Menu Close

Toddlers, Surgery and Trauma

Did you know Tilly is my newborn assistant? She’s been helping me for the last three years or so. She’s awesome and knows exactly what I need and when. This shot was taken when I was testing the light at our last shoot.

Thank you all so much for your thoughts on nightmares. I read every single comment. I had not heard about a connection between melatonin and bad dreams. We decided to give dropping it a trial run. Apollo hasn’t taken it for four days. He had nightmares the first two nights and none the last two. I’m not getting excited yet, because he only has nightmares 3 or 4 times a week, so we need to give it some time and see. I am sure he is having nightmares and not night terrors because he remembers them and talks about them (by definition that discounts them as night terrors). He is also now afraid of the dark. Some of that I’m sure is age appropriate and he’s experienced so much trauma in his two years…

We had an interesting conversation at bedtime last night…Apollo asked something about the surgery and I told him the doctors had to do it to fix his throat so he could eat. We looked at some pictures of him in the hospital and he asked, “Did the doctors cut me with a knife?”

“Yes, a special knife called a scalpel.”

“Was is sharp” he asked. “Did they do this?”

He then made cutting motions on his arm.

I said yes.

He reached back and touched his left shoulder and said, “But it hurt when they did that to me!”

I then showed him pictures of Chuck holding his hand in the hospital while he slept. I reminded him that I slept in bed with him every night in the hospital. I am hoping that as his verbal skills grow talking through it will help. If the nightmares continue I will definitely ask for some type of referral for him.

In other news, I have this whole week with no appointments for Apollo! A rare week indeed. The 17th he sees his GI doctor and I will learn to put a new mic-key button in. The next day I meet with his dietician again.

His chest x-ray was clear last week, so this week we get to double his fat intake, now adding in 4 teaspoons per day. Chylothorax with a two-year-old is something of a nightmare. Tomorrow will be six weeks post-surgery and we are still not even close to a normal diet.





  1. Joan M

    I heard (or read about this on Pinterest) where a dad had some “boggey man” spray. He just covered some kind of spray with paper and labeled it. Then every night he went into the toddler’s bedroom as he was going to bed and sprayed all over the room–closet, under the bed, up in the corner, etc. to keep the boogey man away. It worked every time. He said he had been doing this for years.
    Maybe you could adapt this for Apollo? (Or for anyone else out there that has kids with nightmares)
    Just a thought.
    I’m still praying.

  2. corrie

    I think that being afraid of the dark is an age thing. My daughter is right around Apollo’s age (July 9, 2010) and she is afraid of the dark too. She doesn’t have nightmares yet though.

  3. Melissa Knox-Raab

    I heard about the bogey-man spray too–it’s a great idea: I think Judy Blume uses it in one of her novels, in the Fudge books–which I bet Apollo would enjoy in a few years. If he’s having nightmares about cutting, it’s understandable–he’s been cut, and he’s a guy, and every pediatrician I have ever dealt with has remarked on the relatively fearlessness of girls when it comes to shots and any form of pain, or any eye examination. To put it bluntly, it all comes down to castration fear, and without mentioning that to Apollo, obviously, it might help to say that no part of him was ever taken away when the doctor cut him–the doctor just rearranged some things so that he could eat better. Like putting a puzzle together. By the time I’ve gotten to the end of my long explanation he might not be interested, but how vividly I remember my five year old daughter, my six and eight year old sons all sitting and waiting for their shots, and the doctor thinking she’d do better giving the older ones their shots first, since my daughter’s arm was smaller. The boys howled; she took it all in stride . . . of course she wanted to show that she could take it, too.

  4. Erin

    So sorry to hear about Apollo’s fears. I am right now reading a book called “The Whole-Brain Child” and it talks about processing trauma. Lots of good info in the book – I hate to give you a “short” version, but they do talk about processing through story (apparently its a brain thing). Perhaps a resource for you.

  5. Erin in FL

    You said after his first surgery, they had a terrible time controlling his pain…is it possible that he felt the first surgery? I just went to the dentist for a “pain free” procedure…new technology. By the end of the “pain free” procedure, I had two shots of Novocaine and had my biggest jolt of pain at the very end…when the dentist wasn’t even “in the area”. Just a thought…he seemed to know specifically what the special knife did! Poor kid! Soooo sorry to hear he is having such trouble. You are WONDERFUL parents, doing your utmost for him…he is a BLESSED little boy!
    Wishing you all the BEST and PEACE from our dear LORD…take care,

    • bakersdozenandapolloxiv

      Erin, we have wondered about that, but since he was so young (only 20 months) he didn’t have the vocabulary to articulate it, so we just don’t know.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.