First of all, I am sorry that it has taken me so long to write an update regarding Summer’s surgery. Taking care of her has been my only priority, and it turned out to be a full-time job in and of itself. As she started getting better, I decided to write a little post detailing our experience just in case it helps someone else who has to go through the same thing.
Day 1 – The surgery day went smoothly. Summer was nervous, but she was all smiles. When they wheeled her away, tears filled me eyes. I have heard of some surgery centers where you are allowed to walk back into the OR with your child. That was not the case at this one. They took her away, and she looked so little as she happily took a ride on the big bed.
The surgery took about 1 1/2 hours. Seeing her doctor walk into our room was such a huge relief. He said that she did great and that the adenoids and tonsils definitely needed to come out because of their size. They were contributing to blocking everything into her sinuses.
About 30 minutes later, I looked out and saw the nurses wheeling Summer down the hall. I could tell that she had been crying, and it broke my heart. The nurse said that she did great and that she loves her mommy and poppy very much. She later told me that she kept telling them that she just wanted to see us.
The first few hours went well. They had given her several pain and anti-nausea medications, and she rested for about two hours. When she woke up, she wanted to watch a movie, so I climbed into bed with her. When her food arrived, she actually ate a pancake and drank some water. I was so proud of her and hopeful for her recovery.
The night quickly went downhill. Sean had to leave, and Summer and I were left alone in the room. She has an aversion to medicine, so getting her to take pain medication was a challenge. The alarms kept going off because her pulse-ox was low. So, between taking vitals, begging her to take pain medicine, and just everything that goes into a hospital stay, the night was quite sleepless. She kept begging me to take her home, and I kept begging the time to move faster. We both slept from about 3-5:30 am, and I was so happy to see that it was almost discharge time.
Day 2 – We were released from the surgery center at 6:30, and I was thrilled because I knew that we would get home in time to see the boys before they went to school. Summer left in a great deal of pain because her last dose of pain medicine had been at 1:30 am. When we arrived home, we had hoped to have her more comfortable. Unfortunately, she was in severe pain until we could convince her to take some Ibuprofen. Some doctors apparently do not let their patients take Ibuprofen. It was prescribed by our doctor, and it ended up being the only pain medication that Summer took during her entire recovery. We were also prescribed Lortab Elixir, but Summer did not like the way that it burned when she swallowed it, so we never even filled that prescription.
She continued to take the Ibuprofen every 6 hours, but each time, we had to beg her to take it, reminding her of how it would make her feel better. Since it was Pizza and Movie night, she surprised us by asking for pizza. Then, she surprised us even more when she ate two small pieces of it. Once gain, we were very hopeful for her recovery.
Summer took a few small naps during the day and went to bed at 10 pm that night. She slept until about 1 am, and then she was in and out until around 3 am. We begged and pleaded with her to take her medicine, but she would not take it. The pain was so severe that she could not think about anything else. Swallowing the pain medicine was more than she could handle. Since I needed some rest, my mom stayed up with her until she finally went back to sleep around 5. She slept until around 8 the next morning.
Day 3 – When Summer woke up, it had been almost 12 hours since her last dose of medicine. We were able to convince her to drink water, but she still refused the medicine. Finally, around 10, she took the medicine and was able to eat. She surprised us by wanting chicken strips and French fries. She had to take very small bites, but she was able to it it slowly. We were thrilled that she was able to eat solid food. As long as she kept taking the pain medicine, she was able to sit up, play some, and eat relatively well.
As I mentioned earlier, her doctor had prescribed Ibuprofen. I went to two pharmacies before I went to my favorite Target pharmacy. The first two were closer to the house, which made them more convenient. They both informed me that Ibuprofen was available over the counter, which I obviously knew. Target was as wonderful as ever. They filled the prescription according to the dosage that the doctor wanted Summer to take.
We decided that maybe Summer needed to sleep with her head more elevated, so she slept in the recliner. Sean took the first shift with her, and it was about a 4 hour stretch of sleep. Summer came to get me at 2 am because her ear was hurting really bad. I had read that the ear pain would start on Day 4, so I was as ready for it as possible. Gabriel has always had severe ear infections, and one of the things that has always helped ease the pain is to add dry rice to a sock, tie the end of the sock, and then heat it in the microwave for 30-45 seconds. So, I had those all ready for Summer. When she woke up, I heated up the rice bag and placed it on her ear. It eased the pain immediately. She went back to sleep and slept until about 5 am, when she woke with more ear pain. I heated the rice bags, and my mom and dad took the last shift of the night.
Day 4 – The ear pain continued to be severe. We kept the pain manageable by giving her Ibuprofen and heating up the rice bags frequently. The pain definitely became harder to handle on Day 4, and we started spending more time just sitting, watching movies, and trying our best to keep her comfortable.
We had always planned to bribe Summer to take her medicine because we knew that it would be an issue. My mom had her some presents, and I had her some presents. They were mostly little things, but, to her, the thought of opening a gift was worth the pain of swallowing the medicine. Luckily, Gabriel remembered how much he loved playing Webkinz when he was Summer’s age, so we went to the store and bought her some Webkinz. She was thrilled. It gave her something new to look forward to at medicine time, and it gave her another form of entertainment on the computer.
Summer did continue to eat solid food, requesting chicken strips and French fries again. It took her longer to chew and swallow, but she was still eating and drinking, which we knew was a good sign. She and I stayed up until around 11 pm Sunday night playing Webkinz and watching movies. Since Sean had to go back to work on Monday, I had the day and night shifts for the week. I could not have been prepared for the lack of sleep that began Sunday night. Summer woke up every 30-60 minutes, crying in pain. I would heat up the rice bags, get her to take a drink of water, and beg her to take some medicine. She refused the medicine all night long. It was a very, very long night.
Day 5 – I had to wake up at 6 am Monday morning so that I could get the boys ready for school. Summer woke up while I was getting them ready, so Gabriel sat with her and tried to convince her to take her medicine. He can usually get her to do things that no one else can. It did not work this time. She refused the medicine. Once the boys left for school, I took her temperature, and she had a temp of about 100, which was to be expected. However, it worried me because I knew that the Ibuprofen would help control it. I reminded her that Ethan had ended up back in the hospital after his surgery because he was dehydrated. He had to spend three nights. Given how much she disliked her hospital stay, I knew that she had to understand that it was a possibility if we did not get her to eat, drink, and take her medicine at home. Thankfully, she decided that taking her medicine at home was much better than taking it at the hospital.
After she took the medicine, we both took a long morning nap, and we were able to start our day fresh again late-morning. Her ear and throat pain became more severe on this day, and she stopped eating solid food. She drank fluids and had ice cream. The lack of food did not bother her too much because she was in too much pain to think about anything else.
We went to bed at around midnight, and the night went about the same way as the night before. She woke up about every 45 minutes. I would heat up the rice bags, soothe her, and wait for her to be able to fall back asleep.
Day 6 – This was the day that I started trying to find out everything that I could about the recovery. I just needed to know when there would be a light at the end of the tunnel. Watching Summer suffer was one of the hardest things that I have done as a parent. She was in so much pain, she was not eating, and she was looking smaller and smaller.
The days were relatively calm. She would cry out in pain, but I could distract her with warm baths, movies, games, reading, etc. However, she was getting more tired and hungry each day, and the pain was not getting any better. She just kept asking me, “Momma, when will I feel good again?”
Once again, we went to bed at about midnight, and she woke up about every 45 to 60 minutes in pain. Luckily, we have tile floor or else I would have worn a path from the couch to the microwave with all of the trips that I took there during the day and night.
Day 7 – I am not sure if the pain, the exhaustion, or the hunger was the worst part of it for Summer. The ear pain had not lightened up at all, and her throat started hurting more. I tried to explain to her that her scabs were probably turning lose and that it was a good thing. The thought of that did not make her feel much better, but when I told her that it was the last real painful thing that she would endure, she was somewhat happy about that.
We spent the day continuing to play games, read, watch movies, snuggle, and hope that this would be the last painful day.
She did not eat any solid food, preferring broth, water, and ice cream. I weighed her, and she had lost 5 pounds.
We went to bed at midnight again, but she managed a two 1/2 hour stretch of sleep and then another two 1/2 our stretch before waking up at 4:45 am.
Day 8 – When Summer woke up at 4:45 am, she was just exhausted, physically and mentally. I think that she was to the point of wondering how much more of it all she could handle.
The evening of Day 8 was huge. She willingly took her medicine for the first time in days, and my little girl finally started smiling and laughing again. My mom arrived at about 7 pm, and we all just watched the rays of sunshine from our Summer Lovin’. We were beyond thrilled.
She decided to sleep in her bed with my mom, and she happily fell asleep around 10 pm. She woke up at around 2 am in pain, took her medicine, had my mom heat up the rice bags, and went back to sleep.
Day 9 – Summer woke up at around 9 am, and she was in considerable pain. I was a little discouraged because seeing her the night before had given me hope that she was really on the mend. My mom picked her up some pancakes and bacon because that had been her request the night before. When she arrived back home, though, Summer was in tears, refusing medicine, and would not eat. To make matters worse, I was working that afternoon, so I had to leave her in tears.
About 15 minutes after I left, she texted me a video to let me know that she took her medicine. And, that moment was the final turning point for her. While I was gone, she ate pancakes, bacon, French fries, toast, and chicken strips, and she drank a big cup of water and apple juice. She was smiling when I arrived home with the boys, and I knew that our sunshine girl was finally home.
We had Pizza and Movie night, all the while looking around in amazement that things were almost back to normal. She went to sleep at about 10 pm, and, while she did wake up every two hours for her rice bags, she would quickly go right back to sleep.
Day 10 – Summer woke up at 10:30 am, walked straight to the recliner, and sat down (without crying). After about 10 minutes, she said, “Momma, if I take my medicine, can I play outside?” I told her that she absolutely could. She took her medicine and spent most of the remainder of the day playing outside. She had a great day and then slept through the night for 11 hours straight.
Day 11 – Summer woke up and wanted to play outside again. She still ate slower and had to take Ibuprofen before some meals because her throat still really hurts. However, we all spent the day doing some projects in the yard, playing, and then watching the Super Bowl as a family. I looked at Sean and said, “We have our Sunshine back. We have our family back. It feels so good to be normal.”
Overall, I would say that days 1-3 are manageable, days 4-7 are brutal, and full recovery begins on day 8. In hindsight, a week does not seem like too long. I think that there were just so many factors that made it rough for Summer and for our family. Namely, she had been sick for so long and then had extensive surgery with the combination of tonsils and sinus. The absolute worst part was just watching her suffer and knowing that I could not take it away. I have loved my children in many ways. Perhaps the greatest love of all is wanting them to never hurt, never cry, and never fear.
I have had so much time to reflect on so many things over the past few weeks. The emergency room trip was eye opening, and then the surgery was kind of life changing. I have thought about my family, my priorities, and my life. As always, my greatest, best job in the world is being a mom to my littles and wife to my husband. At the end of the day, if I am remembered for nothing except being a good mom and wife, I am perfectly great with that. As our lives have changed over the past few months, my priorities have shifted, as well. While I will still share some of our life here, it will mostly just be the things that I think are important – Ethan’s progress, big news, a journal of our moments/memories/events. It will be more of a life and mommy blog than a cooking blog because, honestly, life is what we naturally create every day. Staging food is not a part of that life for me. When I do share food, it will likely be a part of how it occurred naturally on our table, my kitchen counter, or on the outside picnic table.
As I look back over the past 12 days since Summer’s surgery, I know that I was a great mom to my little girl, giving her everything that she needed and loving her with all of my heart. As I look back over my life one day, I want to be able to say the same thing – that I gave my family everything that I had and loved them with all of my heart. Because, to me, that is what really matters.