There was a movie that came out in the ‘80s called “The Right Stuff.” The title was referring to what the Mercury 7 astronauts were made of. These were exceptionally brave men, calm, cool, and dependable in the most dangerous situations. Well, if a movie was made about me in the ‘80s, it would be called “The Wrong Stuff” or better yet “No Stuff.” Let me explain.
The year was 1986. At a routine checkup with the pediatrician, it was discovered that my two year old daughter had a cyst in her neck. Though completely benign, it was recommended she have it surgically removed to prevent it from growing bigger and interfering with her swallowing.
The day of her surgery, we arrived at the hospital very early in the morning. It was tough knowing how much to tell her, but my husband and I did our best. I’ll never forget the sight of her being wheeled away from us, flashing her big trusting smile while clutching the little stuffed cat we had given her the night before.
I was a basket case, pacing up and down the halls waiting for word from the surgeon. Finally, after two hours, he came out to give us the news that everything went as planned. She would be in recovery for awhile yet, so he suggested we go to the cafeteria and grab some breakfast, and by the time we were done, she would be back in her room.
I was so relieved, and could finally relax for the first time in days. I was actually hungry, and after eating a very large breakfast, we headed to our daughter’s room. I had it all pictured in my head. She would be lying there asleep like a little angel, and her eyes would flutter as she became aware that we were in the room. She would give us a weak smile and pull her kitty closer.
What I wasn’t ready for was a very unhappy two year old, kicking and screaming the moment she saw us. I tried to calm her down, but her eyes were just wild. Before I had a chance to grab her arms, she reached up to her throat and tore off the bandages. Okay, I thought, now my breakfast is going to come up. I yelled for my husband to hold her because I was going to be sick. Well, I was almost to the bathroom, when apparently I blacked out, cracking my head on a sink as I went down. According to what they told me later, my husband was so confused which of us needed him more, he just stood in the middle of the room with his hands on his head. A nurse heard my daughter screaming and came to help. I’m sure she was wondering why mom was snoozing on the floor.
Now, when I finally came to, I thought I had been hit by a car and was lying on the side of a road. I had no recollection of being in a hospital at all. I just kept saying “I’ve been hit, someone help me.” But finally, my daughter’s screams cut through the fog, and I opened my eyes to the sight of a hospital room ceiling. By this time, I had acquired my own nurse, and she helped me up to a sitting position. One look at the back of my head, and she called for help to get me to the emergency room. Wasn’t that convenient? I was already in the hospital when I became injured.
I was put in a wheelchair and off we went. Nurse Blabbermouth had to tell everyone we passed what had happened. “Is this the fainting mom?” the emergency room nurse asked, as a small crowd gathered to gawk at me. It took twelve stitches to sew my head back up. I could only guess at the amount of brain damage I had sustained. I just knew that the part of my brain that felt humiliation was completely intact.
My daughter was sent home, and I was given an appointment to come back in a week to get the stitches out. So, am I made of the right stuff? No, I don't think so….because, quite frankly, there is something wrong with my stuff.