Saturday, January 20, 2007

Orchiopexy Update

3B's orchiopexy went well. The surgeon located 3B's second testicle "way up in his abdomen" and pulled it down and secured it in place. Although we were at the hospital for awhile, the surgery itself went smoothly and took less than an hour.

This was great news because, until the surgeon told us after surgery that he had found it, we had gotten no confirmation that 3B had a second testicle from any ultrasound or exam. As a result, we had prepared ourselves for what appeared to be a likely outcome--3B had just one testicle. The reason that nobody could find it was that it was hiding, as the surgeon said is common, fairly high in his abdomen. This news confirms the surgeon's good choice to not delay surgery any longer than necessary, since it likely wouldn't have descended on its own.

Since Mama and I were up at 3:30 this morning, and 3B was up at 5:30, we've all spent most of our time following the surgery napping and fussing--except Barky, who's just been napping. (Note: I wrote this yesterday, with good intentions of posting it then, but with all of our napping, I just got around to it. We seem to be back to a somewhat normal schedule today, however.) As the doctor predicted, 3B's a bit more fussy than usual, but probably no more so than when he was teething, and Tylenol is helping quite a bit with that, so he's been able to sleep--even rolling around in his crib and moving from back to side to front and back again.

3B was a trouper throughout, although he was inconsolable after surgery until Mama showed up to nurse him--they tried to offer 3B a bottle, as if he might actually take it . . . would you offer Aldo Sohm box wine? I think not. Before the surgery, once he was fully awake after being rousted so early, he loved playing with the toys in the waiting room and didn't even care that we changed him into a hospital gown. Just a word here about hospital gowns--even the infant ones leave the patient's ass hanging out. 3B had on a gown and matching pants over his diaper, and somehow the pants are designed to not only slide down but also pull his diaper down too, which meant that, despite our best efforts, he spent the morning sporting plumber's crack.

3B also wasn't nervous or emotional, as his parents were. During all of our pre-op meetings with the doctors and nurses, they explained that only one parent is allowed into the surgery suite to comfort a baby as he's going under because they "don't have enough staff to handle two people fainting." After that warning, Mama didn't think she could handle carrying 3B back there. So after I got into my bright yellow paper gown and hat, which led one nurse to call me "Big Bird," I carried him back, accompanied by the anesthesiologist and a few nurses.

On the surgery bed was a soft pad with warm air flowing through it and tiny perforations throughout it, which allowed the warm air to flow out over 3B as he lay on the pad. As I was laying him down, a nurse was already covering him with a warm blanket. Having shivered through a surgery myself, I was glad to see all of those accomodations for the little guy. As they had explained, 3B went under from breathing gas from a mask that they held firmly over his face. After he was out, and after I had left, they started an IV in his foot that provided drugs to keep him out for the rest of the surgery, reduce his secretions, and so on.

They had warned that, as an infant goes under, which can take up to two minutes, he will sometimes thrash his head back and forth and that his eyes will roll back in his head. This was the point at which Mama said she thought that it was best if I carried 3B into surgery. During this time, it helps calm the infant if a parent speaks or sings to him, and it helps the doctors and nurses if the parent holds his hands gently out of the way. And so, as I lay 3B down, I started singing to him my favorite lullaby. Although 3B didn't thrash his head or roll his eyes--he mostly lay still, looking up--it was hard at times to keep singing for the lump rising in my throat, but the singing kept me from crying as I just kept going, trying to be as gentle and soothing with my voice as possible. Not only didn't he fuss, but 3B didn't take two minutes to go under, since I only got halfway through the second verse before he was out, and a nurse escorted me out to the lobby to join Mama for the wait.

As it turned out, I was waiting for the bathroom when the surgeon came out and reported the good news to Mama, but he repeated all the news once I joined them, and we all shared a laugh or two of relief. After that, Mama and I felt as if a tremendous weight had been lifted from us, and in spite of our fatigue, we were giddy. As I said, we met an inconsolable and starving 3B in recovery, where Mama settled him down my filling up his empty belly. We then made our way home, where we've been mostly napping ever since.

Part of that continuing fatigue likely comes from the release of all of our pent up anxiety about the surgery, the anesthetics, the recovery, and the changes we would have to make if 3B had only one testicle. For now, however, the road ahead looks good. 3B's already standing (with support, as he was before) and sitting up on his own so, knock on wood, it looks like he'll have a normal recovery.

Epilogue: Sitting in the hospital, both strung out on adrenaline and anticipation and giddy from relief and fatigue, I couldn't help but think of the other hospital visits that I've had, mostly visiting family members, of which there have fortunately been few. Looking around, I couldn't help but think of the insightful, eloquent, and often painful writing about hospitals, doctors, and medicine by those who I've never met, but who have recently had the misfortune to require more hospital visits than such good, kind, wise people should ever have to contemplate. We're separated by miles, years, and experiences, but not a day goes by that I don't worry over them or check for word from them. And although our experiences are all unique, their words helped prepare me for and comfort me in advance of our day at the hospital. If you have a moment, I'm sure that a word or two of support, companionship, or encouragement, even just to let them know that you're listening, would be welcomed by Vampdaddy and Dutch and Wood over at Sweet Juniper.

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  1. whoosh...sigh of relief.

    I know how hard it is to sing to your child while you're choked up. Big Bird, you get a big gold star.

  2. Glad to hear it all worked out well. It's funny how doctors can make you feel reassured that they've done this 100 times, but it's still always your kid that they are doing it on.

    Really nice writing too. I have to admit, you had me tearing up through most of it. It's just hard seeing the ones we're supposed to be taking care of, needing more care than we can we give them.

  3. Glad to hear that 3B came thorugh with flying colors and the correct number of squishy bits.

  4. wonderful!

    (now take some time to relax)

  5. Anonymous2:32 PM

    Yeah! Glad The Best Scenario came through with flying colors!

    Rest rest rest, snuggle snuggle snuggle.

  6. Thank you so much for this post. My 5 year old has surgery this Friday and I am dreading it, but your blog helped me feel better about it.

  7. Melanie: Best of luck to you and your boy.

  8. Thank you so much for this post. My 17-month-old is having his Orchiopexy procedure tomorrow morning. I am incredibly nervous about it, which is how I encountered your story. I am looking for any comfort or understanding of the events that will take place tomorrow. I like to be prepared so that I can have my game-face on. Thank you for the heads-up on what to expect. I hope my little man has as much success as 3B.

  9. Mommy L: I'm glad it provided some comfort, and I hope the best for your son as well. If you have the time or desire, please let me know how it goes.