‘Just’ a Tonsillectomy…
I must acknowledge first off, that Kate and I recently celebrated the birth of our sixth child, Phillip. Details to come, I promise. Things have certainly been busy at the Shirley’s casa on La Casa.
When Kate arrived at the entrance to the ER yesterday with Patrick, I was stunned. My oldest son could barely walk. I had been working when Kate sent me a picture of a toilet bowl full of fresh blood and a note that she was on her way to Primary Children’s Medical Center. I walked across the bridge and got there before she did. She needed me to park The Behemoth, and as I pulled away from the curb I looked back to see Patrick shuffling his feet as Kate supported him. His pajama pants and Kate’s jacket were baggy on him and he was as white as a ghost. He carried a barf bag full of blood.
After parking the van I reentered the ED lobby and was told by the registrar that they had already taken him back. The volunteer escorted me to the room. I was surprised when she took me to the right, toward the trauma rooms. I was even more surprised to find nearly twenty people in his room. Everyone from radiology to anesthesiology to social work to security was there. In the time it took Kate to give the registrar her insurance card, they had taken Patrick back, put him on a bed and started two IVs, one for each arm. There was no room in the bay for me, so I stood in the hallway, Kate’s purse in my left hand, and Phillip’s car seat at my right.
Kate told me they were taking him to surgery. Surgery? For what? Before I could ask, the anesthesiologist was asking me questions about Patrick’s prior history. A moment later the doctor who had performed Patrick’s tonsillectomy 6 days prior appeared. He put a tongue depressor in Patrick’s mouth and removed it, bloodied. As fast as I could pick up his Crocs and Kate’s sweatshirt they were wheeling his gurney out of the room. Though he had a blanket draped over his bare chest, he continued to shiver as they rushed him down the hall, an army of people in tow and us trying to keep up. We spilled out of the elevator on the second floor and followed him into the surgery holding room, right up to where we were stopped by a black and yellow striped piece of tape on the floor that restricted our access. I signed a piece of paper as he was wheeled out of sight. All the while the staff at Primary’s reassured Patrick that he would be fine.
After checking in at the desk in the waiting room Kate and I looked around for a place where we could sit apart from all the other parents. We didn’t want Phillip exposed to too many people. Eventually we found a spot in the hallway. After waiting an eternity (it was a really long hour) Kate was allowed to go see him in recovery. Eventually they came to get me and I packed up the purse, Patrick’s belongings, the diaper bag and Phillip and trudged over to recovery.
I passed into darkness as I stepped through the curtain and found Patrick on his side, half sleeping. He was okay. When his tonsils had been removed a week earlier I was told by the surgeon that Patrick’s left side had been a challenge, due to excessive scar tissue, and that P Man would be pretty sore because of it. And ultimately it had been the left side that had punched his return ticket to the hospital. In surgery they had cauterized the bleed. Fortunately it was a venous bleed, instead of arterial, which could have been fatal.
Kate had just fished Phillip out of the bath when Patrick first vomited blood. Her plan had been to go to the store to get Patrick some strawberry milk. Had she been 5 minutes faster, she would not have been there when it started.
After sitting with Patrick for a while I looked at Kate and we decided that a hospital was a bad place for a newborn. So Kate left with Phillip. Of course, I rode the train to work that day, so we had to make transportation arrangements, hoping that he would get to go home that night.
After Kate left I had nothing to do but sit while Patrick recovered. I could only do so much work from my phone, so Cormac McCarthy’s The Road kept me company while Patrick zoned out and watched The Avengers. It was a good distraction from the ‘what-ifs’ that surge through any parent’s head after a scary event.
Seven hours after he went to surgery we were cleared to take him home. Thankfully he did not need a blood transfusion. They did pump him full of fluids, though. As we waited for our ride I watched him, already a thin boy, emaciated from lack of eating over the last week and weak and pale in his wheelchair. I knew he was really feeling crappy when he stopped laughing at my wickedly funny jokes. We were glad to have him sleep on the spare mattress at the foot of our bed last night. And for once, I didn’t give him a hard time for sleeping past noon…