Hemelt: Surprise surgery creates hair brush headache

Published 12:03 am Saturday, August 27, 2016

Brushing a young girl’s hair before school is really difficult.

I came face to face with this stark realization Wednesday morning as I was trying to get my 6-year-old daughter, Mallory, out of the house and ready for a day in first grade.

The task was complicated by the fact Mallory and I were the only two people home Wednesday — wife Candace was at the hospital with our son, 8-year-old Dominick, who needed emergency surgery the afternoon before.

Our drama started mildly late Sunday afternoon with Dominick complaining of stomach pain. He was completely lethargic by the evening; however, a lack of fever led to little worry.

He was kept out of school Monday and spent the day at his grandparents’ home. The pain seemed to get worse, with him complaining of stabbing-like surges that forced him to hunch over. Walking up and down steps was also difficult for the normally energetic third grader.

A fever had also taken root, leading to an early-morning doctor’s visit Tuesday.

It was there Candace and Dominick were given explicit instructions to head to Ochsner Medical Center on Jefferson Highway in New Orleans.

He most likely was suffering from a problematic appendix and would need immediate surgery.

That news shocked me Tuesday morning when Candace delivered it on her way with Dominick to the hospital.

After closing up some loose ends at the office and scooping up Mallory at school, we were soon together in Ochsner’s prep room as surgery neared.

Dominick, my little buddy, was quiet as he waited in his hospital gown for a surgery neither he or I completely understood.

We were told, as far as emergency surgeries go, an appendectomy — the surgical operation to remove an appendix, is about as routine as an unplanned surgery gets.

Those were comforting words, but not enough to ease the full tension bubbling inside my wife and I.

Thankfully, our 8-year-old was super brave, no doubt emboldened by visits from all of his grandparents to wish him luck. The only time he even looked nervous was when they wheeled him away and he realized no one, especially his mother, could walk those last few steps with him.

I give him credit though, he never cried or showed fear. That’s a heck of a lot better than I could do at his age, or my current age for that matter.

Two hours later, his doctor came out to say the successful surgery was done and his road to recovery had begun.

Everybody got a chance to see him that evening. By 6 p.m. it was decided we should leave, all except mama, so Dominick could get rest in advance of a Wednesday discharge. That left Mallory and I heading back home to Reserve to spend the night alone.

So there I was the next morning getting Mallory ready for school, trying to pull off a routine we had never practiced. With the worry of Dominick’s health no longer in question, it was my 6-year-old who led me in the process of school preparation.

She informed me she would eat breakfast at school (thank you, girl) and just needed me to brush her hair straight. Seeing my fumbling attempts at styling, she advised me against trying to put a bow in her hair.

Thankfully, she made it to school on time and Dominick was home Wednesday afternoon.

When this week began, I never would have guessed that trying to comb my daughter’s hair would be the second most nerving-racking task of the week.

Stephen Hemelt is publisher and editor of L’OBSERVATEUR. He can be reached at 985-652-9545 or stephen.hemelt@lobservateur.com.