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Second Thoughts

My son is having his tonsils out next week.  Back in November when he went in for his annual check up I asked the doctor about his tonsils because they seemed huge to me, plus he was snoring.  He wasn’t sick and his tonsils weren’t inflamed, they were just really large, and when he said “AH” they practically touched. His cousin had her tonsils removed because they were blocking so much of her airway, otherwise I wouldn’t have thought to ask about it.  I’ve only ever associated removing tonsils with being sick.

The doctor agreed that his tonsils were huge and referred me to a specialist over at Children’s Hospital.  The Children’s Hospital here in Wisconsin is one of the very best at what they do, I think ranked third in the country.  We have always been impressed with treatment there and I trust them.  The specialist looked in my son’s mouth and said on the one to four scale of tonsil gigantitude (I’m sure that was the official term)–one being smallest, four being really huge–Quinn’s tonsils were a four.  She recommended removing them and part of his adenoids.  The concerns had to do with potential speech problems and trouble breathing at night, as well as possible complications when infected.

We went ahead and scheduled the surgery.  It seemed like the right thing to do.  To my husband it still seems like the right thing to do.  Now I’m not so sure.

Quinn’s tonsils still look large, but of course as soon as we scheduled him for surgery his one real symptom of that being a problem essentially disappeared.  He stopped snoring.  So now what?  I’m uneasy to say the least about the idea of my four year old boy going under anesthesia and having something cut out of his throat.  If it’s not necessary I don’t want to do it.  I know that it’s a surgery that is easier on younger patients, so if it has to happen it makes more sense to do it now than later.  But what if he doesn’t need it?  What if something goes wrong and it was not a necessary risk to begin with?

Okay, I know I just sound like a panicky mom.  Probably because I am a panicky mom sometimes.  But it’s hard when your gut is telling you one thing and doctors are telling you another.  I’m in control and I have the power to stop this, but I really don’t know if I should.  As of this moment we’re still on course for surgery, but I want to feel better about it.  I’m nervous.

Quinn seems to be okay with it, but I can tell he’s nervous too.  We went to the hospital yesterday for an orientation of sorts, where someone showed Quinn photos of what to expect and things doctors wear and use for him to touch and ask questions about.  We put monitor tabs on his stuffed toy and a mask over its face.  Then I took Quinn to the gift shop and told him to pick out anything he wanted and we would buy it when we came back to the hospital.  I wanted him to have something to look forward to about returning there.  After his recent trip to a different hospital to be hooked up to an IV for an afternoon he’s skittish about going.  I told him when they put in the IV this time he will be asleep and won’t feel it.  I also told him he could pick out four flavors of ice cream to eat for when we get home and he said he wanted all of them to be chocolate.  (That’s my kid!)

I still have my tonsils, despite all kinds of infections in first grade that I remember vividly.  My brothers both had theirs removed when they were young. My grandma had the tonsil story of horror though, because she had them removed as a child and they grew back.  When her doctor told her as an adult that she needed to have her tonsils out, she told him he must not be a very good doctor because she’d already had them out.  But they were back, and he used a local anesthetic and operated on her while she was awake–and then it wore off halfway through the operation.  She said there was no choice but to keep going, and that that pain beat out childbirth and anything else she could think of.  (To add insult to injury, the doctor told her later that, “I wouldn’t have let someone do that to me.”)  Gives me shivers just thinking about it.

So!  That can’t be helping me while weighing everything in my mind.  I just want to do the right thing for my little boy.  Am I being overly concerned?  Do I sound silly?  I think I need to call the doctor and have a chat.  That will probably confuse things more but it’s worth a try.

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