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This one is about: Post-surgical Pain: The Voices of Experience

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How much pain do our children feel when they have surgery? Here are some answers to that question when it was posted to Cleft-Talk.

Hi all,

It will be two weeks tomorrow since Zach's fistula repair, and so far, all is well. It has been a very easy surgery, as all of his have been. He is on soft foods now and still can't swim of course. Other than that, he's back to being his normal little Zach. I've been thinking about this, and would like to have others input. Zach seems to have very little (if any) pain with his surgeries. The doctor will tell me that he will be very sore, and then he isn't. He told us this surgery would be more painful to his mouth than bone graft because it involved more soft tissue. Zach never took one dose of the pain medicine and only took Tylenol because his throat hurt when he swallowed probably from the tube or throwing up. He never once complained with his palate during bone graft or this surgery. Not once! Also, when he's had orthodontic work and the ortho tells me, "he's going to be really sore," it very rarely happens. If he does hurt, he says it's when he bites into something like his teeth are sore. My husband thinks he just has a high tolerance for pain, but he has a canker sore on his bottom gum and he's whined for two days with it.

What I wonder, is if you're missing tissue and bone in the palate, wouldn't you miss some nerves as well? Is this why he doesn't have much pain there? Does anyone else experience this or is this abnormal?

I'm just curious. I don't guess it really matters, but I thought I'd bring it up and see what everyone else thinks.

Lisa, mom to Kristi,1 5,nca & Zach, 8,uclp

I've never really had much pain with any of my surgeries, either. Most of the pain I DO have is related more to the incision than any of the major tissue involved. It feels just like a cut or scrape. As a matter of fact, I have taken some of my pain meds from my surgery on Tuesday, but not because of my nose, the pain is more in my ear. (I had a rhinoplasty with a cartilage graft taken from my right ear.) My husband is amazed that I'm not having more pain than I am, especially because my eyes are SO swollen. They don't hurt, though. I've been using cold compresses, but every time I go to sleep, I wake up and they are swollen again. I think it's just fluid drainage. I seem to be having more pain from the danged tape holding the drip pad to my nose ( I have a tape allergy) and the tape holding the tube from the drain in my ear. I have big red splotches. I've tried EVERYTHING, the tape I'm using now is supposed to be hypo-allergenic. Yeah, right! Any way, after my surgery, I'm doing really well except for tape allergies and swelling. I'd like to wash my hair, too!! (I can't wash it with the bandage and drain on my ear, but the doc is supposed to take it out tomorrow).

Deidre 25, bclp, Tennessee


Well... I'm absolutely famous around here for rejecting most narcotic drugs for my kids' post surgery healing. Those are the big-guns healers and I prefer to give them plain old Tylenol... Why?? Cause plain old Tylenol WORKS. Simple as that. I have been accused from time to time of making my kids endure pain needlessly. However, even when babies, they sure didn't act like they were going through more pain than necessary, and they healed fast. Back to norm in a couple of days' time.

But the proof of the pudding, as they say, is in the real-McCoy experience, and to a child, my kids' experiences seem to be similar to yours.... Tylenol only, and not even much of that. As it turns out, when the choice is entirely theirs, they actually take LESS of the pain medication that I would have given them, and not more.

I've asked specific questions after the fact, about pain and pain management. Jacob had ONE experience with codeine (took ONE pill after bone graft cause they were prescribed... went immediately back to Tylenol).. Jacob said he didn't like feeling dizzy and knocked out, that the pain was not so bad that Tylenol didn't handle it for him. Joey basically refuses even the Tylenol... he simply says it doesn't hurt. He did ask for one dose at some point less than 24 hours after bone graft. His BONE healed on a grand total of two doses of Tylenol.

I asked him about the feel of post-surgical pain and his answer (co-signed by Jacob) was this: The swelling is an odd feeling, and uncomfortable. The worst part is shaking off all the anesthesia. Pain medicine makes that part worse. He's not in actual pain.

I still contend that immediately post surgery MUST hurt! (and they agree that there is some pain.. but it is tolerable) However, i let them dictate the delivery of pain meds. Since it is THEIR pain... that makes sense.. though there are times when i think it would help ME if they took more Tylenol. LOL.. At least then I would feel I was doing something to help. LOL

From "Lauren Cogswell" <LaurenCogswell@HARPAK.COM>

Subject RE Just Wondering


My son Robbie is the same way he had his tonsils and adenoids out a year ago and wouldn't take anything for pain he just kept saying it doesn't hurt. He was up running around and in the pool the very next day. Kids are funny the things you think would bother them don't but heaven forbid they get a splinter its the end of the world (LOL)

Lauren-Mommy to Robbie-(bcl) and Zo=EB-(nca) both-4, and Baby Boy



Lisa - My kids never seemed to experience much pain in their mouths with any of their surgeries. I always felt that the doctors *thought* it would be sore - expected it to be sore - but since they've never been through it didn't realize that it wasn't (although you'd think they'd get a clue after doing surgeries on several kids!). I don't know - the lack of nerves makes sense to me. I do know that Brian had an abscess last summer and never said anything, never complained about it hurting and in December when he went back in he told the dentist about this "bump in his mouth a while back" (he figured since the "bump" was gone it was nothing to worry about). He ended up with a root canal - and it took a couple of doses of antibiotic to get rid of all the infection! The hygienist and dentist were amazed that he didn't complain of it hurting!


Mom to Brian & Sarah, both born with a uclp

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