Sunday, September 18, 2011
Heroes Come in Small Packages, Sometimes
The one risky thing about having children is that they can rip your heart out in an instant like no one else can. Luckily, most people don’t think of this when they decide they want to have kids.
It was supposed to be JUST a stomach virus. After all, I thought I had one the previous weekend. His symptoms were the same as mine had been: nausea, vomiting, and stomach pain, except he had a 101.7 fever as well. My illness lasted about four hours. His started Saturday and was still going strong on Monday morning.
“Do you want to go to school today?” I asked, pulling the shades up in his room.
“No, Mommy, I feel sick and I’m afraid I’ll throw up at school,” he said.
“Alright,” I answered, thinking this was one nasty virus. “But you have to at least get dressed and come with me to the bus stop.”
He seemed to struggle a little at the idea of it, then reaching toward me answered, “Ok Mommy, but you have to help me out of bed. My tummy hurts.”
That’s when I knew something was really wrong. I pressed on his stomach and he didn’t scream or cry.
“It’s just really sore,” he said.
I thought: I’m going to take him to his doctor and say- It’s probably a stomach virus but I just need you to confirm that for me and tell me it’s not his appendix. But I knew it was. In the car he looked ashen. In the examination room, he was asked to reach up with his left hand and hop on his left foot, but my basketball-loving son couldn’t jump. That's when the doctor nodded to me and patted my back before walking out to arrange for us to go to the Emergency Room.
Two hours later my third grader was being prepped for surgery. As they wheeled him away, my husband, not knowing what to do with himself, made one of his completely out-of-place comments that got a chuckle from the surrounding hospital staff.
“Have fun in there,” he said.
And I looked at him, glassy-eyed and half-annoyed as my son answered,” “Ok dad, I will.”
When the doors closed in my face I felt like I was going insane, angrily asking my husband,
“What did you just tell him?” and laughing in spite of myself.
For the next hour I sat in the waiting room clutching a clear plastic bag containing my oldest’s sneakers and clothing. The whole time I kept telling myself that it was only an appendectomy- a completely routine procedure- but I still felt like crying. Instead I just sat there, like a deer in headlights, wondering what was going to happen next.
“Don’t worry Mrs. Christie, it’s not like we’re gonna go in there blind; he'll have blood work and maybe a CAT scan first,” one very green doctor had told me when we arrived at the hospital ER. My eyes widened because –OMG!- he was talking about making holes in my kid.
The surgeon put my mind at ease; he was obviously an expert.
“I have five kids of my own; I know how you feel as a parent,” he said. “This is a common occurrence for his age group. He’ll be my third appendectomy today,” the surgeon added. There was good news- no perforation and the infection was entirely contained in the appendix.
“It looked a lot better than I expected when we went in,” he said. My sigh of relief could have blown me all the way down in the hallway to the bedside of my eight year-old, who was then waking up and looking around for his parents.
You think about crazy things when you’re trapped in a hospital overnight. While my husband would have taken over at our son’s bedside, nothing could move me from the spot. I was so nervous I wore the same clothes for three days. But there are things I want to remember about this experience- mainly, what I learned about my son.
I was truly impressed by his bravery. When he found out he needed surgery I watched him ask the doctor calmly exactly what would happen. The surgeon drew X’s in pen on his belly where the cuts would be made. When they wheeled him away he was sitting up- nervous, but forcibly composed- so as not to worry me.
In recovery, I called my parents and put the phone up to his ear. My father, who is battling brain cancer, asked him how his surgery was.
“It was fine! I’m great,” he responded. My husband took a picture of his punch-drunk smile in the recovery room and it was evident that he was making an effort to reassure us that he was alright.
And as it turns out, this little boy is so very wise. When we came home, he took off the rubber bracelet that the nurses put on him in the hospital.
On it was written: “Hope, Courage, Endurance, Bravery.”
“Give this to Papa,” my little hero told me.
This post was also printed online here on the Mamazina Magazine Blog: MamaBlogger365. It was also reprinted in The Press Box column of The Southampton Press (Western and Eastern Editions).
Dear Internet Traveler,
Welcome to my writer's blog, started about six years ago for fun. Over time, the writing I have posted has ranged from personal reflection, to Long Island history research, to tall tales for my own amusement, to feature articles for local newspapers. As you can see from topics listed here, I travel in many mental directions in regard to interests. Click on the tabs and labels to explore my strange mind which senses that you may be having a criss-cross day. If so, perhaps this blog will distract you. However, please note that if you tell me my blog is beautiful just to get me to advertise rhinoplasty surgery and cheap drugs from Canada in your comment, I will ask the gods to give you a tail that cannot be concealed.