Free at Last

Tales of minor surgery

My son had his adenoids removed last week. For years, he’s spent the better part of every winter with a persistent cough, and shall we say, prolific nasal emissions. He has asthma, and has been under the care of a pulmonologist since infancy, but last year, we switched doctors. After observing him for a few months, our new doctor said he didn’t think the chronic congestion was coming from his lungs, and suggested we see an ear, nose and throat doctor.

Thanks to the internet, and my complete lack of medical training, I had already diagnosed the condition myself, and so I was not surprised when the doctor declared that my son should have his adenoids removed. The exam was so brief that I’m not even sure he placed the rhinoscope in his nose before sending us across the hall to schedule the procedure. I know this doctor is more than competent, but I did feel gypped, because I would have appreciated a little foreplay before I agreed to his placing a scalpel in my son’s nose.

The day before the surgery, as we walked to school, the conversation turned to the procedure. My nine year-old, who has had minor surgery himself, stepped in, explaining, “Well, first they will give you some medicine to make you fall asleep. And then, they will cut you open.” I stifled my laugh, and admired my elder son’s cunning. Sibling rivalry is running high in my household these days, and with this remark, he had achieved the perfect balance of comfort and menace.

The following morning I woke at an ungodly hour and sailed forth on the gloriously traffic free roads of New Jersey to the surgery center. Although I’d brought plenty of work, I did none of it. I’d barely finished updating my husband when I was called into the recovery room. Two hours later, my groggy son stopped in the middle of the parking lot and barked, “HEY! WAIT! WHERE ARE MY ADENOIDS!?” As if he’d been expecting a doggie bag.

As I helped him get buckled, I asked if he’d like to hear some music on the way home. I expected him to say no, or to choose something soothing. “Beastie Boys,” he said. This is his idea of quiet.

Within three hours of the surgery, he was fairly chipper. At bedtime, despite having had Tylenol with codeine, he stayed up until ten o’clock watching the Knicks game. I was impressed, and alarmed. This child has ADD, and if codeine could not knock him out, I’m not sure what hope we have in a few years, should we decide that medicine is necessary.

On day two, he was back to himself, and we spent a pleasant few days home together while he recuperated. The hardest part of the whole thing was getting him to be still, and relatively quiet during his recovery, as neither of these are among his defining characteristics.

An even greater challenge has been keeping him from picking his nose, which he does so often, and with such gusto, that I believe he could have performed the procedure himself, albeit under much less sterile conditions.  

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