My son was born with an umbilical hernia. It’s a common condition in premature and underweight babies. Umbilical hernias are not usually serious but if the hernia doesn’t heal on its own over time, medical intervention may be required.
Three weeks ago I sat in the waiting room of a pediatric surgeon’s office. I had anticipated this day for the past 3 years. I knew it was coming, but I wasn’t looking forward to it. My son’s hernia was not closing on its own. The doctor recommended surgery and the procedure was scheduled to take place within two short weeks.
I spent the days leading up to the surgery date feeling anxious, restless and distracted. I wasn’t sleeping well and would often catch myself worrying and lost in thought. I made an extra effort to spend as much time with my son as possible, doing things he enjoys.
My son loves superheroes. Spider-Man and Batman are his current favorites. He wears capes and superhero masks by day and sleeps in fleecy superhero pajamas at night. He shoots blankets over his stuffed animals, pretending to capture them with spider webs and uses our ottoman as his Batmobile.
When I ask him why he loves superheroes, he replies, “Because they are brave!”
The Saturday before the surgery, my son and I spent the morning watching movies and coloring superhero pictures. As we scrolled through Netflix, a movie called Batkid Begins topped the list of recommended titles. Before I could read the movie’s description my son pointed to it and said, “Let’s watch that one mommy!”
Batkid Begins is a documentary about 5-year-old boy with Leukemia whose dream is to be Batman for a day. The city of San Francisco and thousands of volunteers execute one of the most elaborate Make-A-Wish projects ever. The little boy gets to dress as Batman, ride in the Batmobile and fight crime.
Um, cue the tears. Eighty-seven minutes later, my son asked to watch it again. So we did.
During the second viewing of Batkid Begins, I was able to see my son’s upcoming surgery from a different perspective. Yes, he’d be put under general anesthesia. He’d undergo a quick operation. He would have a few small stitches in his abdominal muscles. He would get to go home within a few hours of the procedure and his recovery time would take only a couple of weeks.
This seemed so minor compared to what Batkid had to endure. I thought of how brave Batkid’s parents must have been. I decided I would be brave, too.
Undergoing surgery (or watching your child go through it), being diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, giving up an addiction or watching your loved one struggle with one, moving to a new city, moving on after a breakup or the loss of a loved one, starting a new job or retiring from one – all of these life events require bravery and courage on our part.
Was it a coincidence that Batkid Begins was at the top of my Netflix list, just when I needed a boost of bravery? I don’t think so.
Being brave doesn’t always come easily for me. I struggle from time to time with anxiety. I generally try to see the glass as half-full, but there are also times when I see the glass as empty, or even broken. In times like these, I look for new perspective. I try to find courage. Sometimes I can do it on my own and other times I have to ask for help.
Fortunately, I have my family, friends, support group peers and the staff at KPCC to help when I struggle to channel my inner superhero.
Now, six days post surgery, I am grateful to report that my son is feeling much better. I suspect he’ll be back to fighting bad guys and wrestling with his (superhero) mom in no time.
If you or someone you know could use a little courage and bravery, consider giving us a call. We’ll help you find your mask and cape.