Thursday, July 17, 2014

Surgery for Alec

Same place, different patient. It is strange considering how far and wide life has taken us, yet somehow this hospital in the capital city of Chile has now cared for three generations of our family. My dad, sister, nieces and son have all had surgery in one its pristine pabellones. Three of my sister's children - and another on the way - have been born under the reassuring care of a well-trained team of its pleasant professionals. Being a patient here is a privilege granted by virtue of international health insurance, and one deeply appreciated with a side helping of guilt (having walked beside so many others who depend on the flawed government system alone.)

This time around, it was Alec's turn.

Alec beaming with anticipation

Our heels clicked on gleaming tiles as we entered the brand-new admissions room with spacious swivel chairs, soft mood lighting and copies of the clinica's own monthly publication encouraging a healthier lifestyle. Alec was all smiles as he anticipated the next day's events while I processed his pre-admission paperwork. Having Mommy all to himself and experiencing the solo limelight for the first time was exhilarating for our child #5! :)

all set for surgery

Despite being awoken at the crack of dawn the next morning and riding sleepily through darkened streets for his 7 AM hospitalization, Alec's grin continued to glimmer as he donned his ocean-themed hospital gown and admired his very own I.D. bracelet. Since there were no beds available in the pediatric unit, we were tucked away in a corner of the adult floor where the nurses on duty were thrilled to see a child for a change! Alec's first nurse turned out to be a Christian woman who attends a church where my childhood friend Anita is the pastor's wife. She was eager to take a picture with the little patient to show everyone the following Sunday, and Alec cheerfully agreed.

love this precious smile

For this particular child of ours, nothing could spell delight more than a television screen all his own (presumably since as the youngest, he rarely gets to call the shots!) He happily watched a children's channel after we had spent some time praying and talking together about his faith in Jesus. Soon we were wheeled away to surgery prep, where a nurse and anesthesiologist explained the upcoming procedure. Thankfully, Alec remained calm and interested. (He also tried to broker a deal for a candy if he didn't cry!)

tired but entranced by his "own" t.v.

Alec was tickled to receive a warm and fuzzy pair of knee-high, dolphin-decorated white socks to keep his legs warm in surgery. I instead received an unflattering sterile cap and gown which allowed me to accompany him into the O.R. and hold his hand during the minutes it took for him to fall under the spell of the bubble-gum scented gas mask. I prayed as the doctor saw me out the door and as I headed back to our room to wait with stiff cup of Starbucks coffee for my phone to ring with news of the surgery.

oh-so-hungry after surgery!

Just as promised, the surgery only took around an hour and it was a sweet relief to find a very sleepy but otherwise comfortable little boy. Alec only woke long enough to whisper, "Mommy, is it okay if I sleep a little?" (an unheard-of request at normal times!) Eventually, though, we were wheeled back to the room and when he finally regained some energy it seemed to be all directed at FOOD! The hospital nutritionist visited our room with menu choices for lunch, dinner and the following day should we remain. In advance of lunch, she ordered jello and yogurt which Alec hungrily gulped down with his eyes glued again to the television. I hadn't realized that he and his cousin Juliana had exchanged conversation about the food in the hospital, but apparently he was really looking forward to it after their talk!

His expression doesn't show it, but Alec enjoyed this wheelchair option at a mall two days after surgery :)

In the early evening, Alec's surgeon visited and gave us the all-clear to head home. Our nurses tried to convince us to spend the night instead, as they hated to see their handsome patient go! One of them had just recently started working again after time off for the birth of her own son, and seemed to want to spend time with us. Inevitably, however, a wheelchair arrived for dismissal and once again camera phones documented Alec's brief but welcome presence on their floor.

celebrating a successful post-operative check up

Five days after surgery, Alec was checked out by the surgeon for post-op visit and declared in top shape. In fact, the surgeon's actual words were, "This is a beautiful belly button! I did a great job." :) 

Big sister Isabel accompanied us to the hospital on that rainy night and we celebrated the good news with strawberry smoothies and grateful hearts. To God be all the glory, because while we praise Him for a talented doctor and excellent care, we know it was the Great Physician who truly held Alec in his hands!

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