Tear Ducts and Adenoids and General Anesthesia, Oh, My!


A child holding a stuffed animal in a hospital bed. There may or may not come a time in your life of parenting when your child will require minor surgery and (gulp) have to go under general anesthesia. Please don’t be jealous of us, but both of our kids had to do this before age three.

My husband and I now feel like “pros,” and we handled our little guy’s recent adenoidectomy much more bravely than our daughter’s tear duct surgery three years ago.

What makes these kinds of surgeries hard is that being that they are not life or death, you almost always have a choice as to whether or not you want your child to undergo the surgery. In our daughter’s case, the consequence of not having the tear duct surgery would be that her eye would tear up constantly for the rest of her life, and she would probably hate us at the age of 13 for this unsightly problem. Our son’s adenoids were blocking his nasal passage and causing him discomfort when sleeping. Regardless of the consequence, having the choice makes you second-guess yourself every step until your child is home and resting.

Here is some advice for any mommies and daddies confronted with the news that your child needs minor surgery, whether it be ear tubes, adenoidectomy, tear ducts, or something else.

1. Get a second opinion.

It always helps to hear from more than one expert that the surgery is necessary. It also gives you a choice of who you feel more comfortable with performing the surgery on your wee one.

2. Don’t wait!

The younger the child, the easier it is. For example, the success rate of tear duct surgery drops significantly as the child ages.

3. Prepare to take time off.

Plan to clear your calendar for the day of the surgery and the days following if you work. Recovery time varies depending on the patient, and all will need some extra TLC from mommy.

4. Surgical centers seem to be the preferred location over a hospital for the little ones.

I was surprised at the number of children in their pajamas at both places we went to. Which brings me to my next point…

5. It’s pretty standard – ask around!

Chances are at least a friend or two has had to take their child for a similar procedure, and they can support you. A good friend warned me that my son’s breath would smell a week after the surgery, and boy, did it ever!

6. Remind yourself that far worse scenarios could involve your child and an I.V.

This fact helped me tremendously when I had to see my daughter wake up from general anesthesia. Seeing both my children like that under these controlled experiences reminded me of the word minor in both of their surgeries.

Has your child gone through any minor or major surgeries? Please comment with any tips for getting through it!

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Shannon has lived in Fairfield County, CT for most of her life and currently lives in Monroe. She has a daughter L (September, 2008) and a son B (May, 2012). Shannon balances being a wife and mom with working 186 days out of the year as a special education teacher. Thank goodness for vacations, summer break, and snow days! You can be sure that she fills those days with as many amazing activities and outings that she can think of to make up for the time that she is at work. In a distant life, way before babies, Shannon was an aspiring actress and musician. You can sometimes still find her leading sing-a-longs with her guitar at the kids’ playgroups or at her daughter’s school.


  1. While I haven’t experienced anything like this as a mom, I was very ill as a child & teenager. I know my mom (reluctantly, unfortunately) asked for help, and her friends did just that! If people offer to make dinners or take your other child for a sleep-over, take then up on it!


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