A Dad’s Journal: Rollercoaster of Emotions in 2 Hours
To most people, what my wife and I experienced today may not seem like that big of a deal. Maybe its because those folks have experienced it in the past, or not at all.
Our son Grayson, who will turn 5 years old next month, after a long battle with ear infections, fluid, wax blockages, etc., got tubes put in his ears. In one aspect, we knew that the end result would mean no more of the problems he had in the past. Plus, he will more than likely be able to hear better than he ever has before. In another, that is your little child getting put to sleep to have surgery. Whether it is major, minor, or in between, the thought can make you squeamish.
We arrived at the Crane Center shortly after 8:00 a.m. and the staff was amazing with him, along with my wife and I. Grayson is a kid who has a routine that he loves to follow, which includes eating a good breakfast in the morning. You best believe he was a bit cranky when he couldn't eat his Mickey Mouse shaped waffles this morning, or quench his thirst with his favorite juice. The staff did their very best to keep him at ease, and my wife did an amazing job trying to keep him as relaxed as possible. I, however, was a bit of a wreck. That's our little boy about to have surgery, albeit one that happens all the time with a very high success rate, it was still scary.
Around 9:30, we were told it was about that time. I put on my hospital gown and hat as we prepared for the nurse and anesthesiologist to come get us. Moments later, they arrived and we were off to the room where the procedure took place. As my wife headed to the waiting room, I began to feel my eyes water as this little boy began saying, "I want my Mommy." Holly and I locked eyes just before we turned the corner and we both gave each other a look of, "Hey, I know this is tough, but everything is going to be all right."
Into the room we went and the nurse and anesthesiologist, who were amazing, were easing the fear of the unknown by saying that Grayson was going to blow up a balloon in the next room. He was a bit hesitant at first, but then he thought to himself, "hmmm -- I get a balloon? Maybe this won't be so bad after all." As they put the mask to his face, he began blowing up "the balloon", which seemed to work. About 30 seconds later, our smart little, almost 5-year-old began to realize that this was more than blowing up a balloon and began to fight back. Then, in a moment I will never forget, he looked at me, his Dad, and pleaded with me to help him, to get him out of there. I fought back tears as I helped hold him down as he began to fall asleep. I was told, "thank you, we'll take it from here" and another staff member told me how to find the waiting room.
As I left the surgery room, I couldn't hold in the sadness any longer. I thought to myself, "my son asked me, pleaded for me to get him out of there, to help him, and I didn't. Will he wake up remembering that? Will he think I didn't come through for him?" Those thoughts crossed my mind as my wife sat in the waiting room, asking me to take the seat to the right of her. She consoled me, reassuring me that this was the right thing to do. As always, she knew what to say, and what to do to make me feel better.
A little over 10 minutes later, the doctor came out to tell us that Grayson did well and that he would be waking up soon. After several cranky minutes of getting himself together, he would snuggle with his mom on a comfy chair and I headed out to get what he asked to have for being a brave little boy. He wanted "a red balloon, a birthday cake and a present."
Minutes later, Holly and Grayson headed back home and I arrived with the three items. Grayson came out smiling, laughing, followed by closing his eyes to prepare for his surprise. He seemed better than ever and I was so incredibly proud of him.
I sit here on this computer, typing out my thoughts and I realize that even though Grayson is a little boy with his whole life ahead of him, he is as resilient as they come already. He is the only child we have and every day is a new thing to learn and appreciate about him. Today was a roller coaster of emotions -- anticipation, fear, sadness, for a few moments; regret, relief, reflection, happiness and pride -- although I'm sure I'm missing a few others. It was a morning that featured a little bit of everything, and one that I surely won't forget anytime soon.