Having a child with Asperger has taught us many things. One of those things would be to always expect the unexpected. I guess you could say that about most seven year olds, but with Ethan it is never the same way twice. He generally handles things better than most kids, I think. For the past three weeks, he has known about this surgery and has asked a bizillion questions all which usually ended with "I just can't wait to get this little ball out of my finger and get a lime Popsicle!" He has had three other procedures: two endoscopy's and an adenoidectomy. So, he isn't a stranger to the hospital, IV's, flavored masks and johnnies! He has never had any trepidation about the event, and afterwards wakes up happy and fairly alert!
That was until Tuesday...the day before his surgery. He woke up having wet his pants for the second night in a row, (he's been pull-up free for about a month now) and not feeling well. He refused to eat his favorite breakfast, and ended up running into the bathroom to vomit. After checking him for a fever, not finding one, and realizing that he hadn't had a bowel movement since Saturday night, I assumed he was constipated and made him sit on the potty to try to go...yet again. (Our days consist of reminding him to sit for 5 min. after each meal every day in the hopes of getting his body to fully empty itself within a 24 hour period. Autistic children are known for withholding their bowels for several days, even though the stools aren't difficult to pass...ya, ya, ya too much info!)
After I got everyone else dressed, I began to ask Ethan if he was looking forward to the next day since he'd been asking every day for the past three weeks when it was coming. He told me he didn't want to talk about it. Hmmmm....so I asked him if he was excited about it hoping that a positive question would help make him talk easier, and he answered "ya". Okay, so I put a call into his old OT and his pediatrician. After talking with both of them we concluded that he was having high anxiety about the upcoming event, and this was the result. I tried making some chamomile tea for him, and doing some visual discussions...all failing miserably. He vomited again, and so I called his pedi back. She said unless he developed a fever there was no reason to cancel the surgery unless he vomited again after 3pm...then we'd be concerned about dehydration. Sooo, I started a new strategy. I planted his butt on the couch in the living room and for the next three hours, gave him coconut water. We started the first hour with 1 Tbsp, the 2nd hour with 2 Tbsp, and finally the 3rd hour with 3 Tbsp...all of this every 5 minutes! (Thank goodness for DVD's!) It worked! Not only did he keep it down, but he perked right up, and even had a bowel movement! During dinner time, he wrote up a list of questions he had for the doctor. His handwriting is very legible and his spelling is pretty good, (pat on the back to mommy and Ethan) and we packed it up in my purse to bring with us the next day. His questions were: Will Ineed stitches? Will they (the stitches) be red? Will I get a popsicle? Will it (the finger) hurt? Will it take 15 minutes? Will my parents be here?
After that he ate three pieces of toast, and was ready for the next day.
Which brings us to this morning...and the other extreme of Ethan. We call it "the high". At precisely 5:25am...5 minutes before my alarm clock was supposed to go off...Ethan excitedly came into my room and said, "Good Morning Mommy...today is the day! I'm soooo excited to go in for my surgery today and have this ball removed from finger. And then I will get a lime popsicle. And then we will come home and I will do my school work, and eat lots of food because I am hungry. Can I have something to eat? Do I need to take my shower right now? Do I wear my pajamas to the hospital, and can I bring my kitty and blanky with me?" Mind you, he said all of this in about 45 seconds, and then skipped off to tell his siblings that today was the day!
So, we got everything ready and since we had our incredibly AWESOME Child Wrangler, Brittany, spend the night to be there first thing, we were able to focus better on getting everything done and out the door for 6:45am!! He had to be checked in at 7:15am with his surgery scheduled at 8:15am! First thing, he gave the nurse his list of questions. She was awesome and answered every one of them truthfully...even the pain part. They were amazed at how well he did, and the only time he showed a little apprehension was in the operatory with Dad when he had to put the mask on his face to "go to sleep". He had kitty and blanky with him, and liked the strawberry smell he had picked for the mask, but I think when it came right down to it, going to sleep and not "knowing" what was going to happen next made him nervous. Fortunately, he also choose the "fast" vs. the "slow" way of going to sleep. Basically, two deep breaths and he was down for the count. The slow way would have involved more breathing and awareness of what was going to happen next, which would have aided his apprehension. He sure is one smart little cookie...either that or he just likes to live on the edge!
In any case, he came out of there doing quite well. I haven't taken a picture of his hand yet, but due to the stitches, it needs to remained well wrapped for the next 10-14 days until they remove the stitches. He's not happy that he can't see the stitches, but thinks his hand looks pretty cool! He was very proud of himself, and other than waking up feeling a little dizzy, was very happy to have his lime popsicle, and gluten free buttered toast waiting for him upon waking.
We love that little guy sooo much. He never ceases to amaze us! Now we can relax knowing that this ordeal is behind us. We can only imagine when the next one will be!