“What time is surgery today?” Ellie, age 12, croaks. She hasn’t opened her eyes yet, but she knows she’s headed to the operating room … again. It may be the fourth surgery this month, maybe the fifth. We don’t know. What we do know is our routine has changed from soccer carpools and homework battles to twice-weekly trips to the operating room, where the orthopedic surgeon will slice open my baby girl’s thigh and attempt to wash out the deadly bacteria accumulating in her right femur and knee joint.
We’re trying to learn the new routine and master a new language. The vocabulary is demanding. There are procedures, medications, devices and acronyms. Most are scary — wound vacuum, PICC (peripherally inserted central catheter), clinical failure of vancomycin, Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA).
The only one who seems to have any answers is the pediatric resident. Unfortunately, he’s nearly always wrong.
Our trip into this alternate reality started on Ellie’s first day of seventh grade. …