Monday, June 10, 2013
My tummy hurts.
Smirker came into my room every hour starting at midnight on May 2.
My tummy hurts.
How many times do we hear that as parents? A lot. It could be anything. Gas. A bad piece of cheese. A ploy to get into mama’s bed, which is what I was betting on that night. In the morning she had a fever and still was insistent on the tummy pain. My fiancé said “Hmmm that could be the appendix.” Nah. I thought. Couldn’t be. I’ll keep her here at work from home today. She’ll probably poop out her tummy trouble. But my fiancé’s words nagged in my head. My girl looked miserable, but none of the usual flu-like stomach symptoms. Then she said something that sealed the deal. “I need to go doctor.” She hates the doctor. “I need to go doctor, Mama.” I them called right away.
The pediatrician sent us to the ER after she asked Smirker where her tummy hurt and she pointed to the right side of her belly every time. I stopped and home and grabbed essentials: ipad, computer, chargers, Dora blanket, lambie, monkey and cow. And off to the ER we went.
We valeted. (How L.A. are we?) and waited. Smirker’s dad met us there and finally they called her in to get her vitals. I braced myself for this to go badly. She sees scrubs, she screams in terror. But she was good as can be and it worried me. Is she feeling that horrible? Well after looking at her it was a combo of two things. She felt like shit. That was for sure. But she had dreamy eyes.
“She is so good!” The tech getting her blood pressure said. Yeah for you. He was young and cute and she was flirting hard core. She bat her lashes. For real. Where do they learn this??? Oy. That’s my girl.
Then we are put in an ER room. And they say it’s time for an IV. She needs fluids. She screamed and cried while they got the IV in. Where was hot tech guy when we needed him??? Meanwhile they were trying to distract me with ER forms. I could barely fill them out. I clutched the clipboard to my chest, sort of scrawled out some info and stared at Smirker. The nurse asked me if I was sketching. Looking at my stance that’s what it looked like. Weird moment. Nope. Just freaking out my three year old is in the ER and getting needles shoved in her. They put her in a space koala hospital gown, which she liked because it was purple. And we waited for them to take us up to get an ultrasound. Then we would get some answers.
They wheeled in an ancient TV and VCR and we watched Pocahontas before finally she had to pee! Urine sample time! Whoo hoo!. She thought it was silly that they wanted her pee, but it went well. Finally they were ready for her ultrasound. They pushed Smirker and her dad in a wheelchair up to the ultrasound room. I practically ran to keep up. (Those transport guys are fast!) I lay with her in the bed while they gooeyed up her stomach with the ultrasound thingy. Smirker was so good. She kept saying, “Make me better? Make me better?” Yeah babe soon. The ultrasound tech was tight lipped as they usually are. And we went back to our room to wait once more for the doc’s results.
About an hour later, the surgical resident came in and said, “Yes we need to take her appendix out. Rare in someone this young.”
This whole time I was sure they would send us home. I was sure they’d say, ahhh she’s just constipated. But nope. My little three-year-old is going to have surgery. And yes I know this is routine. This is the appendix for godsake. This is common. But I did not like this one bit. Surgery was scheduled for 9:00pm. They don’t want to take a chance that the appendix might burst. So officially checked in we were.
Checking into her hospital room was surreal. The last time I was in a room like this was when I delivered her. And here we were again.
I ran home while her dad stayed with her. I showered and grabbed a change of clothes. My fiancé had a bag packed for me and told me to tell Smirker that he bought “rainbow” for her. (She’s addicted to Rainbow sherbet.) They took us on a ride down to the surgical ward. Smirks liked riding in her bed. I rode with her. She giggled a lot. I think she was nervous. We waited by the nurse’s station. They doted on her. I haven’t mentioned this yet, but every single person Smirks has met is enamored. Well she is the freakin cutest! They hook her up with a stuffed cat and an ipad and she watches old Wile E Coyote cartoons.
Then the anesthesiologist comes and says. “Ok. I’m going to give her some happy juice so she’s ok when we take her away from you.” (PASS THAT HAPPY JUICE OVER HERE PLEASE!)
The happy juice is awesome. I can tell. Smirker takes her new cat and proceeds to make him pee on my face. “Mama, cat pee on your face!” The nurses laugh and say it must be the before surgery cocktail, but little do they know this is the normal shit she would say. Then they say it’s time to go. I climb out of the bed and they push her down the hall. She waves goodbye deliriously like she was off to the fair. I could practically see the pinwheel in her hand. Her dad and I went to the waiting room and set our clocks for one hour. And we watch that bloody ass Hannibal TV show for some fucked up reason.
The surgeon comes out (who is AWESOME). “It went perfectly. Her appendix needed to be out that’s for sure. But we caught it before it burst. It was a little red hot chili pepper.”
My first thought was, Can I take it home? But I told myself to let that idea go.
Then they let me go into recovery. This is a new thing I think. They let parents of small kids go in now. I didn’t like it in there. The vibe is strange. I see Smirker. She’s just coming out of the anesthesia. Have you seen someone come out of anesthesia? It’s scary. She had all sorts of tubes and monitors connected to her and she was freaking out, contorting herself, arching her back, eyes squeezed shut. And she was calling for me, “Mama! I want mama!” She wouldn’t keep the oxygen mask on. She kept pulling it off, but she needed it. So they put her in my arms in a chair next to the bed and had me try to hold it on. “I’m here. I’m here.” I whispered to her. She calmed and fell asleep again. I held the mask over her face. After a while I put her back in the bed and climbed in next to her. I stayed with her until they felt she was ready to go.
I looked over and a nurse walked in just starting her shift and our eyes connected. She looked confused for a second then saw Smirker and smiled. “Oh I was going to say, you look great for just having surgery!”
I took a look at Smirker’s bandage over her belly button. It was a heart. That made me feel better in the moment.
Back in her room I watcher her sleeping peacefully and thought how gorgeous she looked even after surgery. Seriously. The night went pretty well. She woke once to pee and didn’t quite make it and didn’t want to walk. But fell asleep after a crazy few minutes.
The next day she woke to my parents (who live in Chicago) at her bedside. That’s another thing. I called my mom and dad when I knew she had to go into surgery. Without missing a beat, they said, “We’re flying out first thing in the morning.” They really are the best.
“I want iPad,” Smirker said. “And purple nails.”
Anesthsia didn’t change my girl a bit. She spent most of the day watching movies and playing Candy Maker on my iPad. She and her Nama planned the week they would have (purple nails included) and my dad wheeled her around the peds floor in a wagon.
“Love Monster miss me,” Smirker said at one point.
“Yeah. We’ll see her soon,” I said.
She was a great patient. Except for when it came time to take her Tylenol. And it didn’t help that the nurse would only push the plunger down a TINY bit when Smirker finally let her give it to her. JUST DO IT ALL AT ONCE. I wanted to scream. But nope. So Smirker started getting cranky. At one point I tried to clean her face with a wash cloth and she was so pissed I did that she licked her hand and wiped it on her face over and over saying “No clean! No clean!” When I giggled she wiped her face even harder with her saliva soaked hand. Man she needed pain medication and sleep. Stat.
They let us go later that afternoon, even though Smirker refused to try and walk. And the long awaited Smirker/Love Monster reunion commenced! Within minutes LM accidentally smacked her sister in the stomach. Should have seen that coming.
By the next day Smirker realized that taking Tylenol would make her feel better and she started walking again. She was a little guarded with her tummy, but other than that. She was totally back to normal.
Chalk that up to an obligatory parent experience. I was in my kitchen after putting Smirker to sleep the night we came home. I threw away a peanut butter cup wrapper and I started crying. My fiancé hugged me as he realized it just hit me. I had been in strong mom mode for about 24 hours straight and that chocolate peanut butter perfection brought down my armor. You hear that saying “Your kids are your heart outside your body.” I mean I still put my hand in front of their mouths when they are sleeping to make sure they are breathing. There are times that that saying is painfully clear. What hurts you the most is when someone you love more then anything is hurting. And this was only her appendix.