The Fear I Experience Every Time My Medically Complex Chid Has Surgery
It has taken me two weeks to process the last two weeks.
The morning following Olivia’s hip reconstruction surgery, all I could think about was, she made it through. The road to recovery will be long, but she survived.
Breathe Momma, breathe.
Raising a child with complicated medical conditions creates a duality in the mind — living in the moment and enjoying every beautiful minute with them, but at the same time, carrying the devastating reality that their life is exceptionally fragile. The next surgery, virus, or complication in their condition could kill them.
Walking into the hospital the morning of her surgery was a surreal. My mind was carrying heartwrenching worry, while my body moved through the motions. It felt like an outer-body experience. Olivia had been through countless operations and procedures before, but this time was different. This time, our greatest fears that our daughter may not come home, were real.
As I entered the operating room with Olivia, I watched how unphased she seemed. Like I said, this kiddo has been through more than her fair share and had developed a tough armor of courage. I watched as the nurses transferred her from hospital bed to operating table, taking great care in her comfort. She smiled at them; her way of saying thank you. Once she was situated, I scooched in close to her as the anesthesiologist placed a mask of medication over her face to promote a medicated slumber. I then did what I have done many times before; I sang my baby off to sleep, only this time a chorus of OR nurses joined in. An enormous lump formed in my throat and tears filled my eyes as I continued through the lyrics of, “Out on the Mira.” As Olivia’s eyes closed, I looked around at her team and told them, “take care of my baby,” kissed her head and silently prayed for God to keep her safe. Walking out of the OR this time was different. My body moved, taking steps one foot in front of the other, but my soul was drowning in fear for Olivia’s life.
Craig and I spent the next while sitting in silent prayer in the hospital’s chapel. There was nothing more we could do. As the next seven hours passed, we went through the motions, trying our best to occupy our minds. We longed for the call that Olivia was in recovery.
Later that afternoon, Olivia was in our arms again. The vice of stress that held tight my chest, released. I took my first real breath as I laid eyes on my sleeping beauty. Emotionally we were broken, exhausted, relieved and thankful. A complete mixed bag of feelings drenched in gratitude.
We are now two weeks post op. Life is slowly emerging into the recognized routine we relish. Monotonous tasks like dishwashing bring with it peace of mind. Olivia’s wounds are healing from this most recent battle. These scars join the others that tattoo her body, part of what it means to have cerebral palsy.
Olivia is her amazing marvelous self. She is getting used to the constant wear of her hip brace and is enjoying all the added attention from her siblings, friends and family. I am, once again, in awe of my daughter. Her sheer tenacity and resilience is something of wonder to witness.
Getty image by Sasiistock