Wednesday, November 2, 2011

At Last, A Material Change - Cosmetically At Least

Spike will rack up considerable street cred today as he comes out of the OR with a shaved head. Finally, something worthy of his name on the OUTSIDE of his skull!

We were told to report to the surgical center at 6 AM today but the Spikester was not ready so I loaded him in his stroller (a BOB Revolution model that is the envy of all parents, nurses, kids and transport orderlies) while he still slept.

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We headed over for our morning dose of chaos as he was in the system scheduled for surgery yesterday with a doctor I've never heard of. Not exactly confidence inspiring. I think we got that straightened out but, afterwards, I checked his ID bracelet about a thousand times and read every piece of paper they handed me to make sure everything was in order.

Back to the anesthesia prep area for the same old questions asked by a half dozen new people. The anesthesiologists were particularly careful in both asking questions and listening very carefully to my answers. When they asked the final question, "Is there anything else?" I replied, "Just a few things.Put the arterial line in his right arm because you'll take that out shortly after surgery. IV line in his left hand because he can still play his games if it's in there but not in his right. Monitors on his toes instead of fingers because he will be wild and they stay better there. No adhesives of any type in contact with his skin other than paper tape. Everything, yes even the hypoallergenic stuff, causes an allergic reaction and serious swelling. Do not give him a 'calming agent' before you place the mask on him because he will fly around the room and you will never get him to sleep. Call him Spike, not Samuel when you try to wake him otherwise he will ignore you."

They furiously took notes and then asked, "Any special instructions regarding the catheter?"

"Yes. Don't talk to me about it. It makes me squeamish."

The surgeon finally came by after an hour and said they were almost ready for him. That was good because Spike had woken up ready to destroy everything in sight. His nurse then came in for more questions including "What is he in for today?"

Now I thought that question was a standard safety check which makes you feel good. I answered "SEEG."

She replied, "What's an SEEG?" which does not make you feel good.

"Stereo EEG," I explained.

Blank stare.

"Stereoelectroenchaphologram."

Nada.

"Depth probes," I tried tentatively.

"Oh! Ok," she replied looking at his chart with a puzzled expression. (I later learned she was the anesthesiology prep nurse, not the surgical nurse. Whew!)

Spike's tried to keep my mind off these little confusions by trying new acrobatic tricks on the very narrow, very dangerous gurney. I had to confine him to the stroller again. A Child Life assistant then came by, bless her heart, and kept him busy blowing bubbles while we waited. And waited. And waited...along with the rest of the team. The surgeon had gone walkabout and nobody knew where he was and why he wasn't answering his pages.

He finally returned after 90 minutes with no explanation. I assume he was handling some life threatening emergency with another patient. Hopefully some other doctor's patient. I'll never know.

The team gathered round for a final pep talk and very quick explanation of the procedure - which I slowed down with my stupid questions.

"We are here today to place depth probes in Samuel."

"Spike," the rest of the team clarified. (Good)

"SEEG," I added. "Right?"

"Yes, yes," the surgeon replied.

"Stereo EEG - does everyone agree?" I asked, looking at every individual on the team and waiting for a head nod or "yes" before proceeding.

"Ok, any questions?" the surgeon asked.

I pointedly looked at Spike's head so the surgeon added "Right frontal lobe." I breathed half a sigh of relief.

I then wheeled Spike down to the anesthesiology prep room and put him up on the table. He maintained his brave front better than Dad but when a nurse asked f he was feeling ok, he responded for the first time all day.

"I'm ok," he said softly, then more loudly, "I'm really ok now!"

He looked ok and did not act nervous but I know that he knows how serious this is. I've watched him go under anesthesia at least a dozen times and I'll just never get used to it. They put the mask on and he gently slipped away. That's when it really hit me - and continues to hit me now two hours later. My boy is undergoing brain surgery.

May the surgeon's hands be steady.

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