**This is mostly taken from my most recent contribution to No Hands But Ours. I just haven't had time to be on the keyboard this weekend, but wanted family and friends of Darcy's to be praying this morning...**
In a few hours this morning my beautiful girl will have her first appointment with the laser surgeon. The procedure itself will last less than fifteen minutes from the time anesthesia starts until I'm called back to recovery. Much less complicated and involved than the two eye surgeries she's had so far.
And yet I find myself in much more inner turmoil about this appointment.
First of all, here's the discomfort factor. I've been told by other moms that it simply ranges for different kids. Some take Tylenol after the procedure and are fine. Others have been prescribed heavy pain meds. My girl seems to have a pretty high tolerance for pain, but sometimes I still wonder if she really is 'tough stuff' or if it is still that sense self reliance rearing its ugly head. I cringe to think that she'd maybe rather be in pain than fully count on me to help make it go away.
But far beyond the discomfort, there's the message that I'm afraid at some point that she may interpret out of what seems to be cosmetic surgery.
That's the part I dread. That she may misunderstand why. Before she is old enough to fully comprehend the surgery, will she think that I didn't think she was beautiful enough? Because she is! Will she think that each time I've stroked that little red cheek that I haven't meant it when I said, 'piao liang' (beautiful)? Because I have! Is there a possibility that she'll interpret our decision to move forward with treatment as an effort to 'fix her face?' Because that's not what it's about!
I'm struggling here. This is often considered an elective surgery. (Though it isn't really in her case). And it will at the very least will be itchy and uncomfortable. I also know it will cause small, circular, purple bruises all over the right side of my baby girl's body. I realize it likely will draw even more attention to her birthmark. (Temporary attention as the bruises will fade within two weeks or so, but attention none-the-less). A birthmark she's so sensitive about that it caused her to hide her face from us the day we met her.
If there were a way that I could shield her from the harsh days of middle school, or even curious adults who have asked insensitive questions in front of her, we would likely skip the number of treatments it will take before Dr. B thinks the port wine stain is as faded, but more importantly, as thin as it will get. If there were guarantees that over the years the stain wouldn't thicken and cause vision issues from swelling of the eyelid or breathing issues as it covered her darling little nose, we wouldn't be hitting the road to Duke in just a few minutes.
But middle school is coming. And while we can tolerate kids asking questions, it's hard to grit my teeth and answer adults in a loving manner. There is also the very strong likelihood that she'll have vision or breathing issues when she is a young adult because where her birthmark is located.
So off we head, with my emotions in turmoil.
Because in my eyes, she is absolutely beautiful. Just as she is right now. I don't see her port wine stain. (For that matter, neither do most of the people who know and love her) It simply isn't possible for me (or them) to focus on it at all. I can't get past her smile...
We're home. Thanks for all of you who have called, texted, emailed, or commented. Darcy remained her calm, cool, collected self for most of the time we were at Duke this morning. She got slightly apprehensive when we went back into the prep room. I'm guessing she remembered being in a room like that for her eye surgeries. But the great nursing staff, anesthesia team, and Dr. B's PA put her at ease quickly, by asking her questions about her family and allowing her to select her favorite scent of chapstick to make the anesthesia smell better.
In all, we were there for less than an hour and fifteen minutes, and most of that time was waiting for her to come out of the anesthesia. She did wake up crying in pain. Apparently despite our best efforts ~ constantly slathering her in SPF 50 when we are outdoors ~ she had too much of a tan on her arm and there is some blistering on her right arm. A few of the blisters popped when she was struggling as she woke up and are causing pain. That part still hurts and we'd appreciate prayers that the pain will subside and that there will be no scarring on her arm from them. She does say though that her face, neck, and chest aren't bothering her.
It's true, her precious little face is covered in little purple polka dots on the right side. It's odd looking, but not as bad as I anticipated. (Perhaps it's because she could have green polka dots all over and I'd still think she was beautiful). On way home she and I talked about them and she thought the ones she could see on her arm were pretty cool ~ purple is her favorite color after all! When we arrived at my dear friend's house to pick up the 'big kids' I asked Darcy if she wanted to stay in the car or if she wanted to come inside. She looked at me like I was nuts and said she wanted to go in and see her friends. We stopped to look in the mirror just before and she smiled at herself, said "I like purple." and moved on.
And her brother and sister rock! Kylie's first response was, "Hey Darcy, your polka dots are cool. I think you look beautiful!" Caleb's was, "What dots?" Gotta love him!
So we're home, taking it easy after a VERY full weekend. I guess we'll take it one day at a time on heading out into public. Today, in the shelter of people she knows and loves, it seems that she's unfazed. We'll see what tomorrow brings.