Wednesday, July 20, 2011
It's always a bad sign when the doctor says the procedure should only take an hour or so and three hours pass and you're still in the waiting room, beneath the large clock, a magazine rack full of old magazines and the drip coffee pot with acid coffee and artificial whitener.
I brought a clipboard with all the necessary papers and a stack of sheets of bond paper, thinking I would probably be here longer than we had hoped for.
Doodles of projects that I've not yet started emerge. Two print exchanges I've signed up for but not really thought about and some recurring images that have been coming back again and again.
But the longer I waited the more medical became the drawings until finally I just drew what we were really worried about. This is a highly rough schematic of the middle and inner ear as imagined if seen in a frontal slice through the skull. I've drawn/imagined a clean middle ear with the three little bones, the incus, malleus and stapes all in place against the snail-like, spiral cochlea and mastoid. I've studied anatomy but this is fancifully imagined and would make my old anatomy teachers cringe with dismay. But I'm engaging in guided imagery, positively thinking about good outcomes with the naive hope of a parent, whose child is again under general anesthesia, trusting us to have made the right decision and that everything will be all right.
A. is having his fourth operation on his middle ear to see if the benign tumor he was born with has come back, or if his recurring hearing issues and infections are just scarring and fluid. The Surgeon and Operating Room had scheduled him for just an hour, which means the doctor actually expects it to be quick and easy, probably just fluid and a reconstruction of his ear bones...but the delay suggests otherwise. Cholesteotoma is an benign, but erosive and very slow growing tumor of the middle ear and is noted for being recurrent. A. has had several infections in the last 2 years, and a recent polyp was a telltale warning that things were again amiss.
When the surgeon finally emerges to bring us news, it is not the end of the world, but not what we had hoped.
The growth had come back, they had to take out what was left of his middle ear bones to clean out what had wrapped around them and couldn't be dissected away. They'll have to go back in again in 6-9 months; at that time they should be able to see if they truly have gotten it all out and replace the missing bones with a titanium implant so he can hear again out of that ear. We were led into the recovery room where A. was already awake, a large dressing on one ear, looking like a dog who had just had one of his ears cropped.
But awake, not crying, asking again and again (the sedatives had temporarily knocked out his short-term memory) what they had found. In the lull between his frequent awakenings and resting, and before we took him home, I added to the drawing the small black growth around the little bones that aren't there anymore.