beth woolsey

mess maker • magic finder • rule breaker • kindness monger

Cai Had Surgery

Once upon a time, I was a mama to three children.

Let’s call them Abby, Ian and Aden.  Because those are their names, and, I’ll be honest, I can barely keep that straight in real life, so I can’t really change them for a blog.

We adopted Ian in 2003 when he was 3 years old.

If you ever wondered why you shouldn’t send a baby to bed with milk, juice or, in my sweet baby’s case, sugar water, here’s why:

Take a good look at those teeth.

They weren’t crooked.  They were rotten, and bits had fallen off.

So, a month after his adoption, Ian had surgery at the hospital to remove four teeth, and repair and save as many as possible.

At the time, Ian was entering his two year phase of Only Daddy Will Do.  I’ll tell you quite frankly that adopting a special needs toddler wasn’t a cake walk.  Ian used to gag when I got too close to him.  That made buckling his car seat a real bear.

It also made surgery a challenge and put the comfort burden squarely on Greg’s shoulders.  I wield a mean point-and-shoot camera, but my photography skills weren’t all that helpful given the circumstances.

It sucked, putting my new kid, who couldn’t understand what in the world we were doing to him, in the hospital and under general anesthetic.

Doctors and nurses assured me it would all be OK.

I wasn’t sure… about Ian’s surgery or about life in general.

Turns out, they were right.


Then, 10 months later, Miss Abby had to have mouth surgery, too.

I was strong and brave.

HA!  That’s a total lie.  I cried like a baby, and I made both Greg and my bestie, Melissa Anne, come with me to the hospital.  I learned I needed better surgery distraction.

Melissa played with Abby, but, more importantly, we read trashy novels aloud to each other in the waiting room.  Inappropriate?  Yes.  But, as a distraction, it was perfection.

Before surgery, the anesthesiologist asked me if there was any family history of negative reactions to medications.  I cried again and said, “She’s adopted.  I don’t know.”

It may have been more of a wail.  “She’s adAHpted.  I don’t KNOW!”

The anesthesiologist held my hand.  She didn’t roll her eyes, as much as she must’ve wanted to.  She told me about her son who was the same age as Abby.  She assured me she’d be next to Abby the entire time.

They gave Abby a sedative.

I was jealous.

But at least Abby let me hold her.  So that was a great, big heaping spoonful of happy for the mommy.

Doctors and nurses assured me it would all be OK.

Turns out, they were right.  Again.


Yesterday, Cai had surgery.

He needed ear tubes to restore hearing loss.

Oh, my, how things have changed now that we have five kids.

Was I thrilled that one of my babies had to go under?

Nope, not a bit.

I had the stress headache and panicked Facebook status update to prove it.

But we had some new ammunition in our arsenal this time, and I wasn’t quite the basket case I’ve been in the past.

First, we tallied all of our family medical procedures.  Cai realized he’s the only member of our family who hadn’t had stitches, a broken bone, or surgery.  He was SO excited to join the club.

Second, Cai’s a grab-life-by-the-horns kind of kid.  He didn’t see any need to let an adventure as grand as surgery pass him by without some serious enthusiasm.

I mean, does this look like an anxious kid?

Yeah, didn’t think so.

The medical personnel weren’t quite sure what to do with him; especially when they found out that he spent days counting down sleeps until he “got” to have surgery.

They offered him a sedative but retracted the offer when I asked him how he felt about surgery and he actually applauded…

The anesthesiologist came to collect Cai for his trip to the operating room.  I think the nurses were on stand-by with that sedative in case my kid balked at the last minute.

But not Cai.

No way.

When they asked if he wanted to ride to surgery on his bed or walk, my little man jumped right out of bed to march.

Fine.  I teared up a little at this point.  But no one saw me.  I swear.

Next came recovery.

Recovery time = snuggle time = the mommy is happy time.

Thank goodness Cai didn’t make me feel entirely useless.

But, of course, recovery only lasted 10 minutes.

After which Cai got a cool wheelchair ride,

as many popsicles as he could eat, and balloons from his Uncle Jeff and Aunt Kim.

(Note the “congrats” balloon message, as opposed to something boring like “get well”… which just goes to show that Kim and Jeff know my kid!)

I’m pretty sure that Cai’s entire hospital experience was so lovely that he destined for one of two futures:




Dear Nice Hospital People,

You’ve either created another hero or a lot more work for yourselves.  Be proud.

I’m sincerely grateful.

Mama to Cai

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8 responses to “Cai Had Surgery”

  1. What a guy! We’re so proud of Cai, doing so well with his surgery! My favorite picture is the one where the bear is wearing the surgery cap. When I talked to him today, it was obvious that everything is back to normal for him. Cael’s the one who told me that Cai has tubes in his ears. Love those guys!

  2. I’m sorry, Julieann! Not fun!

    The pregnant bit is a complicating factor in not freaking out. I’ve never cried as much as I did when I was pregnant. My dad and father-in-law still make fun of me for my wracking sobs during Cars in the theatre. I don’t think that’s entirely my fault… I mean, did you *see* Lightening McQueen put himself into screeching reverse and go back for King… that’s an emotional movie moment, I tell you!

    Anyway, my best tricks for not completely freaking are a) telling myself that it was riskier, statistics-wise, to drive my kid to the surgery in a car than it is in surgery itself, b) brings lots of little things to do because, at least for me, I can’t concentrate very well when I’m worried… I got myself coffee, tried to read a little, worked on my computer, updated Facebook, etc., c) bring a friend. I didn’t bring a friend this last time because Cai’s surgery was so short, but for the lengthier ones… and I bet urological surgery takes a little bit… it’s good to have someone to be brave for.

    I hope that helps. I’ll say a prayer for your oldest… I hope that’s OK!


    • Thanks for the advice and the prayers. They tell me that it will take longer to put him under and wake him up than the actual surgery. But the putting under is what scares me the most. Maybe I will see if a friend can come along. Thanks again.

  3. Thanks for sharing this. My oldest has to have some urology type surgery in about a week and a half and I am afraid I am going to lose it. Hopefully he will be like Cai and help me not freak out. Any advice for this pregnant emotional momma to stay sane.?

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