Friday, May 31, 2013

Dry Run

Yesterday, Grace, Charlotte and I trekked to Boise.
Not only to visit Grandma and Grandpa, but to show Grace what surgery will be like.
My mom always says a picture is worth a 1000 words. 
Well then, "backstage access" at a surgery center probably is the 2nd best thing to a Pixar production of a surgical experience to a 4 year old!!
Lucky for us, we know a guy...

Just to back up a bit, we told Grace Wednesday night about her surgery.
She asked a few questions but overall she was pretty calm and most likely, didn't understand a word we  said - even if we did have a book with pictures provided to us by the hospital.

It wasn't for a lack of listening though.
At one point, when we were supposed to say something to the effect that she could bring a comfort item (blanket, toy, etc), I accidentally said something along the lines..."and then, in this room, you'll get a stuffed animal."

She locked onto that boy!! She didn't miss a beat!

Grace: I get a prez-net?!??!
Me:  No - you get to bring a stuffed animal with you.
(Continue on to next step of procedure.) Any questions?
Grace:  And then I get a prez-net??
Repeat this scenario three or four times.

Clearly, the expectations of the outcome of her surgery are far different than mine!

My dad had told me to bring Grace to his surgery center when all of this was developing so she could get a real feel for what was going to happen when she had her surgery.
With school, weather, colds, commitments - I never made any hard, fast plans to get to Boise.
Besides, we still had lots of time. 

Then, time started running out.
So we hightailed it to Boise yesterday.

This morning, Grace got to experience what surgery will be like. 

From the gown,

to getting weighed and measured,

to being hooked up to machines by a nurse in full surgical scrubs and mask 
(note: Grace had never met this woman before so this was to her the REAL DEAL), 

to seeing all kinds of machines and tubes and equipment, 

to finger clippy montiors, 

to being asked questions by a nurse, 

to fighting back tears because even though this was practice, it was still really overwhelming, really new, and really scary, 

to seeing the mask that will put her to sleep, 

to feeling the mask be put over her nose and mouth, 

to getting directions about not eating or drinking anything the night before her surgery, 

to physically going into the operating room, all hooked up - without Mom - just like how it will happen on surgery day, 

to Mom waiting outside - feeling absolutely helpless, 

to "waking up" in the "wake up room", where Mom and Dad will be waiting.

I can't begin to explain how helpful this was for Grace.
Sometimes, having someone explain something to you just isn't enough.
Only touching it. Smelling it. Feeling it will - particularly, for a four year old - will do the trick.

While I do not doubt that she will still be scared on the actual day of her surgery, at least some of the unknowns have been taken out of the equation. 
[And I don't know about you, but back in my algebra days, the less letters I saw in an equation, 
the better my chances were for successfully arriving at the correct answer.]

Surgery is scary enough as it is. Not being able to understand what is happening or why has to be even scarier to a child - especially when surrounded by masked strangers wearing matching pajamas.

So a huge thank you to my Dad for suggesting this, for making the time, for doing what Dads and Grandpas do best - being the darkest, scariest moments and making you believe that everything will be ok, 

To Crystal who clearly helped get this arranged and to Angela and John who played a large role in providing peace of mind to a little girl - and her mother. 

Grace left in smiles - excited to dress up 'Cow', 'Bun-Bun' and Charlotte in her new surgical attire. 
Mission accomplished.

Funny how with two weeks left, I felt in a huge rush to get to Boise and get this done.
Now that it is over and we are "ready," it seems like we have to wait an eternity.

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