Emma had her second eye surgery this morning. For those of you that don’t know, she had her first when she was about 8 months old. The problem we are trying to correct is called strabismus, which is a big word for “crossed eyes”. The first surgery was a mild success (meaning, a failure) in that her eyes aren’t completely aligned. So, when she gets tired or doesn’t concentrate, she looks like googly-eye doll. So, a little over 3 years later, here we are.
The difference this time is that she understands what is happening. In fact, in her professional opinion, she doesn’t need eye surgery. Unfortunately, this is one of the bazillion times in her life when she doesn’t know what is best for her. Thank goodness she has us, right? Anyway, Emma does great before surgery. It’s scheduled for 8:30am, which means that we show up at 8:30am and wait for well over an hour before Emma is taken back. I don’t know why this is, but I guess it’s best not to complain, at least, not until AFTER the surgery. Emma mentions a couple of times that she is hungry or wants to go home, but otherwise is my beautifully brilliant little girl. I hate this.
The nurse finally calls us back to talk to the anesiesiologist, who’s easy manner is already a bit of a sedative. He was born for this job. The poking and prodding begins. They take Emma’s temperature, I sign all kinds of papers that I don’t really understand, Emma gets some “cherry juice” which is meant to relax her. They won’t give me any. We watch a bit of Peter Pan as they run us through what is about to happen. Emma laughs at Captain Hook being chased by an alligator. Her laugh cuts me a bit, since I know what is about to happen and she doesn’t. Finally, someone else shows up to take her to surgery. Jill is tearing up. I hate this.
Now, I realize this is not a big deal as surgery goes. It’s corrective and safe and routine and “nothing to worry about.” As problems with your kid go, this is a cake walk. She’ll have some discomfort for a few days and then she won’t ever think about this day again. As I wait, I try to focus on that, and do a pretty good job of it. Jill, Grammie, and Lily go on a walk and I do crosswords. Jill gets back.
The surgeon emerges to tell us “she did great.” I immediately ask “Did it work?” He smiles, shrugs, and mentions we won’t know for at least 4 weeks. It’s worth mentioning that I am focusing all my angst about this situation right at this surgeon. He spouts percentage of success type numbers at us and tells us the risks, but all I can think is “You do this right, dammit.” Can we see her? In a few minutes, he says, you’ll hear her moving to recovery. I hate this.
Sure enough, we hear the distinctive shreik of our little girl. I spring up, expecting someone to let us back, but no one comes. I sit back down and look at Jill. I can tell she is fighting back tears. When they finally let us back to Recovery, there are three nurses with Emma attempting to console her. At least two of them look visibly disheveled, like this is something they don’t see often. Emma is thrashing, eyes swollen, screaming, rubbing her eyes. She goes to Jill, continuing the screaming and thrashing and rubbing. “GET IT OUT OF MY EYES!! PLEEEEEAAASSE MOMMY PLEEASSSSE!” Jill strains under the request. “I’m here baby, I’m here,” her voice cracking. I just stand there and wonder how people with really sick children cope. I hate this.
They give Emma a enough pain killer and sedative to stop a charging rhino (and they still won’t give me any) and she falls asleep on top of Mommy. I am still just standing there, useless. I go out and check on Lily and Grammie, who are fine. Then, we wait for Emma. After about 45 minutes, they take out her IV and she wakes up, much better than before. She seems to understand now. She goes to rub her eyes “No, sweetie, don’t rub your eyes.” She stops and doesn’t rub them. Right then, I realize what an amazing little girl I have. She is brave and strong and smart and beautiful. I burst with pride. She gets some apple juice and slowly sips it in my lap. I tell her about when I had eye surgery and she is genuinely interested.
“Can we have breakfast now, Daddy?” “Sure, baby, what would you like?” “Cereal and banana bread” “OK, baby, let’s go home.”