July 4, 1986

My Son's Ears

JAMA. 1986;256(1):85. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03380010091035

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My son's ears are infected again, the ENT doctor explains. He has had a dozen infections, and his ears are showing the strain—a mild hearing loss. Needs surgery, little tubes, the physician says once more. I look up, bewildered at the word. Surgery is for patients. Surgery is for an objective body beneath sterile drapes, an acquaintance who needs repair. Surgery is not for my son, my boy with the wheat blond hair who claims to be big at all times, who wears diapers beneath bravado He-man underwear, who eats popsicles in the bathtub with the gusto of a cowboy drinking gin. Surgery is not for him.

Thursday the ninth at Children's Hospital, the otolaryngologist is saying—only 20 minutes, a few puffs of anesthesia, goes home same day.

So now we are patients, already feeling the odd powerlessness. We had a party scheduled that day, but how can you refuse