A fragile life: What my son’s medical procedure taught me

What I learned from my son’s tonsillectomy. 

A fragile life: What my son’s  medical procedure taught me

Lessons from a Simple Tonsillectomy

First and foremost, when it involves your child, nothing is


ever simple. We agonized over the

decision to remove my son’s tonsils. Finally, we decided that an apparent case

of sleep apnea was worth it. I’m a big believer in staying as non-invasive as

possible when it comes to health, so it was a difficult choice. And while I knew

it was a common and basic procedure, while I understood that children undergo

anesthesia and much more, every day, when it came down to my child in that

Operating Room—anesthesia seemed anything but ordinary and easy.

The morning of my son’s surgery gave me deeper levels of

compassion for parents whose children are considered medically fragile, who

have special needs, who often require medical care, who are bringing their

child in for emergency surgery, who live between the thin veil of life and

death routinely. All you parents—I send you respect, love, and compassion

from the deepest places in my heart.

I had to wait a mere 45 minutes to hear that his operation

was a success—and it was one of the longest 45 minutes of my life.  My heart kept breaking and aching for the

parents who wait time and again for results, for progress, for answers.

Families who spend days, weeks, months, years of their lives in hospitals—I

honor your courage.

I was reminded that the heart has no bounds. Sometimes it takes

a moment of challenge, when the curtain between health and illness waving in

the breeze for us to remember it—everything can be taken away in an instant.

One moment can change the course of a life. The Beatles had it right for sure—All you

need is love.

My son’s recovery time, while fairly uneventful taught me

more. Slow down, it seemed to whisper. There is always a slower option. Slow down. A series of chilly and cloudy

days followed his surgery—I can’t say that was a bad thing. We got creative.

We shut off the outside world and we made magic inside the walls of our own

house. We constructed an Ewok Village, painted in new and exciting ways, and

read more books than we had in a long time. We spent more time cuddling and

less time moving. In my experience, less time doing and more time snuggling is

always a plus.

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I’ve learned my son sings the Imperial March song from Star Wars in his sleep.  This discovery, along with his nightly wake

ups for pain medication and my younger daughter’s usual night-time issues had

me back to earlier days the world of having two under 2, and how very crazy

those days (and nights) were. Perspective can be healing, I think, and it was

humbling to realize how exhausted I was then. Beyond that realization, I could

feel how little softness I held for myself during that time. I kept pushing

forward instead of accepting it was a phase of life that would pass. Now, I know better.

Sleep. I will never take quality sleep for granted. One

should not be expected to be fully human without it.

The recovery process taught me that it really is ok to block

the rest of the world out from time to time. It really and truly is. All that stuff out there

will keep happening – it will be there when you return. We, as a family, can

make a choice to remain grounded, close to home, and feed only off the heart’s

messages. We can stay in love and walk as far away from fear as we can. It’s

the most healing work we can do, both for our families and our larger world.

Finally, I’ve learned more in matters of the spirit. We are

so much more than our bodies and what we can see with our eyes.  We can also see with our hearts. I’ve felt

more spiritually connected to my children over the course of this experience.

Perhaps it was the half hour of unspoken dread that my son would be the one

outlier who had a horrible reaction to anesthesia.  Maybe it has been the quiet inside my heart –

the space that needs no more than the people I cherish. Maybe it was the final

days of summer, and the knowledge those times end. I’m not sure, but I’m seeing

them as beings far beyond me right now. It’s making life seem filled with

sparkle and rooted in peace.

Above all, I learned a renewed sense of the word gratitude. Gratitude

in its purest form —the simple contentment of loving our people here and now.

The gratitude to find delight in the small treasures our world offers us every

day.  I’m hoping to keep these lessons

with me as we re-enter the chaotic world of school, work, and responsibility. All you need is love.

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