Seven months. That's how long it has taken me to actually sit down and write about the surgery experience. The whole thing is almost out of body. It takes a while to sink in, like, "did that just happen?!?"
Quick catch up - I have a kid. Her name's Lydia. She has a short leg. The doctors told us, "Amputate, create a nice stub for a prosthetic and go about your lives." We said, "How about, no. My kid's still in utero. That sounds a little extreme." And now we have chosen to travel two time zones, six states, and many worlds away from Albuquerque, New Mexico to West Palm Beach, Florida to one of only a handful of doctors that could possibly touch her - short of amputation - without causing almost irreparable damage.
Except it's much more complicated than just a "short leg". And to say there are a "handful of doctors" is overestimating. There are two.
I digress. In January of this year Lyd went in for her super hip. I can't even explain to you what they did, except that she didn't have a hip joint and now she does. It's complicated. Anyway, we went down to WPB (West Palm Beach) a few days before surgery day to hang out, get settled, and do the pre-op appointments, tours, etc.
It never really hit me what goes into making a kid feel comfortable in a hospital. Lydia has always been very "go with the flow" and she's only two at the time, so I didnt do a whole lot in the way of "preparing her" for what was about to happen. The hospital did a great job, though. This was not their first rodeo. Paley's kids have the entire third floor of the children's hospital at St. Mary's. (Except PICU. more on that next time.) We had a nice lady named Brittney call me before we ever got on the plane to WPB to make arrangements to tour the hospital. Brittney was perfectly blonde, smiley, sweet, and kind. This sounds vain, but you really want a pretty, smart, patient and smiley girl to walk you through the hospital the first time and tell you what will happen when and why. Good hiring choice.
At the end of the tour, Brittney gave Lydia a medical kit. My mom had gotten Lyd one before. If anyone plans on their kid spending time in a hospital, the medical kits are a must. Just a little piece of advice to stick under your hat.
Now to the morning of the surgery. Check in and pre-op were super early in the morning, which is great because your kid hasn't eaten or drank in 12 hours. They can be a little cranky. Its best that they sleep though most of that. Back in pre-op was this lovely lady named Flo. She RAN that joint and did not apologize for her running a smooth ship. That being said, she was lovely and kind too. I had to wear a paper gown to take Lyd back to the operating table and Flo brought us markers so that we could color the paper gown to kill some time before donning the thing.
I've read many renditions of prior parents going through this and I never really knew what pre-op/surgery/anesthesia was like. Well, in short, they gave Lyd an oral mediation, which kind of made her sleepy. Once they were ready for her to go back into the operating room, they lay her on the crib, raise up the crib bars, and roll her back. I got to go with her, walking beside the bed. She was drowsy, but not asleep. (Side note - there are nurses there that do NOTHING but watch your kid while they are on that table. Their job isn't to help the Dr or get a scalpel. Their job is to watch your kid. You will beg her to take care of your child. She will. And you will never forget her face.) When we walked into the operating room, I was struck by the brightness of the lights and silver of the utensils. I sucked every tear back into my eyes - and it was a good decision. Lyd just went along for the ride. She took her cues from me and smiled all the way to the operating room. The nurse transfer Lydia from the rolling bed to the operating room table and put the gas mask on her and Lyd is out in under 15 seconds. I was (very) quickly ushered out of the operating room and found myself back in the waiting room.
Where we waited for 8 hours.