The Incredible Hulk-esse, Robo-Hearted Wonder Woman Is Born

December 16, 2010 at 9:02 pm (Uncategorized)

Andrew–my nearly seven-year old son–has discovered the wonderful world of comic books and their spin-off cartoon movies.  Batman, Spider Man, Flash, The Hulk, The Green Goblin, Doctor Octopus, and The Thing have become concrete inhabitants of our home life.

It all started when Jay and Andrew ducked into a comic book store in Cincinnati a few weeks ago, when we were visiting the specialist who manages the care of my systemic sarcoidosis.  We learned that my cardiac sarcoidosis was back in action and that I needed to get a defibrillator and pacemaker implanted in my heart.  I needed a couple of hours to synthesize this unexpected news, so my guys went for an urban ramble and returned to the hotel with Andrew’s very first comic book–a Spider Man volume aimed at younger kids.  It was an instant hit.  All of the sudden I noticed that our conversations had changed.  “Who would you rather be, Mommy, The Green Goblin or Spider Man?” he asked me on the airplane back home.  As usual, I over-thought the question.  While The Green Goblin has some very cool features–his grass-green skin, jaunty purple cap, and Dr. Spock-eque ears, he’s still a bad guy…right?  Aren’t heroes infinitely better than mayhem-making, elfin villains any day?  Apparently not.  I’d gotten caught up in matters metaphysical and missed the proverbial forest for the tree-colored chic of the GG.  “Mommy, he gets to throw pumpkin bombs and ride his Goblin scooter around inside rooms,” Andrew said when I’d named Spidey as the Marvel Man of my choice.  “He’s got much better technology.”

Given Andrew’s current love for all things Marvel, I decided explain my fast-approaching surgery to implant the defibrillator in terms near and dear to his heart.  I gave him all the facts about the procedure, though without going into gory details or into the specifics of why I need the device (to keep from keeling over dead at a random moment thanks to a messed up heart rhythm).  We reviewed some basic anatomy of the heart, covered the concept of anesthesiology, and reminisced that he’d come through surgery just fine when he’d gotten his tonsils removed.  Then I waxed on about the “much better technology” the defibrillator gave me.  “I’ll practically be bionic,” I said.  He looked at me dubiously.  What was I talking about?  It took Jay backing me up, confirming that, yes, I’d have a super-hero-worthy device in my ratty old ticker.  “That is SO COOL,” Andrew finally said.  “Will you be able to zap bad guys with the defibrillator’s electricity?” he asked.  “Geez, I’m only kidding,” he added with evident scorn, when I made helpless stammering sounds and then said something lame about metaphors and neato concepts helping us embrace big changes.

Jay and I remained upbeat about the surgery.  We also talked about how normal it is to feel nervous when someone you love gets an operation all the long drive to Billings on Tuesday for my surgery yesterday.  (Helena’s hospital doesn’t perform defibrillator implants.)  Getting menfolk to talk about their feelings (at least my versions of the species) is like trying to track unmask Spider Man–nearly impossible for any mere mortal.  Andrew preferred to talk about how Spidey defeated Electro in an episode of The Amazing Spider Man we watched Monday night and whether The Incredible Hulk could defeat Kraven if the two ever met.  Just before his bedtime on Tuesday night, though, he pulled me aside and whispered how worried he was and how he didn’t like imagining “worst-case scenarios.”  The pinched look of worry on his little face made me wish for my own pumpkin bombs to lob at this hateful disease that has brought pain to my little man.  I did my best to be positive at the same time that I assured him it was normal to worry even when you know everything will be OK.  And I cracked a joke or two about how I would be “officially bionic” by the next time he laid eyes on me.

I made it through the surgery.  I was thrilled to discover that the surgical team had scrubbed me with a bright green disinfectant from chin to belly button.  When Jay called to tell Andrew that I was fine and that he could come visit whenever he was ready, he said, “We have a surprise for you.  Not only is Mommy now bionic.  She also looks like The Incredible Hulk!”  Andrew’s jaw dropped when he walked through the door and saw my green skin.  I think he was slightly disappointed when I showed him how easily it washed off.  We decided that my particular shade of green was indeed more Hulk-like than Green Goblin-esque.

I made it through a long night in the hospital with a particularly nasty nurse.  Although I looked the part of a super-hero with my glistening green skin and new hardware bulging beneath a thick bandage on my chest, the true heroes were my parents–for keeping Andrew busy, happy, and safe all day–as well as Andrew himself–for gracefully accepting yet another challenge and yet more days of his all too human mother being just out of reach from him—and Jay, for walking all the way into the walled city of Chronic Town and spending that long night advocating for my needs to the nasty nurse from a wretched vinyl chair.

I’m back at the hotel now, a little loopy from painkillers and the remnants of anesthesia lurking within me.  It hurts, and right now, I can’t imagine how my body will accommodate this unexpectedly large chunk of machinery.  Day at a time–minute at a time–I’m guessing is the only way.  Isn’t that how the Incredible Hulk-esse, Robo-Hearted Wonder Woman would do it, if she really existed?

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