Mateo is one week post-surgery today. I thought I would have written something in this blog prior to his surgery but the words seemed to escape me. Plus, I was refusing to deal with any emotions tied to the surgery. I was good at seperating my emotions from it. I had three years to practice it.
Basically, I just stuck to the facts. Fact: Mateo has a serious heart condition that requires him to have multiple surgeries. Fact: This third surgery was necessary. Fact: This surgery would not "fix" or "cure" his heart condition but simply treat it the best way medicine knew how at this point. Fact: Surgery date was set for September 14th. Just facts, no emotion.
Sometimes the emotion would find me at 2am when I couldn't sleep and all I could do was wrestle with thoughts. And wrestle I did. I wrestled all those thoughts and emotions back into the box in the back of my mind, telling myself I'd deal with them at another time. And thats where they have sat for 3 years.
Even when surgery day caught up to me, I kept the emotion seperate from the facts. I remember Mateo's first two surgeries. I was a ball of nerves. I was shaking and trembling through the entire ordeal, tears right on the surface just waiting to be wept at any moment. I cried and felt sick to my stomach almost the entire day during those first two surgeries. One of the doctors had even offered me anxiety medication for the day. But this time I around, I felt pretty calm and ready. No shaking. No trembling. Just knowing my facts.
But emotion has a way of catching up to you, especially when you are sleep deprived. This last week has been very trying. Mateo has done remarkably well and his recovery is going great. All the facts look great. Fact: Good heart function. Fact: Chest tubes draining well and like they should. Fact: Able to get rid of each med, one by one.
But the emotional part has been very, very hard. Walking in and seeing my son "out of it" because of morphine isn't "cute". Yes, he was sweet and blowing kisses and doing "cute" things, but it made me sad that he had to even be like that. Having IVs coming out of his arms and neck isn't pretty. Seeing him hooked up to 10 different meds isn't easy. Seeing his beautiful zipper scar cut open again and glued back together into some ugly red line doesn't feel like progress. Having pacer wires and chest tubes coming out of holes in his chest is not "okay". How can I tell him that this is all okay and convince him this is all okay? The "facts" say its okay because its necessary, but 3 year olds don't understand facts. And they certainly don't understand what they feel half the time. How do I explain that I AM protecting him by putting him through all of this? How do I explain that through all of this pain and torture his life has been spared?
The worst day was a few days ago. He had to have an IV placed. Not one of those little IVs a person gets in his hand for a few short days. This was a long IV that gets put in his arm and is supposed to last weeks if not months. It goes deeper and much farther up the arm. Thankfully, Mel was there at that time to stay in the room with Mateo. I had to walk out the door. But I could still hear him screaming down the hall and it hit my heart like a ton of bricks. I went back in to help console Mateo after the whole ordeal and could tell that even my rock-strong husband was shaken up over it.
A few hours later, they had to take one of Mateo's IVs out. It was the IV in his neck that went down through his artery to his central circulation. It has been stitched into his neck and taped down so there was no possible way it would move around. Unfortunately, Mel had left by that time to get some sleep. I had walked out of the room again, thinking the nurses could handle it. I knew I couldn't. But again, I could hear Mateo screaming and I could not just leave him there. So I went back into the room. It was a horrible sight. One nurse had her hands on his head, holding it down to keep it to the side and the other nurse was ripping tape off his neck with one hand and holding scissors to cut the stitches with the other hand. I wanted to yank them out by their hair, pick up my son and run. But it was up to me. Up to me to assure Mateo during the torture that it was for his own good and that we were doing this because we loved him.
It felt like the "procedure" took forever. I was sweating when it was finally all over. Sweating and about as traumitized as Mateo was. The nurses left the room and I took Mateo's hand and sobbed into his lap, begging him to forgive me. I felt like I was supposed to be protecting him and I couldn't. And worse, I felt like HE thought I was supposed to be protecting him, and wasn't.
He finally fell asleep and I went into the bathroom to clean up when another wave of emotion hit and all I could do was sink to the floor and let it all out. Once you've had a good cry and all the tears have been wept, there is a cleaness of the soul that seems to follow. I still felt terrible and like a horrible mom but somehow, all that weight of emotion was a little lighter, and I was left with a little more strength. Just enough to pick myself up off the bathroom floor and walk back into Mateo's room with a smile. Because for a three year old, a smile is a fact. A fact that everything will eventually be alright.