Tuesday, November 8, 2011

The next big thing

In two-and-a-half years since it happened, I have very carefully never again mentioned The Mask in her presence. In fact, I've tried very hard not to talk about that day at all.

Way back when, E was a pup of 3 years and 2 months old. She shouldn't remember anything from then, should she? Her surgeon says she shouldn't.

Paging E's brain: shut it down. You don't have to be awesome all the time.

So she was one of those kids who had ear infections all the time. We had tubes put in her ears. No biggie, in the scheme of things. Except: disorienting break from schedule; no food; strangers touching her; hospital gown was scratchy; pulseox; blood pressure cuff; more strangers; The Mask.

So that's like a gazbillion sensory triggers, and when we told her that one of her tubes hasn't fallen out, and her pediatrician and ENT concur that it needs to be surgically removed, she exploded in panicky tears:

No! Not the mask! I never want the mask again! 

And then, moaning:

Scary! Scary!

She couldn't even speak in sentences.

In the days following, although her physical recovery was so slight as to be unmentionable, E talked about the anesthesia mask incessantly. The smell, the obstruction, the claustrophobia of having something pressed against her face. The powerlessness of it all, and we have to go through it all again next week. And this time we can't ambush her; she knows exactly what to expect.

This morning I took her to her two pre-op appointments; one with her pediatrician to confirm her fitness for the procedure and one with her ENT to confirm her ear's need for the procedure. Scratch that: ears'. Because the fallen tube hole hasn't healed properly, so they'll be patching some things up on both sides. The appointments this morning were...not good. One of the pediatricians lost patience with her. When she shrieked and screamed at three, they saw a tantrummy preschooler. When she does it at almost six, he didn't see my sensory kid who was in total overload. He yelled at her: "what are you, two? Because you're acting like you're two."** I know what he was seeing; but I also know why she was reacting. But I can't save her from this.

**I had made today's appointment with our non-usual pediatrician, hoping that a change of face would bring a more moderate response from my prodding-hating girl. It was, shall we say, a tactical error.

On Monday morning, we report to the River Road Surgery Center at 6:45am. My stomach is in knots already.

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