A Tonsillectomy Tale

A few years back, I was on a work trip with a nurse practitioner. I was seemingly venting into my larger glass of sangria all of my parenting woes. I shared about the emotional and sleep challenges I was having with Reid, who was affectionately nicknamed Grumpus starting at birth. He has always been the vocal, hard to please, crazy overly emotional, demanding twin of the pod. From very early on, he has demanded all my time and attention, like a little baby dictator. Thank goodness Harper was so low key and favored her dad, poor thing would survive on breaths of fresh air and a pat on the head if we let her. I have SO MANY videos of her giving Reid some serious side eye during his crying fits. She was over his antics probably by 30 weeks gestation, which is when she started to plan her escape (another story for a another day).

Reid during his infamous witching hours and Harper as happy a clam

Reid has never slept through the night on a consistent basis. NEVER! The longest I think he has ever gone is maybe 5 days in a row. I remember feeling like I just needed to make it to the next milestone and the tides would change. Did I forget to mention that my husband was also deployed for 9 months during this time and that for every night Reid was waking up I was parenting the Twins alone, while maintaining my performance at my demanding job?

A familiar view of my late night wake ups 🌜⭐
Documenting the madness for Brendan while he was away 😂

Our tiredness and frustrations were likely related to sleep apnea.
Thankfully, my co-worker helped me realize that I was not just loosing my marbles (a very high likelihood to be frank). She warned me of the troubles that sleep apnea can have on a developing child which started at the obvious daily grumpiness, to delayed growth, and even behavioral impacts that mimicked more serious mental health illnesses.

I finally got serious on the topic with the pediatrician. I always noticed that his tonsils were large and the pediatrician made mention of it too, but she was more of the play it by ear and see how things advance and he should grow into them type. After some research and advocacy for Reid, I decided to pressure the idea of having the tonsils removed. I was less than pleased with the idea that we had to pursue a sleep study first. Logistically getting my 2 year old to not pull off every electrode and wire seemed like a nightmare. Financially, a sleep study at the hospital was going to be about $2,000. Was I really that desperate for a full night of sleep that I would spend that kind of money? I knew it was the right choice, but that’s still a lot of money for a freakin’ sleep nightmare study.

His tonsils almost touch (ignore fresh juice tounge)
Another day another juice covered tounge

Finding a sleep study for a child under 4 was practically impossible. There were only 2 places around us that even agreed to do a sleep study on a child that was 2. One option was a well known pediatric hospital in the area and the other seemed like a whole in the wall. After finally deciding that the pediatric hospital was the way to go, the approval process was HORRIBLE. I mean, I work in healthcare, and more specifically for our insurance carrier so I’m no newb to this. The administrative burden of trying to stay on the pediatrician and sleep center’s back was like a full time job. After finally getting approval, the wait list was months out.

By the time I called back to schedule the actual sleep study, the clinical from the doctor was “expired”. Are you kidding me?! Brendan finally came home from deployment and honestly life got away from us while we worked through our family’s reintegration. We love to keep our life interesting and we had also recently moved about 45 mins away. Because of that, the pediatrician that originally gave the clinical information wouldn’t update until we went back for a visit. The new pediatrician didn’t seem to think it was the right move and also dropped the ball in never getting them the “full” clinical.

Reid’s behavior and sleep issues started to really digress, so I got desperate. It was becoming more and more obvious that Reid’s impulse control and lack of listening skills were getting worse. His sleep was no better than when he was 2 and he was having more breathing episodes at night. He had a few illnesses that landed us in Urgent Care and every time the doctors were taken aback by how large his tonsils were. One of which finally just said that I should just go straight to the ENT and skip the sleep study altogether, so I did.

We finally got the outcome we’d hoped for. One look is all it took for the ENT to approve a tonsillectomy and an appendectomy for Reid. While he said they weren’t the biggest he had ever seen, they were large enough that a sleep study wasn’t necessary and that they were likely causing daily pain and discomfort. Our surgery date was scheduled for 2 months out, May 9th would be the day we finally got some sleep around this joint!

Coming to terms with getting the surgery was harder than I anticipated. I mean it is a major medical procedure that requires anesthesia and 7 days of recovery. I struggled with thinking we were taking the easy way out, that if we just wait a little while longer, he would grow into them and the problems would disappear. I feel like it would have been easier to just do nothing and wait it out, but the behavior issues were starting to wear on us. But with every hard decisions in parenting, there’s always some doubt; am I doing this right, am I making the right choice? Where’s the freakin’ parenting manual when you need it ($1,000 reward for anyone that can find it). As the days came closer the decision came into clearer focus. I realized we were making the right choice. We were doing what was best for Reid and most importantly, for our family.

Take your child’s symptoms seriously. I chalked a lot of Reid’s issues up to just being a new parent, not being patient enough, and Reid adjusting to Brendan’s deployment. “This too shall pass”, “try sleep training”, “they’re only little once”, and “he’ll grow out of it” is what I kept saying to myself. I’m here to tell you that sometimes the day when they start just magically sleeping just does.not.come and more a serious decision is needed. I’m really hopefully that this surgery will alleviate some of our issues, but if not, I can live with myself knowing that I did what I thought was best.

Stay tuned for our dry run of surgery day 😉 Yes, you heard that right DRY RUN, because after all that build up, the damn surgery was rescheduled.


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