Little Pitchers, Big Ears

Sam had his first surgery today. A traumatic event for anyone, but especially hard for a boy who, well, makes a ginormous fuss over removing a band-aid. Because it will hurt. (Yes, my son LIMPED for two days after getting his first band-aid.)

Walking into the building, the atrium looks like a giant playland. As Boo ran from toy to toy in outright excitement, I had a little sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach.

You see, in my mind, if I have a child with a chronic condition, this environment is wonderful for making the repeated visits easier. However – for a child in a once-off situation, well, it seemed to me like a huge (cruel) joke. “Hey, kids, come play with these cool toys! Happy-happy-joy-joy! Oh, and here is an I.V.”

We all have heard the familiar phrase “little pitchers have big ears”. Initially, we were very careful talking about the subject, because his little imagination is, well, like mine – we can overthink a situation to death. So it was really amazing how much the little guy absorbed when we thought he wasn’t paying attention. When we did talk to him, we gave him the most basic information – this is not a kid that does well with details!

Don’t get me wrong – we had talked to Boo about his surgery, but in hindsight I realize we’d never actually used the word surgery. So I was a bit caught offguard – as was the boyo – when the nurses were dropping “surgery” like we say “fruit snacks” around here. Boo sat in the hospital bed, getting quieter and quieter by the minute. The nurses commented on how well he was doing, but I knew differently – the tiny wheels in his brain were churning frantically. It came to a head when a nurse brought in a little cup of the “happy juice” that was to help relax him before the anesthisiologist came to cart him off.

“Here, honey, you just drink this”. Boo folded his arms, gave her a look and said “No thanks. I don’t need it, I’m not going to have surgery. Can we go now?”

(I have to give him credit – he was very calm and mannerly. I’m so proud that something is sticking!)

Eventually, the threat of a needle was enough to have him tossing back the medicine like a shot of Jack Daniels (which, it was fast becoming apparent, that Daddy also needed right about then. He was turning red and redder by the second.) I handed over my iPhone and turned on my FooPets game, and then my Bubble Wrap game. I mean, who isn’t destressed by popping bubble wrap? So bubble wrap that reinflates and you can pop again, virtually? By the time they came to get him, he was completely loopy, and gave a parade wave to us as he and Ox were wheeled down the hall towards the OR. (And yes, somehow, Ox did stay with him. I can’t imagine the amount of germs on that poor critter…Ugh.)

When they finally let us see him, he was still waking up, but it wasn’t long before he realized he had an IV in his arm and completely freaked. To his credit, I have yet to have an IV that could be remotely called comfortable, no matter what the nurses tried to tell me, so I don’t blame him a minute for wanting that nasty thing out of his arm. He was blessed with a truly understanding nurse who got it, and got it out.

The interesting thing about youth (and the amazing amnesiac effects of Happy Juice)? By bedtime, Boo told his Daddy “I think I like surgery”. Yes, my 5yo is completely delusional. Great, isn’t it!

Then again, he also has an imaginary brother named Kevin, who isn’t in the house right now because he is in the hospital after getting hit by a train. So that wonderful imagination does come in handy in more than one way.

Needless to say, it is fast becoming a distant memory for Boo. To those mamas out there with kids who have a chronic illness I say “you are my hero”. Watching him hurt was the hardest thing I’ve ever done – right up there with the brilliant performance I gave staying strong. (Someone hand me my Oscar now, please) That there are moms who deal with this kind of situation on a daily basis is truly humbling.

And, we have learned, that our son is quite a stealthy listener; euphemisms are not beyond him. You can’t fool Boo!

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