Here we go again. We’re packing our bags, bringing Austin’s comfy pillows (which are so much better than the plasticky ones the hospital uses) and all his lovies, who he refers to as “my guys.” His guys include, among other assorted stuffed animals, Cookie Monster (“Cookie Mah-mer”) and Koala (“Kah-wa-wa”). This time we also have the single-cup coffee maker from Mark’s office, which will make mornings so much more pleasant — trying to carry a recovering toddler attached to an IV pole and a hot cup of coffee down the hall always ends up a tragi-comedy.
We’re feeling pretty good about this, although it carries with it all sorts of risks. Because it is a major surgery, they have to use those lovely words that my ears have heard too many times: “potentially life-threatening procedure.” But he is in excellent hands and we’ve done this before, so I nod my head and sign my consent yet again. There is also the possibilty that what they find when they open him up is worse than we thought and they end up removing the kidney as well. Austin would then begin dialysis and wouldn’t be eligible for a transplant until he’d had two years of clear scans. As you might imagine, you don’t want to stick a nice new organ in a potentially cancerous cavity. I try not to think too much about this as it is pretty unlikely to happen tomorrow and the thought of just beginning something so horrible after all we’ve (he’s) already been through is almost too much to bear. Almost.
We’re due there at 6am and surgery is set for 7:15. Mark and I will then wander around the hospital for hours on end, flipping through old celebrity magazines and checking email on our his-and-her iPhones. If all goes well and we can avoid the PICU, we should be back on Rainbow 2 by early afternoon, settling in for a one-to-two week stay.
So now is when I ask you to start wishing and hoping for my little Austin. You probably notice I don’t use the word “praying” even though a child with cancer must be what prayer is for. But it is not what I do. As I’ve said before, I am not a religious person and that is a very gentle way of saying that I don’t believe in God and never have and don’t imagine that I ever will. But I understand and respect that faith is where many of you find strength and comfort in times like these and I certainly don’t hold that against anyone.
I take no offense to whatever well wishes you want to send Austin or send up or send wherever. In fact, I am honored and touched by them. You can say Jewish prayers and Muslim ones, Christian, Hindu, Buddhist, it doesn’t matter to me. You can light candles or recite rosaries or dance under the full moon. I don’t know if any of it works, but if it makes people feel a little bit better, then that’s okay with me.
Mark was raised Catholic and although he is not practicing and we didn’t baptize our kids and he never takes me up on my annual Christmas Eve offer to go to church (I like the music), he still believes. I’ve never seen him down on his knees, but I am certain that he prays for his Austin. And I too offer up my wishes in my own way, usually by finding a bright star in the sky. That makes me feel a little bit better too.
So do what you need to, do what you can. Maybe all these wishes and prayers just float around in the universe, never making it anywhere, but I think the positive energy must be worth something. And it certainly can’t hurt.