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Dr. Frederico Velez

Surgery Day: Stuffed Bears, Smiling Nurses and Nausea

First off, there’s a little business to take care of. I was thrilled to be able to send out this screenshot to Josh over at Dad Street.


I seldom do giveaways because I’m lazy and it makes me very happy that a parenting blogger has won.

That was sort of the end of the joy today. Alexander had surgery at 10am, which is quite late in the world of general anesthesia. I’m happy that the time got pushed up so late because Mr. G wisely canceled his 2pm meeting in Las Vegas. Had he not been there it would have been disastrous.

When we checked in at 10 there were a handful of other patients there. One was a teenage girl who they quickly moved to a private room. She was sobbing and saying, “I don’t want to do this. I don’t want them to cut my eyes.” A handful of nurses tended to her, an anesthesiologist joined them, her surgery was canceled, and then her surgery was uncanceled. She was the surgery before Alexander. It set us back an hour.

If you ask me who the person is that I could relate to the most today, that teenage girl is the one. I would have had the same fears and meltdown. My heart ached for her as it did for my son.

The nurses in the pre op room were amazing. If you aren’t in a hospital setting it’s easy to forget that nurses go into their profession because they really want to help people. They had a teddy bear for every kid as well as a coloring book and if they weren’t smiling when they were 10 feet away they got a smile on their faces before approaching any patient. Watching these women was inspiring. They make people’s lives better with every smile and they know it.

Alexander wasn’t nervous. I don’t know why, that child has nerves of steel. He’s been involved with every decision along the way and at ten is far more mature than I at 41.

It wasn’t until noon (or perhaps later) that the youngest anesthesiologist known to man came to prep Alexander. Getting yes’ed with Sharpie was a highlight of the day. Does this look like a child who is worried about an operation? 

prep for strabismus surgery

Mr. G looked confused about the Sharpie and then he and the anesthesiologist were horrified when I said, “Uh yeah, how do you think we went to private school? … doctors sometimes remove the wrong kidney.” Mr. G kicked me and the child anesthesiologist took Alexander’s vitals. We were introduced to the anesthesiologist who supervised and Mr. G and I sighed in relief. He was a full on grown up.

Once they wheeled Alexander to the back I dashed to pick up some food for myself. I hadn’t eaten since the night before as I didn’t want to eat or drink in front of my son who wasn’t allowed to. I grabbed some chili, ate a few bites and fell asleep in the family room.

I woke up to Dr. Velez and big smile. We’ve known Dr. Velez for ten years, he trained under Dr. Rosenbaum and has watched my son grow up in those eye exam chairs. I wanted to cry when I saw a friendly face, but instead I threw up. Repeatedly.

Mercifully I was quick enough to vomit in private. If there is one thing you learn from me it is this:

Never eat chili in the hospital cafeteria.

Mr. G did an amazing job of caring for both Alexander and for me. The wakeup was difficult. Even though this is the third time for us it’s very difficult to wipe bloody tears from your child’s face. I was woozy. I’m not sure if it was nerves or of it was the chili but my head throbbed, my stomach churned and I had periodic chills.

It took about an hour for the anesthesia to wear off and for my boy to fully wake up. There was no moaning, no whining, no complaining. It was the opposite of how I would have behaved. He was anxious to get the IV out and opening his eyes was a challenge. He murmured a few things and repeatedly asked when he would get to see his sister.


The post op room was initially understaffed and had me worried. Though everyone was nice I saw an attendant push waste into a trashcan and then grab a wheelchair with no hand washing in between. I saw the same lady come toward my son as he was waking up and I shooed her away. She wasn’t a nurse and I grew up in a home where medical malpractice was dinner table conversation. I know enough about how infections are transmitted and some of the most dire consequences. I’m certain that I’m overreacting, but better safe than sorry. At every turn I was asking, “is that a pediatric dose? Do you see his drug allergies?” It was exhausting, and I’m sure I exhausted them.

Somehow we made it home and it felt appropriate that the sun had set. Alexander and I watched TV and napped for a few hours and he ate clear liquids while I fought off waves of nausea.

We’re still waiting for Jane to come home. We both miss her and we won’t be a family until she walks through the door and sees her brother.