A Surgical Synopsis
It's taken a week of surgeries and recoveries for me to gather all the pictures and videos, but I think you’ll find they’re worth the wait.
This first photo is the last one of the cyst that was removed from Max's face. We first noticed it in October when we were at the beach. It was very small so we thought it was caused by sunscreen and sand and was just a simple blemish that would go away. Three months and three-sizes bigger, we finally decided it was something more than a pimple and went to see the pediatrician who recommended a dermatologist who sent us to the plastic surgeon who finally said he could handle it.
In the picture it looks small but under the surface it was much larger and it would have continued to grow if we didn't have it taken out.
Because he wasn't allowed to eat or drink after midnight, and he is my big morning eater, I opted to keep him up until 10PM the night before and let him eat a big bowl of cereal. We brought him to the hospital in his pajamas to allow him to sleep as long as possible before we had to leave at 6AM.
By the time we got through registration, he was ready to play. This kid is an ace at Angry Birds!
After the third medical person came to visit us in the surgical wing, he caught on to what was about to happen and got a little nervous. That didn't last for long though. Once he spotted his image in the paper towel holder on the wall, he was back to his normal antics.
We had a heart to heart with his anesthesiologist about his condition and its risks regarding general anesthesia. It was during this conversation that Max became acutely aware of the impending surgery and climbed up into my lap. The doctor explained the process he was going to use before he left to get ready.
The first step was a Versed cocktail Max drank like his normal cough syrup. "This is to relax him," explained the doctor, "as well as you. It's a lot easier for you if we don't have to pull him out of your arms and drag him kicking and screaming to the operating room. This way he won't care."
Max was hesitant to drink the stuff and complained that it tasted "yucky", but he got it all down. He continued to sit in my lap while we waited for it to do its thing.
During this time we met his surgical nurses, who made his acquaintance by giving him a shiny new car he got to carry into surgery. He played with it while I wondered when this drug was going to take him out.
When the nurse came to check on him, Nelson said, "His eyes are definitely getting heavy." Since he was in my lap, I couldn't really see him. However, when Nelson took this video, I knew Max was a goner.
The surgeon came in for the second time and told us what to expect and then the nurses came to get him. They were very sweet and empathetic. One of them took one look at my grasp on him and said, "You know, I think we'll just carry him back. That okay?"
He kissed us both goodbye and went to her without hesitation, or much body control for that matter. As she walked away with my soft lump of an angel, he rested his head on her shoulder and slurred, "I can waal-ulk." We all laughed and then he was out of sight. The doctor was right, that did make it easier.
The surgeon came in about thirty minutes later to tell us Max was fine. The cyst was much larger than he thought and he was glad we got it out when we did. He told us Max was still in the operating room and then he'd go to recovery for a bit before coming back to us.
This was the hardest part of the day for me. You mean my baby is going to wake up and I'm not going to be there? This was not how I pictured it. It's funny how knowing he was okay did not take away my fierce desire to hold him in my arms and let him know everything was okay.
I didn't have to mull that over very long though. When I heard the, "Awws," from the staff at the desk, I knew he was on his way. It was the only moment I cried. He looked so small on that big surgical bed. His body was limp, his arm was bandaged to keep the IV in place and his finger was attached to a monitor. It was not how any mother pictures her child. It mattered not one iota that he was fine. I need to have him...NOW.
As I stood over him, trying to hold back my tears, the nurse said, "Would you like to hold him?" I had my arms around him before she finished her sentence. There was some untangling of wires and lowering of the arm of the bed, but I had him and I wasn't letting go.
The staff giggled as they told us of how he was speaking in tongues to them back in recovery. They were right. It was a little disconcerting to watch him force out some slurred sounds. When he found the strength to open his heavy eyes, they were bouncing around like a humming bird at a feeder.
It was sad, scary and funny all at the same time; however, because I knew his siblings would never believe how out of it he was, we recorded it.
It took him about 45 minutes to get coherent enough for me to be able to take him home. The nurse took out the IV and Max sounded a bit like E.T. when he responded with, "O-u-c-h!" in a slow, slurred and low voice. Once the wires were out he needed to go potty.
At this point it was a lot like having an intoxicated three year old. He couldn't walk or stand, or really hold himself up. Going potty was no small feat. Trying to hold him while also trying to help him aim ended up with us both almost landing in the toilet but we made it out of the bathroom unscathed.
After that little experience, I did decide that it would be wise to take him to the car in the wheelchair since I had already sent Nelson back to work. Of course, he couldn't really sit up either and the chair was so big that we had to put him in the "Batcave" so he didn't end up on the floor. That day I thanked God he was still in the car seat because those shoulder straps kept him up on our drive home.
Once home, he was talking much better, but still not himself. He would get up and tell me he wanted to walk and then fall to the floor. I finally convinced him to stay on the couch and I sat on the floor next to him to prevent any accidents.
When it was all said and done, he ended up with five stitches covered with some steri-strips to help prevent scarring. The most challenging part was keeping those on, clean and dry for a week.
I am thankful it's over and that he did so well. I hope we don't have to do that again for any of the kids...ever.