Right now, the girls are playing with LEGO on the floor in the living room, but last week, Frida was in the hospital to have her pharyngeal flap procedure, meaning surgery in the throat and palate, where a flap is created to help stop the air from getting into the nose while speaking.
Frida and I arrived at the hospital Monday morning quite early, and we had time to have breakfast in the café, before we were expected at the children’s ward. Frida had been feeling really bad about going there throughout the morning, but when we were finally there, she seemed to have accepted the idea.
The first day was passed seeing doctors, nurses, going through examinations, and finding our room in the ward. In between, there was a lot of waiting time, and we hadn’t been there for long, before a kindergarten teacher came by to see if Frida wanted to go to the creative workshop. I didn’t recall from last time that they had something like that, since at the time Frida was too small to benefit from it – but it was a total life saver. The teacher pulled all kinds of things down from the shelves to find out what Frida would like to do, and I wasn’t surprised, that Frida wanted it all – to paint, play with beads, work with clay, make bags, cards, and all kinds of other stuff. So she and I spent most of our first day in the hospital in the creative workshop, and every now and again a nurse came by to fetch us for another doctor’s appointment. In the evening, Mads and Ronja came by so that we could have dinner together, before it was bedtime for Frida. After they left, I gave Frida a shower, which is something they asked us to prior to surgery. Then we read a little, and I tucked her in.
We were alone in our room in the ward the first two nights, which was nice, because especially the first night was emotional for me. We had been told, that the procedure was going to be a tough one, and now we had arrived at the evening before we would be putting her to sleep on the operating table. So I was alone in the room with sleeping Frida, and my imagination about what was to come in the following days. After I had gone to sleep, I kept waking up that night, and I really didn’t get a good night’s sleep.
We got up in the morning, early enough for Frida to have something to drink before she wasn’t allowed anymore. She was going to surgery at around 9 a.m., so the next few hours were really just about passing time, and making sure she was ok – as ok as could be expected. After she had a drink, a doctor came to put surface anaesthetic cream on her hands just like last time, to make sure she wouldn’t feel the needle they would use to give her the anaesthetics before surgery. I dressed her in hospital clothes, which brought out tears – I think that the reality of surgery was just really getting close at that point. Afterwards, she asked if she could play games on the computer, and I got it out of our bag, so she could dive into a different world.
Around 8 o’clock, Mads arrived. Frida was clearly nervous about what was going to happen in a shutting-down kind of manner, and despite all efforts from us to not make a big deal of it, she probably knew quite well, we weren’t too keen on it either.
Shortly before 9, a nurse came to have her drink a drug to make her drowsy and relaxed. Judging by the way she looked and behaved, it worked well right away, and she went from tense and withdrawn, to rather goofy and seemingly without a worry in the world.
A hospital porter came to take her down to the operating room, and Mads and I followed, of course – as did her bunny, Nanna. Outside the room we were dressed in gowns and hats while waiting for the room to be ready for Frida. Just before we were going in, Mads felt sick, and had to sit down, so I was alone with the anaesthetic doctors and Frida in the operating room. While I was sitting beside Frida, holding her hand, they tried to insert the needle with the plastic tube for the anaesthetic, but they couldn’t find a proper vein and were afraid it would hurt her, and eventually they decided to put her to sleep using the mask instead and insert the tube afterwards. So I sang “Solen er så rød, Mor” (Danish lullaby) while she was put to sleep. All three verses. She seemed so small and vulnerable, and I just hated leaving her there, even knowing that the doctors and nurses really are great at what they do.
Then we waited. The waiting is awful.
Mads went for a run in the nearby park to clear his head, and I took a shower and went to get myself some breakfast from the café on the first floor. I wasn’t hungry, and I ended up not really eating anything. Another trip with Mads after his run to the kiosk downstairs. We bought a small present for Frida for when she was ready for that after surgery. And then we waited some more. Finally the nurse told us it was time to go to the recovery room that Frida had been brought to after surgery. We hurried over there, and found her still sleeping.
We sat there for 5 hours, well entertained by a very sweet and cheerful nurse that kept an eye on Frida’s recovery. Frida woke up now and then, letting us know if she was in pain, and helping the nurse adjust the amount of morphine. Mads and I smiled, because the first time she woke and seemed a bit troubled, the nurse asked her what was her favourite thing in the world to do. I think it came as a little bit of a surprise to us, when she silently replied “sailing”, and the nurse told her she should go back to sleep and dream about that. She also told the nurse why sailing was her favourite thing, but we couldn’t make that out, so I guess that’ll be their little secret.
While in the recovery room, she had water and crushed popsicles to eat, whenever she was sufficiently awake. She complained quite a bit about pain, and her morphine dose was adjusted several times. When finally the nurse thought she was ready, we were taken back up to our room in the children’s ward. It was late in the afternoon, and she mostly slept for the rest of the day. Nurses came frequently to make sure she didn’t feel too much pain, and the first few days, she had several kinds of pain-relievers. Mads and I had dinner in the room, before he went home, and Frida didn’t wake up until quite a bit later, when she wanted to come over to my bed for a while. At that time, she wanted to change back to her own night gown again – that meant a lot to her.
Next day, things started to improve slowly. She was allowed to have any kind of soft meal she wanted, which included pancakes with icecream. She had that a few times the first day. She was still tired, and irritated by the stitches in her palate, but we did spend some time in the workshop, creating things. We had a new room mate at the end of the day, 7 year-old Viktor, who was scheduled for the same procedure Frida had the following day. They quickly picked up conversation, as Viktor wanted to see the plastic tube in her hand, and they both liked playing cards – Go fish, in particular.
Thursday afternoon, Ronja came with Mads to visit, and it became clear to everyone, that Ronja was just the highlight of Frida’s time in the hospital. When she was there, Frida had high spirits, played, and had fun – as you see below she even felt good enough to get cheeky. Ronja read to her, and was all-in-all the most considerate big sister a little girl could want.
The days in the hospital were long. In spite of the very sweet nurses, the brilliant teachers in the creative workshop, good company in the ward, and pancakes with ice cream for lunch, Frida just didn’t really seem happy, until we were told Saturday, that we could go home – one day earlier than expected. That made her happy – and me as well. So we packed up our stuff, and had Mads and Ronja come and pick us up a few hours later, after Frida had a nap and some lunch.
Check out how big she got since the last time, she had surgery.
All the pictures from the hospital are right here.
Now we are all home, and Frida is pretty much back to normal. She still has pain-relieving medicine 4 times a day, and she has to eat soft food, and not get her pulse up. But other than that she’s good, and she looks so much forward to going back to kindergarten in a little more than a week. A few of her friends have visited and brought presents – so sweet!
All-in-all I would say, that it has been tough – it just is, when you have to put your child through surgery. But other than that, I think it hasn’t been as bad, as I was afraid of. The nurses and doctors have been great, and noone could have done more to make Frida feel at home and comfortable in the hospital. So that’s it for this time – and hopefully there won’t be more. Now we are just looking ahead to Frida starting school in April.