don’t fear the reaper

we have a sad little trend happening here in the wreke house: kids terrified that their mom (read: moi) is going to die.

my kids have been through an emotional mill. they remember a time when i went to the emergency room and didn’t emerge for a few days. they visited and saw a mom who was covered, head to toe, in purple blotches, with needles in her arms. (the perfect visual: my BFF jaxx came in, took one look at me, and announced: you look like a crack whore.) then, a day after i was released, i was back in the hospital for over a week. my recovery from ITP took months (and i’m still in remission — yay, me!), and during that time, i learned how each handles this stress.

while i was in the hospital, BC (ever her mother’s daughter) apparently cried every single day at school. her first grade teachers and the guidance counselor were absolutely amazing — they took her under their wings, they gave her TLC, and they let her know that they were in her corner. once i came home, she settled down a bit.

jools, on the other hand, a sturdy almost-three-year old at the time, was fine at school. once i returned from the hospital, though, he wanted to be with me at all times. at night, he didn’t want to go to bed for fear i would not be there in the morning.

the hardest thing about being a parent with a serious illness may very well be coping with, and for, your children. that peaceful, calm moment of childhood is ripped away from your children suddenly; and in it’s stead lies a terrifying potential reality of extreme loss. it never really leaves, either: my mother’s first bout with breast cancer happened when i was 15. she’s always very up-front with me about things, and yet, i still get nervous every time she goes to a doctor. and i’m a grown-up.

it stands to reason, then, that every time something seriously medical is on the horizon, my kids prepare for the worst. and, in short, i have to get my gallbladder out. and suddenly, everyone is afraid. BC isn’t sleeping; her upset makes her coughing so much worse. jools is randomly noting things, such as: “when you die, i want to give you my star (that he made in his kindergarten class earlier in the week.)” it is enough to make me wonder whether they know something i do not.

but, to paraphrase mark twain, the rumors of my impending death are greatly exaggerated.

sure, any operation is a little riskier for us CVID folks, as any infection is not something we need. but this is my gallbladder. it’s not brain surgery. it will go well; i’m not too terribly concerned. but it doesn’t matter how many times i tell my kids that so many of their loved ones have had this very same operation. girlfriend and mr. man are on the alert.

i have to get past my own angst here and do whatever i can to make them feel more comfortable. short of constantly reassuring them, though, i don’t know what else to do.

it crushes me to know that i am the reason they’re so distressed.


11 Responses to “don’t fear the reaper”

  1. markincleveland Says:

    Sorry to hear of your surgery. I’ve has my share of surgery and hospitalizations and have come through fine. The only thing I’ve concluded is the hospital is no place for sick people.

    What does your children’s psychologist say? If they are responding so dramatically they need to be evaluated.

    I have two teenagers and have infused IViG monthly for 25 years I can only say my kids do not respond in the same way.

    Good luck, I hope they are doing you gall blader as a minimially invasive surgery and are not having go in the old fashion way as major surgery.

  2. markincleveland Says:

    Last thought, have you taken them to any of the IDF family retreats or a national convention? They would be able to learn about your illness at their own level and meet with kid their own age in similar circumstances. We have education program specifically design for every age group. I hope you consider taking the family to Disney in June of 2009. The price is really reasonable, far less than you would spend for any family vacation.

  3. Oh dude. 😦 Let me know what I can do to help.

  4. Good luck with the surgery. I’m sure it will go fine. I know you posted your hebrew name once, but please send me it again so I can add you in our prayers on Shabbat.

  5. Wow wreke. Sorry to hear about the darn gall bladder. What stamina and sensitivity it shows that you are so in tune with where your children are emotionally — despite your own health woes. And I disagree (respectfully) with markincleveland — I would be more worried if the kids didn’t show any concern.

    Will be thinking of you. Keep us posted.

  6. {{hugs}} Yep, can’t think of anything to say but am typing away at this keyboard to let you know I’m thinking of ya, I ‘read’ this, and bestestest to you all.

  7. Lots of hugs and best wishes on the surgery.

  8. OMG Wreke! First, congratulations for making me cry this morning.

    I so get this.

    My son has seen me go through so much in his little 12 years. He was 4 1/2 when Mommy went to work one morning, and didn’t come home for a week, and when she did…she was “different”. I had had a stroke while at work, taken to the hospital, and brought home 10 days later.

    It was a year later…almost to the day…that Mommy had a relapse.

    He has watched me struggle with my diabetes, knows exactly what to do if I get “low”, and is such a strong supporter.

    He was instrumental in my recovery from my recent surgery in March. It makes me cry to see how brave he is, and yet be so upset that I worry him so.

    I too have to have my gall bladder out, on October 2, along with a section of my bowel (gotta love complications). I did not tell him until this weekend because he had a big science test on Friday and I knew it would get in the way.

    Our children are amazing, and just as I ask myself how I got so lucky, I realize we must be doing “something” right.

    Sending hugs your way!!

  9. grandy,

    i had no idea! sending you much healing love your way. and heck, we can be gallbladder buddies. or something weird like that. (sorry. my sense of humor has always been a bit off.)

    hats off to you and that amazing not-so-little guy. he is one tough palooka, and i mean that quite fondly 🙂

  10. I would only take it fondly. 😉

    Maybe we can exchange gall bladders in a jar? Eww..I’m wierd and it’s late. Scary combo.

  11. just tell little miss and little mister that their ‘aunt’ maren survived gallbladder surgery. i’m happy to show them my scars (itsy bitsy almost faded) when I see them next. and, if they want, i even have pictures of the gallbladder after it was removed. happy to share that too. 🙂 let me know when you have your date – hopefully i’ll be in town!

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