Scariest Moments: My Toddler Heads to Surgery

My scariest moment happened when Vivi was just about a week old. There has only been one scarier moment in my time as a parent, which, with all things considered, I feel pretty lucky about. The second scariest moment happened when Addie headed to surgery somewhere between her first birthday and her second birthday.

I’ve been through two surgeries in my life. My first surgery involved my wrist, which had been broken during my senior year of football. My mom sat by my side as the nurse tried several times to get a needle inserted into one of my veins. He tried putting the IV needle in my hand, my wrist, my arm, and the back of my arm. Ten pokes later and I still didn’t have an IV in my arm.

I have to cut the nurse some slack because I was deathly afraid of needles. When I know I’m going to be stabbed with a needle, my skin turns white and my veins disappear. Eventually the anesthesiologist got the IV set in the top of my hand and I was off to surgery. I woke up four hours later a little unsure of what had just happened.

My second stint in surgery left me just as confused when I woke up, but instead of my mom sitting by my side, my wife was sitting by my side.

All in all, I don’t think my wife was scared of me going into surgery. Addie wasn’t born yet and we had only been married for a couple years. I’m sure she would have been sad had something happened, but it wouldn’t have been the end of the world.

For my mom, though? I have to wonder if she experienced the same fear I experienced as I handed off my baby Addie to the anesthesiologist for her first surgery.

Addie had been born with a blocked tear duct. Her pediatrician had told us that her tear duct was blocked and that we’d have to clean out a lot of eye boogers until the tear duct either unblocked itself or we had it unblocked through a surgery.

More than a year passed and every morning Addie woke up with a crusted-over right eye. It didn’t matter how clean we kept her eye, it kept overproducing the eye boogery stuff. Eventually we had to make the decision, either let Addie live the rest of her life with a crusted-up right eye or have her right tear duct fixed. We chose the surgery.

Addie’s big day came and our biggest fear was keeping her away from food. Like most kids that age, she could become a terror if she didn’t have her food at the right time of day. We arrived at the hospital hoping to get her into surgery ASAP before Addie realized how hungry she was, but the hospital was delayed by a few hours. We roamed the halls of the hospital while Addie played with various toys and she never once mentioned food. That had to have been some kind of tiny miracle.

When the moment came when we had to hand our baby off to the anesthesiologist, it was far harder than I had ever imagined it would be. I can still vividly remember the look on Addie’s face as we placed her into the arms of a complete stranger. She was shocked and panicking as the man wearing a white coat carried her away from us and through two big stainless steel doors.

The next hour was difficult. Casey and I went down to the lunch room to buy ourselves some dinner hoping that we could distract ourselves from the fears we were experiencing, but we ended up throwing most of the food away. Neither of us had much of an appetite and halfway through our meal we were called through the hospital intercom system.

We went upstairs and the nurse told us where we could stand as we waited for Addie to wake up from the sleep that they had forced into her body. We stood there and eventually we heard Addie start to scream. We were allowed to go back to Addie so we could help calm her down, but nothing we did would calm her. She was hysterical and she stayed that way for the rest of the day.

Addie’s tear duct was fixed and she hasn’t had any problems since, but watching my child go through surgery isn’t something I ever want to do again.

Photo Credit: Flickr

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