Our trip to the Children’s Hospital of Colorado
I should give a little background. Our youngest son Danny has had problems breathing and bloody noses for several years. He also has had migraines and would vomit a lot. In Chile, the doctors told us that he had allergies.
Since moving to the States, we took the kids for a routine doctors visit. It was during this visit that the doctors discovered that he had a severely deviated septum and adenoids in his nasal cavity. The doctor sent us to Children’s Hospital of Colorado(CHC). At the time we were referred, we did not know that the Colorado Children Hospital was ranked #5 in the country as one of the best pediatric’s hospitals.
No parent ever wants their kid to go to the hospital to have surgery, and we were very nervous. The date for the surgery set 6 weeks prior; and though most days we did not think about it, it did give us a long time to think about what was going to happen. The first operation was set to be 3 1/2 – 4 hours and entailed internal nasal reconstruction (Rhinoplasty).
Now because of Danny’s age (11), they could not do any of the external work. He would have to wait until he turns 16 to get the additional work. We were concerned that he would have to go under the knife a second time a few years down the road. However, we had to do something to help our boy to breathe better.
Our family is no stranger to surgeries. We have had several in Chile during our stay there. We did not know what to expect here in the U.S.
We were pleasantly surprised when arriving at the CHC, as we pulled up we were directed to free valet parking. We grabbed our stuff, left the keys and walked through the doors to a large well-lit atrium. We headed over to the information desk and told them our name and after a quick question, “Have any of you been out of the country in the last 12 days?” to which we answered no, we were directed to a padded bench to wait.
We had sat for maybe 2 minutes before being called. We sat at the desk where a nice young lady took our details. Are we Danny’s parents? What insurance do we have? Is this the first time you have been here? There was usual assortment of pre-surgery check in questions. It took all of 5 minutes, and then we were all given wrist bands, Danny’s stating he was the patient and ours designating us as guardians.
We were then directed to the second floor to check in with the surgical team. The receptionist gave us a quick brief of what to expect. We would be waiting for a little while out here in the waiting room until the surgical team was ready for us. Once we went in, there would be several members of the team who would come in and see us and explain everything to us.
It is a very spacious waiting room with semi-secluded spaces for families to sprawl out, sleep, watch tv or work on laptops and tablets. We watched several other families come in and take up occupancy in the waiting room. One family, who I must admit annoyed me, unpacked their stuff which included a guitar. A musical item that I usually like but under these circumstances, I was not impressed.
The father took out his instrument and started strumming pretty much the same chords over and over and over. I was getting a bit pissed off, to be honest. If I had pulled out my tablet or phone and started pumping out some jams, I am sure someone would complain. A yuppie/hippie family can strum away on a guitar, and it is accepted.
I digress maybe I was stressed over the impending surgery. I am sure if it were Eric Clapton jamming I would have had no problem.
Soon after the guitar incident, I left for the bathroom. My wife joked that as soon as I left, they would call us. Sure enough after a quick trip to the bathroom when I headed back to the area that we had marked off for our family, they were gone. I look towards the surgery doors, and there they were, my wife, saying, ” I told you so.”
We entered the surgical area, to be specific the pre-op area and went to our cubicle. It is standard pre-op room, heart monitors, IV tubes, sinks, TV, fancy adjustable bed/gurney and best of all a wooden rocking chair for Pamela.
We had several nurses come in and explain what would be happening, how it would be happening and what to expect. Then we met with our doctor. Our doctor is amazing, I am not going to mention his name out of respect for his privacy, but he is awesome.
We discussed the surgery he looked at Danny again, and we discussed more. He gave us the full picture of what we could expect and most importantly he gave us options. After listening to him, we asked him one critical question, “You’re the expert, what would you do if this is your son?”
He told us he would wait and he would do the tonsillectomy and a few other things to help Danny’s breathing. He would wait till he is 16 to do the major surgery, this will allow the bones in his face to develop. It makes sense and let’s be honest, what do we know medically? I can tell you about computers, security and insurance. I am not medically trained, I have to take the word of the doctor who is the expert. Some people disagree with me on this but I ask you. When you have a problem with your car you take it to the mechanic right? You don’t second guess them.
With that decision made next, we had a visit from the anesthesiologist. Danny’s operation time was reduced from 4 hours down to 45 minutes, so this would shorten the time we would spend in the recovery room. Being told that Danny would have two anesthesiologists for this surgery made us feel a lot better. The doctor described everything they would be monitoring.
I have to tell you we felt extremely comfortable and confident with all the nurse, doctors, and hospital staff. The took the time to make sure we understood everything that was being explained to us. At no point did we feel rushed or if we were not the most important patient. We were all made to feel like vips throughout the entire process.
Next, a woman came in to speak with Danny. She explained to him how he would be put to sleep for the operation (sleepy medicine) and walked him through the procedure. She took out an example mask and placed on his face so he could see how it felt. They discussed with Danny how he would feel when he was being put to sleep.
I was impressed with this session. I think that it puts a young patient at ease with the whole procedure. I know it put us as parents at ease. Bravo to CHC for this. The amount of information and the way it was presented to Danny was excellent.
After she had left, we had the routine visits from the pre-op nursing staff and the surgical nursing staff. We watched cartoon network and joked around a little. Danny was very relaxed taking everything in stride. Even though as parents, Pamela and I were a little on edge we maintained a calm exterior.
Soon it was “Time, ” and an orderly came in and had me get into a cap and gown. Danny was excited to be traveling to the OR in the bed. Rolling through the large halls Danny as excited, unknowing what lay ahead. As for me every step closer to the OR I dreaded. They had me sign a waiver as some parents faint doing the next steps.
The part I hate the most was directly ahead. It is the part that my wife, understandably won’t do if she doesn’t have to. We stop right outside the OR, and Danny hops off the gurney/bed and walks into the brightly lit room.
White walls, new monitors, and screens, multiple bright lights dotted around the place. Though my stomach flip-flops, I maintain my composure and walk Danny to the smaller table in the middle of the room. I help him up on to the table. I see in his eyes for the first time, not exactly fear, but I could see his nerves were starting to come undone. He has come to the realization something big is about to happen to him.
I kept telling him how brave he is, stroking his head. The surgical team put Phineas and Ferb (from Cartoon Network) on the overhead monitor. They put the mask on his face and started to administer the laughing gas. After a few giggles, I watched my son slip away into unconsciousness. This moment is the worst part for me. It is the part that makes my knees go weak, I feel I have lost control over the situation and my son. After entering the OR 3 minutes earlier, Danny was asleep, hooked up to monitors and it was time for me to leave my son. It was time to trust this room full of people I have just meet for the first time only an hour before.
I returned to my wife, and we were moved from the pre-op room and escorted back to the waiting room. However, instead of being transferred to the general public waiting room, our doctor instructed the nurse to bring us to a private waiting room, AWESOME.
It was about 10:30 am, and Pamela and I settled in for what turned out to be a short wait. I got up for a quick wander around the hospital and picked up some snacks. We had been up since 5 am and because Danny couldn’t eat we decided to not eat with him. But now we were feeling peckish. I got a couple of cinnamon buns, a chocolate muffin a bag of pretzels and a couple of sodas.
During my walk around the hospital, I noticed all different type of people and injuries. Some minor some major traumas. You could tell the first timers, like our family and you could see the families that have had been dealing with more severe injuries, which had spent enough time at the CHC that it was their second home.
I noticed hanging on the wall messages from the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning’s number #18 autographed jersey. I can only imagine what a boost that must be for the kids who send a lot of time at CHC to see that
In less than an hour, the nurse came into our private waiting room to collect us to bring us to see Danny in the recovery room. Pamela and I gathered up our bags and snacks and hurried behind the nurse who told us everything went well and he is recovering just fine.
I am not sure I can adequately describe how it feels when you see your child after something like this. When we first walked into the semi-darkened room to see Danny, his eyes were closed.
Monitors silently kept watch of his vitals while a nurse tended to his IV.
Another nurse, I forget the names of most of them as things happen so fast, went through the procedure and told us that everything went well and as expected.
He told us his recovery is going fast and that we would be moving to a post op room. He told us everything that we should expect in the coming hours.
Danny opened his eyes, he tried to speak but because he just had his tonsils removed as you can image it was a bit tricky. He had a couple of slushy’s in a cup, and within 20 minutes we were moved to a private post op room.
A quick trip to the post op recovering room where we were assigned a private nurse who walked us through what to expect in the coming days. They monitored Danny to see the effects of the anesthesia making sure it was leaving his body. He was groggy and in a little pain, but over all he was good.
Though this was a minor surgery, our hearts were relieved our boy was back to us, and he was safe. For us, it was a long hour and seeing him again filled us with a joy not even winning the lottery can compare. We are so grateful that the major surgery was changed to this minor operation. I am so thankful that we had an “easy one,” if you know what I mean. I saw families dealing with much worst situations, medical situations that I can not imagine how they manage. We are lucky, and I thank God and the universe for having a healthy family.
After two hours they officially released our boy and sent us home with a bag full of medicine. We wheeled him down through the large atrium and out to the valet parking. Oh yeah, I forget to say the valet parking was awesome. All we had to do is text them, and they brought our car around.
We got home and put our boy to bed. Before we knew it we had a surprise doctor that showed up to take care of young Danny,