Sunday, November 11, 2012


At the end of the day, I have to be thankful that Ava is okay.  When we took Ava to the Ophthalmologist last Tuesday, we had no idea what could be causing such horrible pain in her eye.  This pain left her screaming, crying, clawing at her eye, thrashing around on the floor.  It is incredibly hard to see your child in so much pain and not be able to help.

It turns out that the glitter on a head band of a costume that Ava wore had gotten in BOTH of her eyes.  The glitter in her left eye was lodged in her cornea and starting to rust.  To safely remove the glitter, Ava would have to be put under general anesthesia.  I had so many hesitations.  Ava is a very fearful child.  How would this experience affect her going forward?  What if those minor risks associated with the surgery become a reality?  What affect would the anesthesia have on her?  How much pain would she be in after the surgery?  Etc, etc.  But Ava couldn't go on living with this pain, so we scheduled her surgery for this past Friday.

Everything went well pre-surgery.  We woke Ava up in the morning, took her straight to the car and headed to the hospital.  She asked questions and accepted our brief answers.  We're going to get your eye fixed.  It's not going to hurt.  Your eye will feel so much better.  

Despite the very hospital-feel of the Outpatient Surgery Center, Ava did not freak out like I expected.  She was easily distracted by coloring and sticker and cartoons.  Once they gave her Versed, an amnesia-inducing medicine that works like Valium, we thought the worst was over.  It was actually hilarious to see Ava under the influence of Versed.  

They came and and wheeled her off to surgery in a wagon with her Teddy.  No problems.  Yet.

Once they got her to the operating room, they put a mask on her face to put her to sleep and they started the IV for the anesthesia.  The nurse warned us that kids coming off anesthesia can have one or more reactions that could last for an hour or two:  1) They can be tired and cranky, 2)  They can be silly and dream-like and 3)  They can be REALLY pissed.  Tim and I both knew how Ava would react.  We thought we were prepared for the worst, but we had no idea.

The nurse told me that they would only allow one of us to go to the recovery room to be with Ava because there would be other kids in there and there wasn't enough room for every kid to have both parents.  When the nurse came to get one of us, she said, "Ava is screaming."  I jumped up and rushed out the door.  My first sight of Ava was frightening.  I can't get the image out of my head.  The best way I can think to describe it is like an Exorcism.  It looked like she was possessed by the devil.  The nurse was doing her best to hold her down in the chair and Ava was putting up the fight of her life.  I ran up to Ava and told her who I was.  She reached for me and I sat down in the chair holding her.  Almost immediately the screaming and thrashing started up again.  There was a patch over her eye that she kept trying to rip off.  When I got her hand away from her eye she'd try to rip out her IV.  When I got her hand away from her IV she'd try to rip the blood/oxygen sensor off her big toe.  All the while she is thrashing and screaming and crying and inconsolable.  I'm struggling to hold on to her.  The nurse assures me that this is a normal reaction.  I asked the nurse if we could take all this off of her.  She agrees to call the doctor to ask for permission.  It's taking FOREVER.  I let Ava rip off the patch covering her eye.  Then I warn the nurse that I'm going to let her take out the IV so she may want to come help.  By the way, there are no other kids in the recovery room, just me, Ava and a bunch of nurses standing around staring at the spectacle we are making.  Why is it that only one parent can be in this GIANT, EMPTY room.  As I nearly drop Ava on the ground, I am now screaming at the nurses to get my husband.  THREE times.  GO GET MY HUSBAND.  We are just trying to help you, Mam.  IF YOU WANT TO HELP THAN GO GET MY HUSBAND.  NOW!  Not my best moment.

Tim comes in the recovery room and takes over.  I am exhausted.  I've had no sleep due to my 3 week old baby, I've been wresting with the strongest 4 year old on the planet and I'm fighting back the urge to break down and cry.  We decide that it would be better to get Ava back to her hospital room where we can have some privacy.  Unfortunately, Ava's behavior continues for another 30 minutes or so.  Now she is screaming I WANT TO GET OUT OF HERE!  I JUST WANT TO GO HOME!  That's my Ava.  Even under the influence of heavy drugs she knows what she wants and won't give up until she gets it.  She is becoming more coherent and after another 10 minutes we are allowed to leave.  This is the first time Ava has relaxed since she woke up from the surgery.  She falls asleep on me.  The nurse says she'll probably sleep most of the afternoon.  They don't know Ava.  I carry her to the car and she sleeps next to me as Tim drives us home.  Peace.

We got home at 11:15 am.  Ava woke up when we got her out of the car and she woke up pissed again.  Not as pissed as when we were at the hospital but not at all happy.  She does not sleep again until after 9 pm despite the nurse's certainty that she would sleep all afternoon.  Ava has never been a "typical" child and our experience with Ava in this situation is anything but typical.  It isn't until about noon when Ava finally calms down and watches TV.  After several hours of cartoons, the Ava I know and love is back.  Thank you God.

Ava doesn't remember much about this ordeal.  The Versed is amnesia-inducing which is very fortunate for a fearful child.  Now that this situation is behind us and life is back to normal I have gained some perspective.  I am thankful that Ava is healthy.  I am thankful that this problem is resolved.  I am thankful that we don't have bigger health problems to deal with.  I am thankful for my mom who was there to help us whenever we needed her.  But mostly I am thankful for Ava.  Ava has always been a challenging little girl.  There are days - many days - when she pushes me past my limits.  Going through this experience with her reminded me just how much I love her.  I would do anything for her and I can't imagine life without her.


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Becky R said...

Oh gosh, Cathy! I'm so sorry you guys had such a horrible experience with the after-effects of the Versed. I can't believe they wouldn't let Tim just come in right away even though you were the only people in there.

I'm so glad it's over! We're thinking of you guys! Love you!

Nithya said...

Gosh Cathy! Traumatic experience. As parents we get to see and support our kids through the best times but also hold and comfort them at their worst. We are the best advocates for our kids, no matter how experienced those doctors and nurses are. This experience reminds me of the time N was out of surgery when she was 1.5 yrs old. She screamed and pulled on wires so much that the anesthesiologist ran out 15 mins after N was in recovery to tell us "please go in and calm your kid, I've never seen a more feisty 1 yr old!" . V.similar to Ava's reaction. She sure gave those OR recovery nurses a hard time, and they were glad to discharge us immediately.:-)

Cathy said...

Thanks Rebecca!

Nithya, Neela and Ava sound like two peas in a pod! I wanted to share our experience because I had no idea just how bad a reaction little ones can have to anesthesia. I wish I had been better prepared. And no matter how "typical" the nurses said it was, I was still so worried that I'd never get my Ava back. Just wanted others to know in case they are ever faced with a little one having surgery.

Jen M said...

Oh my gosh!! I have always hatted glitter to, but wow. Much worse than a messy house. Hopefully between the meds and being so young, Ava will forget about this entire thing... although I have no doubt that you have been traumatized for life :)

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