My 4-year-old nephew is having adenoid removal surgery next week. He was initially going to have tubes put into his ears; he’s always getting ear infections just like his father, who’s had something like 8 pairs of tubes throughout his life, one of which is still stuck inside his head somewhere. The kid has shitty ears is what I’m saying, although until recently, we didn’t know precisely how shitty.
He’d already failed the hearing test at school. Kids Today have a hearing test that we would never have dreamed. Instead of sitting in the nurse’s closet-sized office with giant, brick-weight headphones clamped over our ears and raising a hand every time some atonal beep came through those satellites, Kids Today have electronic sensor things taped to their ears so that their brainwave-y, biological reaction can be monitored. It’s pretty fascinating, actually, and I hope that someday, scoliosis testing will be just as advanced. I’m all for Kids Today toughening up a little, but nobody should have to walk shirtless across the school basement while an elderly nun examines their spine for signs of wonkiness.
When my sister took him to a battery of audiologists for consultation, one of them described his hearing like this: “Imagine if you took your phone and wrapped it in a beach towel, and then had all your conversations through it.” That’s how he hears everything, so as annoying as it is for him to say “huh?” after everything I say, it’s pretty remarkable that he’s learned to speak as well as he has. I’m not the most child-friendly person in the world, but that kid does have one kickass vocabulary.
Although I know that this is a routine surgery and certainly preferable to him being an adult with a crusty tube embedded deep in his ear canal, I do worry about him. He’s been terrified of doctors ever since he lost his fucking mind at an Urgent Care when he was two and it took several nurses to put him into a kiddie straightjacket. The last time he went in for a school year physical, he screamed so loud that he burst the blood vessels in his eyes. In his eyes. AND he’s accident-prone on top of it. Maybe it’s because he’s a boy, maybe it’s because he’s my sister’s kid and she once fractured her skull by toppling off a flight of stairs because she wanted to see what was at the bottom. It’s not for nothing that I am petrified of something happening to him when he’s in my care. Not only am I afraid that someone will tally up his injuries and assume he’s a victim of child abuse (he’s not, he just doesn’t watch where the fuck he’s going), but I don’t know if I can cope with a preschooler who requires a tranquilizer dart. It’s also worth noting that I have very little experience with medical emergencies. I was a serious, careful child, and to date, I have never had stitches, broken a bone, or made doctors wonder why I was made entirely of insane.
Yesterday, my sister texted me:
“Have u ever had any problems with anesthesia? The hospital wants 2 know.”
“I’ve never had anesthesia. I am invincible.”
Which could be true for all I know. It could also be an interesting experiment, both because my body has a massive tolerance for the effects of drugs (I laugh in the face of opiates) and alcohol, and because I’ve heard that redheaded people require more anesthesia because they feel pain more acutely than people with other hair colors and would be more likely to wake up in the middle of surgery because of it.
I would also be interested in an anesthesia experiment because I am freaking exhausted right now. In addition to the regular things like work and friends and maintaining some version of a relationship, I have two writing assignments due by Wednesday (one involves meeting a 48 Hour Film Project crew at 6am on goddamn Saturday and trailing them throughout the day, the other involves reviewing the motherfucking Bright Eyes show, motherfuckers!), at least one self-imposed writing assignment to submit for the workshop I’ve been ignoring for the past month, another writing assignment I’m lobbying for because I’m going to see Jason Webley at Off Broadway anyway, AND I’m going to see the Trailer Park Boys next Saturday. Which has nothing to do with writing, I’m just really excited to see Bubbles do “Liquor and Whores” live.