It’s that time of year again, when parents begin to smile once more, students get anxious and teachers get overwhelmed with all that is going on. Summer is winding down and it is time to start getting up early again. This is true for both students and teachers. Sorry for those of you that must work year round.
Even though I teach, my summer did not end with me looking forward to school starting. I had other things on my mind.
“Take care of my little girl. I love you, sweetie.” After this was said, I watched the doctors wheel my little girl off to surgery. I felt like my heart just got ripped out and I was trusting the care of my child to the hands of someone I barely knew. The last time I watched her go to surgery she wasn’t quite mine. She was in foster care and she had a bowel blockage. That was the second surgery in so many months and she still hadn’t fully recovered from the first. And, we almost lost her.
This time it was a little different. With being born premature and a lot of medical problems, Allie had to have a feeding tube. It went in at around 2 weeks of age and now she is almost five. We had adopted her when she was two, so now things were different, more personal. The doctor had decided to remove it but before he had a chance, the balloon on it popped and the tube fell out. The hole in her tummy should have healed within a month, but did not. The gastric juices started to breakdown her skin and the site was always irritated, so it was time to do something. It was either wait-and-see what happens or surgery. Seeing that school was getting ready to start, we opted for surgery.
The morning of the surgery, we arrived a few minutes early. It was just Allie and I. My wife had to stay at home since we have 2 small children (3 months and 10 months) in foster care. Usually we face difficult times together. This time we were together, but 20 miles apart. In my mind this was not quite the same. I think I was more nervous than my little girl.
The doctor said the operation would last a little over an hour. At two hours I started to get a little anxious. I waited another 15 minutes and asked the receptionist to check for me. She said they had just moved her to recovery and I should be able to go back and be with her shortly. After three hours and lots of prayer I finally got to see my child again. I was pretty much a nervous wreck, but relieved it was over. About 30 minutes later she was wide awake and ready to leave, but were had to stay the night just to be sure that all went okay.
By the time we got to her room almost 6 hours had passed since we arrived at the hospital. Allie was thirsty and grumpily hungry. After a couple of hours the doctor said she could have liquids, so she munched out on a cherry popsicle and drank some apple juice. She finally settled down around midnight.
If you want a good rest, the hospital is not the place to hang out. They said they only came in every four hours but I feel I saw them much more than that. When the doctors made their rounds at six thirty, Allie was awake – fully. She told the doctor that she was hungry, so she got to order breakfast. She wanted bacon, eggs and grits (my southern girl) and a short time later she devoured them, along with some pretzels, chex mix, and a lot of pedelyte. She was ready to go home, but she wanted to eat lunch first. After a couple of hours in the hospital playroom the doctor informed us that we could leave as soon as the paperwork was complete. She had chicken strips for lunch and we left. That evening she was back to her 4 year old self.
For all my worrying and anxiety, it accomplished nothing. God had blessed us with her and I should have known that he would continue watching over her as he had so many times before. Allie is back to normal, eating and running and playing just as nothing had happened. But a part of her was missing, that little piece of plastic. It had been part of her life for almost five years and now it is gone, hopefully forever.
Now that her surgery is complete and life is back to normal, I can now look forward to starting a new year with a group of brand new eighth graders in the wonderful world of math. Allie is also excited – she starts pre-school next week.
John E. Stack is the author of Cody’s Almost Trip to the Zoo and the soon to be published Cody’s Rescue Adventure at the Zoo and Olivia’s Sweet Adventure.