Honest Motherhood: The Operation

It has been a long week. Leo had a planned operation on Monday and even though I thought I was ready for it, I was very much not ready for it. Anyone that’s ever been with their toddler as they’re unwillingly put to sleep by an anaesthetist will know how distressing it is. I came away from the theatre prep room in tears, praying he’d be out of there as quickly as possible.

I joined Joel in the hospital cafeteria, wishing he could have been there to see what I saw, our little boy zonked out on a tiny clinical table-bed in a hospital gown. The image taunting my restless mind. 
After 45 minutes I was called back up to the ward. “Is it over already?” We were naively relieved. I was led to a room where I hopefully assumed Leo would be, most likely still asleep. It was the surgeon wanting to speak with me. Leo’s diagnosis was mild but the surgery was going to be more complicated than they’d initially thought. It was going to be another three hours, and possibly another operation in six months.I returned to Joel in tears once more, annoyed that we’d got our hopes up.
Joel worked as I attempted to read my book, trying hard not to let my thoughts wander back to Leo and how the surgery might be going. Every now and again one of us would look up with a face that said “I miss him and I want to hold him now”. But then, I got a call two hours in, earlier than expected, to say Leo was out of theatre. I practically ran out of the cafeteria. 
Approaching theatre recovery, I could hear Leo’s cries before reaching the door. I hated the thought of not being there when he woke up. He wouldn’t know where he was or who any of these people were. He was surrounded by three nurses trying to comfort him. A laptop sat on a table with cartoons playing, a bid to distract him. He was placed in my arms and immediately settled as I nursed him. All was well again.
The surgeon came to tell me the good news, that the operation had gone well, he didn’t have to perform the more complicated surgery he thought he would, and Leo most likely wouldn’t need another operation, although time would tell. There was nothing I could really say other than “thank you so much…” to honour just how grateful I was. 
I sat and held Leo in theatre recovery for over three hours before a nurse offered for Joel to come up and see him. Still drowsy from the anaesthetic, any attempts at prompting a smile in our weary boy were met with sleepy indifference. 
We were transferred to a ward where we stayed overnight. I was grateful for the help in administering his medicine, particularly because he absolutely loathed the process and bawled his eyes out every time. Taking his temperature and heart rate were much of the same. I sympathised with any member of staff who had to go near him awake. He made it very clear how he felt and would sometimes cry merely at the sight of a nurse and her thermometer. Now he does the same when he catches me holding a bottle of Calpol. Taught by a nurse, I have perfected the technique of holding a screaming, wriggling toddler whilst administering their medicine and ensuring 90% of it actually goes down their oesophagus. The whole thing is an acquired skill. There is a small carnival in my head every time I successfully get the magic stuff down him. He hates me for another ten seconds and then it’s back to play time. 
We’re on the road to recovery now and I once again feel indebted to our NHS. How fortunate we are.

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