A pivotal point in Gage’s journey is the day he recognized and verbalized that he could die. It wasn’t the day the surgeon told us he could die from the surgery, even though the risks were low, and it wasn’t the day of his botched surgery for his second catheter placement, it wasn’t even the day a year ago he grabbed a rope, ran to me and put it around his neck.
The summer day two years ago on vacation and we were discussing when he was on dialysis. He simply said, “You mean when I almost died?” Yes, then.
It was the first time that he’d verbalized that he was near death, that he could have died. And if was the day that my Momma Radar when up that he was in great danger. Within weeks he’d begun play therapy, been referred to a psychiatrist for being acutely (and dangerously) depressed. It was also the day we started trying to talk more about his experience because obviously he had many feelings about his illness and treatments and well, it wasn’t going to get better by just pretending it didn’t happen or that he didn’t have these feelings.
Because you know what? He was near death. He was barely alive when we had the catheter emergency placed and we smiled along side him during that first dialysis treatment, knowing we’d likely be able to keep him alive until we could give him a kidney. Something happened on that botched surgery day, too. I just don’t know what. It was enough of something that makes the memory of the surgery keep coming up. Maybe he was awake for some of the surgery? Or he heard something the surgeons say? Just recently he talked about that surgery and the pain from it. He said something about it be different than his first surgery and he didn’t know why. I asked him if he remembered the dialysis session that the nurses sang happy birthday, gave him a cake and then he threw up. He said, “yeah, that hurt a lot.”
Gone are the days of him wanting to die and wanting us to kill him. Occasionally he will still say, “It would be easier if I were dead” when something is particularly frustrating and difficult. It’s not everyday, several times a day that we’d grown accustomed to back in the early days of his depression.
My son is doing well. For him. That’s what we look at; Gage is in his own group of one. When we look at how far he’s come, we’re grateful. When are focused too much on how bad it was instead of how much better he is doing it sends us into a place we don’t want to be so we’re learning how to remember, how to look back. Remembering how sad he was helps us see how far he’s come and how far he can go.
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