12.06.2005

Snip! Snip!

Frankie and his parents have had a rough week. Last Tuesday (the 29th), we took him to Seton Northwest for the laser treatment on his skin hemangioma. We got there at 6am and, sleepy but anxious, waited for our turn in the still dark lobby. There were two others in front of us – another baby and a small child. We talked to numerous nurses who asked us the same series of questions over and over, a checks and balances system that we actual appreciate, an anesthesiologist and the doctor before handing him over. We were not allowed to be in the room while the treatment was performed. After the laser treatment, Frankie’s shoulder looked, in a word, awful. It broke up the large scab that had formed and oozed blood and other nastiness. It was (and still is) shocking to see. I called the doctor’s office, panicked at its appearance, but they assured us it was behaving as they’d expected.

The intention of the laser was to keep the hemangioma from spreading – the doctor doesn’t want to remove any more than he already has to when the time comes. We have to re-bandage what is now a large open wound twice (or more) a day, keeping it as clean as possible. There have been some terrible instances when the bandage sticks to the wound and blood spurts out when it is removed – an incident which resulted in my (and Frankie’s) freak out on Saturday night. I was terrified that I’d done what we have always feared -- broken a capillary – and that a trip to the hospital was necessary. Luckily, Grandpa Frank was there to help and assured me that it was just the scab and we just needed to stop the bleeding and all would be fine (it was).

Frankie was circumcised yesterday. The surgeon that performed his TEF repair, Dr. Josephs, did the work at Children’s Hospital. It was another early morning with a 6:30am arrival time and a lot of pre-surgery prep (nurses, anesthesiologist, etc…) and a very cranky Frankie (we were not allowed to feed him after 1am). But there is nothing like a trip to Children’s Hospital to change your perspective about your own child’s difficulties. In the waiting room, we saw kids with more far more serious problems than Frankie. Several had obvious neurological disorders, flitting about the room unable to focus, some were in wheelchairs, others stared blankly into space. We were reminded that dealing with a problem like a skin hemangioma does not compare with the challenges other parents in that room were facing. Frankie will get better – many of these kids will never be normal.

We considered the risks and benefits of circumcision and, believe me, heard many a lecture on the cons (ironically, from people who did not actually have children). In the end, we decided that there were enough risks related to “keeping it clean” to have the procedure done in addition to the “traditional” aspect. I’ve heard many folks argue that circumcision should not happen because it is not a “religious tradition”; it is, however, is a secular American tradition. I guess I cringe at the idea of little Frankie being made fun of by goons in the locker room.

This morning, Dave reports that Frankie is cheerful and happy, so yesterday is perhaps a distant memory. We hope that all of these doctors visits and hospital trips will be as well.

14 Comments:

Anonymous Grandma Judy said...

We are very lucky, indeed, and it's hard to believe the most difficult first year is almost half way over. We sure wish we lived closer so we could be more help because you and Dave must be so exhausted but hang in there. You're both doing such a great job; we're so proud of you. Don't hesitate to call when you need Grandpa Frank. He loves getting to hold Frankie (and I'm SO jealous).

4:22 AM  
Blogger Auntie Krissy said...

You are all troopers and my thoughts have been with you! If you need any help from Aunt B, I'm just a phone call away. It'll be smooth sailing from here and time to enjoy Frankie's first Christmas!

10:42 AM  
Blogger BobDobbs said...

I've done some reading about circumcision and haven't seen much of a good argument for doing it. Now maybe this can all be discounted since I don't have children (guess I can't have opinions about cancer since I don't have that either), but it seems like there's no possible way you can make the argument that the pain from the procedure has no effect or that the effect of the pain is positive. Even if it only lingers as a subconscious memory, having your penis chopped can't be good for the psyche.

Tradition? There are lots of traditions that aren't worth continuing. That doesn't seem like a good reason to do something. Lots of social customs get phased out as contemporary morals change. You don't have to run to slavery or cruelty to animals for examples either. All kinds of child-rearing traditions are being eclipsed by evolving standards of decency. Just doing it because it was done to us doesn't seem like a good reason to do something.

And the locker room thing is also kind of silly. Here, the above jab at the childless could be used to disqualify any mom's input on male-on-male locker room behavior, but that's not needed. I think the real question is how far would you go to spare your child some taunts from some hypothetical bullies? Why not bulk them up with steroids from the time they are 10 years old to make sure they are the biggest and strongest? Or refuse to get glasses if it might lead them to be picked on? There are all sorts of things you can do to a child's body to give them an "edge" against taunting.

And isn't the counter arg. true too? That being uncut makes them unique and therefore a leader and unafraid to be an individual? I remember thinking that the guy with a foreskin in our locker room was kinda lucky and cool.

Not trying to pick a fight, but genuinely curious about this...

12:58 PM  
Blogger Silver Zephyr said...

Clearly, we feel absolutely no benefit from having Frankie feel pain. I'm a little surprised that would be suggested. We are not evil beings out to torture our child.

Here are some medical reasons for circumcision:
-Circumcision lowers your son’s chances of getting a urinary tract infection (UTI) in the first year of life.
-Although a rare condition, cancer of the penis is essentially eliminated in circumcised males.
-Research shows that males who are circumcised have a slightly lower risk of getting sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
-Circumcision eliminates foreskin infection that occur at the peak ages of 3 to 5 years.
-Circumcision prevents phimosis, a narrow opening that makes it impossible to retract the foreskin at a later age.
-Genital hygiene, which is particularly important in unsanitary conditions, may be easier after circumcision.

2:16 PM  
Blogger Critical Mess said...

Anna lays out the medical case for circumcision,but here are a few more things to consider:

The physical pain of the operation seems far outweighed by the potential psychological scarring that might result from mom or dad having to retract the foreskin and scrub the little man's little man until he reaches the age of 7 or 8, or however old boys are when they master the tasks of personal hygeine.

As for the lasting effects of the physical pain, Frankie's surgery was Monday morning, and he already seems oblivious to the whole incident. He's been smiling and playing all day today. If he's traumatized, he ain't showing it.

And for those who subscribe to the theory that procedures like circumcision have lasting negative effects, what about the pain from immunizations, or the surgical repair of a tracheoesophageal fistula and esophageal atresia, or the laser treatment on a hemangioma? And if the memories of these "traumas" are carried into childhood and beyond, what of the myriad cuts, scrapes and bruises that are an inevitable part of growing up? Might as well lock the kid in plastic bubble until he hits puberty.

Finally, consider one possible alternative: my grandfather was uncircumcised - until the age of 70, when an infection forced him to undergo the procedure. Having witnessed the after-effects of both operations, I can assure you that Frankie is a helluva lot less bothered by it than Grandpa was.

2:33 PM  
Blogger BobDobbs said...

Hi Breeders:

First off, Zephyr, while I realize that my post about circumcision wa a bit fiesty and maybe even combative, I clearly wasn't trying to say that you are "evil beings out to torture your child." I was merely saying that in light of such clear drawbacks (pain) that I was unclear of the benefits.

Perhaps you can refer me to the scientific data that you use to make the claims about disease. Clearly if it is a proceedure that actually decreases the risks of UTIs and (eew) penis cancer (which I've never heard of), it seems worth doing. Are there some studies you can point me towards? I would imagine that in the cultures out there that don't circumcise, there'd be much higher percentages of UTI and penis cancer and whatnot and that data should be easy to come by.

Further, although I don't have numbers, I understand that some insurance companies are certifying it as an elective or cosmetic procedure.

Now, I will have to concede that having a foreskin increases the risk of a foreskin getting infected. For that matter, having lips increases the risk of lip infections, etc. We don't amputate all the body parts that could get gross. I'll heartily agree that cleaning is important, although most kids don't have to wait until age 8 to the hang of basic soap and water (as Critical Mess seems to worry, conjuring up some creepy images).

Anyway, I don't have a ton of data myself. I read some anti-circumcision stuff in a male herbal health care book by a guy named James Green and I found the following after a quick Google search:

http://www.noharmm.org/research.htm

http://www.norm.org/

But this may not be of any further interest since the deed is done and baby is bouncing and beautiful. I was just provoked by your reflection on the issue and had never had anyone with whom to discuss these concerns. And while CM is right that trauma to babies is hard to measure (especially if they are experiencing lots of other invasive medical procedures), I just thought I'd ask.

Enjoying the blog!

8:39 AM  
Blogger Silver Zephyr said...

Don’t have time to do to much searching right now, but here’s some info I found earlier about circumcision lowering the risk of AIDS:
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/health/background_briefings/aids/434880.stm

Of course, for almost any study it seems, there are counter studies and different evidence. You have to eight the total amount of evidence and make your choice, factoring in anecdotal evidence from friends and family.

I think it’s important to consider that in the 60’s and maybe into the 70’s infant pain treatment was much different than it is today. Doctors would perform major surgery without anesthesia because they did not think babies could feel pain. Clearly, that has changed. I felt pretty comfortable visiting with the anesthesiologist and discussing how they were going to make sure that Frankie did not experience pain during the procedure. There has been no bleeding and tonight we will bath him and the glue and other leftover stuff will dissolve. If he’s felt lasting, excruciating pain, trust me, we would know.

I do realize that other folk think that it’s some sort of FOX News-esque Republican move on our behalf, but I just don’t feel that way. And as someone who was routinely tortured in junior high school for their weight, did it make me a leader? Did it make me smarter? No. A good education and supportive parents did that. What it did give me is a life long complex about my weight. Hooray.

10:48 AM  
Blogger Ray said...

To bad u didn't leave Frankie intact.There is no reason for it.At least u did a little research.A lot of americans are so ignorant on this subject.(critical mess said in a post that the parents have to retract the foreskin till 8 or 9 years,what is that,u leave it alone because it's SELF CLEANING,it will retract eventually)Some people are not gonna like what i'm gonna say but it is mutilation and barbaric.Only for medical reasons.I'm an american and other countries think we're nuts.We are behind the times.
Why is it ok to circumcise ur boy and not ur daughter? If u cut off her clitoral hood(which is a foreskin) it's the same identical thing.The same.Remember when ur next daughter is born to ask the doc to cut off her hood.Kinda sounds wrong and barbaric doesn't it? The boy should decide if he wants his foreskin.If u ask him in the hospital when he's born and he doesn't answer,it means that u should ask him when he's old enough to understand.How do u know if he wants a foreskin when he gets older?
I know parents have to make decisions but if there is a medical reason then u step in as a parent.U take away pleasure from the foreskin.Don't we as human beings want to experience the most pleasure we can derive from sex?It's also so much easier to masturbate with skin and the male species does that a lot.A father who says i don't miss it so he won't is just not true at all.How does he know what pleasure he is missing.All i know as a male is i want my female partner to experience the highest level of enjoyment as possible.I think people will agree with that.
So far my uncut penis has never been infected and it hasn't fallen off yet.(Never had a problem in the lockeroom either and believe me i was way in the minority.It's attitude). Never ever had 1 problem in my 45 yrs.Am i a lucky one, no, most guys don't.Females have more problems than i do.So many infections.I'd say females have more hygienic problems than intact males.Maybe if their hoods were cut off they'll have a lot less problems.Don't mean to be on the harsh side but foreskin cutting is biased.There is a law against female mutilation and it's unconstitutional that it doesn't apply to boys,what a joke.How a parent can do this i just can't understand.The next time a female decides to cut her baby i'd say first discuss an operation with the doc to cut off ur clitoral hood first.Didn't mean to offend anybody but i think this is totally wrong.Hope ur little ones doing great. Ray

8:20 PM  
Blogger MommaS said...

People, get a grip! It's a done deal, and trying to make these parents, (who have gone thru quite enough, let me assure you) feel like they have somehow damaged their child is just foolish. If you're so interested in circumcision, penises and whatnot, go examine your own! I'm sure you mean well, but seriously! Get a life! Find another hobby, something other than expressing your concern over a 5-month-old's penis!

I say this out of love for my family, and I'm on their side 100%. My son is 17-months-old, and we had his done. And do you want our selfish, uninformed reason? So his would resemble his daddy's, and we wouldn't have to learn a whole new way to clean him. How's that for selfish?

XOXO to Dave, Anna & Frankie, from Colton!

4:01 AM  
Anonymous Grandma Judy said...

I love that people who don't have children have such strong opinions about what they would do with them if they DID. My daddy died October 14th of this year, but if he were around, he would give you a first-hand opinion as to why he WISHED to hell his mother had him circumcised so he didn't go thru a year of hell before he finally gave in and had it done at 70 years of age. He did, however, have a sense of humor about it and ask the Doctor to use "pinking shears" to make it look cute! I'm with Shelee. Your mother should have told you "if you can't say something nice, don't say anything at all". Dave and Anna have plenty of guilt about what's happening to Frankie without your help. (Sorry, Dave, a "mom" can only read so much without defending her kids, or her own action when she made the decision to "mutilate" you as an infant.) I probably made a lot of mistakes as a parent, but circumcision isn't one I EVER worry about and neither should you. Lots of Love, Mom

5:15 AM  
Blogger Silver Zephyr said...

I only wish I could post for you all the phone message Shelee left for me on Friday. I never laughed so hard in my life!

I had better post something new so we can all stop talking about Frankie's penis.

6:57 AM  
Blogger Silver Zephyr said...

Oh, and I must add that "bobdobbs" is a friend of ours and I've met him a few times and can assure you that he is perfectly nice, though apparently hung up on foreskin. Debaters are argumentative folk and often agressively so. I'm not sure they always understand that others are no so willing to argue like that and might be offended by their approach.

11:18 AM  
Blogger BobDobbs said...

Thanks for the defense Zephyr. I'm glad you know that I mean well and I hope all MTB readers will understand that raising this as a public health policy question doesn't mean that I'm trying to "create guilt" in anyone. One of the best things about this blog has been the thoughtful and reflective way in which both parents have posted critical self-doubt about both sides of the difficult decisions to be made. There have been mentions of scientific evidence on both sides of multiple issues. God forbid that someone continue that trend of thoughtful analysis in response to an already trepidatious post.

If I thought that this were a sensitive pair of parents who'd run weeping into an underground bunker, I wouldn't have said anything. These are tough and very smart folks who have chosen to make their parenting decisions part of a larger dialogue, in part, I hope, to inspire and provoke a dialogue -- not just to build an online monument to the affection given to them by their loved ones.

So thanks for your constructive comments on that note Shelee. Nobody posted any personal attacks until you started telling people to get a life and go do some penile self-examination. Reactions like that are why the quality of public health discussion about circumcision remains so stunted and immature.

12:19 PM  
Blogger Silver Zephyr said...

no fighting, no biting!

10:31 AM  

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