There's very little that's routine about general anesthesia, when it's my son who will be unconscious.
This is the dialogue happening inside my mind.
Instead, you might hear me say, "So, hi there. Tuck had his adenoids removed on Tuesday morning. He's recovering well, thank you. It's a routine procedure. He's doing great."
All true. But it's still not routine. Not for me.
My understanding of adenoids: draw an imaginary line straight back from the nose. Draw an imaginary line between the ears. Where the lines intersect: Hello, Adenoids.
Tucker's were huge. 19 mm. I'm not a specialist, but that's a sizeable portion of the inside of his five-year-old noggin'.
Their absence should help with his nasal passages, speech needs, hearing, snoring, chewing with his mouth closed, and perpetual runny nose. Makes sense, really: remove those golf balls, and there's gotta be some room for productivity as a result.
The surgery was painless, the recovery has been smooth, and the doctor said it all went just as he had hoped. The beauty of adenoids is that there are no dietary restrictions and little pain in the aftermath. (Thank you, Lord, for blessings great and small.)
But the worst part of the whole thing was the anesthesia process. I hadn't planned to go back to the OR with him, because I've done that before and I don't love it. Tuck has had surgery once before when he was 13 months old, and that doctor presented the plan as a smooth transition: I would carry my sweet baby back to the operating room, hold him while he slipped off to sleep, and the whole process would be peaceful and gentle, mostly for Tuck since his mommy would be right there until he arrived in the land of dreams.
It really wasn't like that. There was wiggling and crying and restraining and masks involved, and suddenly my baby boy went limp in someone else's arms, and I was escorted to the waiting room to sit until further notice.
So, I didn't really want to sign up for that again. My mind is a little bit overloaded with mental images involving people I love, and I had decided I would let the doctors and specialists handle this 'routine'.
Except then they asked me if I planned to go into the OR as he fell asleep.
And it suddenly occurred to me: if I don't go, he'll be by himself. It can't ever be said of me that I chose the easier path, which thereby forced my son to take the harder one.
"Yes, yes, of course. I'll stay with him until he's asleep."
Tuck was absolutely brave and resolute. And the medical staff were the most impressive professionals I could have hoped for. They wheeled him into the operating room, transferred him from the gurney to the operating table, laid him back, and talked to him about the mask he got to wear and the pretend trip he would take to outer space.
In my scrubs and mask, I held his hand as he listened to the anesthesiologist send him into orbit.
"Here you go, Tucker: prepare for lift off. Okay, you're up in the sky, passing all the airplanes. Going through the clouds. We're getting into outer space now, passing the international space station. You're going higher and higher and higher and higher... and you're almost to the moon..."
I waited for him to drift off to sleep, peacefully.
Instead, in a sudden jolt, his arms flew straight up in the air, and his eyes bolted wide, and he said, "Wait! I have to tell you something!"
"What do you need to say, buddy? I'm right here. Tell Mommy."
His eyes rolled back, his head relaxed, his jaw fell open. And his arms stayed extended straight into the air.
And the nurse said, "Mom, this is totally normal. Absolutely normal."
Are you freaking kidding me?!? This is how it goes? The shouting, eyes bulging, the flying, wiggling arms - these are all normal?
"Totally normal. His brain has just checked out, and you have a sleeping boy. Give him a kiss, momma. And we'll see you in an hour."
Oh. My. Word.
I did as I was told, and they walked me to the waiting room, where I sat with my mom and a friend of ours.
And I relied on the 3x5 cards in my purse to refresh my mind with words that are true when few other things promise to be.
I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand, and says to you, "Do not fear; I will help you."
When I am afraid I will trust in you. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not be afraid.
I have set the Lord always before me.
Because he is at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
"Yes? That's me..."
"He's doing very well, ma'am. The procedure is finished, he is starting to wake up, and we would like for your face to be the first one he sees."
"You're finished? It's done?"
"All done. He did great."
He did great. We did great.
"Yes, please. Take me to my son."
"So, hi there. Tuck had his adenoids removed on Tuesday morning. He's recovering well, thank you. It's a routine procedure. He's doing great."