A Mom’s Thoughts in a Pediatric Surgery Waiting Room


I write this on February 11, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. while I’m waiting for my 11-year-old son to come out of his third surgery in the last year. The goal is to remove bilateral cholesteatomas and hopefully reconstruct his eardrum and add a prosthetic hearing bone to replace three bones his benign but destructive tumor has destroyed. Colton suffers from bilateral hearing loss and was a premature baby.

I don’t know why I’m so angry today. I didn’t even cry when they took him back — I just felt angry.

Angry that he has to go through this yet again. Angry that my child is afraid he’s going to die. We’re sitting here in this small but busy children’s specialty surgical area, and it’s so intimate, which is also painful.

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My husband went down to get coffee, water and snacks for us; the vending machine (which seemed like a mile away) isn’t working. When we first walked in, I passed a young man who looked about 16 years old and who has some significant special needs, and he started to laugh at me. I just smiled at him. Then I heard his dad tell the nurse that he’s starting to notice girls.  That was sweet. I’m far from a girl, but I will take the compliment.

A few minutes later I overheard a doctor telling another family their baby or young child will likely be blind. I heard him say, “There is no surgery I can do, no medicine I can give and no special diet or vitamins that will fix this.” I could see the mother’s face turn from hope to anguish at this news, and I could feel what she was feeling.

And it hurt terribly.

Right after that, a young couple entered this little waiting area. The husband/partner was pushing her in a wheelchair, and it was obvious that she’d only recently given birth. The doctor came out and gave them some wonderful news which I could not hear clearly, and they started crying, “He’s going to be all right. Everything is all right.” They were then told to go back upstairs. The doctors were taking the baby back to the neonatal intensive care unit. NICU Parents, I can spot them from a mile away.

We too have survived that journey.

It’s hot here, so I took my boots off and I don’t care what I look like. I’m starting to move from anger to sadness. Sadness for all of the families who spend so much of their time, too much of their time, in hospitals with children who have chronic illness and special needs. But I’m also starting to feel a little hopeful.

I wanted to go to the mother who just learned her baby will be blind and tell her it will be OK. That she and her child will still have a wonderful life. But then she was gone. They took her back to into the recovery area so she could be with and comfort her baby.

Now I feel like crying. I hope I can complete this crazy circle of emotions later today by sharing some much-needed laughter when Colton is back in my arms and safe with me.

Sometimes I wonder what the point of this is. This life. The pain and suffering. The chronic bullshit that some of us seem to face more than others. Sometimes it’s just too much to try and comprehend.

The family with the blind child is back now. He’s a little boy, maybe 2 years old. The mom is putting on his slippers while he lays on dad’s shoulder. Dad’s gently rocking him back and forth and patting his back. They’re already moving forward. They’re moving on in this crazy life.

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