January 2009 Archives

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation


An hour before we left for the airport, Raisins started complaining that his ankle hurt. My first thought was he just twisted it a little playing, but a good daddy can always tell when something isn't quite right with his kids. Which is why I said, "You're fine. Put your shoes on."

Over the next two days in NY, his ankle got swollen and red and he started running a fever. Obviously I was getting concerned because, basically, I had a lot of fun stuff planned with my friends. But being parents who kick ass, we took him to the pediatrician, where they said it looked like an infection and suggested we go straight to the ER. Luckily I was in the mood to be surrounded by sick people in an uncomfortable waiting room for 5 hours, so things were definitely looking up.

For as long as it took to finally get him seen, they made up for it by very quickly wanting to jab him with many needles. As everyone knows, 5-year-olds LOVE getting needles. Of course, we ended up with the one kid who just doesn't care for them. I'm not kidding, he really frowns on it.

And for a boy with such a limited vocabulary a few months ago, he managed to scream things that seemed perfectly designed to shatter and destroy all hearts within a 20-foot radius. Like when they were trying to impale his hand with the IV and he sadly howled, "OWWW! OOWWWW!!!!! IT'TH HURTING REALLY BAAAAADLY!!!" He could have just said "IT HURTS!!!" or "IT HURTS BAD!!!!" But there was just something about the proper use of adverbs ("really badly") squeaking out his scared little throat made it all that much more pathetic and horrible.

After hours and hours and HOURS of bloodwork and MRIs and poking and drawing on his foot with pens, it all seemed to be looking like a bone infection in his ankle. Neither the doctors, nor my son seemed to understand that this was supposed to be my vacation. But I've come to accept that people can just be selfish like that.

As for what caused it, no one can say for sure. He could have scratched himself and a bug got in and just settled in his ankle, or he could have been sick a few weeks ago then hurt his ankle and the bacteria wriggled its way in there. Who knows? Why am I no longer a virgin? Why do I keep trying papaya when it always tastes like vomit? It's just one of those mysteries.

After a few days in the hospital, the doctors decided they needed to operate on his ankle to clean things out and help the antibiotics get in there. Since my son has asthma and is also pretty much allergic to the planet Earth, the thought of him getting anesthesia for the first time was horrifying. Over and over different doctors and nurses with clipboards would routinely ask us, "Is he allergic to anything?" To which we would mindlessly rattle off, "Peanuts, tree nuts, eggs, wheat, milk and sesame." If I'm ever dozing and you startle me, there's now a good chance I'll bolt up like a sitcom character and say, "PEANUTS, TREE NUTS, EGGS, WHEAT, MILK AND SESAME!" (My friend, Stephen, likes to point out that when people are really startled awake, they pretty much just look around for a second and then go back to sleep.)

Overall my wife and I had done a pretty good job of holding it together, but one of the few times we lost it in unison was when we were talking to the anesthesiologist moments before the surgery. He could tell we were freaking out and turned back as they were wheeling my son away to say, "I have three children. I'm going to take care of him like he's my own. He's going to be okay." On cue, tears flew out of our heads like beads of sweat in a Cathy comic strip. (It also didn't help that Raisins was on the gurney screaming, "I JUST WANT TO WALK AGAIN!!! I JUST WANT TO BE NORMAL!!!") What a dick.

The surgeon told us the whole thing should only take 45 minutes to an hour max and sent us down to the main lobby to wait. The first 45 minutes passed relatively quickly. Time started to slow down during the fifteen minutes after that. Throughout the next fifteen minutes, the passage of time abruptly stopped. I could literally feel years peeling off my life as I paced around the lobby like a sad cliche. At this point I was positive the doctors were just figuring out how to break the horrible news to us about the reaction to the anesthesia, the brain damage, the coma -- then the surgeon showed up and said everything went fine and I was all happy again.

After 6 days and one more procedure to install an extra-fun IV called a "pic-line" that gets deep down into your big chest veins, we finally got to take him home. The asterisk on all this is he needs to receive IV antibiotics every 6 hours for the next 4-6 weeks. And from beginning to end, each dose takes about an hour to do. FUN.

The logistics of getting him back to California included a relaxing round of us giving him the IV meds in a mexican restaurant in the airport. Since we didn't have the IV poll with us, I got to hold the bag up in the air for half an hour while my wife attempted to sterilize any stray bits of fajita that might still be on our table. (To the patient and tolerant staff at Revolucion Restaurant in Terminal 5 at JFK, I may put you all in my will.)

We are all back home now safe and sound and as I type this, Raisins is off getting his stitches out. Huge, colossal thanks to my wife, our parents, my sister-in-law, my Aunt Fran and Uncle Mike, the fantastic doctors at Beach Pediatric in Island Park, NY, Lindsay from Child Life, and the whole pediatric staff of Winthrop University Hospital in Mineola, NY for helping us make it through this little adventure.

And I must not forget my very good friend Dan, who, moments after we raced home from the airport to frantically give the boy another dose of IV that was then two hours late -- pulled up at our house with two giant bags of amazing dinner from Arnie Morton's to give me a hug and say, "I'm not coming in. I just figured I'd give you guys one less thing to worry about after a very long day."

I can feel the tears wanting to fly out of my head all over again.

(But enough with the glum stuff. UP NEXT: Raisins 2008.)


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This page is an archive of entries from January 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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