Our family received some stunning news last week J (my wife) has an aortic aneurysm. She was immediately put on low blood pressure medication, and we scheduled an appointment with a heart surgeon (we see him today). Our initial thought was to conceal things from the kids. Not knowing the story – whether this meant immediate surgery or close observation – we thought we could avoid scaring them. We just told them she was sick, and on some medicine that made her sleepy all the time.
Our plan didn’t work. Everywhere we went, people approached J with “you’ll be in our prayers” and “please take care of yourself” and “I’m so sorry!”
Our five year old caught on quick. He started clinging to his mom, saying things like “don’t leave me!” and “what if you die?”
It was time for plan B.
During dinner, I explained what was going on to the kids. Their mom listened, chiming in occasionally when I stumbled or they needed reassurance. The kids were already familiar with veins, so I explained that an aneurysm as a blister on one of mom’s veins. I pointed out that since it was inside her, the doctors couldn’t use a bandaid. Instead, we had to see lots of doctors, and do lots of test, and develop a plan for how we were going to help mom get better.
They listened. They were attentive. They nodded at the appropriate times. Then, when it was all done, I asked if they understood and if they had any questions.
C nodded. “Uh-uh. So, do we get to go to the playground after school?”
That’s my boy. Always keeping things in perspective!