Yousuf claimed that the fish decals, decorating the doctor’s office, were swimming after his spinal tap and before the “funny gas” wore off. I wasn’t sure to laugh or cry. Dr. Margolin was right; the wait to get the spinal tap in the clinic was way shorter. It was also less hectic not being forced to go back and forth between the surgery floor and the cancer floor. I’m still not sure which one I’d prefer.
Yousuf went on his glucose fluids before his spinal tap while being deprived other drinks or food. Despite all that trouble Yousuf portrayed the same sick symptoms as before while fasting. He began to look pale and acted lethargic. I immediately told the nurse hoping she could speed things up. Cara (the nurse practitioner) came and did her routine examination and prepped him for surgery. Everything was new for me so I wasn’t acting as cool and confident during instructions. I didn’t know what was allowed or not allowed during the procedure…or if I was even allowed to be there.
Cara and the nurses carried on as though Yousuf was just getting another shot. The child life specialist was by our side dazzling Yousuf with a tiny DVD player and gentle voice as he began to drift into another world. Still awake Yousuf didn’t seem to care what was going on around him just as long as the T.V. remained within eye level. Everything appeared to be in slow motion as I witnessed all of this for the first time. Cara began to draw a smiley face on Yousuf’s lower back then rubbed a ton of brown fluid all around the area. I wanted to ask so many questions but my focus was on Yousuf ensuring he would be okay; if I appeared worried than Yousuf would feel it. Out came the long thick needle, but my eyes were mostly on Yousuf. Just as she penetrated his back Yousuf screamed and squirmed. All the nurses came around to hold him down in order to continue the procedure correctly. I reassured myself that Yousuf was too drugged and began with my questions…”Why is he screaming? What does he feel? Are you sure it doesn’t hurt him?” The child life specialist was there calming me down more than him. She explained that they feel a lot pressure in the lower back, not pain. However, it’s not normal to feel that amount of pressure there so it scares some kids. What was even in more slow motion was the pulling out that gigantic needle from his back. The needle was long enough to reach through to his stomach. As soon as the needle was pulled out I gasped and started crying, “I don’t like it this way!! I don’t like it this way! I don’t it the other way. I DON’T like it!” Cara looked up, as she was still crouched down with her head still near the procedure area. I felt as though she was more amazed by my tantrum than that of Yousuf’s.
Immediately following the procedure Yousuf continued lying on the hospital bed as in a trance. He was drooling and kept raising his head trying to figure out what was going on then would plop his head back down. That’s when he looked a bit amazed at the moving fish and revolving door he could have sworn didn’t exist just moments ago. The Child Life Specialist reassured me that his behavior was within normal and to give this method another try, maybe upping his dose of anesthesia next time.
It was then that I was reminded how hard the situation really is. With everything a routine now, watching what was done in the operating room usually behind my back really affected me. I began to calculate just how many more spinals we have left. I was too exhausted to do math. I was a ready to call it quits for the day but wasn’t aware of the full day ahead of traffic and two other crying kids demanding my attention and love.
By the end of day I sat in the kid’s room as they were drifting to sleep, head in my hands, and cried. Omar snuck out of bed and gave me a kiss. I calmed down a bit and skimmed through my missed calls and messages. I held the phone up to my ear as I listened to my voice messages still sniffing from all the crying. “This is Niki, from Make-A-Wish foundation; we spoke about a month ago regarding your son Yousuf. I wanted to let you know that Yousuf is eligible for a wish.” Yes, I memorized the whole message she left. I replayed it at least a dozen times. I began laughing and crying. I knew it wasn’t a light at THE END of the tunnel but a spark of happiness to continue my journey through.