All around me I can hear crying.
A little boy lays in his mum’s arm sobbing as though his heart would break. Opposite me, a mother quietly weeps as the bed next to her lays empty. Beside me, two parents hug with damp eyes as their child is returned to them.
Me – I sit like the matriarch of the ward, the frequent flier, the professional mum of hospital kids.
On the bed sits my work for the day, oodles of paperwork and files. My diary beside me filled with a to do list as long as my arm. By my feet sits a bag filled with Tupperware, breakfast, dinner, and tea – hospital fodder is expensive, laden with calories, and quite frankly tastes like elephant poop. I can’t guarantee that the Tupperware will stave away the bar of Dairy Milk that is calling me from the store – but one can but try.
I have convinced myself I am immune.
I wander around the ward, asking who wants a cuppa, reassuring the anxious parents that all will be well, the general anesthetic will wear off and their little loved one will be bouncing around the ward in no time.
I can see they question my calmness, do I come across as hardened to the process? I remember many moons ago, almost seven years, watching my youngest first be put to sleep artificially. I cried solidly for an hour, swore I would never get used to it.
Time has proven differently.
So I thought.
The doctor approached us, drew an arrow on Owen’s right ear.
I don’t think you could confuse which ear needs the surgery, the scar is still fresh on his left, from our stay three months ago. We have pushed for this surgery to be done sooner, before he starts secondary school, before the football season begins. He can’t get scouted for Arsenal if he can’t play as recovering from surgery.
He asked if Owen knew what to expect, did I know what to expect from the anesthetic and the surgery. My usual flippant nature rose to the surface,
“We are pro’s,” I muttered, “this is the around the 14th or 15th general I have watched in six years.”
Except I choked on the words, and my cheeks flushed, my eyes started to prickle.
The fear that I thought I had grown resilient to rushed through my system to the surface, Owen looked at me, mildly alarmed that his mum was going to lose it, publicly. At eleven a sobbing mother by your bed is not cool at all. Almost as uncool as when I said I could strict press his body weight when they weighed him first thing.
“You don’t need to tell everyone you lift weights..” was his horiffied response as I chuckled at his mortification.
I managed to swallow down the emotion that threaterned to errupt, I got my head back on straight.
I kept composure whilst I watched him drift off to sleep with a gas mask over his mouth, and a tiny smile playing on his lips.
I kept it together whilst the nurse asked me what other procedures we had faced as a family.
I made it all the way to the bathroom before allow a tear to drop, and a moment of self-pity to wash over me.
Then I cracked on, laptop up, Tupperware open, steaming mug of soapy, milky, hospital tea by my side.
Just four hours to live through until my son is back by my side.
Turns out immunity is not something I am afflicted with after all.
Perhaps a Dairy Milk will help.
Hurry back Owen.