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Published February 20, 2012, 11:30 PM

Kava: Overcoming surgery fears

I recall how scared I was waiting to go in for a C-section to have my son. Edgy, nervous, wishing it wasn’t necessary. But that passed and a new challenge was bestowed on me.

By: Kerri Kava, The Forum, INFORUM

I recall how scared I was waiting to go in for a C-section to have my son. Edgy, nervous, wishing it wasn’t necessary.

But that passed and a new challenge was bestowed on me.

My son, Carter, who is now 4 years old, lives with a genetic disorder called Williams Syndrome. People who live with Williams Syndrome often have complications with anesthesia due to a weakened heart.

I remember the first time we brought 3-month-old Carter in for a hernia surgery.

That night was probably the worst night of our lives, not because of any procedural scares, but because I slept in a chair next to our colicky baby and my husband slept on this heater/bench contraption.

The surgery went well, and although they wanted to watch him over night because his breathing was irregular, we were able to go home the next day with careful instructions for him to not jump or lift anything heavy. Since he was 3 months old, we thought that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

By the time Carter reached 6 months, we were back at the children’s hospital in Minneapolis, doing the same inguinal hernia procedure, only on the other side. At this point, he had already gone under anesthesia twice.

I can’t explain that feeling, that moment right before your little child is whisked away to a surgery you’ve had weeks to prepare yourself for. I can’t imagine how I would feel if he needed an emergency surgery. I suppose there would be less anxiety for the day to finally be here.

Despite the gift of time, nothing prepares you for that moment. That last little finger grasp before he goes under; that last kiss on the forehead.

The moment he disappears between some double-swinging doors your knees go weak and what you really want to do is slide down the wall and cry because you know you can’t do the one thing you want to do. You want to go in there and help. Your heart is trying to convince your brain to grab your little baby and run back to Fargo.

One year ago this week, my husband and I brought our son back to Minneapolis for a triple procedure. We were able to do an echo to check his heart, put tubes in his ears and do an eye-alignment surgery all in the same operation, undergoing anesthesia only once.

The surgery was a success. And better yet, it was over.

That same night we were able to bring him to the hotel at which we were staying in downtown Minneapolis. I remember lying him down to sleep on the giant king-sized bed and ordering room service with my husband.

There wasn’t a table in the room, so we celebrated the success of the surgery and our sleeping, healthy boy by having a little picnic on the floor and clinking our fancy water glasses together.

That night and driving home the next day, we felt like we had won this round. Round 2 soon came while doctors determined if his little brain would allow his eyes to stay aligned after moving those muscles to a new place. As it turns out, it’s not aligned perfectly, but it’s so close that his doctor believes there is no reason to proceed with another surgery.

We hope we hear the same answer this week when we travel to the Cities for his one-year follow-up.

Every trip, every appointment, every mile, every last detail is so easily forgotten when every morning, I wake up and open my eyes to see this little boy staring at me.

“Guda morniiing!” Good morning, my sweet little pea.

Kerri Kava is the Newspapers in Education coordinator for The Forum.

Support Williams Syndrome

Support Williams Syndrome Awareness locally by participating in the local FM Walk for Williams on May 5 in Lindenwood Park. You can register online and learn more about Williams Syndrome by visiting: www.williams-syndrome.org.