Three.

Tomorrow is Day Three. The third day sitting on the couch all day with the exception of some pacing back and forth every few hours just to move a little. The third day of waiting to heal so that I can feel like the surgery was even worth it. The third day of comparing this surgery to my last two, to childbirth, to recovery from all the illnesses I’ve ever had. The third day of anxiety about steri-strips, about showering, about making it up the stairs. The third day of trying to focus and re-focus my eyes after the anti-nausea patch that they put on me in the OR gave me double vision. The third day of making sure my phone is charged, my sheet is straightened on the couch, my juice is cold.

Day Three of this stuff is always the hardest. I’m the most impatient, the most angry, the most demoralized, the most bitter on the third day. All the anesthesia is fully out of my system and the moment the percocet wears off, it feels like I’ve been repeatedly kicked in the gut and chest. And it all still feels crazy surreal. This wasn’t even remotely on the horizon. It wasn’t even in the back of my head — oh, one of these days I’m going to have to get that appendix out. I never thought that. And now, here we are, day three. Incisions and antibiotics and the lingering sensation that a tube had been shoved down my throat and then violently ripped out.

This is some kind of bullshit.

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Out. 

What I remember from my last abdominal surgery (gallbladder) was that the first two hours of Percocet were bliss and the last two were agony. This abdominal surgery is just the same. 

Last time, I had cats I needed to keep off my lap when I got home.  This time, it’s a kid and all the flying sports balls. 

Last time, it was planned. This time, I drove myself over the ER for a CT scan and ended up staying for three days, leaving one appendix lighter. 

I thought emergency appendectomies were for 10-year-olds. It’s apparently also for 43-year-olds. And for the birds. Ow. 

Bullets.

  • The Who came to work with me today. He was a great cube-mate.
  • The Philly double decker bus tour is still interesting, even having done it at least five times.
  • It’s hot, but it’s tolerable. Thank you, Universe, for this weekend.
  • Tomorrow, Phillies.
  • Philly, Philly, Philly, Philly. That’s what you do when you have out-of-town guests.
  • We had cheesesteaks for dinner, even.
  • The relationship between my nephew and The Who is just a delight to witness.
  • Still with the working mom guilt, but getting better. I’ll be happier when he is back in school and the routine is more stable.
  • I intended to go to bed at 10, but then I got sucked in by technology.
  • The mail chute that leads directly to the post office in my building was one of the highlights of The Who’s day at the office. We didn’t even use it; he just remembered it as being cool.
  • I hand-fed him bits of Pirate’s Booty on the bus this afternoon like one would dose a child with medicine. Sometimes, that’s what a snack is with this kid. I think we are all beginning to understand it this way.

Hard. 

It’s hard not to feel like I’m failing at something when my kid behaves in an unattractive way. It’s hard not to fault myself for his shortcomings. It’s hard, in fact, not to see them as shortcomings. I realize that when I’m able to see things neutrally, it gets easier. 

I have a kid with some really challenging behaviors. When he is compromised, he is a different person. When he is tired or hungry or overstimulated or struggling with transition, his ability to cope bottoms out. He is not a laid back kid. He’s intense. He has intense feelings, he listens intensely, he thinks hard all the time, he worries. So when he is at all challenged, whatever tiny bit of coping skill he has developed over his short life all but disappears. 

And it’s also hard not to compare. Other kids his age can lose a game, get disappointed, and manage chaos with much less fanfare than he. I worry all the time that he is too coddled or too catered to. Worry that he has not had to experience transition or disappointment or chaos enough. And in the moments when he is challenged (which looks so often like whining and complaining and stubbornness and entitlement and brattiness) my embarrassment at what I view as my failure makes me yell at him or threaten him or show frustration, which usually exacerbates it. 

“I’m trying as hard as I can!” he will  say emphatically — usually through tears. I struggle to understand why, at 8 years old, he can’t just deal with disappointment without whining and crying and carrying on for as long as he does. 

It feels like it’s taking me forever to learn him, but maybe I’m starting to get it. Tonight, when he was unable to “be a good sport” as he got further and further behind in a board game, instead of yelling at him, I rubbed his back and told him I understood it was really hard for him. I tried to remember that acknowledging his struggle wasn’t condoning his behavior and also that trying to have a real conversation about it at 7:45pm after an exhausting week of camp and in the middle of his first friend-sleepover wasn’t going to accomplish anything. I suggested putting the game on hold, watching some tv before bed, and then trying it again in the morning, which is when he is historically the most agreeable and rational. 

I think, this time, I handled it like a pro. This time, I didn’t ascribe his behavior to my own or his faults. I didn’t worry so much about teaching him a lesson. This time

But there’s always tomorrow.