Friday, December 6, 2013
Christopher's Surgery and a Tangent
Christopher had surgery on Tuesday to separate three of his fingers on his left hand. He was born with syndactyly of his left hand and missing fingers (he has 2) on his right one. Hopefully, separating the fingers on his left hand will give him more ability as he grows.
We got up bright and early and headed to Shriner's Hospital for Children in Philadelphia. Once again, I feel so blessed to live near such good hospitals. Everyone else we met at the hospital had come from out of state and had to stay in a hotel or with friends and family in the area.
Christopher was fine in the morning. He seemed even a little excited to be out of the house so early in the day. What an adventure!
We were brought to our room to wait before surgery. That was really nice. For Nicholas and Ellie's surgeries (at a different hospital), we had to wait in a waiting room before getting ready for surgery.
Shriner's is definitely smaller and less busy than Cooper (the hospital the other kids' cleft lip and palate teams work out of ) -- it has its advantages. We felt less rushed and more attended to.
They even had toys for Christopher to play with while we waited...and waited...
I only took pictures when Christopher was happy. But there was a lot of whining and crying between the happy moments. Not because he was scared or in pain, but because he was hungry!
Thank goodness for the toys that aided in distracting him for a while.
...along with a few games of peek-a-boo.
And some tickles.
But we waited a very long time. And even the toys and games and tickles grew old.
He grew really hungry and thirsty. He was pointing at my diaper bag as if to say "Mom, get out that bottle! Or some snacks...you know, like you always do. Why aren't you feeding me??"
Eventually he lost it and cried for about an hour. And writhed. And arched his back. And hit me. Even after giving him "giggle juice" or Versed, he continued his tantrum for about 20 minutes. Ugh.
Finally he tuckered out in the pre-op room. I turned him away from me because just looking at me (not feeding him) made him so angry.
He fell asleep right before they needed to take him to the OR. I placed him carefully on the stretcher and he didn't wake up. The doctors told me later that he never woke up even as they administered the anesthesia. So that was good.
John and I hung out and talked during the 2 hour surgery. If we had to be at a hospital with our child, at the very least we could use the time to actually communicate. That part was nice. John and I haven't had much time to talk lately.
Christopher's surgery went really well. When he woke up, he didn't cry much. He was just so very grateful for the cup of apple juice they gave him. He grabbed that cup with his good hand and never let go. He downed 3 cups in about an hour.
He glared at me: "don't ever starve me again!" (I imagined.)
After the 3 cups of juice and a little morphine, he passed out again. We were discharged that evening with instructions on how to care for his arm in a cast, and a prescription for some pain medication.
He has been home for 2 days now and is doing remarkably well. He does not seem to be in pain, and is walking all over the place as if he has always had a heavy cast on his arm.
He is not sleeping well -- up every 2-3 hours -- so I am very tired. But what else is new? I think it is uncomfortable to sleep with the cast. Plus, he doesn't have his thumb available to suck to soothe himself back to sleep.
He will have his cast taken off in about 3 weeks. Just in time for Christmas! I feel so grateful that his procedure was a relatively minor one. We met an adorable, sweet 11- year old with severe scoliosis, who has been in the hospital for a month and will be there until January. She was in a halo traction splint and told us of two more major surgeries coming up. We really are so blessed to be able to be recovering at home, and to be feeling so good.
I also feel so blessed to be in the position -- as an American, as a middle-class adult, as an adoptive mom -- to be able to help a child like Christopher, who would have been discriminated against for his condition in his birth country, or perhaps would not have had a surgery such as this available to him.
I often think to myself, "how did I get so lucky to be on this side of the adoption?" (i.e. the adoptive mother rather than the birth mother). I am so blessed to have been born in a country that allows me the freedom to have as many or as few children as I chose. And that allows me to adopt internationally. So lucky to have the means and support to raise my children. So blessed to living in a culture that is at least beginning to accept all differences in people.
I am so blessed that it is so relatively easy to give Christopher a much better standard of living. I am not deluded into believing this has anything to do with me or my 'goodness,' -- I am just a willing participant and so so lucky.
I wish somehow his birth parents could see how happy and competent and smart Christopher is.
I remember praying a quick little prayer one day -- back before I had kids and when I wasn't even sure if I believed in God: "God, if you are real and you can hear me, please let me help some people while I am living. Let my life make a difference to someone. " And then I threw in "...like maybe animals or children??" (like the God if the universe would need a few ideas- ha!) I often think about that prayer now and wonder if this is God's fulfillment to that desire. I know there is so so much more I can do, and that so many do much more than I do. But, I am also doing more than I ever imagined I would. I think I envisioned my life being more about the American Dream and Success, the Perfect Family and a Career. But things didn't go may way exactly. Did my six pregnancy losses have something to do with that little prayer, giving me an unquenchable desire for children and forcing me to think about what it would mean to parent a child with medical needs? Those losses certainly started me on my path to God, because before hard time in my life, I thought the secret to happiness was hard work and good planning. Who needed God?
Did God throw me off course to give me even more than I could ever have imagined for myself? To be part of Christopher's -- and all of my other children's -- stories? To fulfill my desire to do some good with my life?
I don't know the answers to these questions -- maybe it is all the human brain's tendency to connect any dots to make a linear storyline?? But, if it is true - -and I like to think it is -- then I feel even more abundantly blessed to have been heard and answered by my loving creator.