It was like this: We thought it was the flu. TJ had been feverish late Monday night and throwing up early Tuesday morning. He was sick on Wednesday so I called the doctor’s office and the nurse said it sounded like the flu and to call back. I called the next day and he was seen at 5:45. The doctor told us to go to the ER. We were admitted Thursday night then on Saturday morning moved to the ICU and rushed to emergency surgery that afternoon. He had his appendix removed. He had a bad infection. Then we stayed there for almost three weeks.
That’s the minimalist story. This is what I start with or I sometimes tell a shorter version when people ask what happened. I can tell right away what level of details people are comfortable with. I mention something like tube or catscan or scar and there’s a flinching, so I pull back, stay broad but accurate. Other times people are okay with hearing the harder parts, the human parts–the drainage tubes he had to have inserted into his side because the infection wasn’t going away. Or there’s a surgery scar down the middle of his stomach.
Sometimes people let me talk about how terrifying it was. The surgeon appearing with a piece of paper for us to sign, telling us that the surgery was necessary, that his organs were at risk of dying if we didn’t proceed. I don’t talk about that part, how I was in the surgery room, signing another piece of paper that said what medicine my four year old would receive during surgery, and how I kept from breaking down when asked what is the risk of death, something I had just signed off on. And walking alone back to the ICU room and waiting for two hours until the nurse called mid-surgery and said it was his appendix, a ruptured appendix. Not his colon or small intestines which meant recovery could take months, there could be nurses involved, colostomy bags, bedrest. It was something that I could wrap my head around. The appendix sounded familiar. I’ve heard of it! Even if I didn’t know where it was!
But everyone wants to hear good news. And I understand that. While in the hospital, I updated people on facebook about what was going on and the response was instant. I received hundreds of likes, dozens of comments and shares and messages of hope and love and prayer and positivity and everyone joining Team TJ. I needed that, in the scary times, the happier moments, and even now, a month after his surgery, the day’s moving farther and farther away from that time.
I don’t mind talking about this story and I’m looking forward to the next one, hopefully something less terrifying. It’ll be about my two boys wrestling and making fart jokes and repeating over and over, “Butts give me life!”