The surgery talk

When my husband mentioned to a friend that Laelia’s surgery was next month, November 16th,  Laelia exclaimed, “I gonna have surgery!”   Which she pronounces more like, “ser-gy.”

This led to a big conversation about surgery.

She then said, a little less excited, “I gonna be sad on my sergy.” I wondered if that was a question, even though it was presented as a statement. I asked if she knew it  was going to hurt. She parrotted my words back to me, “Is  sergy gonna hurt?”  I said it was, but that it would be temporary. She began to get upset and cried, “I don’t want sergy!”   She then scooted pretty fast into my arms. I held her and explained what the surgery would do and where it would be. When I touched her legs to show her where it would be, she flinched. Poor frightened little thing. I wish we were having this talk the day before surgery instead of a month before so it would be over with quicker. But to spare her I demonstrated on my own leg what they would do in surgery. I drew a line with my finger over my hip and down  my thigh a little ways.  She was wide-eyed.

I asked her to bring her knees together and she did a good job. Then I explained that after surgery she would be able to bring them together all the way. “Like this?!” she brightened and swung her body back and forth on the carpet pushing her legs closer. “Even closer! Surgery is important to help you do that.”

“My surgery will hurt me.” Now I knew these statements were questions since her  eyes were  pleading with me. I could almost follow her little mind as it processed how something  good could hurt her. But I assured her that she would be asleep when they did it and feel nothing. And I would be with her.

Then we did pretend surgery. I put my cupped hand over her mouth and she breathed deeply and then went to pretend sleep, snoring loudly. Then I said, “Okay surgery is over now, time to wake up!”

She blinked at me and grinned, “I awake!” then added  more sadly, “Now my sergy hurt me.”   I told her she would still be sleepy and not feel much, but then much later she would feel sore. “I no want my surgery.” She said.

Then I asked her if she’d ever had surgery before. She hesitated and said, “Yeah.” Another question! She wasn’t sure! How did I not get before that my little girl wasn’t sure how to ask questions about this. So we pulled up her pants leg and I showed her the scars. I asked her if they still hurt. “Nooooooo,” she said mocking. Did the scars on her feet still hurt? Her thighs farther up? Nope. How about on the other leg. Nope. Well this next surgery wouldn’t hurt after a while too. She was just too little to remember all the surgeries she’s had.

She still looked uncertain so I decided to show her my surgery scar that stretched across my lower abdomen. I explained it was a surgery to help Lali get out of my tummy safely.   I said it hurt for a few days afterwards, but it wasn’t as bad after that. Then I punched my stomach to show it didn’t hurt anymore. Then we talked about Chelsea’s foot surgery and looked online at two kids who had had the same surgery Laelia will have. One of those kids is standing unassisted now.

“I can stand like this,” Laelia boasted as she  showed off her one knee balancing act. I asked if she would like to stand on both legs and she said in a quiet voice, “yes.”

But… And there was a “but” coming.

“Mama, I no like surgery.”

Me either, little girl. Me either.

3 Responses to “The surgery talk”

  1. Laura says:

    If it helps, you could tell her about me. I’ve had several (about 7 or 8 I think) surgeries, and I don’t remember pain from any of them. I think she will be a brave girl, that much is evident already. I find it helps to focus on the long run when the short run stinks, and I focus on the short run when I can’t handle the long run. Just remember that God has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, and that applies to Laelia too. :)

  2. Randi says:

    I think you did a great job with telling her Alexis. That couldn’t have been easy. Lali is lucky to have a mom like you, and I’m sure she knows that. She will thank you for all of this one day, when she can do all of those things the doctors said she could never do. Good luck with her surgery. I’ll be praying for a fast recovery

  3. Lauren B says:

    yeah, wow, you did a really great job explaining it to her-I wouldn;t have thought of that. i wish you were my day to day translator ;). I have always admired how you are tell her the truth but how God blessed you with being able to explain it in a beautiful and comfortingly way. You are amazing :)

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