealing with cranky parents who haven’t slept or showered for a few days and may or may not look like Mama Boo Boo.
Tempers flare. Profanity flies. It’s inevitable but the wonderful nurses we had took it in stride and saved all judgement until they were far away. (I think they were all just scared of the Turk. He went a little Midnight Express a time or two.)
- Donald Trump eases pain.
As a registered voter with a solid (some might even say excessive) education and a fondness for sanity in government, the fact that my Nugget is enamored with Donald Trump haunts me. I’m not sure if it’s the hair, or the faces or the overall clown-like nature of The Donald, but he brings about a level of joy in the Nugget usually reserved for puppies and ice cream. But I must thank The Donald for one thing; when things were bad, a Trump sighting on the TV or a Dancing Donald video on the Iphone immediately brought about cheer. I’m not proud of allowing my two year old access to these horrors but a desperate mother will use whatever she can. Don’t judge.
- 2 years olds and bodily drains are a disgusting combo.
They made the process of maintaining an open kidney stent seem so easy during discharge. He’d relax and slowly wait for me to change the diaper, reposition the stent, check the flow, clean the end, add a top and bottom diaper and viola! No one counted on the fact that someday he’d feel better and we’d return to diaper changes that resembled wrestling a rabid wolverine. Add to that rabid wolverine a dripping drain and all I can say is eww. So far in the past four days I have been covered in kidney juice more times than I care to mention. Likewise, my bed, my sofa and my living room carpet have also been assaulted by kidney juice spewing from his drainage tube. It’s gross, really gross and one should note that when Googling, “How to remove kidney juice spewed from an open stent” Google gave me zilch.
- There is no sleep like that second night home from the hospital when you’ve made it though the first scary night and you think that maybe, just maybe everything is going to be ok.