Ground Control to Major Thane

Before launch
Before launch

Today was the day for Thane’s surgery (basically a hernia surgery with a few added complications). Last night, Pastor Rod came over with a little game of reassuring notecards for ostensibly Grey but really for me. He prayed with us prior to the surgery, and wished us well. This does give one the sense that, holy cow, surgery is tomorrow. ACK!

It wasn’t too early this morning – we got up around the usual time. The biggest difference was not yelling “eat your breakfast!” every 15 minutes. Adam and I packed our perfectly-healthy, right-as-rain kid into the car to go to surgery. Stuck in traffic on 93 South, I tried to remind myself how very, very lucky we are that our completely routine surgery would be done at Children’s Hospital – Boston one of the best pediatric hospitals in the world. (Actually, according to US News and World Reports, THE best for urology.) Thane was really quiet on the way in, just looking out the window while Adam and I chatted and listened to NPR.

The intake was uneventful. There’s a wistful look you get when you take a very healthy child into a hospital like this. The doctors and nurses see some awful, sad, horrible things and they seem to find it refreshing to watch a perfectly happy kid playing with the toys brought to him. Things really started to heat up when his surgeon arrived, with a cheerful and reassuring bedside manner. We verified that we all thought Thane was here for the same thing. After a brief clown-intermission (I kid you not – Thane kept telling them, “You look like clowns!” as they metaphorically honked their red noses), the anesthesiologist came. He leaned next to Thane and said, “Hey, I’m going on a rocket ship ride. Would you come with me on the rocket ship?” He proceeded to explain that (of course!) astronauts on rocketships have to wear masks. And sometimes they go so fast it makes them dizzy. Thane declared his intention to go to Uranus.

The entire team grabbed the successful metaphor and ran with it. I put on a scrub and hair net, and Thane and I walked hand in hand to the operating room. When we walked into the brightly lit, cold, instrument-filled room I contemplated what a good analogy the space flight was. Of course there are bright lights! (The anesthesiologist mentioned that they needed the lights because space is dark.) Of course there are complex instruments, gleaming bright! Of course there’s a big captain’s chair in the middle of the room, just waiting for Thane to pilot them all to Uranus!

Thane cheerfully sat on the chair (surgical bed), announcing he couldn’t wait. He reached for the anesthesia mask, and held it to his mouth (sitting up). They put “Boo Boo Bunny” into a captain’s seat next to him. They asked him to push buttons and squeeze things, all the while the entire assembled operating room cast shaking the table like a rocket ship taking off, making zooming noises and generally behaving like a bunch of loonies. I held his feet, and watched as the drugs took over. (He fought valiantly for consciousness, but never tried to remove the mask.) He had an increasingly goofy expression the further down he went – the further out into space. Finally he lay still on the operating table, a heart-achingly small figure with the touch of a smile still at the corners of his mouth as his surgeon leaned over his body and the door closed.

Adam and I spent an hour in a nice waiting room with free wifi while I did work (well, attempted) and he read. We discussed washing machine options. Then the surgeon brought us the good news that the procedure had been perfect, and gave us some information on what to expect. Fifteen minutes later, we were brought into the recovery room where Thane was deeply and happily asleep.

All in all, I cannot imagine how this experience could have gone better. Great team (I think I’m in love with that anesthesiologist!), great outcome (assuming we avoid infection or post-operative trauma aka rough-housing), pretty good experience. Thane was superbly behaved. And, Lord willing, in two or three weeks this will be the sort of thing you write in the baby book or no one will even remember it happened.

I do wonder, though, in that dark place of anesthesia beyond memory… did Thane go to Uranus? Did he dream of rocket ships? Or perhaps, with body and mind temporarily more separate than normal, could he see beyond the bounds of his eyes and journey to far away places? Did he, in some way, blast into space?

Ground control to Major Thane
Post op: Ground control to Major Thane

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Brenda currently lives in Stoneham MA, but grew up in Mineral WA. She is surrounded by men, with two sons, one husband and two boy cats. She plays trumpet at church, cans farmshare produce and works in software.

8 thoughts on “Ground Control to Major Thane”

  1. Aww, I’m glad it went so well! What a great place. I kinda wish places were that good for adults – yeah, we know what’s going on, but are just as scared! šŸ˜‰

    Here’s to a speedy, easy recovery for Master Thane, Astronaut.


  2. I love this line the best:

    “They asked him to push buttons and squeeze things, all the while the entire assembled operating room cast shaking the table like a rocket ship taking off, making zooming noises and generally behaving like a bunch of loonies.”

    Who had Grey today?


      1. I was thinking that given it’s March, your mother-in-law might be able to risk her 3yo grandson…


  3. I just found out yesterday that my son is going to require hernia surgery. My dear friend Emily Ronald pointed me to this post, and I am so glad I did. This is a beautiful and poignant post ā€” I love the rocket-ship-into-space pretending, and my heart clenches at the reminder of the kinds of realities children this age can suffer ā€” and reading it brings me some comfort as we anticipate surgery for our guy. Thank you for wirting it.


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