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Big Guy’s determined recovery

Submitted by on Sunday, 1 June 2008 No Comment

Originally published Nov. 26, 2007, thehive.modbee.com   

Big Guy’s a battler — you can see it on the soccer field and in the “Piston Cups” he awards himself for every victory, real or imagined, over Little Guy and me. Until the past week, though, I had no idea just how much determination a scrawny little body could hold.

Big Guy had surgery last Monday for an umbilical hernia. I’d long known the day was coming. The hernia was roughly the size of a golf ball when it ballooned out after his cord fell off. While the gap’s narrowed in recent years, he still had  a thumb-sized whole in his abdominal wall and an elephant trunk where a belly button should be.

It wasn’t a life-threatening condition, and it wasn’t major surgery – it took a bit more than an hour at Memorial Medical Center. Anytime someone spends an hour rearranging your stomach muscles, though, you’re going to be in a world of hurt when it’s over. There’s no way to prepare a 4-year-old for that.

He knew he was having surgery and was excited about having a “skinny belly” like Little Guy’s. The irony is, Little Guy also has an umbilical hernia. It’s just not a prodigious.

He was cheery that morning, considering the ungodly hour. He bounced, ran and skipped through the parking garage, elevator and waiting room. Every happy, exuberant step kicked me in the gut. In a few hours, he’d be anything but happy and exuberant, and it would be all my fault.

He continued along his happy way as we checked in. He paused momentarily when it came time to put on the hospital gown. “All the people are gonna see my booty!” he protested.

By the time he’d finished charming the nurses (“My birthday is the 21st, not 21,” he lectured one), the doctors, the janitors and everyone else in the hospital, I was ready to borrow his barf bag. Oh, sweet child! You’re going to be so miserable soon.

He didn’t cry as they wheeled him away. It was still a big adventure – new, novel and exciting, and there’s nothing he loves more than that combination.

The next time I saw him, he was lying, weak and pale, tiny tears on his cheeks. “Mommy … Mommy … Mommy … It hurts,” he rasped, his throat still sore from the tube. For the next couple hours, he slept and moaned.

Then the old Big Guy peeked out. When it was time to leave, he argued with the nurses about using the wheel chair. I’m a big boy. Wanna walk. I’m sure they hear that every day; I’m not sure how often they hear it from a 4-year-old.

He insisted on getting into the car seat by himself. And on walking to the bathroom under his own steam when we got home. It was a little-old-man hobble, but he got there. He didn’t want to go to bed – “I’m staying in the living room,” he said. A cousin came over, and he showed off his incision. She turned only a little green.

His biggest feat was one that even I, the queen of “let them try,” was opposed to. That night, he didn’t want help getting into my 2-foot-high bed. He struggled mightily, hands grasping blankets and arms doing the pulling work his stomach muscles couldn’t. “I .. got it .. under my own control,” he panted.

The next morning, he was following Little Guy and me around the house, still with a stoop-shouldered hobble, but, by golly, he was ambulatory. Several visitors Tuesday were stunned when he greeted them at the door. “Shouldn’t he be in bed?” they asked.

Not as far as I was concerned. If he felt up to doing it, I was going to let him. Except for driving – the papers they gave us at the hospital made it clear he couldn’t get behind the wheel until Wednesday.

There were, of course, rougher times. Tuesday and Wednesday nights, he woke up crying. “I … want … my … other belly back,” he sputtered.  “It didn’t hurt.”

By Thursday, the hobbled gait was gone and he tried to climb a ladder. Friday, he was taking batting practice again – there’s a hitch in his swing, but it’s a long time until pitchers and catchers report. And today, in a fit of anger at Little Guy, he went flying through the house after his brother. And then he stopped dead in his tracks. “Hey, look! I can run again! I can run!”

It’s official: The boy’s back.

Copyright 2008 Debra Legg. All rights reserved.

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