I have been compiling a list of things that I didn't know before this stay in the hospital with my daughter. So here are some things that you might not know in case you should ever find yourself in the hospital with your eleven year old daughter after her spinal surgery.:
You will never be so proud as the first time your daughter is able to pee without a catheter.
Those first steps she takes with the physical therapist will mean even more than her first steps as a baby. The same goes for the first bite of food she takes after surgery, and you won’t even mind having to feed her for the first couple of days.
If you are as fortunate as I have been, you will be barraged with requests to help. While this is absolutely wonderful, you will have no idea what to tell any of them that they can do for/bring you, since all that you really want is a decent night’s sleep/a pain-free child/your sanity back.
You will feel unable to leave your daughter’s side for more than the two minutes it takes to use the bathroom and wash your hands, because you know that anytime she wakes up and you aren’t there, she feels alone and scared and that makes the pain even worse. You may even consider using her bedside commode.
Time will pass without your having any knowledge – sometimes an hour will have gone by, or sometimes several. You will be so wrapped up in what is happening with your child that it won’t even matter. It is kind of like being in a casino in Vegas where you can't tell night from day, only less fun.
Healthy eating will be nearly impossible, as 1) there isn’t a wide variety of foods in the cafeteria, 2) people bring you comfort foods (which is all you really want anyway) and 3) as previously stated, time is so irrelevant that you go for hours and hours without eating, shoveling food in when you get the chance. Just ignore the layer of fat that grows around you.
All of your planned hospital exercise will go right out the window – you will find yourself far too exhausted, both physically and emotionally, to do anything more than move around the hospital room getting your daughter whatever she needs and helping her log roll. Feel free to count walking her down the hallway as exercise.
The ladies in the cafeteria will ask you, about your fourth morning in, if you work at the hospital or are just visiting someone. That is how often they have seen you.
You will know the layout of your floor as well as the nurses do. On your way to the kitchen to get more ice chips/water/sugar-free jello, try not to scoff at the parents of new patients as they try to find the bathroom/elevator/their child's room. It doesn't paint you in a sympathetic light.
Watching your daughter cry quietly in pain, trying to be brave, while there is nothing you can do won’t kill you, but you will wish it would.
And the final thing I have learned in my time in the hospital, which I can't promise will apply to you: my daughter is one of the most amazing people I have ever met. But I already sort of knew that.