If you’re following me on Instagram you know that our little James had his tonsils/adenoids out and tubes put in his ears last week. I gotta say I was a little mislead about how the recovery would go and was so not prepared for how hard it has really been. And long. We’re on day 7 post op and still no up swing. Plus the whole family took turns being sick for about two weeks before the surgery, so we feel like we don’t even remember who we are anymore!! And James is a texture sensitive kid already and won’t eat any of the foods he’s restricted to, so we’ve literally been living off Pediasure. Anyway, blah blah blah, it’s been so flipping hard. But that’s not what I want to remember about this experience. There have been a few moments that have been the silver lining of this all, and it all comes down to kids just being awesome.
Here is James and his Bat Bear, all drugged up ready to head back to surgery. Before this moment, our child was completely traumatized. I must not have done a very good job explaining to him what actually happens in the surgery because he must have had this idea in his mind of these scary bad guys dragging him away from us and cutting him open. Little did he know that he’d be flying high as a kite right beforehand and then be sleeping through the whole thing. I, of course, watch way too many doctor shows and was a basket case of worry beforehand, thinking, “Yes, it’s totally routine, but there’s always one case that brings the stats down!!!!!” And I honestly don’t know what I would have done if they did drag my screaming baby away from me. Wisely, the drug your baby before they take him away, so your last memories of baby before he’s off is of him being a silly little drunk! My favorite was happening right in the picture above, James was slurring really quietly and giggling the theme song the Spider Man.
After the surgery James had a hard time coming out of anesthesia. He was crying and writhing and we couldn’t really bring him back down to earth. So the docs gave him some more medicine to help relax him and it helped connect him to his world again. He still hadn’t realized he had already had the surgery since nothing had gone the way he had imagined and he was so happy when he realized he was done and good! He was still groggy, but looked at me without skipping a beat and asked, “So, Mom. How was your day?” Then he looked down at his arm with the IV sort of wrapped around it and asked really matter-of-factually, “Why does my arm look like this.” I told him it was his IV and that it was helping to give him medicine in his blood, to which he replied, “I love it when my arm looks like this.” Then he pointed out the actual IV port in his hand and said, “That looks like a bullet…. (then he pointed it to me, pushed on it Buzz Lightyear style and made laser gun sounds)..pyew pyew!!”
Once we got home it was sort of a whole different story. He seemed fine the first day, still a little off from the anesthesia, but we were kind of convinced the recovery wouldn’t be too bad. We did notice, however, that James’ obsession with legos was a little deeper than usual, but we didn’t think much of it that first day home. Then the next day reality hit. The screeches of pain would happen every few hours, or every time he tried to drink anything, or really at any given moment in between all that. He became so attached to his legos and would demand that we would buy him more but then it would never be enough and I was worried that within just a few days my sweet little boy had turned into a greedy ungrateful little punk! He was simply fixated on his flipping legos and it was getting old because he refused any help or any words of comfort or anything anyone had to offer him if it wasn’t legos. After a few days of this I was cuddling him one night while he was whimpering. He explained to me, “Mom, I just start to feel the pain in my mouth and I PANIC PANIC PANIC and all I can think of is my legos and how I love them so much and I just gotta play with them!” Aaaaaaaand there it was, it all made sense! And it was actually sort of brilliant, too! His legos had become his coping/defense mechanism agains the pain, and my heart broke a tiny bit for every time I had cursed the legos on those previous days.
One last little thing and then I’ll be done. This whole recovery process has really been a nightmare. In fact, today is day eight after surgery (it took me a few days to get this post out) and James just barely woke up from a terribly painful night feeling a tiny bit better. As in, he actually had a bite of a cookie with his chocolate milk instead of just chocolate milk. The hardest part of it all has been poor James’ need to control something so he always shoots down any idea we have to try to help him. Like, no matter what it is, he defiantly shoots us down so that he can feel empowered or something. And we are only trying to help, but we just feel so helpless because he simply won’t let anyone help him. I don’t know, I’m sure there’s some childhood psychological explanation for the behavior but really it just comes down to he’s been miserable and so we’ve all been miserable. Except Charlie. One morning James was in on his little toddler bed whimpering in pain with his eyes closed, so focused on how terrible he was feeling. I snuck a peak of Charlie noticing his brother in distress and him waltzing up to James. He squatted down, leaned into James face to face (in spite of James’ horrific dragon breath) and began patting his back and speaking to him in the highest, most gentle and concerned little voice you’ve ever heard. “Jay Jay? I yub yoo? Jay Jay?” Then, when normally James would push anyone away who tried to comfort him, I saw James pat little Charlie’s face and then embrace his tiny little brother and just start weeping, all the while with Charlie just letting him hold him and cry. It was so much empathy and so much emotional connection in two tiny little bodies. It was one of the most beautiful brother moments I’ve ever seen and I never want to forget it. I have a feeling they will always be there for each other and will always help each other be strong. And they will always help me be strong, too, I’m sure.
James took this picture on a day he was feeling a tiny bit better. He had cried a whole lot that day but at one point exclaimed, “Isn’t today a great day?” So he really did try to have a good attitude, I just think the pain was so overwhelming most of the time. It was such a tender mercy that every once in a while his happy little true personality would shine through.
So many people have expressed their love and concern for our little boy and it has touched the deepest part of our hearts. Here James was celebrating the package his best little bud (who is out of town for the summer) sent him to feel better–a Super Hero Get Well Soon Kit! Plus there have been cookies and meals brought and so many phone calls and texts. And especially now that we’ve turned a tiny corner, we can see that even trials can be beautiful because of the people who help you through them. I hope James keeps these lessons in his heart as he grows, because not every little kid has to learn them in this hard of a way.