70 Days Out.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have a date for atresia repair surgery: Thursday, January 7, 2010.
Ronnie Bean (whom I love in a wholesome, non-oogy kinda way and whom I regret we will probably not get a chance to meet since Ronnie apparently works in a building far from gen pop. Which is sad for us. Not so much for Ronnie because we all know that people suck and who the hell wants to have to deal with them?) contacted me yesterday afternoon to ask if that date worked for us. We checked our calendars and nada, so we confirmed. Actually, the timing is great since the company Sandi and I work for just started offering an EPO Plus plan that takes effect January 1, 2010. The plan essentially pays for everything (remember that post about it costing us $1,000? Just forget that one) so I opted in because, well DUH! So in essence I'm giving our insurance company the day off from January 1 - 6. My little gift to them. I know, I'm a softy. After that though? Well, I'm thinking that unless the healthcare industry is indeed single-payer by then, with the atresia repair and the Medpor reconstruction and all I will probably be declared an enemy of the corporate state, extraordinarily rendered to some shithole Middle Eastern country and water-boarded until they run out of water. But I'm getting ahead of myself.
Anyhoo, the way this trip should shake out is that we'll leave for Virginia Tuesday night, show up for a surgical consultation, maybe a hearing test on Wednesday, then Ethan is admitted on Thursday. The surgery should take 4 - 6 hours and Ethan will have to stay over night, but barring any complications, we can take him HOME FRIDAY! There will be a follow-up visit in either a week or a month (I can't remember which. I suck.), and then we're free to schedule the Medpor surgery with Dr. Lewin in California. We hope to get that procedure done around Spring break, or at least before summer begins. Seriously, I know it would be long-term gain, short-term loss, but the thought of having to keep Eth inside to heal while his friends are rampaging through the neighborhood during the summer isn't my ideal. Probably not his, either. Whatever. I'm probably being really naive about the time frame, but at least the first chord has been plunked on the great Zen banjo in the sky. This performance will be played in the key of January 7, thankyouverymuch.
But what's been most important/adorable has been Ethan's response. He's known that this was coming and he's been excited about it, but until now he hasn't had a firm date. Yesterday when I picked the boys up from school Ethan told me that one of his friends is going to DisneyWorld for Christmas this year and wouldn't it be great if we could go, wink wink. To which I replied, "well, sure, I guess that would be great. But I was thinking maybe we could do something a little different this year. Like get you a new ear."
Silence from the backseat. "Mommy and I heard from Dr. Brad and got a date for your surgery. We're going to spend the Christmas break hanging out together, then drive down to Virginia to meet Dr. Brad the following week and he can make it so you'll be able to hear with your little ear. What do you think?"
I looked in my rearview mirror to see Ethan grinning wildly -- and I mean WILDLY. That's an image I hope my mind never loses. Finally he said, "I think that's a good idea."
Through a slightly smaller grin he asked me if it will hurt. I told him he'll be asleep and that at worst it may be a little sore afterward, but that it's nothing a tough little monkey like him can't deal with. I hope like fuck I wasn't lying to him because the kid's got a memory like an elephant when it comes to stuff like this and I'm already destined to be the subject of many a therapy session. I also hope that his fascination with his new hearing will take his mind off the fact that daddy is a big, fat, lying jackass. Anyway I successfully changed the subject by reminding him that his friend will only get to take photos and t-shirts home from his Disney trip, while we'll get a new ear out of ours. And ears last longer than any t-shirt ever could. Believe me, I'm a guy and I went to a state college, which is to say that I may unknowingly hold the world's record for refusal to call time of death on a garment. To whit, most of the t-shirts in my drawers pre-date my kids -- some by 15 years. Seriously. But I still have the ears that used to pass through those ratty, frayed neckholes at least 3 times a week. So suck it, Disney boy!
Anyway, tangential thinker that I am, I wondered what other great moments occurred on January 7. A quick search on teh internets let me know that it also happens to be Katie Couric's birthday. Now, I'm not sure, but I think I have at least the germ of a life-altering idea. The details are a little fuzzy, but include Katie Couric coming to Virginia on operation day to meet Ethan and plaster his face all over the news, and maybe we have a surprise birthday cake shaped like an ear for her. The plan may or may not involve a piece of Ethan's ear sailing across Colorado in a home-made hot air balloon. Like I said, I'm still working out the details. Meanwhile, I'm going to go see if she's on Twitter so I can start feeling her out for 1/7. Keep your fingers crossed.
And wherever you happen to be on January 7, please do two things: 1) Try to send out as much good energy as you can for a very special little boy and 2) At some point in the day, imagine what it would be like for your child to hear for the very first time and smile with us.
"He was always sort of a scrappy little kid, wasn't he? A bit of a fighter?" -- Katie Couric