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.
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.