Side effects

1. The 11 hour dental appointment

V takes medication at night to help him go to sleep. We spent many years of sleep-deprived nights trying all sorts of alternative treatments but when it comes down to a major sleep disorder like his there is usually no getting around taking some sort of medication. After much tweaking, V has an effective cocktail that includes several meds, none of which are sleep aids per se but all of which have drowsiness as a major side effect. Since the challenges around the pandemic we’ve added a new med to the mix which help with sleep at night and calm during the day.
V usually succumbs to the cocktail (“Warning: may cause drowsiness” is a good thing : ) so he goes to bed earlier and sleeps longer and wakes better regulated. However, the drugs’ impact lingers through the early morning: he is a little harder to wake up, and he often is very thirsty.

So when he was scheduled for dental surgery requiring anesthesia (he can no longer go to the dentist without it due to excessive fear and anxiety) and the instructions state emphatically NO FOOD OR DRINK before procedure my concern is how we are going to get him up so early and then keep him from drinking water when he gets up. So we plan ahead very carefully: we’ll wake him up minutes before we have to get in the car (the appointment is for 6:30 am) and hide every glass and container that could possibly hold water. The plan works and he gets up, uses the bathroom, gets dressed and gets in the car, still groggy.

We get to the hospital and sure enough there is a water dispenser right in the waiting room so I have him stand in the hallway with me until his name is called. I am so relieved that we’ve gotten him to the appointment with the requisite fasting. Success! I think, the hard part is over. But that’s just the beginning…
He is promptly given a large dose of anesthesia – he resists the shot as much as he can but eventually the medical team maneuvers it into his arm. He fights it for a few minutes – we’re told that patients sometimes have hallucinations when first getting anesthesia – and then succumbs to the strong sedative effects.

Three hours later he is out of surgery and we’re told to come to the post-op room to wait for the anesthesia to wear off. One to two hours, as the forms I read so closely had told us. T and I both go into the room to wait with him. We sit surrounded by people who are also dozing after surgeries. One by one we hear them awaken and the nurses offering them something to eat and drink, giving them their postoperative instructions, asking how they are getting home etc. It’s a big holding cell and we are but one small part of it.

Only V doesn’t wake up. Could this be the extra large dose of anesthesia, the medications he takes at night still in his system or likely some combination that completely knocks him out? After two hours, I cancel a 2 o’clock appointment I was sure I’d be home for. More hours go by and still we can’t arouse him. I tell the host that I won’t be able to attend a meeting scheduled for 5 pm. Five hours later we are able to get him to open his eyes, only to shut them again. After most of his life doing anything we can to get him to sleep, here we are trying anything possible to get him to wake up.

The rules are that he cannot leave the hospital until he can stand up on his own. By the time he lethargically says that he needs the bathroom, we find that his legs are still wobbly. A nurse wheels him to the bathroom in a wheelchair, he comes back and we wait some more, the room now practically empty. We watch as one shift of nurses leaves and another set arrives.
Finally at around 5 pm, we’re able to rouse him. We leave the house at 6 am and return at 6 pm, exhausted in different ways from V, who practically collapses into his favorite chair, refuses all food and drink, then eventually stumbles up the stairs where he goes back to sleep for another 10 hours, still feeling the effects of the sedation. And to think I was worried about the fasting.

2. Movie Time

On the positive side, I’ve taken advantage of V’s generally earlier bedtime to go to one of my happy places: the movies. It’s not as good as being in a theater (although I don’t know if I’ll ever be as enthralled to be so close to so many people for a prolonged period of time) but it is a way to transport myself after a long day. Even 10 hours at the dentist’s. It’s also fun right now to have viewed a number of the films vying for awards this time of year.

2022 Academy Award nominated movies I have seen so far:

Don’t Look Up
Drive My Car
The Power of the Dog
West Side Story
King Richard
The Hand of God
Being the Ricardos
The Lost Daughter

Summer of Soul

I liked some more than others, loved a few, and would recommend any of them.
Drive my Car was probably my favorite, just because it was the sort of not much happens but so much happens that is the earmark of a great short story (it is based on one by Haruki Murakami). Plus Checkov has a leading role. Summer of Soul is fantastic in every way. West Side Story had that brilliant score and lyrics by Leonard Bernstein and Stephen Sondheim, and wonderful choreography. Olivia Coleman (The Lost Daughter) can do no wrong and the performances and cinematography in the Power of the Dog are riveting. Flee is animation for adults, a heart wrenchingly moving story of a family fleeing Afghanistan.

On the top of my figure out how to stream list: Belfast, Parallel Mothers, Licorice
Pizza, CODA.

Hoping that we can – as much as possible – sleep well and wake up easily.

6 thoughts on “Side effects

  1. Maybe it’s your writing style here, but like many autism moms at this stage of the game, you take it in stride. I imagine it was scarier than you make it sound! Miss you!


  2. Oh, wow….I could feel all that angst-and following your process makes my sleep time clonopin cocktail now seem easy, and the sleep, delicious…I certainly hope the surgery was a success…love to you all.


  3. Yes you’re right – it was pretty harrowing and yet how used to these things we get…miss you too!


  4. Yes the end result was all good. And yes here’s to whatever cocktail works – sleep is delicious absolutely! 💕


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