Scoliosis Update: Cast # 3

I write letters to Ellen DeGeneres. No particular reason. Just because I can.

 

Dear Ellen,

On Sunday afternoon, I drove Baby Girl back to Atlanta to get her third cast. The procedure was scheduled for early Monday morning.

Before I get into her treatment, I’d like to take this opportunity to offer up an apology to all of the drivers I frightened on I-20. For the record, my car didn’t break down. It wasn’t malfunctioning and it definitely wasn’t going to explode. The flashing light on the right, rear side of my car was the turn signal. I used it multiple times to tell other drivers I was changing lanes. That being said, many drivers I shared the road with seemed to fear for their lives when they saw it. Some of them sped up and cut me off. Others slowed down, preventing me from getting over. To all of the drivers I traumatized because I used my turn signal, I just want to say:

 

 

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The drive was otherwise uneventful and so was the hotel stay.

And then there was the hospital. The nurse called me in February to tell me that the doctor wanted the baby to go to the surgical center for this procedure.

“Is that different from the other two hospitals we’ve been too?”

“Yes, unfortunately it is,” she said.

 

 

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I can’t think of anything I’d rather do than run all over Atlanta for my daughter’s procedures. Because the three-hour drive isn’t exciting enough.

 

 

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“But the good news,” the nurse began, “is that the surgical center is across the street from the first hospital you went to. It’s the same building as where all of your daughter’s follow-up appointments have been.”

 “Ah! The infamous building across the street.”

 “The what?” she asked, just as I realized I spoke with my outside voice.

 

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 “Nothing,” I said, writing down the address one more time.

Monday morning, we arrived with twenty minutes to spare. The waiting room was a very nice setup with lots of toys for the baby to play with. I signed her in and then we sat, waiting. 

 

They called us about ten minutes later. I picked up the baby to take her over to Registration. That meant she had to leave all of the toys behind. This did not go over well with her. She squirmed around in my arms while I tried filling out paperwork one-handed and answering questions like what’s your cell phone number?

  • What’s your emergency contact number?
    • (Answer) The same as the cell phone number.
  • What’s the best way to reach you today?
    • (Answer) The cell phone number.

In the meantime, the baby is getting angry with me because I won’t set her down.

“Momma,” the almost two-year-old said. “I wish to peruse the new and exotic toys, Momma. Momma! I want the toys. Momma! The toys! The toys are calling to me!”

 

 

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Don’t worry, Ellen, Baby Girl had a few minutes to play before the nurse called her back to the pre-op waiting room – which was also filled with new and exciting toys.

 

 

Not all hospitals are created equal. At least, they’re not in Atlanta. Here’s a crash course on my hospital experiences thus far.

  • Hospitals 1 & 2
    • The pre-op and post-op room was the same room.
    • Parents could leave the room to get something to eat during the procedure
    • There was a cafeteria with a decent selection. 
    • There was an overpriced coffee shop in the lobby with food options as well
    • Parents could not go into the operating room with their children for the sedation
    • Children were given a dose of “goofy” juice prior to the procedure.

And then there was the surgical center. At this location parents were allowed to go into the operating room with the kids. I could tell from speaking with the anesthesiologist that he wasn’t super-comfortable with this policy. He kept telling me over and over again that the process of watching a child become anesthetized could be very traumatic for parents. My instinct was he’d prefer it if parents stayed in the room and waited, rather than accompanying their children.

I would’ve preferred it if the pediatric orthopedist could’ve just waved a magic wand and straightened her spine with out all of these procedures. That meant the anesthesiologist and I had something in common. He didn’t want me in there while she was being sedated. I didn’t want to put her through this. We were both going home unhappy.

“Do you want to go with your child?” he asked.

“Yes.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” I said. “I’ll be fine.”

“Because some kids roll their eyes back in their head when they fall asleep.”

“Great. She does that every night when I’m giving her a bottle.”

“It’s really important you don’t get upset or panic.”

“I’ll be fine.” OMG! If I thought it would’ve helped, I would’ve told this guy I was a sociopath incapable of experiencing human emotion. 

I carried her back into the operating room with Holly, her hedgehog. Holly has been through the last two procedures with Baby Girl. We walked into the operating room and Baby Girl, took Holly out of my arm and clung to her. They had me place her on the table and that’s when she started to cry. I held her hand and sang to her while they held the mask over her mouth. The whole process took about a minute.

After she fell asleep, the anesthesiologist looked at me and said, “Okay. You can go now.”

 

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They wanted me to leave her? Were they kidding? She was totally defenseless. To quote my cat, Gwennie, what if someone came along and preverted her?

 

 

“Oh and take this with you.” The anesthesiologist pointed to Holly. “We’ll lose it if it stays here.”

 

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So they can’t be trusted to safeguard my daughter’s beloved hedgehog, but I’m supposed to trust them with her life?

 

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I grabbed Holly and went back to the pre-op room. A nurse helped me gather my things and then transferred me to the post-op room. I was given a quick tour. “Here’s the vending machine. Here’s the coffee machine. Here’s the restroom.”

“Is it okay if I leave to grab something at the hospital cafeteria?” The building I was in was a two-minute walk from the hospital and the procedure was scheduled early enough in the morning that I’d have time to run across the street and grab something. There and back, I’d be gone about twenty minutes and Baby Girl was going to be in the operating room for 90 minutes.

“No,” the nurse said. “Someone has to stay in the post-op room at all times. In case we need to get a hold of you.”

Gee. I’m so glad I verified my cell phone number with Registration. Three times. Plus, why would they need to get a hold of me? Nothing was going to go wrong.

 

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“Oh. Okay.”

“Was there something you needed?” she asked.

“Food. I wanted to grab some breakfast.”

“We have vending machines,” she pointed in that direction.

“Yeah, but I wanted real food.”

“Her procedure won’t take long. You can get something after.”

 

 

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After she left, I invaded the vending machines. It was either dine on crap or starve. A little over an hour later, the pediatric orthopedist came into the room to tell me the procedure was over and everything went really well. He told me the baby would be back with me in a few minutes.

 

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Thirty minutes later, I heard my child crying frantically, “Momma! Momma! Momma!” as she was being wheeled down the hall. This was new. At the last two hospitals, I was the first person she saw when she woke up. At this location, a well-intentioned nurse was the first person she saw which scared the crap out of her. It took forever to calm her down. When I finally did, I decided it was best to check out. The pediatric orthopedist wanted me to get her x-rayed before leaving. I packed her up and away we went, one floor down.

We had to wait about twenty minutes before they called us back for her x-rays. During that time I got her to eat some applesauce and that seemed to perk her up. When we went back for the x-rays, the radiology technician told me she was going to stand for these x-rays.

“No,” I said. “She’s just coming off anesthesia. She can’t stand.”

“We have something that will hold her.”

“No. She’s not going to do it.”

“Okay.” The technician went back to prepare for the x-rays. I overheard her talking to her partner. “We’re doing the x-rays on her back.”

“Doctor’s orders,” her partner said. “She needs to stand.”

“No,” I interrupted their conversation. “She needs to be on her back.”

“Okay,” the technician said. “That’s what we’ll do.”

“But the doctor—”

“Mom trumps doctor,” the technician said, interrupting her partner.

 

 

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Hopefully, I didn’t screw anything up with the x-rays. That wasn’t my intention. We’ll find out in another month what the results of her spine are and with any luck, when she goes back in two months, they’ll take her out of the cast and place her into a brace.

Sincerely,

A. Marie

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