My co-housemate, the Pilot, offered me a fish taco and a sympathetic pat on the back when I got home from the hospital.
The fish was tasty, plain, room temperature; lemon from our garden, cabbage nice and fresh. Flour tacos are not my thing, the salsa was out of a safewayesque jar, and yet… it’s like the fish taco of neighborly kindness, which outweighs anything else! It was heavenly!
Rook is at the hospital overnight again tonight. He’s got stamina and I don’t.
Yesterday and today I had all the thoughts one would expect me to have. Feeling deeply that I wished that I could take whatever pain onto myself so that he wouldn’t have to suffer it… Mechanically forcing myself to eat things so that I won’t become useless… Hating the loud, gum-chewing, irritating people I was stuck with for hours in waiting rooms, but feeling guilty too because their kids maybe have cystic fibrosis or cancer or something seriously awful. Being afraid Moomin would die even though the hospital is great and the surgery extremely common… not just “being afraid he would die” but actually imagining it in extended detail, over and over in different ways, catching myself and telling myself to stop the nonsense, but then falling right back into it. I could imagine my stunned denial… it woudl be impossible to believe… you’d keep forgetting, a little, and then horribly remembering it was real all over again… and going over everything and blaming yourself or others… and then even more horribly, imagining years later after acceptance and grief had mixed and almost no one around you even had known him so that anyone who had would be painful to be around but also infinitely precious… You see how far my nonsense can run! Very far! Anyway of course also as I left him at the door of the operating room I thought, “Is this the last time I will see him… in this sucky way when he’s feverish and in pain…” And feeling of course that I haven’t properly appreciated every moment of my life with him before that .
Stopping the nonsense was crucial because I was not going to fall apart in front of him, obviously it’s important to be calm and competent as possible. So while he was in surgery it was the hardest. I had to play several really lame games of nethack just to stop myself from thinking. Then cruelly the waiting room nurse told me that “they” wanted me to come speak with the doctor and follow her please (unlike the other parents there who got paged and told to go to the recovery room where their kid was waiting.)
“Is he out of surgery? Is he okay?” I got the answer that isn’t an answer: “The doctor will discuss everything with you. Come with me.”
You can imagine my thoughts as we walked past the “serenity” room and I wondered if I was going to be in there… And then there was a horrible 45 minutes standing around in hallways tensely asking nurses what was up, with a placating smile and a hysterical screaming underbelly. “I’ll go back and ask. The doctor will come out and talk to you in a few minutes.”
!!! I was able to keep my cool only by imagining the horrible tragedies of all the people around me in the hallway who were a mixture of stoic & bewildered & trashed… So that I would be ashamed to freak out in front of them over my worries so unnecessary and so unlikely to come to pass when their own worries were over something certain and real and deadly. (I’m clear that I get to *worry* but I’m also clear that I don’t get to worry so hard it interferes with my functioning, or that it makes other people have to stop and take care of me, or makes me an enormous nuisance for the sake of my imagination.)
It was all okay and eventually a stream of handsome square-jawed handshaking ken-doll doctors trickled past me giving contradictory yet all very sensible information bits. One said he would be up and out of the hospital the next day – another said he’s be in till at least Wednesday – another said it would be 3-5 days. The words “suppurative” and “purulent” were tossed about, as well as “of course, Dr. Whatever mentioned all the scar tissue from the somethingorother.” No, actually he didn’t, the what? “Don’t worry, we removed it, and got all the pus and gangrenous tissue out too.” OH! Okay then! Naturally! I’ll just barf and faint now, thanks!
(Access to the written reports would be nice, but when I asked (hours later) there was a huge fuss over my “request to see the charts” — I think because they fear it’s a sign I might sue. Actually it’s a sign that I have a brain and am curious. )
I imagine that they don’t let the parents back there right away because the post-op patient is slack-jawed, drooling, zombie-eyed, maybe still intubated and covered with blood. So they clean them up before taking them into the secondary recovery room.
Finally I was with Moomin, smoothing his forehead whenever he moaned and his heart rate monitor would start blipping. It was good to see the forehead smoothing’s effect on his heart rate. He knew it was me… Actually Rook is much better at consistent smoothing and soothing, and has been since Moomin was born. He’s patient and doesn’t fidget. As I said, he’s got the rough part of the shift, all night tonight.
I did a good job of not fidgeting and being a beacon of radiant mom-like calm. You have to believe in your zen-like calm or it doesn’t work! Even if you’re kind of faking it, you have to believe it!
Moomin didn’t have any postop nausea – in fact he ate a popsicle before he was fully conscious. That was a huge relief!
That’s my side of this long day… There is so much more, of course. Moomin was incredibly brave, helpful, cooperative, and excellent.
I hesitate to type what he said as we wheeled him out of the recovery room… where there was a toddler screaming, kicking, hitting, and biting… because it’s too awesome:
“Someone has to teach that little kid that you shouldn’t be mean to the doctors that way. I don’t think he knows about that.”