This summer, my nineteen-year-old daughter had her wisdom teeth removed. This is the procedure in which we paid $2100 to have some doctor yank four perfectly good teeth out of my daughter's mouth. Needless to say, we were all looking forward to it.
I am usually good visiting hospitals, pretty good with sick people. I have spent many hours caring for relatives in nursing homes. I have helped relatives die.
But this was different. This was my daughter.
"She's just getting teeth pulled out," one of my friends said to me, "It's a pretty common procedure. Have you ever heard of anyone dying from having their wisdom teeth pulled?"
But still ... this was my daughter. My beautiful smart wonderful daughter.
The morning of the surgery, I was so nervous I thought I was going to vomit. It took three times for the nurse to get a needle into the vein of her skinny little arm. Watching her drift off to sleep, looking pale white despite her summer tan, was not reassuring but creepy. My husband, whose defense mechanism is humor, kept making jokes. My defense mechanism is to get angry at anyone who makes jokes. I almost hit him.
Of course, things went fine. Within a week, the swelling went down and my daughter was back to her normal self. I was able to laugh again at my husband's jokes.
Waiting for my daughter to wake up from the anesthesia that day, those long, long minutes of waiting, made me think of other parents who go through more frightening and more serious experiences all the time. I have one friend whose young son had leukemia, who spent two years in and out of hospitals, getting treatment after treatment. I have friends whose kids have chronic allergies, who can land in the hospital after one asthma attack. I don't know how these parents do it. I would hope that if one of my kids ever had a health problem I could respond with the same strength and resiliency as my friends have.
Here in the blog community, Moreena has beautifully chronicled some of the wonderful and difficult journey with her daughter Annika, who has had two liver transplants. Annika goes into surgery again tomorrow. Please send some hugs, energy, or prayers their way.