Over the last few years you’ve been really great when it comes to my son’s condition. You’ve taken a genuine interest in his wellbeing, you’ve indulged my obsession with all things pancreas and heart related and you’ve readily accepted that sometimes family has to come first. While I have tried not to take liberties, the nature of his disease has meant that sometimes I haven’t been as productive as I would have liked. Knowing that you are not going to be analysing my every move has allowed me to concentrate on doing what needs to be done. Perhaps I haven’t always articulated how much I appreciate this freedom.
I tell you this now because I may not be working at my best over the next few days. This morning I dropped my wife and son at the airport for a flight that took them to the children’s hospital in Auckland. They are now safely in the heart ward and tomorrow morning my son will undergo cardiac surgery.
As cardiac surgery goes it is fairly minor, an exploratory op for more serious intervention later on, but any procedure under general anaesthetic where surgeons are poking and prodding around in his heart carries some obvious risks. In his case the added complication of maintaining blood sugars at optimal levels while being nil-by-mouth brings its own challenges.
After a long hug from me at the airport he ran off grinning, pulling his little suitcase behind him, wide-eyed with anticipation. For a week he’s been telling anyone and everyone that he is going on the big plane. He knows he’s going to see some doctors but how much he comprehends is hard to say. Perhaps the less the better.
And the hardest part for me is not being able to do anything, a feeling of complete and utter uselessness. In reality it doesn’t matter if I am ten feet away or a thousand miles. I can’t help him in those crucial hours. But given the choice I’d rather be there. To calm him before the op, to comfort him after. But I am not the only consideration and neither is he. His brothers need to get on with their schooling. They need to have their lives carry on as normally as can be, some constants they can rely on: school, friends, routine. The money still has to be earned: the wolves at the door know no compassion. And hauling the whole family up and down the length of the country is costly – costs we can put off until his big op later in the year.
So tomorrow I may appear less focused. I may be quieter than usual. I expect I’ll be checking my cellphone frequently. If I take 10 minutes out of the office at any point don’t worry, it’s going to be one of those days. Some have suggested taking some time off but sitting at home waiting for the phone to ring seems like the worst possible option.
So I’ll be at my desk as usual. I won’t be starting any ground-breaking new projects. I think I’ll just catch up on some of the mindless paperwork, nothing I can’t drop halfway through. I’ll give as much as I can but it won’t be 100%. My body will be here, my mind and my heart will be in another city.
Knowing you’ll understand eases my burden greatly.