"NO! NO! NO! That's exactly what I didn't want to hear!" I yelled, my voice echoing against the walls of the small Chinatown office. The doctor's small eyes widened, surprised by my outburst, and she nervously grabbed at her hair.
"I'm sorry. My hunch is he'll need tubes," she said quietly.
"Tubes! What the hell?"
"The tubes will help to ventilate his ear. But let's wait until his next hearing test to see if the fluid drains by then. If not, we'll schedule the surgery."
"Oh, no," I moaned. "Surgery! What if he never wakes up from the anesthesia?"
"He'll only be under for five minutes."
I couldn't stop my hands from flailing into the air. "Why did this have to happen to us? Why doesn't the list of things that's wrong with Equis seem to have an end?" I cried.
The above scenario didn't really unfold in the way I've written it. It was me, not the doctor, who nervously grabbed at my hair while she acted totally nonchalant.
It's true that I didn't want to hear my son had fluid in his ears. I don't want anything to be wrong with my son. I want him to not have to deal with any type of surgery.
At the same time, however, part of me did want to hear he had fluid in his ears because fluid is a far less scary explanation for his moderate hearing loss than permanent hearing loss would be for me.
What actually happened is far less dramatic because I'm very good at pretending I'm cool about a situation when, in reality, I'm freaking out on the inside.
"She looks pretty and confident," I assured myself as I looked over the doctor's spotless white lab coat and the long black hair that she'd pulled into a loose ponytail.
"So why are you here?" she asked.
"Well, Equis is getting speech therapy, and at his last hearing evaluation, he showed moderate hearing loss in his right ear," I said, my breath coming in short spurts as I rapidly spewed out words.
"I see," she nodded.
"Also, the allergist can't find a reason for his trouble breathing. She wants to make sure it's not large adenoids."
I knew Equis would refuse to sit in the patient's chair so I held him as the ENT examined his nose, mouth and ears with an otoscope. Wisps of my son's curly hair tickled my nose, and I noticed that evidence of his earlier school project, orange finger paint mixed with corn starch, decorated parts of his scalp.
"Right ear definitely has yellow fluid. I think the left one has it too, but sometimes the fluid is clear," the doctor said, her face inches away from mine.
"My hunch is he'll need tubes."
I looked down at Equis, who used his thick fingers to tap golden squares on the screen of his (my), Kindle Fire to reveal first a pig and then a cow.
"Try… again... sweetie," I told him, spacing my words out to make sure he could understand me.
"Um, what exactly are tubes?" I asked the doctor.
She walked over to a large picture of an ear taped against the white wall. She pointed to a corner, "This is a diagram of the inner ear. It's a pretty big hole. We'll use a knife to cut into this part right here and put in tubes to ventilate the ear so fluid won't build up."
"Uh huh," I nodded. I pretended I could see what she was pointing at and that my arms weren't protectively tightening around the baby in my lap.
"So he'll have to be under anesthesia," I said. It was more of a statement than a question. Equis pulled on my finger, whining for help with the matching game.
"For five minutes. "
"Okay," I said too loudly. I breathed deeply, thinking about how terrified I was about my probable nose surgery and how much more terrifying ear surgery for my son felt to me.
Horrific thoughts of death flooded my mind. I tried to ebb their flow by reminding myself that I want what's best for my son. I want Equis to be able to hear properly, and I want him to improve his speech.
I knew that, no matter what, I'd do what I had to do to help my son with his development--in the same way I'd bought a Cars table for Equis so he could focus better during his therapy sessions, although I couldn't really afford it, I'd approve an ear surgery if it'd improve his life.
So, will I cry while he's under anesthesia? Yes, if my son definitely needs tubes, I'll definitely be crying. Still, Equis has come so far with his speech therapy already, I wouldn't dare deny him the chance to achieve even more with the help of surgery.
"I love you, papi," I whispered into my son's ear, the left one so he could hear me better.
"OH! Mommyyyyy," Equis said plaintively as he shook his head away from lips and repositioned the Kindle on his lap.
"Will I Cry While He's Under Anesthesia" is a response to the prompt, "The last time you said 'I love you.'"
This post is linked to Things I Can't Say: Pour Your Heart Out.