Alternate Title: The Many Ways a Heart Can Ache
There is something so heart-wrenching about watching those who are already vulnerable being put through something that makes them all the more vulnerable. Yesterday we were aware of not just our own sweet girl’s struggle, but also Luke’s, Ava’s, Nicholas’, and Leighton’s. My heart ached as we sat in the waiting room with these little ones and their parents – we saw all of the kids before their surgeries, and a couple after. These darling lambs were clad in their little nightgowns, hungry and scared. It was enough to break your heart. My heart ached and swelled so many times yesterday, I probably should be icing it.
Our day started early yesterday. I couldn’t sleep after 4:30 because of anxiety, and the big one (henceforth known as Pumpkin), in a rare move, was up by 5:50. And she wanted food. And she couldn’t have food. At one point she stomped off in anger to her room, slammed the door, threw herself across her bed and burst into tears (later when we were trying to come to an agreement about what she would wear to the hospital, I reflected on these two experiences and thought
“Boy, teen behaviour starts younger and younger these days”). It was hard not to be able to feed my kid – especially when she could not understand why food was being withheld. Heartache #1.
At the hospital, while waiting to check-in, our little patient and her Dad ‘skipped to the loo’. I sat at the end of the hall and watched my little girl hold her Daddy’s hand and walk off – so cute, sweet and trusting – and felt overwhelmed with love for her, her Dad, the hospital, the healthcare professionals, any and all patients there. I just felt love and peace, and gratefulness for the moment (or my early wake-time was catching up to me). It felt like a prayer – without words. Heartache #2 (though it was a positive one).
A nurse got us all checked in and Pumpkin into her nightgown (she resisted this at first – she did not want to get into pajamas – probably felt it wasn’t dignified). Pumpkin was given a little stuffed turtle that had been knit and donated by a volunteer to help her with the experience. She and the turtle are still inseparable. Then she was wheeled into the hallway outside of the waiting room. As the nurse walked away, Pumpkin said, “She did a good job”. Heartache #3 (gratitude for the nurse and the volunteers who make the animals) and #4 (adoration for my daughter who is so aware of other people).
Then we waited. Pumpkin observed that another little girl was in a nightgown just like her and I think it made her feel better that someone else was in the same boat. She interacted pleasantly with the OR nurse who came to talk to us but was a little nervous going out into the hall to talk to the anesthetist. When her twin left the waiting room, Pumpkin said, regarding her parents, “Where did their sweetheart go?” (seriously, could this kid be any sweeter?). Heartache #5.
Then came the big one – the dreaded moment. The OR nurse came back, brightly and quickly announced it was Pumpkin’s turn and led her out the door and down the hall. Her Dad and I peeked around the corner and watched Pumpkin knock on the raccoon’s nose to open the door and then disappear into someplace we have never seen and cannot go to help her. She didn’t look back. Heart. Ache. #6.
Forty minutes later the surgeon came out to talk to us – everything had gone well and it had been well worth doing. Her airway was considerably blocked by her adenoids and tonsils and there was thick fluid in her ears. Heartache #7 – my girl has been suffering. We were told what we’d need to do to help her recover. Heartache #8 – no cookies for 2 weeks.
Then we waited and waited and waited. We had been told she would be out 45 minutes (not to worry if it was up to an hour) after we’d spoken to the surgeon. We waited over 2 hours (but we weren’t worried – just anxious to see our kid). Finally, we were called and we were reunited with our little girl. Our sweet, darling, groggy little girl. Heartache #9.
I kept it together while we went down the hall to the day surgery ward room. I kept it together while we kissed and stroked her head. I kept it together while she volunteered, “I love you too Mommy”, after she’d responded “I love you too” to her Daddy’s “I love you”. My husband got us food, we sat and ate and watched her sleep and I lost it a little. Nicholas came into the room and I lost it more. He looked so, so miserable. All these poor little sweeties. Heartache #10.
When we brought Pumpkin home the biggest problem was (and continues to be) the lack of food. Again. Her diet is very restricted and she is very hungry. When we weren’t watching her sleep, we were trying to explain that she couldn’t have a banana or chicken. She woke at 2:30 this morning and wanted food. Heartache #11.
Today our biggest problem is wondering if she is doing too much. She wants to run and play and sing. Her eyes are still purple, her nose is still trickling trace amounts of blood but she is leading Grandma around the yard in a game of King and Queen (Grandma is the King, Pumpkin is the Queen). What a kid! Heartache #12.