Wednesday, 10 November 2010

An early day at the hospital

Today we finally had Colin's eye surgery. Nearly two years after being referred, we had our appointment at Sick Kids hospital in Toronto.

What a day. It began at 4:30 am, since we had to arrive at the hospital by 6 am. Although I was bleary-eyed at 4:30, I found that by 5 am I was doing okay. I thought I would just carry Colin to the car where he would sleep again, but he was up and chipper as ever. We had a typical car ride, filled with questions from Colin's inquiring mind. We chatted about the string of green lights on Broadway (the main street in town) and why they were all green (the early hour of day). We talked about the lighted skyline of the GTA and distance and perspective. We talked about the different dividers used on highways, and their various functions. You know - typical 4 3/4 year old chatter. (He told everyone who asked him today that he is 4 and 3/4 years old.)

Once we arrived (right on time!) at the hospital things moved along nicely. We went to one desk to sign in, then to the next floor for Colin to change into hospital clothing, then to another room to wait to see the surgeon. There wasn't even time to open up a movie or a book; once Colin took in his new surroundings we were whisked onto the next place. My favourite part of the day was right when they had to take Colin off in one direction as they ushered me to the parents' waiting area. There was a little section of the room that had about 6 of those "Step 2" brand ride 'em cars that you push along with your feet, a la "Fred Flinstone", and Colin got to choose one to "drive" to the operating room! It was such a great idea, and it put a smile on my face, erasing any moment I might have had to feel anxiety as they led him away.

The parents' waiting room was full, even at that early hour (it was now about 8 am.) A few of us chatted about our children, and I felt so blessed by our situation. While surgery of any kind is always a big deal, so many of the parents I met were dealing with issues that are so huge, life-altering situations, some of which these parents will continue to deal with their entire lives. One father was their with his nine year old son - the boy's twin was at home that day, but the family had visited Sick Kids over 75 different times. Both twins have a severe form of autism and a whole host of other problems since birth. I was in absolutely awe of this father as he displayed a formidable force of patience trying to calm his anxious son, as the boy had no other way to express his anxiety than by throwing himself around and yelling. I spoke at length with a mother whose life was turned upsidedown when her daughter was born. The mother and father had been living in Sudan helping displaced refugees. The mother came home just to give birth, with the intention of returning immediately afterward. But the health issues of the baby made it impossible, since the baby would need constant hospital visits for the rest of her life.

The courage of these parents is beyond measure.

So there we all were, in the lounge. There was a huge display screen, very much like at an airport announcing the flight departures and arrivals, that had the initials of all the children in surgery, and their status (waiting, O.R, recovery.) Over a hundred eyes nervously glanced up and down from the screen, waiting for the little teddy bear to appear next to their child's name, indicating that we could be escorted to our child's side. I barely had time to grab a hot smoothee and read a bit of my book before it was my turn to head out from the waiting room and into recovery to see Colin.

Colin was such a trooper. The nurses were astonished at how "obedient" he was (their word, not mine.) He didn't pull at his I.V. or try and rip off his bandage. He sat up and lied down when asked. By the time I could come in, he was already awake from the anesthetic. He lied in the bed so quietly I worried a little. The other children around him were either crying and thrashing or sitting up and chatting. But my little Colin was just lying quietly. We only spent another 20 minutes or so before we were discharged. And just like that, it was all over, before lunch had even come.

One other notable thing: we have a portable DVD player that is perfect for things like this. I asked Colin what movie he would like to watch, and he chose "Dumbo." What is interesting is that he hasn't chosen Dumbo to watch in many months, maybe even over a year. But when he had his last surgery, two years ago, "Dumbo" is what he watched in the hospital then. Colin has very strong associative tendencies. I gave him a salami sandwich the first day of school last year, and that's all he wants every day for school, going on a year and a half now. So I'm not surprised that, consciously or sub-consciously, he chose the same movie to watch at the hospital this go around.

Now he's home and in recovery. We will have to go back in a few weeks for a post-op, and then again in a few months to have the tube removed that is forming the new tear duct. But all in all, a resounding success. It is strange to think that this block tear duct, that has been a part of who Colin is since he was born, will all be clear now.

Here is a photo of our little trooper:


Anonymous said...

Tears are welling up in my eyes as I look at my sad little boy - wish I could just come over and give him a big hug right now. :-( Please give my little boy a big hug from his Ma and I will give him tons when I get back there.

Love, Mom

Anonymous said...


You were very brave to go down to the hospital by yourself with Colin = not so much the actually going down there (although I hate driving in Toronto), but the going down there and being on your own while he was going through the operation. I remember you having your operation at Sick Kid's when you were 11 months old to get that piece of hamburger out of your lungs. It was so nerve wracking for me to wait while you went into surgery. I was so glad that Dad was there with me. Then, I had to leave you there overnight which was so hard. I remember waking up in the morning and feeling so guilty that I had not only slept, but actually slept late. I am glad for you that things went pretty swiftly there and that you were up with Colin in no time. :-)

Love, Mom

Jenn said...

I have a few friends who have spent a large part of their lives with their kids at Sick Kids, and I realize how lucky we are to have such a wonderful hospital for our kids in this province, and so close by. I've only heard glowing things about Sick Kids, no one can say enough about how wonderful the place is, and how great the staff are there. I thank my lucky stars that we've never had to make a trip there ourselves, and knock on wood that it stays that way!

Kevin said...

"I remember you having your operation at Sick Kid's when you were 11 months old to get that piece of hamburger out of your lungs."

Say what now?

Colin certainly looks none too pleased with the situation at present. : ) But present suffering is sure to be worth the future reward in this case, right? (Physical, social and otherwise.) Next on the list: braces, kiddo. (Unless there's something I'm forgetting about. Or unless mom and dad are blessed with preternaturally good teeth...)

Anyway, a big bravo! to brave (and obedient!) little Colin. : )

(And mom's not doin' too shabby herself, really. Still amazes me, the poise with which you attend to just about any scenario life throws as you. Thanks for just being around, TA. And letting us all bear witness to that...)