I have seen signs for the last few years, but on a cold day just before Christmas, I saw my 14-year-old son not as a little boy, but as a young man.
There wasn’t anything extraordinary happening in the moment. He sat at one end of our sectional couch and I was sitting on the other end watching television as we chatted about something insignificant. But his voice did that slight wavering thing that so often happens to teenage boys and as he stood up to do another decidedly adolescent thing – go get a snack – I saw him as an almost grown person.
I may have been influenced to see Thomas in that light knowing that the day after Christmas was bringing a big milestone to our house. At seven months old, Thomas developed an inhibitor and he had surgery to place a Broviac catheter. Since that time, he has had some sort of central venous access device implanted in his body. In fact, he’s had two Broviacs, five PICC lines, and five port-a-caths over the last 14 years. Living with an inhibitor that could never be eradicated and horribly difficult veins necessitated all those lines. But over the course of the last year and a half, we have gotten more skilled at peripheral access and Thomas was even able to poke himself under duress after whacking his knee accidentally when my husband and I weren’t home. The surgery had been planned for months at that point, but getting his text that night put to rest any lingering worries I had about being able to infuse.
When we checked in for surgery last week, a nurse measured Thomas and he had officially bypassed me in height. That elicited a moment of glee for Thomas and another reminder to me that my little boy was indeed a growing young man. The signs continued throughout the wait to go back to the operating room as Thomas gave his medical history and spoke with providers. Even as he was groggily waking up in the recovery room post-surgery, he was actively participating in the conversations with medical providers, reassuring me yet again that he is becoming an independent person.
Later in the week as we were cleaning out the extra and now unneeded port supplies from his closet, we found a sweater he had worn as a seven month old baby all those years ago. He held it up to his chest to marvel at how much he has grown. As he did, he touched his hand to his chest and said, “It feels so weird to not have a port there any more.” I couldn’t help but think that those ports represented a childhood gone. His ports may be a thing of the past, but he is being ported into a future of independence and self-advocacy. As scary as that is for me to watch, I’m grateful for the man he’s becoming.
Sonji lives with her husband, Nathan, and three children Nora (16), Thomas, (14), & Natalie (11), in Colorado.
*Note: “Infusing Love: A Mom’s View,” is a blog collection of personal opinions and a representation of individuals experiences. While extensive efforts are made to ensure accuracy of the content, the blog entries do not represent HFA or its Board of Directors. The blog is not intended to be construed as medical advice or the official opinion/position of HFA, its staff, or its Board of Directors. Readers are strongly encouraged to discuss their own medical treatment with their healthcare providers.