I haven't called to reschedule Matthew's hand surgery. We do believe that this surgery would make life easier for Matthew, but I was spooked at his near surgery in April. I wish I had a crystal ball and knew what the right decision would be for the best outcome. Is the benefit worth the risk?
I've signed a half dozen release forms for surgery. I know that there is inherent risk with any surgery--- and know that these forms list out all the possibilities. I've always glossed over the risks, thinking "oh, those are remote and won't happen to Matthew." I had done the same as we were preparing for his hand surgery, but now I pause. Those risks are listed because they have happened to someone, and on some of those risks, Matthew has been that someone. Four out of his six previous surgeries have not gone as planned. Not good odds.
Then there was the little boy in the room with Matthew with a staph infection. Saying nothing of the fact that there is no way that Matthew should have been in a room with someone with an active staph infection, especially pre-op, it scarred me. Staph infections are scary things and are rampant in hospitals. If they are antibiotic resistant, Matthew could lose a finger, his hand, an arm or his life. Way scary.
As well, all of Matthew's life, he has either had a cold, been recovering from a cold, or just about to get a cold. The longest he's ever gone without some sort of ailment is 3.5 weeks. We know the risks going under anesthesia with a cold, and they are exacerbated by Matthew's throat anomalies. I have seen a machine breathing for Matthew once, and I have to say I'd prefer not to ever see it again.
Finally, the nurse spent an hour detailing out how very important it will be post-op to keep Matthew's full arm cast dry and free from sweat (wet/sweat=bacteria=infection). Thinking through the logistics of keeping a VERY active 2 year old with a hand to shoulder cast from sweating (in Houston) seemed like a herculean task, but thinking about keeping him from all water for 6 weeks (including locking him out of our bathrooms completely, and everyone having to drink from from cups with lids) seemed a bit daunting.
Do I think that Matthew must have this surgery? The hand surgeon asked me the same thing, and my answer is very simply "No". Matthew is amazing with his 4 fingers in the configuration that he was born with. And though it may be more difficult for him to master his fine motor skills, like holding a pencil and cutting with scissors, I have absolutely no doubt in my mind that he would figure it out in time. He is tenacious. God gave him the best personality for the uniquenesses that he possesses.
So, why would we have the surgery? Because it would make it easier for him to do every day things-- opening a jar, holding a pencil, turning a key. We had always planned for this surgery for now because (1) it was after all of his major surgeries and (2) we wanted him to have the optimal thumb position as he started holding a pencil and getting ready for school. But those are our reasonings, medically Matthew can have this surgery at any time from now on. They wanted him to be at least 2 years old because hands double in size from birth to two and then again from two to adulthood, meaning the fastest growth period for the hands is zero to two.
So, the plan for now is that we will wait through the summer and determine if we want to reschedule for the Fall. And if we decide to wait further, we can do that too. Maybe we wait till Matthew's immune system is a bit more robust and when he can understand/work with us on keeping his cast clean and dry. Maybe through waiting, we decide against surgery because we are able to see how Matthew progresses with his 4 finger/no thumb configuration. And if we decide not to go through with the surgery at all, Matthew may one day make the decision on his own to go through with it. Thankfully there are options, I just wish I had a crystal ball and knew the right one!