December 29, 2008


I certainly do not want to end with a depressing post for the year.  Still, I am using this blog as a cathartic release right now.  This is more of a way to let some thoughts bubble to the surface so I can face them.

I am a December baby.  (And no, I was not born the day Pearl Harbor was atttacked. *cough* Dubber *cough*)  I endured growing up with "slash gifts" - Bday/Christmas gifts.  I vowed then that my birthday would be my day; a day for me.  Yes, I spend it with family, but I take a chunk of time to think about the past and the future.  A sort of stopping the car, stretching the legs and checking the map.  Trouble is since 40, the map of what's ahead seems like a short trip.  Mortality looms, looking over my shoulder...
This year, I spent my birthday in a hospital room, facing Mortality as it looked at both me and my son.  No, Chase was never in any danger.  But seeing him lay there for hours on end, while most any day he hardly stops moving even to eat, scared me more than I could ever describe.  I was completely unprepared for this.  And it broke me.  It crushed me.  (In his short time on earth, he has already spent more time in the hospital than I have in my lifetime.)
Then, Mortality took a road trip.  My parents recently moved to Alabama; partly to be closer to my brother and not so far from me.  They are moving their stuff slowly and deliberately.  They bought a truck and a trailer so that they can take their time in settling into their new house.  A few days after Chase left the hospital, I got a call from my brother.  He hardly ever calls me; I usually have to call him.  He just had a call from Dad.  They had been in accident.  All he knew for sure was that they had gone over an icy bridge near Canton and the trailer and truck sort of jack-knifed.  When they hit dry pavement on the other side, Dad had over corrected and they flipped the truck onto the passenger side.  While Dad said he was not hurt, Mom was.  She had several cuts and her neck was hurt.  He would call me when he knew more.
Within fifteen minutes, he called again to say that Mom had a broken bone in her neck.  She was stable (that word again), but that they were taking her to Parkland in Dallas to do a CT scan.  All I could do is lay awake all night (something I was very used to doing) and pray. 
The next morning brought with it the call that she had indeed broken the first vertebra, but had not injured her spinal column.  She had full use of her limbs, etc.  She also had ruptured a vein beside it, but that surgery was not necessary.  Aspirin to thin the blood would do.  Bruised and cut from all of the glass from the broken passenger window were the only other injuries.  She was out of the hospital in two days, but has to wear a neck brace for three months.
It is notable that my Dad has driven millions of miles.  And that is not an exaggeration.  During that time, I only know of one ticket that he has received.  And this is very first accident he has had.  I am hoping that this will be his only accident.
During all this time, I felt like I was in the eye of a hurricane.  Just one wrong move, and I would be sucked up and into oblivion.  It was all too overwhelming.  But I internalized it.  I only let bits of it to assail me during the day.  At night was a different story.  I knew what my Dad was going through.  He never left his wife's side.  He did not even consider getting checked out until his wife was in the clear and there were others to be there for her.  Even with the risk of having internal injuries, his agony at causing harm to her consumed him.  He was living out a fear he, and I, face every time we take the family anywhere:  I do not want to bring harm (or death) to others while being the one driving the car.  His dread was now a reality. 

It seems strange to note that I still feel like a 28 year-old.  And Chase and I play more like 2 kids.  There is no 40 year difference with us.  I'm just taller.  It was just that with my birthday and the coming new year, I realized that I am coming upon 25 years since graduating from high school.  I have been out of public schools double the amount of time I spent going.  No, I do not plan on going to any reunions.  Still, a thought hit me right between the eyes.  There are those with whom I went to school, some that I saw during all twelve of those years, that will have 2 year-old grandchildren.  Perhaps some of the grandkids could be older than Chase.  I am in no way saying that I regret my choice.  In all honesty, I am certainly pleased and feel blessed with having Chase now.  I rather think that if we had children soon after getting married, it would have put too much stress on us.  It potentially could have ended our marriage.  That would have been years of therapy - "I was the reason my parents divorced."

I know that this has been a bit of rambling.  Like I said, most of this is a release of thoughts and feelings that I keep inside.  I know that it isn't healthy.  I started writing some of this in a journal.  But the idea that someone may read this gives it more weight.  And takes more of the weight off of me.
So here I am facing a dichotomy:  A happy, healthy life with a loving family, all the while feeling like it could all end so swiftly and mercilessly.  All I can do is thank God for one more day of living.

December 22, 2008

Hospital is a Four-Letter Word

It has been a long last couple of months. So many things happened in such a short span of time, that even now I am still trying to recover. Without going into all of the plot twists in our lives, I do want to use this space to unload some of it.
The most impactful event was the hospitalization of Chase. The week before Thanksgiving, he developed a cough and a fever. A doctor visit found nothing in his lungs, but an ear infection. Some antibiotics were prescribed and we went on our way. But four days later, he was not better. He was actually doing much worse, and not wanting to eat or drink. A call to the after hours number led to speculation of meningitis. With that, we headed to the ER.
After a few hours it was determined Chase had Pneumonia (and I spelled it correctly without using spellcheck!) as well as still having an infection. That turned out to be Cytomegalovirus, or "baby mono" as it was affectionately referred to by one of the nurses. He was admitted that night and put on an IV, as he was becoming dehydrated.
The kicker with Chase is that he is allergic to Amoxycillin. So that meant trying to find something that works, but doesn't turn him into a leopard. The initial prescription had no effect on the infection. And several antibiotics later, we found three others to which he is allergic. In the end, the one medicine that worked turned out to be one of the most expensive on the market today. He has/had to continue taking it even after we left the hospital, and the 100mg that came home with us would have cost us over $1000 had the insurance not covered it.
So, after 10 anxious days and 9 sleepless nights at the hospital, we came home worn out and needing time to recuperate. And really, we were/are out of sync with the rest of the world. In actuality the entire event lasted over 3 weeks. Chase has proved more resilient than I, as he is back to his old self - minus a few pounds - and (hopefully) ready to get back into his daily routine. I still haven't gotten back to speed. I cannot get a restful night's sleep. I still wake up about every two hours, following the regimen of the nurses' rounds. And yes, compelled to check on him at least once a night. I thought the feel of an actual bed would stop it, but it hasn't.

In an attempt to make light of the situation, I did come up with a couple of Top 6 lists. If anything, they will be cathartic for me. I hope you enjoy.

Top 6 Things I Hate About Hospitals

1. Old Nurses - I realize that they have seen EVERYTHING, including Washington crossing the Delaware, but why do they have to give such attitude when you ask questions? Fortunately, we only had to deal with one of these with Chase. It was during the first or second day, and we really had not had any good explanations about Chase yet. Her face just showed annoyance to any question asked. She seemed most annoyed when I asked if there was another nurse that could take care of Chase. *sheesh*
2. The term "Stable" - I guess that's more efficient and more clinical than saying, "Well, he's not getting any worse, but he's really not getting better..."
3. Seeing any child hospitalized - It's horrible, but there were several times I thanked God that Chase was not any worse than the dozens of kids we had to pass by every day. And then you feel guilty. And you say a silent prayer for those kids. And you hug your child.
4. W_a_i_t_i_n_g - For the doctor to come by. For the next drug being pumped into your son to work. For test results to come back. For mystery diseases to finally reveal themselves. For discharge paperwork.
5. Bad cable reception and no Internet - If you check into any hotel, you get these things standard. And they are no way near as costly a night like a hospital room.
6. The physical toll - Crappy food or fast food eaten on the fly, lousy sleeping arrangements, very little sleep either from nurses waking you or simply worrying, and mental exhaustion wear your body down.

Top 6 Things I Like About Hospitals

1. Older Doctors - They may make you wait, but when they get there they do take the time. And have no problem giving you the answers to your questions.
2. Young Nurses - Okay, not because they are perky and cute. They really are great around kids. They are exactly perfect for working in Pediatrics. (And because they are perky and cute!)
3. Visits from sports players and Ronald McDonald - They don't have to do it, but it is so great that they do!
4. Wheelchair rides around the hospital - The change of scenery, even if it is to the x-ray room, is still refreshing and welcome.
5. All the latex-free gloves you can stuff in your pockets. - The way I look at it, I've paid for them, many times over.
6. Everyone finally going home together. - A house is never so empty as when you are in it alone. Especially when you don't know when your child will be able to come home. But, that all disappears instantly when a child's laughter fills it again.