This time last week, my daughter Alison had a partial thyroidectomy. It was a harrowing time, made even more harrowing by the fact that she is a professional singer and actor and voice instructor. The surgery finally over, we joined her in the Recovery Room, where she enjoyed small cups of ice chips that I called mini-margaritas.
In the week since, while I set alarms every 2-4 hours round the clock for meds, crush pills up and bury them in applesauce then spoon-feed them to her, fill ice bags to keep on her throat to prevent swelling, find ways to make and keep her comfortable, The Engineer fills bird feeders, plants cyclamen and petunias, and does odd jobs around her house.
Three days after surgery, at 2 a.m. as I remove (with the surgeon’s approval, of course) the steri-tape strips covering her incision, because she is so very allergic to the adhesive in the tape, Alison cuddles with the oversized stuffed pink bunny that The Engineer bought his ever-little girl.
My mother washes clothes and cooks.
Dr. Frank Cole doesn’t give up until he finds what needs attention.
Donn Chambers (my brother-in-law, an anesthesiologist) points us to Dr. Liz Shaw. It’s who he’d have operate on him, he says, and a week later, I can sure see why. The woman has good hands. Real good hands.
Friends and family call and mail and email and text their concern and support. Some send flowers. One sends a stone that I carry with me to the hospital. People we’ll never know in person light candles and send prayers out and up.
Though it’s surprising how much energy the surgery saps from her and how long it takes to replenish the reservoir, she stays up a little longer each day and can stand more space between pain pills. They warned us to expect hoarseness, but there’s actually very little. And though she hasn’t sung yet (unless you count that one note the day after surgery), she will. In fact, she has an audition next Tuesday.
So many helping, supporting, praying, comforting. Through it all, an entire village – a large and powerful village – rallies, and we see quite clearly that regardless of how your brain works . . .