How politics and surgery came together

7 Nov

This week was one of those that I know I will look back and remember for the rest of my life. It started on Monday with a great deal of anxiety over two very important upcoming events:

  1. The election
  2. My sons’ circumcisions

Yes, two very disconnected yet, to my life, very important events.  First, let me give you some information about why we waited so long to circumcise our boys:

Neither one of my boys was circumcised when they were born. My first born, who is 4 now, sealed the fate of my second born, who is 2. When Timmy was born my husband and I stressed over the decision to circumcise. We researched like mad and talked to several doctors. It turned out, especially in the Northwest where we live, that more than 60% of new baby boys were NOT getting circumcised. The information we got pointed to circumcision as a cosmetic issue and NOT a health issue. After much debate, stress and discussion, we decided against it. I think learning that our health insurance would bill circumcision as “cosmetic surgery” closed the debate for us. So naturally, when Leo came along 2 years later, we did not circumcise him either.

Of all the research we had done, the pros and cons of circumcision were all related to infection. The rate of infection if you circumcised (due to the nature of the procedure) was equal to the rate of infection in uncircumcised boys. Never once did I read that the foreskin might not separate, and that there might be some serious problems with the foreskin which would lead to circumcision. Well surprise, surprise, that happened to my 4-year old who was having all sorts of problems, including regular recurring pain. We had the pediatric urologist examine my 2-year old as well, and he looked like he was headed in the same direction. So both were booked for Nov 5th to have the procedure, which at this point in their young lives meant full anesthesia and, albeit a short one, a real surgery.

Monday I was anxious, nervous and a little bit excited. By Tuesday my train of thought was wild:

  1. What if Obama does not win? Can it be possible? Will there be riots?
  2. What if America as a whole is racist and doesn’t elect this brilliant man?
  3. What if my boys react poorly to anesthesia?
  4. Are we making a mistake? Are the risks involved with surgery worth the benefits?
  5. What if Obama does win? What will that mean? Will there still be riots? Will the right accept him and celebrate him?
  6. Where has Biden been?
  7. Can Sara Palin just go home to Alaska already?
  8. What if the surgery is the wrong choice?
  9. Why can’t anyone report anything real on the election? It is already 4:00 pm on the West coast.
  10. What if the doctor doesn’t do a good job?
  11. What if one of the boys has a terrible reaction to the surgery and we regret this decision for the rest of our lives?
  12. Can it be possible? Can Obama really not just sweep this election?
  13. What will happen tomorrow?

Finally it was 8:00 pm and, while bathing the boys, we heard on NPR that everyone was ready to call the election for Obama. A wave of relief, joy, and hope came over me. For a second I forgot about the surgery the next morning. Now I just wanted to get the kids to bed so that I could watch Obama’s acceptance speech.

By 8:45 p.m. Pacific Time the kids were asleep and my husband and I were ready and able to watch the whole speech. It was amazing and inspiring. It was unbelievable to watch it live and feel that we were experiencing one of those historic moments that Americans will talk about for a very long time.

Obama’s speech really inspired me the way a politician in my lifetime NEVER had. I couldn’t believe that I had tears welling up listening to a politician give a speech. But I did, and the speech and the man have proved worthy of the emotions so many Americans felt. I went to bed feeling PROUD to be an American, a sentiment I had not felt so strongly in a very long time.

Then, of course, came time to lay awake and ponder both the turning events in our country and, more imminently and important to me now, the surgery the next morning. We had to have the kids in the car by 6:00 a.m., ready to take them to their 6:30 a.m. check-in at the surgery center. I don’t think I slept much the whole night. I kept waking up thinking we had missed the alarm to find out it was only 20 minutes since the last time I checked. Needless to say, when the alarm went off at 5:15 a.m. I was already awake and already too tired.

The surgeries turned into the surgery. My 2-year old got nauseous from the gas they used to put him to sleep, before they actually put in the IV with the really powerful anesthetic. His surgery was stopped by a very careful, risk averse pediatric anesthesiologist (thank goodness!!! She was great and made the exact right call). Leo had escaped the knife and went out into the waiting room with my parents to wait out Timmy’s surgery. During a very stressful 50 minutes of waiting for Timmy, I watched as the world and Americans rejoiced over Obama’s win, on the TV in the recovery room. I was not rejoicing at all. I was biting my nails, pacing, and very anxiously awaiting my 4-year old to come out of surgery. Finally he came out, healthy, safe, and awake. He was upset, hurting and a little scared — but except for a very sore, very raw body part, doing pretty well. Relief and  joy — the hard part was over. Hope – that the recovery would be quick and painless. Sadness – because my little boy was in pain. More relief and joy.

Now it is Friday. We are over the hard part for Timmy but just beginning the hard part for Obama. Timmy is feeling much better and, besides a few moments of pain (like at 4:00 a.m. this morning), he is getting better and more active every day. Today the challenge is to keep him from running around too much so that he doesn’t agitate his stitches. For Obama, getting elected was hard but fixing the problems he has inherited from the dismal leadership of “W” will be even harder. As I watched my son recover and get better, I also watched the USA rejoice, become hopeful, and then sober up a little bit as we realize that we still have a tremendously hard trip ahead.

Good luck to all of us!

Thanks for putting up with my slightly random post!


2 Responses to “How politics and surgery came together”

  1. Fiona November 10, 2008 at 1:56 am #

    thanks for sharing your random thoughts! great post… i think your election impacted us all – even down here in NZ!

  2. Tzipporah November 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm #

    can’t speak to the surgery issue, but I think Heather Havrilesky, at, summed up the surprising nature of hope pretty well:

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