The Time Has Come: Pre-Op

After my little (big) 3am moment with God, 6am finally came…and way too soon.  The nurse came in and in the nicest way possible, told us it was time for Nolan to go down to pre-op.  She did say we could go with him, though, which I’m not sure is a good or bad thing.  I begrudgingly handed over my son as two nurses got him situated in his little bed, packed everything up, and whisked him down the hall.  And let me tell you, these ladies were HAULIN’.  I have a pretty big stride and I was struggling to catch up.  Not to mention I hadn’t slept in Lord-knows-how-long and I probably smelled like a bad fungus.  Anyway, we walked down several hallways and seemingly took like 3 elevators…and the whole time I walked in silence, but inside I was absolutely scared to death.

How scared?  Back when I graduated 8th grade, I got one of those portable basketball hoops as a gift.  We used my uncle’s truck to bring it over to my cousins’ house for a graduation party at their pool.  To weigh the hoop down in the back of the truck, we all sat on the base of it (the part you usually fill with water).  When the party was over, it was time for me and my hoop to go home, but my cousins didn’t feel like helping.  So I was like, “Fine, I’ll do it.” And off we went.  At some point on the highway, we hit a bump and the hoop – and I – was airborne.  The hoop pretty much flipped up from under me and the basket was scraping along the road.  I would’ve been tossed from the truck if I hadn’t crashed into the tailgate…thank God it held.  So yes, THAT was the scariest moment of my life…until now…

The whole time I kept thinking in my head “Be strong and courageous.  Be strong and courageous.  Be strong and courageous.”  But you know what?  It was really hard.  If I hadn’t had my moment with God and without His guidance, I would’ve been a hopeless wreck.  We got to the surgery floor and there were people EVERYWHERE, it was like Grand Central down there.  They pushed us into the Pre-Op area, where we consoled our little baby, and each other, and got to speak briefly with the anesthesiology team about what would be going on.  I tried my very best to look strong even though inside I was crumbling.  Finally the time arrived and the medical team to get Nolan and we couldn’t follow.  I leaned down to kiss Nolan lightly on the head and I tried my best to say “It’s ok buddy, be strong” but I’m not even sure I got every word out, because I was so choked up and my eyes were tearing.  I reached out to gently stroke his cheek, possibly for the last time, and my hands were shaking uncontrollably.  I remember walking over to this little sink area there and grabbing some paper towels…my immediate thought was that they would be for my wife.  Yeah right, they were for me.  They wheeled our 7-day old away and that was it…we stood there without our son, leaving him in the hopefully-capable hands of strangers.  A nurse came to take us to a waiting room, and I put my arm around my wife and just cried.

The male mind is pretty basic…whether you’re a handyman or not (I’m not), your mind always goes towards “fixing.”  You want to fix what’s broken, find the problem and repair it.  Here, I had something I couldn’t fix…and never could.  I was absolutely, positively, helpless and I didn’t know what to do but wait…and have a lot of faith.  And that’s all you can do too.  I promise you, the HLHS experience is absolutely terrifying, and I’m not being dramatic.  You will have spent your whole life seeking control, in some fashion, and then that control goes out the window in a flash…as quick as a diagnosis.  So you’ll have to learn to cope, learn new strategies, look for small victories, etc.  It’s a journey, but please remember you’re not in it alone…

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About Chris Perez

My name is Chris aka HLHS Dad: I’m married with 3 sons. I love photography and the New York Yankees. I’m an admitted pizza snob and amateur balloon animal maker. Every now and then you can catch me being serious…but most of the time I’m quoting random commercials or lines from Pee Wee’s Big Adventure.

Posted on November 4, 2013, in surgery and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Praying for Nolan. Hope everything went well this morning.
    Leslie, adopting a baby girl with HLHS due in early December

    • Hey Leslie, thanks for reading! Nolan’s first surgery was actually in December 2012: all the posts you’ve been reading is me catching up on our journey. Nolan is 10 months old now and is doing GREAT

  2. Left on our own, you’re right, we could never “fix” this, But God has given me all the medical people that have ever touched my child and her life as helpers in my “fix it” goal. My HLHS “baby” is 12, she trotted out the door this morning to catch the bus to middle school. When I think about the 5 hospitals where we have had her cared for, and all the nurses and doctors and therapists that have helped us along the way, I don’t worry about whether or not I can fix it, I just look toward those who have lived through this ahead of her and all those professionals who know somethiing I don’t and I rely on them to help me fix what we can.
    Hang in there Dad. You will find many, many people along this road who will help.

    • Thanks for reading! And yes, it’s great to have people along the way to help: we’ve been connected with many heart parents, most of them moms. I know Heart Dads care just as much, so I started this blog to reach out to them too: I know guys process things differently, so if I can help just one person it’s all worth it!

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