Waiting Room & Recovery

Tympanoplasty @ TCH  /  Thursday Dec 7, 2006

They are so good at Texas Children’s Hospital. They understand all the little things that are such big things.

In some of Caleb’s previous surgeries he has had separation anxiety when we had to leave him with the team that takes him back to the operating room — the ‘handoff’ moment. He is frightened and doesn’t want to leave Mom and Dad.

As we were waiting for them to take him back for his tympanoplasty surgery we spoke with the anesthesiologist about this, and asked if one of us could accompany him to the operating room and wait while they gave him some gas to get him sedated. We had done this once before and it made it much easier on everyone.

She had another plan. In the waiting room she gave him some medication to relax him a little, and 20 minutes later we settled his woozy body into a pillow-stuffed wagon and pulled him towards the surgical unit. The doctor was ahead of us, walking backwards and facing Caleb. Then she did her magic.

She called to Caleb to get his attention. He was pretty loopy at this point, but still watching Mom and Dad to make sure we were close by. As he looked at the doctor she started singing “The wheels on the bus go round and round” — a song he knows well. As she sang she moved one hand in a circular motion, like a wheel, which drew his attention in to her. With her other hand she slowly took the wagon from my hand, and nodded to us to stay put.

As we backed away from the wagon she continued singing to him, still making the wheel motion with her hand, gently pulling the wagon towards the operating room. They made their way around the corner and into the surgical unit — the doctor singing, motioning and pulling the wagon all the while. Caleb never took his eyes off her, never noticed our absence, and a peaceful handoff was complete.

A little while later she called us in the waiting room to tell us that he had been sedated successfully with his strawberry “flavored” gas while sitting in the wagon, and then transferred to the operating table, fast asleep.

That’s how good they are.

The surgery went well but took about four hours — on the high end of what was expected. The doctor said the procedure rated a 10 on the pain-in-the-ass scale due to Caleb’s tiny ear canal. He removed about eighty percent of the eardrum that was damaged due to numerous tubes having been put in there over the last couple of years.

The doctor told us the last hour or so was spent just trying to get him to wake up and breathe on his own. He has had breathing issues following surgery before, so this was not much of a surprise. When we got to go see him in the recovery room he was still asleep, and still had the breathing tube in. His arms were strapped down to the bed to keep him from pulling the tube out. After about a half hour in there he started to wake up, and his oxygen saturation levels were stabilizing, so they took the tube out.

His first words: “Mommy ... where’s Chuck?” ... so we had to get Chuck back in there pretty quick. Dr. Chuck has a special bedside manner.

The doctor recommended keeping him overnight for observation. We’re glad he did because during the night Caleb had a couple of nausea episodes and his oxygen levels dropped, so the respiratory team got in there quickly and gave him some breathing treatments.

By Friday he was doing much better and the doctor released him around 2:30 with a big round ‘Band-Aid’ on his ear. It was great to get to spend some time in Texas Children’s Hospital again though. Not !

But they are great at TCH.