I didn’t remember what it was like to have an operation because I hadn’t had one in a while. I was not very worried, only a little. I had to first go through the pre-op and get a gown and everything and then we had to wait. They gave me a special medicine first, to put me to sleep, and gave me the anesthesia.
When I woke up I didn’t really know what was happening. I stayed in the hospital for about a week…I didn’t walk for about five days and I had to stay in bed and that’s really the first time I started catheterizing. I just couldn’t pee, so I had to.
Henry, age 12
Now it doesn’t faze me
When I was little, my doctor was the Chief of Pediatric Surgery or something. He was a big shot around here and he was just the scariest man! He was so, intimidating is the word. I remember lying in pre-op (this is another very specific memory, very vivid), and I was laughing about something, and he swung the curtain open, and I just started crying and crying. And that’s what I think of when I think of childhood surgery, like when I had surgery as a little kid. But now, I don’t know when the turning point was, but now I really don’t mind having surgery and I actually wish I knew that surgeon now because he was such a good doctor…
When I have another surgery I don’t put up a fight. It’s just something I have to do if I want to be healthy. As a little kid I hated it, I hated it more than anything, but now it doesn’t faze me at all.
Elizabeth, age 16
Showing off my scar
Matthew: I don’t mind wearing bathing suits, because nothing really shows. I mean, yeah, there’s a little scar.
Dad: Well, he has two now.
Matthew: I actually didn’t mind showing off that scar, the scar when they took out the kidney. Like, “Do you really have one kidney?” “Yeah, this is my scar!”
Matthew, age 19, and father
Surgery was okay with me, I just didn’t want to die. I just had this really strange feeling when I was little, like whoever had surgery died, so that’s what got me a little nervous. But they explained to me that I wasn’t going to die, and I was going to be okay, so then I was okay with it… I’m very self-sufficient, I’m very independent. After the surgery they told me to get up and walk around, and they helped me up once. Then my mom’s like, “I’m going to go down and get some lunch,” and then I got up by myself and walked myself! And my mom came back and she was like, “What are you doing?!” So I mean, I did everything mostly myself.
Alexa, age 16
I remember it like it was yesterday! They couldn’t get the IV into my hand because I was so nervous, so my veins were really hard. They stuck me three times, and I was like, “Stop!” So then they put the mask on me and it was so weird because the guy was talking to me and it was kind of like a movie: it got cloudy and dark and then I just went to sleep.
I woke up and they gave me a Popsicle and I couldn’t even hold the Popsicle – it was so weird! I couldn’t even eat it, it just fell out of my hand…
Alexa, age 16
Mom: We did a lot of reading that summer when he was on the couch there! We finished reading “Harry Potter.”
Henry: Yeah, my mom read it to me, and we finished that in about five days.
Mom: I know, I know, my voice was hoarse! So one of the things that was great was he got lots of care packages from friends and family, and people started sending him books that basically were series.
Henry: Like, the first book in one series, and I would read that and like it…
Mom: It kept him completely engaged.
Henry: I read one and then the next one, and I would do that until I finished the series. Then I would start another book of a different series to read!
Henry, age 12, and mother