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Evil Daddy

June 4, 2012

I’m forty years old, and do you know that I never once utilized facial hair till last week?  I did try not shaving one summer back in my early twenties, but it was not attractive.  Nothing was growing evenly, and that area under my lips failed to create the cool little upside down Eddie Munster hair line that tends to give the beard that clear and distinguished look. 

The thing that made me give bearding another try was the birth of my son.  Well, technically it was the two weeks that I took off from work to be with him and my wife, mixed with the exhaustive nature of that time, that incited the reemergence of thick, patterned hair on my face. When I finally did grab a razor, all I had the energy for was shaving the front and back of my neck, so by the second weekend, I clearly had a scruffy beard thing happening. 

It wasn’t until Saturday of Memorial Day weekend, that I had finally begun contemplating a good, clean shave.  That, however, was also the day that my son’s heart rate shot up, checking into the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit at over 250 beats per minute.  A condition called SVT had triggered in him, which essentially meant that his heart came equipped with an extra electrical pathway that decided to fire up and begin intercepting the right ventricle’s impulses to the atria, shooting them right back up, which doubled his heart rate.

The next five days were not fun for any of us.  My son, who was born full term, now laid in the PICU looking like a preemie. Wires and tubes were stuck to and in his skin. Hoses flowed oxygen into his tiny nostrils, and instead of lovingly watching my son, I found myself nervously watching a heart monitor, while praying that each drug they shot down his throat would drop his little thumper back into a normal range (110-160 BPM).   In spite of some of the phrases that the cardiologist used like, “You have a very stubborn child,” and “There’s no book on this, we’re just making it up as we go,” we received great care at the hospital, especially from our daytime RN, Catherine.  If there was any blessing that came from that whole experience, it was her. 

I struggled, watching my son cry from all the discomforts that were forced on him, listening to him scream with unrecognizable sounds as the doctors and nurses shot electricity through his tiny body, and methodically pulled incredibly adhesive tapes from his brand new skin. I saw a bewildered lack of understanding in his eyes when he stared at me in the times that were calm.  Many of the doctors and nurses were quick to remind us that our baby “won’t remember any of this,” which seemed to help them justify doing any and every procedure, regardless of the pain that it would incur.  However, since I wasn’t sleeping at night anyway, I didn’t require these excuses.  I was free to wonder what was going on behind those little eyes as he stared at me. He was already jolting in his sleep, his little arms shooting straight up and his back tightly stiffening every time he went down for a nap.  Obviously, he was reacting to the things that were going on in his dreams.  He was clearly capable of remembering.  In those memories, was he also attaching my face to these experiences? 

The mind has shown amazing ability to repress life’s early and most traumatic events, but it has also shown remarkable abilities to associate visual cues with instinctive fear.  These images are kept in some base area of the brain, a place that only extensive therapy or a mirrored  traumatic event has ever been able to uncover.  On the second day in the PICU, when I went home to fetch some fresh clothes and feed the dogs, I also took a shower. As I dried off, I looked myself long and hard in the mirror.  I picked up the razor, and began to sculpt my face. 

That Was Evil Daddy

In every TV show I ever watched, evil characters donned facial hair and the most common mark of a bad guy was a goatee.  Whenever there was an evil twin or alternate version, he always wore a goatee.  Evil Michael Knight from “Night Rider” — goatee; Evil Spock from Start Trek — Goatee; Evil Tiger Woods from the PGA — goatee.  And, so it would be for my son.  Whenever he stared at me during this time, I would not let his repressed memories attach the real me to these awful experiences.  I would force his subconscious to remember that these things were done by an Evil Daddy.   Surely, so many campy television shows and movies would back up this theory if the memories ever came closer to the surface.

My son has been home for a week now.  He’s on the right cocktail of medicines that will keep the SVT from resetting, and will be on them for at least a year untill he outgrows the condition or undergoes one more procedure to fix it for good.  Evil Daddy did come back to the house for a while. During that time, he continued to regularly tick off  the boy with his attempts to find a method of getting the medicines down his throat that was not irritating or distressing.  Once that was accomplished, however, it was time.  I took Evil Daddy into the bathroom, and showed him a fresh, sharp razor that I had specifically selected the day before. I stared at him, momentarily remembering the awful things he had done to my son, and I cringed.  Then, I pushed those thoughts out of my head, and focused on what had to be done.  I looked him in the eye, and without another moment of hesitation… I killed him.

7 Comments leave one →
  1. Anonymous permalink
    June 4, 2012 3:45 pm

    So glad all is well and you will always be his hero …

  2. Anonymous permalink
    June 5, 2012 10:30 am

    Hard to read. I know what it is to have a child in ICU. To many times have we been there. Glad his cocktail is working. Now I need a cocktail of my own.

  3. June 19, 2012 10:35 am

    I’m glad your little boy is doing well. It’s so hard when children do get sick, and being in ICU raises fear levels. I hadn’t thought about the ‘evil’ part of facial hair but you’ve got a point. (Here I just thought I begged hubby to shave because his whiskers threatened to make my skin bleed!).

    • June 19, 2012 3:51 pm

      Your reasons were indeed deeply ingrained within your psyche.

      Thanks for the thought. If there is a silver lining besides the obvious, it’s that I feel almost no stress when my son gets fussy and cries for 30-minutes at a time. That just aint stress.

  4. Anonymous permalink
    August 22, 2012 9:33 pm

    My sweet, not evil friend, that was a beautiful memoir of such a challenging time. I cried like a mad baby the whole time. Bless your heart (and Laura and Lilly) for going through that and keeping your precious sense of humor. Love ya, Buddy!

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