My son clings to my legs as the double doors open. Four or five smiling people in blue operating theatre robes beckon us in. The pre-opp room is a bit like an elevator. The unconsciousness elevator. Going down.
They sit me on the bed, sit my son on my knee, and start chit-chatting to us. We hardly notice as they take my son’s arm and put it around my back. He winces as they put in the cannula. I cradle his head tightly.
They want him to count. He’s too frightened. We all start counting for him. He has no real way of knowing what is going to happen next. All he has to believe in, in this tiny room, is me. And I’m about to leave.
I don’t know what adenoids are. I think they can make you talk funny, like having a kazoo up your nose. My son has a malfunctioning head Kazoo. He also needs comedy plasticine dogs implanted into his ear-drums. I’m fuzzy on the medical details. All I know is that for the first time in his life, I am powerless to protect him, and it’s sending me a little bit Dad-mental.
I pace up and down in the waiting area. Twenty minutes ago they told us he would be out in ten. I fantasize about striding through the corridors, bursting into rooms, demanding my son. “Where is my son!” I dream of bellowing, like an avenging angel, my righteous rage making the walls shake and the lights dim. These Dad-fantasies make me breath fast through my nose and glare at anyone in a hospital uniform. They smile back at me.
We all count. He glances up at me, eyes wide. Three. Four. Five. His eyes close. Six. He goes floppy. We lay him down on the bed. They tell me they’ll look after him. For a moment I cannot let my son’s unconscious body go. “We’ll take it from here.” They say. They mean I have to leave. They literally want me to leave so they can cut my son’s head open. I stand. They smile at me. One of them ushers me out of the double doors. They close behind me.
“If they harm my son, I will destroy the entire human race.”, an odd, primordial part of my brain pops up and announces. It’s a bit of a surprise to me that I have that part in my brain. As a boy I liked flower arranging and Gandhi. I wonder back to the waiting room, jaw clenched.
The next fifty eight minutes is excruciating. I pace up and down making everyone less comfortable.
Finally they bring my son out. He is sleeping. Slowly he comes round. The look he gives me makes me nearly cry. Again.
Later, in the evening, my son is jumping up and down on me, laughing hysterically, trying to make me smell his bottom.