So, the night before Ben’s surgery I couldn’t sleep. I made a bunch of cinnamon muffins and took them to Ben’s school as soon as they opened just to have something to keep myself occupied. It’s such an odd feeling to look forward to and dread something all at the same time. Of course I don’t want some person slicing into my Ben. But I also don’t want cancer lurking around in there either. So, choose the lesser of two evils, I suppose. Let the slicing begin.
Matt picked me up around 10 so we could check in at 10:45. We were running a little behind but I figured that the surgeons were famous for running behind themselves, what difference would it make? Turns out I was right. Ben’s surgery was scheduled for 12:45 and he went back right around 2:30 ish. It wasn’t our surgeon’s fault, some other doctor was hogging up the OR.
So, the time before surgery, Ben was in fairly good spirits. He played on his phone and harassed his sister (nearly as much as she harassed him). I met a new friend, Talia, who brought flowers and coloring books to the hospital (Thank you!) and talked with a lot of doctors. My friend, Rhonda, came to pick up Madeline so she could have a sleepover with Rhonda’s daughter, Savannah. I knew Mad would be more comfortable hanging out with a friend instead of hanging around a boring old hospital. Rhonda stayed for a little while, which turned out to be so incredibly helpful, because we got a real turd resident who didn’t do a very good job with his bedside manner.
First of all, he kept calling Ben a “case.” I was immediately turned off. He’s my son, NOT a “case,” you piece of pretentious sh*t. Then he came over and started poking on Ben’s neck. Matt and I looked at each other like “What the Hell are you doing?” because it was our understanding that the tumor was behind the collarbone and not palpable. But, sure enough, the insensitive resident was poking at the tumor that was protruding from Ben’s neck. Ben started poking at it and asking “what is that?” The doctor wouldn’t answer. I felt it. Matt felt it. Ben became obsessed with it. We DIDN’T KNOW!! And instead of thinking it was lurking behind something that we couldn’t feel, there it was, on the surface and totally laughing at us. We started asking the resident questions and Matt showed him the copy of the scan we had, which didn’t necessarily dictate that the tumor was in his neck.
I cannot tell you the feeling of failure I had. Here was my poor son, already stressed out as it was, and now this seemed to be a brand new development that we had been kept in the dark about. He was crying. He was scared. All the things I was supposed to be helping him with completely down the drain. And the resident? All he had was “sorry.” I was thinking of punching him in the throat. It probably wouldn’t have hurt him because I punch like a girl, but I so wanted to.
Ben’s surgeon, Dr. Partrick, came in and explained things in a much nicer fashion. And didn’t call Ben a “case.” Matt and I were both able to walk Ben down to the OR because Rhonda was there with Madeline (thank you, thank you, thank you, Rhonda!). Ben cried the whole way back. He held our hands. The brightly lit room was waiting for him and his team of doctors all seemed ready to get on with the procedure. I lifted him up on the table. They gave him some gas and he started to drift off. It took him a while. A small tear rolled down his sweet cheek. I touched his smooth skin, his soft hair, and prayed that they all knew what they were doing with this wonderful boy who was clearly more than a case. I didn’t see that asshole in the OR, which was lucky for him because there were lots of sharp instruments to which I could have done some serious damage.
We kissed Ben goodbye and left. I started bawling as soon as we reached the door. Matt was kind enough to reach out and pat me on the back… the awkwardness of divorce at its finest. I went to the bathroom to try and pull myself together before seeing Madeline again. Rhonda followed me into the bathroom and just held me for a while. It was so hard to see Ben so upset. It was so scary to see a tumor poking out of his neck. This is SO HARD! I cannot explain how freaking hard this is. And how every emotion shoots through me at the speed of light. I can barely keep myself together but when I fail to do it for my son – which is my job – well, I failed. I won’t be getting a bonus this year.
Rhonda and Madeline left. Madeline seemed fine. As soon as they exited the floor, I went back into weepy mode. I cried until Dr. Greffe came and explained that the tumor had always been in that spot. Somewhere along the way Matt and I heard something completely different. Dr. Neville in Kansas City told me that she could not feel the tumor at all. I understand that this was two weeks ago and that cancer is famous for growing, so maybe it had just grown to the size where it was palpable. That explains it, but it certainly doesn’t make me feel better.
So, we retreated to the waiting room to watch for Case #122502’s progress on the gigantic monitor. As other numbers turned from green (intra-op) to pink (post-op), families left the waiting room to collect their children. Matt and I waited and waited. He found something funny on the internet. I stared into space while trying not to fixate on 122502 changing from green to pink. The lights in the waiting room went out. We were the last ones left. Then, Dr. Partrick came out.
He said that the frozen section of Ben’s tumor definitely states there to be cancerous activity. Duh, we knew that already. But, we’ll know more about the specifics of that outcome on Monday. The bone marrow biopsy was also easily completed and the mediport was placed. While Dr. Partrick was just taking out some of the tumor to biopsy, the rest of it just decided to come out. So, he was able to excise the entire mass. I’m glad of that. The last thing Ben needs is to have something poking out of his neck that he can’t leave alone. And, honestly, I don’t want to see it either. Dr. Partrick said that overall, Ben did well. He’s a great surgeon. I hope that turd resident learns something from him.
Ben woke up quickly from his procedure. He was totally ready to go home. He had some sprite and a slushy without any issue so they let us go home.
Matt dropped me off at the apartment and after kissing Ben goodnight (he was staying with his dad) I truly don’t remember what came next. I know I called a couple of people and ate some doritos. Then I fell asleep. The lights were still on when I woke up this morning. I slept through the entire night for the first time in months.
Matt, Ben and I went to breakfast this morning. Ben looks good. He’s guarded in turning his head and his arm kinda hurts but otherwise he feels really good. He has refused all pain meds (he hates how they make him feel, he’d rather hurt a little than be all whacked out) and seems to be doing fine.
I love that little man. I need that little man. He is such an amazingly wonderful boy. And anyone who refers to him as a case is missing the boat. I understand why they do it. You can’t get attached to everyone. It would make losing them unbearable. But call them a case in private, dipshit. Not to their mom and dad’s face.
I am sincerely grateful to everyone who said prayers for my little #122502. Thank you for the love and support. Thank you for trying to make me laugh. Thank you for caring about my sweet Ben. Thanks for spreading the word and everything else you’ve done. I can feel your love surrounding us, which is so comforting.
Chemo starts bright and early Monday morning… we’ll update then.