A mother is wired and tuned to detect red flags, latch onto them, and eradicate them with aggressive vigor. It is not for naught that she is compared to her lioness counterpart.
Like all mothers out there, I meticulously carried out my duty of searching for these red flags and tackling them. I was and still am a frequent visitor to my pediatrician’s office, and took great pride in the fact that I was on top of my children’s health.
Therefore, it was of no wonder that on the day I noticed the lump I fell into instant panic.
A large, super-ball sized lump was jutting out of my eighteen-month-old’s stomach!
He was standing in the bathtub, happily filling some cups with water. From the corner of my eye, I noticed the bump bobbing up and down, in the center of his abdomen.
Instantly, I pulled the poor child out of the bathtub and dropped him onto the nearest bed. He looked at me oddly, as I ran my finger carefully over the invading offender. It was definitely a bump. A hard lump of something in my son’s body!
“Yitzy has a bump sticking out of his stomach!” I shrieked into the phone. Thankfully, my husband was on his way home. It took him just a few minutes to fly into the house and find me bent over our frightened son.
Over and over, we fingered the bump, trying to make sense of what this weird thing was. No one needed to voice their fears. There was only so much a swelling could indicate: the greatest fear, the greatest enemy of all.
We spent an anxious night, as we pondered our next move. I did not sleep a wink, as I envisioned the journey ahead of us. I will not exaggerate if I say that I pictured it all: the hospital wards, the tear-streaked tehillims, a little casket lowered into the ground, and even the great speech of chizzuk I would deliver after the end…Ah! What our imaginations can do to us…
The next morning found us at the pediatrician’s office, as they opened their doors. Dr. Weisberg* greeted us and promptly proceeded to examine Yitzy from head to toe. We held our breaths as she ran her gloved hand over the lump.
“It’s a hernia.” She declared.
“In the stomach?” I asked. Hernias were common in our family. I myself needed to have an emergency procedure done at one point. But I had never heard of a hernia in the stomach, and in a child no least!
“It’s called an epigastric hernia. Don’t worry, it is very common.” She offered.
“You will need an ultrasound to confirm it, but I’m fairly convinced that it is only a hernia.”
“It’s not…” We tried to verbalize our fears.
“Cancer?” She immediately caught on. “Heaven forbid not! Take a look, the bump is moving along with the skin. A growth, heaven forbid, would not budge.”
This somewhat calmed us. “Let’s wait and see what the ultrasound tells us.”
“Will he need a surgery?” My wife probed.
“He will need a procedure to repair the hernia.” Well, procedure in “plebeian” vocabulary denotes surgery. It means putting your child to sleep, wheeling him into a forbidding operating room, and letting the doctors do their thing.