I am heading to surgery in a couple of hours and I feel like I have finally calmed the nerves of the littlest Egan’s. They have been so full of worry and trepidation over the operation it has been difficult to keep my own anxiety at bay.
Before Christmas, Luke overheard me talking about the fibroid and the possibility of surgery. All of a sudden, he began sleeping more and feeling completely exhausted. Over the break, when we were visiting my parents, he confessed that he had heard us talking about me going to the hospital and he was convinced that I had cancer again. He was sure that I was lying about the tumor being benign. I put my ten year old (who is almost as big as me) in my lap to try to console him. I explained the procedure (kind of) and told him that truthfully I was just going to have some minor surgery and it wasn’t cancer.
“How do I know that I can trust you? You said the same thing the last time you had surgery and it was cancer. How do I know that you aren’t lying?” He cried, clearly agitated and scared.
“Luke, I know that when I had the last surgery we didn’t tell you it was cancer but that was because we were advised to tell you what you were capable of processing by the psychiatrist. In hind sight, we should have told you more because you understood more, but we didn’t want to worry you.” He seemed mollified and gave me a hug.
“I love you mommy.”
On the way home in the car, we decided we needed to tell Bridget about what was going to happen. She was merrily listening to songs on her I Touch and could hardly put it down to hear the conversation.
“Bridget and Luke,” I began, “Mommy is going to have surgery in a couple of weeks and I will have to go to the hospital for the night. Are you going to be okay with that?”
“I already know about it. I don’t need to hear it again.” Luke retorted.
“Who is going to take care of us?” Bridget inquired.
“Mrs. Wilson is going to watch you for the night.”
“How will we get to school?”
“She will take you on Thursday and Daddy will be home the next day to take you.”
With that she put her headphones back on and returned to her music. I looked over at Mike and shrugged my shoulders in disbelief. It couldn’t be that easy and of course it wasn’t. As the time has drawn nearer and nearer new fears and old memories have arisen.
“You know mom, I love you so much but I am not sure that I should love you. First you make me love you by being the perfect mom and doing everything great, then you get surgery and cancer and I have to go to a new school and you are not there and now you are having surgery again. I almost think I would be better off if I didn’t love you so much.” Luke spouted after dinner the other night. Instead of being upset by the conversation, I couldn’t help but admire his ability to put his anxieties into words. I sent him downstairs for a session with the resident psychiatrist to watch some sports and talk it through. That seemed to work well, at least for the moment.
On the way to school the next morning, Bridget expressed her anxiety in more practical ways. “Mommy I am scared. What if daddy doesn’t know how to find my school? Will he be able to take care of me?” I assured her that daddy would in fact find her school; he has been there before and for a couple of days daddy will be able to take care of her.
As I sit her now and look out at the eight inches of snow on the ground I am thankful there was no school and my surgery is scheduled for the afternoon. What a blessing. We had an opportunity to watch a family movie last night and snuggle on the couch. I had one arm around each of my children as they proclaimed, “I love you mommy,” more than once. They are calm and their fears have been allayed. Now I just need to go and pack my bag.