You might also like

Friday, September 21, 2012

I was impressed

I spent much of yesterday with Laura at the hospital.  Three years ago she had her tonsils and adenoids removed and a tube placed in each ear.  The well child check up I subjected Laura and Emily to this summer got Laura a bad ear tube report and a trip to the ENT.  Under the microscope one tube was slipped right out, but the other—impacted and infected.

Two weeks and a course of antibiotic/steroid later, the tube was still too painful to address.  Laura had to be under anesthetic for the tube to be removed and we were scheduled for yesterday. The topic came up over the past two weeks, and Laura said she was not worried, except she wished she could be put to sleep without the mask.

It seemed totally reasonable to me that an IV anesthetic could be used for a ten year old and I told her we would see about it at the hospital. Emily went off on the school bus yesterday; I ate breakfast and took care of the cats.  Laura slept in, a reasonable solution to nothing to eat or drink.  Then we went to the hospital.  This was not her grandma’s Children’s Hospital.

There were directions or people with directions at every corner.  We rode up a glass elevator and through the glass walls and floor watched a sculpture with hundreds of moving parts .  At our floor a person at the desk checked us in, and we were taken away by a floor aide who turned us over to our nurse.

The duty nurse checked Laura in, and explained another nurse, the anesthetist, the doctor, the operating room nurse and the child advocate would visit. Each would explain his role.  Laura need only change her clothes to hospital pajamas and open her curtain, and it would all begin.  I nudged her and whispered to ask about the mask.

“I don’t like the mask,” Laura said.  “Could I have something else?”  She and the nurse had a discussion about IV’s, and the nurse told her to by all means, talk to the anesthetist.  More people on the list came and went, then the anesthetist.  A nice fellow, with a rather strong presentation.  He was deep into grape, strawberry or raspberry chap stick before Laura gathered courage to interject “Actually, I don’t like the mask,” and explained her IV wish. 

The anesthetist turned his attention to me and said an IV was a possibility but the mask was his first preference.  I told him it was not Laura’s.  He would see if it would work out.  He left.  There were tears in Laura’s eyes, but not on her cheeks.  She’s a resilient little girl.  And, the next person in the room was the child advocate.  Serendipity.

I explained the anesthetist was strongly in favor of the mask; Laura wanted a go at an IV.  Laura and her advocate had quite the chat about the ickiness of the inside of the mask, plus you must breathe at least five times before falling asleep.  Laura was very concerned the anesthetist would use the mask.  “Well,” said the advocate, “I’m going to suit up and go in there with you and tell him you do not want the mask!”

She left and the operating room nurse came to wheel the bed away.  She was a cheery nurse, chattering about the chap stick flavors, when our advocate came around the corner, dressed head to foot in a white suit.  Laura hopped down to give me a hug, hopped back up and went away with her operating room nurse and her advocate. 

I went back to the waiting room and read several chapters, until I was called to the recovery room.  There she was, eyes lids trying to flutter awake, but failing. There was a covering on an IV needle on the back of her hand! I sat down to read some more, and the advocate came in.  She leaned over the bed very near Laura’s ear and said “How did you like the IV?”  The eye lids fluttered a bit more, but no sound.  I tapped the advocate’s shoulder and pointed.  Laura’s thumb was straight up.


  1. I wish child advocates had been about when I was young...I hated that mask.

  2. Some things have changed for the better. Memories of THAT mask make me gag at the smell of rubber.
    Jane x
    PS How's the patient?

    1. The patient went to school today and earned a prize because she stood up first and recited the preamble to the constitution of the United States of America.

  3. It's so hard to see them undergo these procedures...they look so small and helpless.

  4. Nice, I ever heard that the mask was so unpleasant. Good for you all to demand an alternative.

  5. What a great story, Joanne! You must be so proud of Laura for sticking to her guns. A lot of people can't take the IV, so you have one brave little girl there. And how lucky to have a child advocate rooting for her.
    Well, I hope Laura is feeling better tonight. My son, Sam, had several bouts with ear infections, tubes, adenoids, the whole ball of (ear) wax. Thankfully he's outgrown it.

  6. Child Advocates! That's the best thing I've heard of for a long time. Children really, really know what is best for them. Most adults think they have the right to use their will over that of the child. So, so wrong. This is a VERY hopeful story. Thank you so much for sharing.

  7. Brave, brave little girl! She is an example to all of us. What a great story!

  8. How simply lovely. I am glad she is recovering and even more glad that the child advocate listened and that she got her wish. Yay. It is hard enough for an adult to be heard in hospital, let alone a child.

  9. Wishing her a speedy recovery - glad she had her say and people listened :)

  10. Thank goodness she had her way. The rubber mask syndrome haunts me still and catches me out whenever I smell rubber. The child advocate idea is a brilliant idea.

    Well done everyone, especially Laura.

  11. So glad it all turned out for the best, hope she is doing well.

  12. Wonderful that someone recognized that children are people with rights too. So glad it's over. I had the mask at age 5 and it is still a terrifying memory.

  13. A good story about healthcare. I get discouraged by all the bad ones.

  14. How wonderful that they gave her wishes full consideration!

  15. I guess that's why they say every patient should have an advocate and YOU are the best! This is great!

  16. I totally concur the mask is a terrible contraption that gave me the horrors
    when I experienced about 62 years ago and vowed never again.

  17. Love this story! I remember the mask from when I was five and had my tonsils out (I had tubes in my ears twice and can completely empathize with Laura.) It was horrible. I'm glad she stood up for what she wanted! Also glad she's feeling well enough to be back at school. :)

  18. An infected tube and she wasn't complaining?
    That's a tough kid!
    I'm glad surgery went well and she got to have the IV.
    I have no tolerance at all when it comes to pain, I'm crying and swallowing aspirin at the first twinge. I don't understand people who say, "I've had this headache for a week..."