This time last Monday I dropped J to school, as I do every Monday morning. I walked him to his class, micromanaged as he put away his lunchbox and took out his homework, forgot to put up his backpack, went back and did it. Then I kissed him good bye, as I always do. Then I went and checked into the hospital.
I’ll spare you to gory details, but I had my gallbladder removed – a “laparoscopic cholecystectomy” to be exact. The joys of hereditary conditions. I was told there were “minor complications” and a hilarious yet mortifying story of how I was awoken – but all is well and I’m on the mend. It should have been an outpatient procedure, but as my surgeon said while telling me about the complication – “I’m one of those doctors who prefers to be cautious” – and they kept me overnight just to be safe.
In the lead up to all this excitement, I had no idea what to do about Boogs. What do I tell him? Do I tell him anything?? Will he understand? Will he panic? Ugh. I waited until the night before to have the “talk”. It was bedtime, so the routine bath and cup of warm Milo set the stage.
Over some orange scented bubbles, I explained that mummy had to go to the hospital for an operation. She might come home on Monday or she might come home on Tuesday – she didn’t know which one yet.
Mummy, I’m going to be really worried without you.
I’m grateful for being a more logical than emotional thinker. I’m grateful for learning how to “think on my feet” when having to explain difficult things to him. Instant bubble fueled solution – if he gets worried, he needs to talk to someone who can tell him what’s happening. So post-bath in pyjamas with a cup of Milo, we took sticky notes and made him a little phone book. We wrote names and numbers of the people he knew he could call and talk to if he got worried. We stuck them where he could see and reach them on his closet door in his bedroom. I don’t know if he actually used his list.
After he went to bed that night, I was determined to get some rest. This is probably why I lay beside him rubbing his fresh haircut and just staring at his beautiful face for who knows how long. I got up and wrote some instructions for my family – just in case – then climbed back into bed with him and hugged him for the rest of the night.
I was still pretty out of it when he called me that night after surgery. I saw my dad’s name on the caller ID and my heart broke when I heard J’s voice on the other end. His brave but shaky voice saying “Hi Mummy, where are you?” He wanted to know if I was OK, he wanted to know when I was coming home. I honestly don’t remember what I told him, but I remember telling him I loved him. He told me he loved me and to have sweet dreams. I was discharged before he got home from school the next day, and his face when he came home and saw me there was better than any medicine.
He’s such an amazing kid. He’s been reading me bedtime stories, checking my stitches and rubbing my head to put me to sleep. I don’t know exactly what his understanding of all of this truly is, but I’m grateful for his compassion and caring. We, my village and I, must be doing something right. Thank you to everyone who cared for us both in this experience, we are lucky and grateful to have you all.
And I really want cheese… *sigh*