My son’s second surgery

Today my husband had surgery to repair a muscle he ripped from a bone. Snowboarding is fun.

This surgery kicked his ass. The surgeon told me he would be in the recovery room an hour. It was three. It would have been longer, but they were closing.

Now my living room is a recovery zone. My aunt is going to lend me her nurse’s cape. It’s hard to give stool softeners without a cape. No one takes you seriously.

Anyway this calls to mind my son’s second surgery, which I had meant to tell you about way back when I told you about his tumors.

He had a terrible experience with the biopsy surgery. There was pain, vomiting and swelling. He hated the ICU. He didn’t think it was funny that I said the ICU was so named because of the gowns they make you wear.

So a year later he gave me a big No Way to a surgery to take the tumors out. He was 7.

I used all the tricks in my mama bag. We planned to go the Santa Monica Pier the day before. We made a list of the things he feared and worked to eliminate them.

The anesthesiologist said he could prevent nausea. The surgeon arranged a private room.

The nurses promised Tigger could go in with him. Being sealed in sterile plastic bags is what Tiggers love best.

No deal.

Then a month before the surgery, while he was at school, a producer from The Discovery Channel called me. She had wanted to film the surgery for a special on the surgeon, but when the surgeon described my son and his case to her, she got the green light to do a whole special on my son.

I interrupted his first-grade class to tell him about it. Sold. A producer bag has better tricks in it.

My son was brave and calm. Everyone made good on promises, and we didn’t have any of the problems he feared. Though he did add catheters and incision drains to his list.

Three months later my family went to the producer’s house for a preview screening. It was mostly interviews, but the middle segment was surgery footage.

It didn’t occur to me to be nervous about watching it.

But then, one side at a time, the surgeon peeled my son’s face back. One glance of this, and I turned toward the back of the room.

Then my husband said, ‘Honey, look!’ The surgeon slid the tumor off his pie server onto a ruler for the camera. It looked like a boneless, skinless chicken breast from the grocery store. The two he removed weighed a pound.

After the screening the producer told us it made her crazy to witness the operation.

The surgeon was  explaining what he was doing during the procedure. He kept looking at her while he was talking, but his hands kept operating. She wanted to shout, ‘Watch what you’re doing!’ She said it was like when her husband is driving and he looks at her instead of the road.

Finally he looked down, just as a bunch of gooey bloody stuff splattered up on his glasses. His assistant eased them off to clean them, and the surgeon kept working.

Now I have a list of my own.

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