A friend’s grandson had his tonsils and adenoids removed a last week and Grandma was very worried about the little guy going under the knife. Of course she was.
Me, being the tonsillectomy veteran that I am, told her ‘Bah! Don’t worry!’ Which she still did but she later reported that everything went ‘just fine - just like you said it would’.
As if I am an expert. I talk a good game because fifteen years is a lot of time to sort of smooth over my memory of Alpha’s surgery. I mean it really did go well but probably could have been better – if she had had a different mother.
Alpha had tonsils the size of Tootsie Pops almost from the time she was born – inherited from her father’s side, as most of the troublesome traits tend to be. By the time she was 5 they were so big that that little thingy that hangs at the back of your throat? Yeah, uvula or whatever. It had creases in the front and (I assume) back from being squished between the Tootsie tonsils. She also had nasty ear infections and snored like her grandmother (dad’s side again). Once she began dabbling in sleep apnea, her pediatrician called time out – as in TIME to take the tonsils OUT!
Aack! Cut up my baby? No, not my gentle little happy giant.
I’ll skip over all my neurotic second guessing and second opinioning and
second third drinking and get to the actual surgery, which I did have the good sense to set up at the finest children’s hospital around (Okay, that’s where my health insurance sent me but I really would have picked it myself!) and a tonsillectomy was scheduled for June in hopes of working around ear infection season despite my definitely dragging heels.
I mean, it feels so wrong - handing over a strapping, healthy child to be surgically modified. By a knife! I know, I know, this probably edging into the great circumcision debate but really, you can live without a penis. I’m talking about my daughter’s throat! A necessary conduit for life! Besides, I have no opinion in the foreskin discussion. That is my reward for carefully harvesting only my husband’s X chromosomes.
Anyway, we showed up at the hospital at 8am and took Alpha through all the pre-surgical rigmarole, which included cute jammies and slippers and pink pony band-aids over the needle sticks that those tricky pediatric nurses seemed to pull off without even being noticed.
At 10 am sharp she walked bravely down the hall holding hands with the anesthesiologist. Gelp!
To avoid the uncool appearance of nervous, pacing parentness, Homer and I wandered down to grab a pop in the cafeteria and were still arguing about who was going to pay the tab when my cell phone rang - the doctor was looking for us. After only 20 minutes??? Oh no, they had lost her! And I didn’t mean misplaced. I had visions of her little throat bleeding uncontrollably after the evil doctor carelessly plucked out her tonsils - probably using some old rusty nail clipper and ragged tongue depressor.
We rushed back and met the surgeon who recapped the surgery as a smooth and simple tonsil- and adenoidectomy. He hadn’t known how dreadful her adenoids were until he got a peek behind the tonsils. Wow, two ectomies for the price of one co-pay. Christmas in June!
And now Alpha was ours to tend in recovery. As promised the recovery room had a Disney movie playing and offered popsicles and drinks. It was a dim, quiet room and quite peaceful in spite of the six or so other ectomy patients with loving parents hovering near.
Poor Alpha! So brave, but Mommy's here for you.
I leaned in toward Alpha and asked her what she would like. A drink? A popsicle? Her lips moved but I couldn’t hear what she was saying (keep in mind this was back when my hearing was 20/20). So I leaned in closer and asked again. She squeaked out a little something through her freshly butchered throat but, darn it, I just couldn’t make it out. So I asked once more.
And she yelled ‘Please MOVE!’
I was blocking the movie.
And I made her yell.
All the parents turned and shot me those looks that said ‘What a rotten mother! To make your child yell in her condition!’ Or so I imagined. I felt this big so I sat down and shut up and faster than you could say happily ever after, the movie was over and we were on our way home. Not one tear had been shed. In spite of me.
After two hours Alpha had had enough of bed rest and asked to jump on the trampoline. Even I could see that might be a poor choice so I spent the next two days holding her down and demanding that she act sick. I was warned that the third post-surgical day could be the worst. And it was. By then it was like trying to hang on to a dozen stringless balloons in a hurricane. Therefore, on the 4th day I caved and let her go back to summer camp. She never looked back and I have chosen to file the experience in my head under the ‘delusions of good parenting’ category, thankyouverymuch.