Tuesday, October 25, 2011

the usual

Frozen Snickers cake ala the most lovely chef at 10Arts at the Ritz
 It's that night again. The night before. The night before Ben's next surgery.

I am here, sitting in the darkening office, twilight upon me. He is there, in Philadelphia, a tummy full of Thai food, tuning out the future, watching TV with his dad.

I didn't hear from the hospital this time. Days ticked by and no call came from Dave in Anaesthesiology. So, one day last week I picked up the phone and called him myself. "Dave," I said, "Ben's coming in next week for his surgery and I was wondering if there was anything you needed to tell us?" "Oh no, Mrs. M," says Dave, "We know you and Ben and we know you know the drill. We figured you'd call us if there was a problem."

Sigh. We're regulars. Regulars in Anaesthesiology (and the OR, and the surgical floor, and the cafeteria, for that matter) at Shriners Hospital on N. Broad Street in Philadelphia. This is definitely not something to which one should aspire. It's not like when I was in my 20's and was so familiar to the guys in my favorite downtown Oakland Cambodian restaurant that they knew my voice on the phone. No, it's not quite that good.

Ben is so familiar with the drill that he knows, at age almost 14, which needles they use for his IV, which needles he prefers, in fact. That's too much. Too much information. Too much surgery.

Of course, a plus is that he's also a regular at the Ritz. That is good. Last night, after an easy cross-country flight, Ben sent me a text that read: "Hello ritz it's good to be back." And a little bit later a platter of delightful desserts arrived at his doorstep. Then this text came to me: "HOLY SHIT THEY JUST COMPED DESSERT AND IT LOOKS AMAZING IL SEND PICS BRB"  (*that's Be Right Back, for those of you who don't know the lingo).

Alas, there's a silver lining. Our story at the Ritz is beyond Good. Good Samaratin. Please don't think this is a silver spoon story. Oh no. This is a good-to-the-last-tear-get-out-your-hanky story.

But, tomorrow he will have his ninth surgery. Mine too, if you want to think of it that way. It's sort of a two steps forward, one step back kind of deal. They're replacing the rod that's hooked onto his spine and rib cage with a longer one. After this he'll probably be an inch taller or so with a straighter spine for a bit. And then, as he grows and he is in a big growth spurt right now, it will curve up again...and we'll schedule another surgery. Dave won't call us, but the Ritz will put on, well, the Ritz, don't you know.

Not sure how soon we'll be back there for "the usual," but we will be back.


Gillian said...


I miss seeing you! My thoughts are with you and Ben during this time. Loads of quick-healing thoughts coming your way!

Anonymous said...

I remember that this time Ben chose the date, Ben said I need another surgery. That is growth, that is being self aware, that is proactive. Such a warm nest you have created to surround him and allow him to do all that is needed to process this tough lot in life. One day, i hope one day this will all be a distant memory for you all, but for now he can master his environment, love the Ritz and the desserts, suggest his favorite needles, and pick which parent he need at which stage of the treatment. Empowerment too early for a kid that seems more than ready for it. He is truly amazing!!!
My Prayers to everyone involved, the staff at Shriners, the Millers, the Ritz, and most of all to Ben. I am so proud of you all.