It’s been a year since my son had surgery at Boston Children’s Hospital. November is a good time for gratitude and I’m grateful to have such an outstanding medical facility in my backyard.
Our road to surgery started off innocuously enough. My son had a small lump on his throat. I thought it was swollen lymph nodes and paid it no mind. The lump got bigger and my husband expressed concern. We took our soon to the pediatrician who was quite sure that surgery was not going to be necessary but referred us to an eminent Ear, Nose, Throat pediatric specialist at Boston Children’s Hospital. This is the doctor, our pediatrician said, that he’d send his own kids too. I like those kinds of recommendations!
Dr. Michael Cunningham turned out to be world renowned in his field but, more importantly, a kind and gentle man who made sure that my son felt comfortable and understood exactly what would happen. This concern about how the young ones are feeling is something that is quite palpable at Boston Children’s Hospital, in big things and small.
For example, take the fish tank in the waiting room for pre-surgery. Wouldn’t you know that it’s filled with fish that look suspiciously like the cast from the movie Finding Nemo!
It turns out that my son had an extremely rare cyst composed of brachial cells that had wandered to this throat area during the time he was being formed. When he got sick with an infection, these cells activated and filled with fluid. The cyst needed to be removed in case it ruptured. It was routine surgery for Dr. Cunningham but my son was understandably scared.
This is when you really notice how incredible Boston Children’s Hospital truly is. We met with the anesthesiologist and he talked to my son, and us, too, of course, but the focus was on my son. Did he understand what was going to happen every step of the way? Did he want to choose a flavor of gas used to put him under? He did — blue raspberry was his final pick but it was hard because there were more than two dozen enticing options.
As parents, we were most nervous about my son going under. The anesthesiologist, a young man, was reassuring when he told us, “A healthy 10-year-old? We operate on very sick premature babies with multiple medical conditions. This is a piece of cake!” That was music to our ears.
During the morning of the surgery while we waited in the pre-op ward, a volunteer caricaturist asked my son what figure he wanted to be drawn in. Ninja, of course! Other volunteers and staff stopped by to make sure my son was comfortable.
The surgery took two and a half hours from start to finish and went flawlessly. His cyst, the size of a hen’s egg, was removed intact, frozen and sent to the lab to be tested for cancer, just as a precaution. It was benign.
For the next three days, the most wonderful nurses took care of my son around the clock. It turns out that most patients on our floor came from all over the world. I can see why. I would absolutely fly around the world to have my child treated here if money were no object.
This is my story as a parent with a child who needed Boston Children’s Hospital. There are more on their site. This Thanksgiving, I am grateful that we did not need the most excellent staff at Boston Children’s Hospital but I am glad that I live near by to get access when I do.
What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Please share!
BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.