Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Adventures in pre-op testing: You can't make this stuff up

I was not looking forward to taking Max to pre-op testing yesterday morning for his upcoming surgeries. Sitting around in a hospital waiting room then watching your child get bloodwork done is never a fun thing. The upside: I could show Max where he'd be getting surgery, and allay any concerns. The whole experience turned out to be the best medicine for him, not to mention, an education.

We were there on the dot at 7:30 a.m. thanks to our favorite 6:00 a.m. alarm clock, Ben. Happily, the form had a place for nicknames. "Fireman Max?" the nurse called out across the crowded room, and Fireman Max stood up with a great big grin on his face and dashed inside. He handled the blood draw like a pro. "That was easy!" he declared. "My brother is a firefighter," the nurse mentioned, and Max lit up. He was fascinated by the EKG, and asked if my heart was working well, too.

As the nurse ran through a list of questions, she told us that her father had been a volunteer firefighter. Max pondered that, then looked at me and said, "Your daddy died."

I was not prepared for that, and tears sprang to my eyes.

"Yes, my daddy died," I acknowledged.

"Why?" Max wanted to know.

"He was very old and he got sick," I explained.

"Are you going to die?" Max wanted to know.

The nurse sat there patiently, watching us.

"Max, can we talk about this later?" I said. "Some things are better to talk about at home."

But he needed to know right then.

"Are you going to die?" he repeated.

"Not for a very long time, I hope," I told him.

"Daddy?" he asked.

"Daddy is healthy and is not going to die for a long time, either, we hope," I answered.

He seemed satisfied with that. Then we had to give a specimen, a new experience for Max. Waiting around lead to a discussion about pee and poop, and how food and drinks pass through your body. Later, when we were back in the exam room and talking to the nurse again, I excused myself to use the bathroom. Max informed me that I had to pee in a cup and we both burst out laughing.

Max needed more time to go, so we cruised around the hospital lobby, stopping to chat with the elderly man playing piano beautifully. The top was open and Max watched how the hammers hit the strings, fascinated. Next we hit the café. Max grabbed a box of Rice Krispies, and asked for a lot of milk. He said that he wanted to pee out milk.

As we waited for the urge to hit, we walked in and out of the pre-op area. By then, people who worked there were greeting Fireman Max by name. We took an elevator up to one of the floors where they do surgery, and glanced around. Max seemed cool with it.

Then we headed outside and Max started gesturing excitedly to a red ambulance parked at the ER and saying a word I couldn't understand.

"It's an ambulance bringing someone sick to the hospital," I said.

Then I realized he was saying our town's name. An ambulance from our town's fire department was parked right at the ER.

We walked over and soon, two firefighters walked out the front doors. "Hi, Fireman Max!" one said, like it was the most natural thing in the world for Max to be hanging outside the ER.

I explained Max was getting some testing for upcoming surgery, and asked him to tell Max about the hospital.

"This is THE best hospital," he informed Max—the best seal of approval we could have gotten. I felt like it was a sign of good things to come.

Max finally went, handed the glass tube over to the nurse and gave her a big high five. "See you soon!" he said. On the way home, he told me the hospital was "good." So, here's hoping he'll be calm when surgery happens two weeks from today.

For the rest of the day, whenever Max had to use the loo he asked if he could pee in a cup, and then he cracked up. I did, too.


  1. I just discovered your blog this morning. I'm so happy I did! Your description of the day at the hospital reminded me of what it is like with my daughter. There is A LOT of talking about everything and it must be done, right then and there. And then all the friends you made. That's how my daughter is, too. It's not as simple as going in and getting things done, is it? But I guess that is what makes this life beautiful. Thank you for telling your stories.

  2. Max:

    glad you received that endorsement from a peer about how "this is the best hospital".

    Carry it with you through the next fortnight.

    How cool was it about the volunteer firefighter? And, yes, firefighters are often there in life and in death; in sickness and in health.

    Finally "Health - health militant - is usually the victor." - this is a good quote from Oliver Sacks in his story about Tourette syndrome - "Witty Ticcy Ray".

    London Review of Books 1981 is where Witty Ticcy Ray was first published and I read it in THE MAN WHO MISTOOK HIS WIFE FOR A HAT.

    There is also a good Oliver Sacks story about Hands and about Madeleine who felt her hands were useless.

    And you feel useful and you know your hat! And everyone knows it now!


Thanks for sharing!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...