Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I may bubble wrap myself

Egads, you guys. We are having some kind of infestation of these disgusting, revolting, stomach-turning, scream-inducing bugs.

(I cannot possibly put that picture on my blog because I might VOMIT)

Seriously, they are everywhere, and I am completely traumatized. For a few days there, I was finding up to 10 of them crawling around the house and I cannot figure out how they are getting in, where they are coming from, or how to stop them. We called an exterminator who told us the problem is that they have no natural predators, so when they start having their babies or whatever the hell they do, they just multiply like crazy with no way of stopping them. Also, they love cool dampness, and we have had quite the wet summer, so they are running around like gangbusters.


The other day, I was gardening outside and came inside to get the kids something to eat, and saw a strand of hair dangling in my face, and when I went to brush it aside, an earwig crawled from that strand of hair onto my hand. THAT BUG WAS ON MY HEAD, HANGING FROM MY HAIR, IN MY FACE. Let's have a moment of silence.

Then earlier this week I picked up a bib from the kitchen counter, and two, TWO (!!!) crawled out from underneath the bib. (I'm honestly almost crying over here)

And then the worst of the worst of the worst? This morning, I was changing Josie's diaper and I pulled a wipe out of the container and wiped her with it and I DEPOSITED AN EARWIG ONTO MY DAUGHTER'S HOO-HA. They have infiltrated the wipes container and are hiding inside. On her girly bits (as Chatty Cricket calls them), I actually wiped her with an actual EARWIG and then I died and moved out of the house.

Josh keeps swearing he is going to spray the outside of the house with some organic chemical, and normally I'm all chemical-phobic and concerned about cancer, but I tell you, these bugs are starting to possibly look worse than chemical poisoning. I can barely sleep at night for fear of them crawling into our bed and biting me.

Finally, to add insult to injury, I was killing some tiny gnats that had gotten into the house from our trips in and out, and I went to swat at a moth, and IT FLEW INTO MY EYE AND GOT STUCK IN THE SPACE BETWEEN MY EYELID AND EYEBALL. You guys, I cannot even make this shit up, so I'm jumping up and down and screaming and holding my eye open with both hands and trying to get the moth to come out and Josh is staring at me in horror and saying, "I can't touch your eyeball. I just can't." while I am literally having a bug crawling into my brain.

I think this might be grounds for divorce, I honestly do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

it's only lemons right now

It's official. Josie fractured the growth plate at the base of her hand- beginning of her wrist- and has to be in a soft cast for two weeks. I petitioned for a waterproof cast, or at the very least a removable splint so we could enjoy our few times of water play, but no such luck. The doctor flat out refused, and I'm trying to figure out what I am supposed to do for the two weeks of swim lessons we are signed up for over the next two weeks.

I thought I was okay with all of this, or at least as okay as I could possibly be with two children with injuries less than a month apart. Turns out, though, I actually wasn't. I walked out of the doctor's office and promptly burst into tears and cried for an hour while I drove around in circles with the kids in the back seat.

I'm so tired, you know? I feel totally defeated, and it doesn't help that Josh's work and travel schedule is all over the place and makes him completely unavailable to help. I feel like my life is totally out of control, and I'm overwhelmed, and frustrated, and angry, and nothing I do seems to help.

I looked back over the last week and realized that in ONE WEEK, I did the following:
1. Organized the kid bathroom cabinet
2. Organized the master bathroom cabinet
3. Organized the linen closet
4. Painted an old nightstand we had for Gabe's room (navy blue, so it took 4 coats of paint)
5. Weeded through ALL of Gabe and Josie's old clothes in the plastic containers in the basement (about 10 large containers)
6. Reorganized my closet
7. Painted the entire living room a new color (that room has 6 windows, a doorway, an elaborate fireplace mantle, and 4 beams across the ceiling, so it took a loooong time, about 16 hours of painting)
8. Researched and purchased a swing set (actually two swing sets, because I bought and returned one, a story for another time)

In that same week, of course, I also took care of the kids, made dinner every night, did tons of laundry, attended our regular activities, and packed for the Berkshires. I was out of control, obviously. I hardly slept last week, and stayed up until all hours of the night doing projects and planning projects and picking paint colors and scouring websites for ideas. At the end of my crazy week, I looked back and realized I was nesting, without the whole pregnancy thing, and I couldn't figure out why.

I think I've got it, though. I can't get control over my life. I can't stop the kids from hurting themselves, I can't help incompetent doctors and unfortunate accidents and traumatized kids, but I can organize my house. I can get a grip on the things in front of me, so I'm going crazy trying to control the things I can actually control- i.e., the bathroom cabinets. The linen closet. The living room paint color.

It isn't a solution, but it does help a little, and who knows. Maybe this will actually help me to complete our house before we've lived here for 5 years. I finally feel motivated to get curtains hung and closets organized and pictures on the walls. Feeling a little less overwhelmed and insane would be a nice result, as well.

On a related topic, does anyone have any experience with a child who has had a traumatic injury? Gabe is totally freaked out over his finger and is refusing to put it in water, refusing to let me touch or wash it, refusing to use it, and will sob uncontrollably if I insist. Yesterday I was trying to get him to just wet his finger in the tub, and he was sobbing and saying, "It's too scary Mommy, please, it's too scary. I can't do it. It hurts." It is enough to break your heart, I tell you. I don't believe it actually hurts, I think it is a psychological thing, and I don't know how to help him past this. Will it just take time? Should I not rush him?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

beyond ridiculous, honestly

You have GOT to be kidding me.

Guess where I spent my afternoon today?

If you guessed a hospital emergency room in the Berkshires, ding ding ding! You're right! Seriously.

The kids, my mother in law and I went into Lenox to attend the library's toddler story hour and grab some lunch before I left for NYC this evening. Everything was proceeding beautifully, and both kids sat and listened to the story, Gabe made a lovely craft and sat longer than all the other children perfecting his "pizza" (which oh my goodness, is a post for another time because this is the child who I thought would never sit longer than 30 seconds for the rest of his life), and we walked toward the car to drop our books off and grab the stroller on our way to lunch.

I was pulling the stroller out of the car and my mother in law was standing on the curb with the kids when I heard Josie start screaming. I actually didn't pay a ton of attention because truthfully, Josie falls 72,846 times per day. This wasn't a noteworthy fall, but then she continued screaming, and toddled over to me with her left arm hanging limply at her side and huge crocodile tears flowing down her cheeks. I picked her up and tried to examine her arm, but her screams got worse when I even gently touched her. I gave her a couple of minutes of calmly holding her to see if she would calm down, but her crying didn't lessen and that was when I started to worry.

I grabbed a couple of super tantalizing items from my purse (cell phone, keys, cookies) and held them out to her left side, and nothing. She kept crying, and wouldn't even attempt to move her little arm. I tried to take off her sweater and the screaming became so loud I couldn't continue, so I told my mother in law we were heading to the hospital.

I called Josh to find out where the closest children's hospital was, because I wasn't going to face the same situation as last time. I do learn new tricks, after all. He had no idea, so I called my pediatrician and my college roommate who is also a pediatrician, while my mother in law called anyone who lived in the area and had kids to see what they suggested.

After much gnashing of teeth (mine) and tears (Josie's), we eventually settled on the closer community hospital, rather than the farther children's hospital because her arm didn't look like a terribly serious injury, even if it was broken. My reasoning was that if anyone suggested anything like surgery or another invasive procedure, I'd demand to be transferred to a children's hospital at that point.

A few hours, several x-rays, many consultations later, the official diagnosis is that no one is sure what is wrong with her. Her shoulder and elbow are not dislocated, her forearm looks okay, and the pain seems to be centered on her wrist and hand. The problem is (according to the doctors) that the bones in her hands are not totally calcified and don't show up clearly on x-rays, so they can't see whether the bones are broken or not. It could be a sprain or it could be a break, and we won't know until it starts to heal next week and we see some callouses on another x-ray.

Poor Josie was in serious pain throughout the emergency room visit, though, and it broke my heart to see her crying like that. She was a limp little sack of potatoes and wouldn't even lift her head from my shoulder when people would enter the room. The doctor opted for a fiberglass splint/removable cast, and as soon as they wrapped her arm, she completely perked up and became a different kid. As they were wrapping it, she looked concerned until I reminded her that now she was "just like Gabe" and you can imagine how thrilled she was about that. 5 minutes later, she was running the halls of the hospital like the crazy little boss she is.

We are seeing an orthopedic hand surgeon next week- coincidentally the same one Gabe is seeing, of course, and we're hoping for good news on a repeat x-ray.

Needless to say, poor Josh had to rush out here when I called him in a panic and our trip to NYC is cancelled, or at least seriously modified. We may decide to head to the city on Saturday night or maybe just for the wedding, we're playing it by ear. If Josie doesn't seem much improved by tomorrow, I may ditch altogether and stay with her. Sigh. So much for our second attempt on a vacation, huh?

Most importantly, I think I may NEVER LEAVE MY HOUSE AGAIN, or at least until the kids turn 18. I'm also wondering if I should consult with a voodoo doctor to find out if someone cursed me or something equally evil. This is getting a little ridiculous, don't you think?

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

vacation, take 2

We're hopeful, or maybe daring, or possibly insane, take your pick, but we're attempting another vacation sans children after the first one turned out not so well.

I'm very hesitant to go away, mainly because I hyperventilate at the thought, but also because Gabe seems a bit clingy. He is a pretty independent kid, but for the last 3 weeks he has been weepier and more tantrumy and asks for me to sleep with him and stay with him, and has had a couple of random meltdowns where he asks me not to leave him alone again. It is enough to break a mom's heart, just a little bit.

Unfortunately, or fortunately, as you see it, we have a wedding just outside of New York, so we have to leave. It is forcing us to jump right back on the horse, I guess. Gabe and Josie will stay with my in-laws for 2 nights, and we are staying with friends in New York City for those 48 hours, and hopefully living it up. I have big plans for Broadway shows, and cupcakes, and walks in Central Park, and most importantly, I want to eat an ice cream from the Big Gay Ice Cream Truck. This is number 1 on my list of priorities for the weekend. I am not even kidding.

If Gabe doesn't do well, have no doubt I will be jumping right back on the train and Josh can attend that wedding all by himself. I already had a little crying fit last night because I don't want to go, but I know it is important for us to get away and actually enjoy ourselves. The kids will be fine, and as everyone keeps assuring me, statistically, the odds are totally against something else happening while we're gone. Cross your fingers, though, just in case.

Gabe got his cast off today and did great, and his finger looks great, and we are hopeful it is going to heal well. We are cleared for water play and swimming and his aluminum fingernail will hopefully come off soon, and the sutures are hopefully healed also. Keep your fingers crossed for that too!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, June 13, 2010

worst vacation ever, part III

If you missed the beginning, parts I and II of WORST VACATION EVER are here.

Dwelling on this whole trip is making me have flashes of post traumatic stress, so let's get this story done and over with so we never have to speak of it again.

We left off from the story when Gabe was discharged from the hospital at 2am, with surgery on his hand scheduled for 6am the following morning. Gabe was asleep before we left the parking lot, and Josh carried him into my parents house, changed him, and put him to bed without him ever waking up. My parents house is small, so the idea was for me to sleep on the couch and Josh on the twin bed on the floor of Gabe's room, but both of us were so anxious and upset, we opted to sleep together on that tiny twin bed on the floor. Neither one of us slept. I couldn't stop dwelling on the surgery to come, and envisioning horrible scenarios where Gabe died under general anesthesia for something as stupid as a hurt finger.

By the way, I can't believe I left out how it happened. My parents have a heavy door between the garage and the house, and it slams automatically. We've never paid any attention to the door, except to keep it from slamming because it wakes up the kids. My mom and Gabe were leaving the house on Friday afternoon to run a quick errand, so my mom held the door open for Gabe, and then realized she'd forgotten the car keys. She turned back to grab them, the door slammed, and at the last moment, Gabe stuck his hand into the closing door. The door slammed on his finger, and it was heavy enough to partially amputate the top part. My mom said Gabe started screaming, and when she turned around and pulled open the door, there was blood everywhere. (shudder)

So Josh and I spent a miserable and unhappy night on the floor, both of us sitting upright at the faintest sound, both afraid Gabe was in pain, and afraid we might sleep through the alarm (not a chance) and both terrified of what was to come. In particular, I couldn't stop getting myself riled up over the possibility of an iv. I was DONE with Gabe being in pain, and I was ready to go to the mat with anyone who disagreed with me. There was even one moment where I honest to goodness hallucinated my mom coming into the room. It was totally crazy.

I finally got up around 4am, jumped in the shower, woke Josh up, he got dressed (same clothes since our bags were still at the hotel in Napa), and got the car ready to go. We woke Gabe up at the last possible second, lifted him from the bed to the car- totally asleep. We drove to the hospital, lifted him out of the car, carried him through the hospital, checked in at admitting, argued at the desk for 20 minutes because the paperwork wasn't complete- totally asleep. The surgeon finally called down to admitting and threw a fit because they wouldn't let us up and he was afraid an emergency surgery with more precedence might take our slot, so they let us go upstairs to pre-op while my mom kept arguing downstairs.

We made it upstairs, and in the one shining moment of mercy throughout this whole nightmare, we got an anesthesiologist who also had a 3 year old, and she told us she would put Gabe under before doing anything else since he was asleep. Josh laid Gabe gently down on the gurney, and somehow, impossibly, he stayed asleep. We did the whole pre-op preparation with the nurses and the anesthesiologist and the surgeon, and he stayed asleep. They actually WHEELED HIM IN to the operating room, put the mask on him and put him under, and he never woke up. I cried big fat hot tears of relief for that, and actually got on my knees to thank God later for that small gift.

The surgery took about an hour, so he was intubated and had an iv once he was already under anesthesia, and thankfully the iv was done after he was asleep because they later told us it took multiple tries to get the needle into a vein.

I was strangely calm during the actual surgery, although I did have plenty of moments of envisioning that surgeon walking through the door with horrible news- you know, the nightmares you see on television. I went downstairs for a coffee, tried to be calm and reasonable and told myself this was the best thing for Gabe. I wasn't prepared for the surgery to take as long as it did, though, so after 45 minutes, I became pretty antsy. Finally, the surgeon came out and said everything had gone well, and it was as he'd expected.

The cut had gone almost all the way through, down to the bone, so he'd examined the growth plate at the end of the finger, cleaned it, sewn multiple layers of stitches through the skin, repaired the nail bed, removed the nail, and inserted an aluminum nail to protect the nail bed until it was healed. He said the bone was actually broken, despite the ER doctor's assertion that it was not. The whole finger was wrapped up and bandaged around the hand, and Gabe would be out of commission with that finger for 4-6 weeks, with follow-ups for the next 4 months to make sure everything was healing. I was pretty surprised by the length of time for recovery, to be honest. We have swim lessons scheduled at a nearby lake for the end of June, and the surgeon said he couldn't get his hand wet for closer to 6 weeks.

We were allowed back, and Gabe looked fine. His tongue was swollen and protruding through his lips from the intubation, but besides that, he just looked asleep and I was so thrilled to see him whole and safe and alive, I could have cared less about anything else. The surgeon had been kind enough to get Gabe a large blue bandage with cars all over it, and then accent the bandages with Toy Story band-aids so Gabe would be sure to love it.

It took a while for Gabe to wake up, and I think Josh and I were a little nervous because the anesthesiologist kept hovering around him and checking on him and running her hands across his head to see how he was doing, but eventually, he snapped awake and sat up, just like that. He looked totally and utterly confused, because remember, he had no recollection of even coming to the hospital, so why all these people were around him and he was hooked up to tubes and monitors, he had no idea.

The removal of the iv went off without a hitch, and I carried him out of the hospital to the waiting car, and that was that. I could have kissed the surgeon and the anesthesiologist, I was so thrilled to be done and for my baby to be safe and finger repaired. For the rest of the day, Gabe was in a stupor, acting drunk and falling over his feet, and lying dazed on the couch. We put him down for his nap, and while he slept, Josh and I talked about what to do about all our stuff still in Sonoma.

We had no clothing or toiletries or shoes or anything, and after all, we'd come to the Napa/Sonoma area principally to see our dear friend T get married. We didn't want to miss the actual wedding, so we decided to start packing up the kids, rent my parents a room at the same hotel, and leave that same evening. Gabe could continue to recover at the hotel, armed with dvd players and toys and food. My parents could watch the kids while we attended the wedding, but we'd be close by in case something happened. So we did.

The next couple of days were rough, I'm not going to lie. We were all terrified Gabe would hurt his finger again, and the four of us (Josh and I and my parents) did a lot of yelling to keep Gabe from jumping or climbing, especially because the painkillers made him unsteady on his feet. Worst of all, the painkillers seemed to remove his inhibitions (who even KNEW three year olds have inhibitions, but I am here to tell you- THEY DO) and Gabe was incapable of listening to anything we said. He was acting like a maniac, and we were so terrified and stressed that any further injury to the finger might cause permanent damage or undo the surgery. Not to mention, the four of us shared a hotel room and let's not even TALK about how that worked out. We were all a mess. I know my parents were thrilled to drop us off at the airport hotel in San Francisco because they were done being stressed, and were sick and feeling guilty over the whole experience.

We did make it to the wedding, though, and even to a late Saturday night event, and we had a great time. I tried to put the weekend's events out of my mind for one night and enjoy seeing all of my girlfriends during that time period and for the most part, I was successful. I rarely drink, but I did consent to a few margaritas during the wedding, and truthfully, it probably helped.

On Monday afternoon, we left the Napa/Sonoma area, and drove to one of the San Francisco airport hotels for our flight on Tuesday morning. The hotel was fabulous, we turned in early, and Josh and I breathed a sigh of relief to be heading home. Josh turned to me at one point and said he needed a vacation from this vacation, and I agreed. The kids actually slept through the night even though we were sharing a room, and the next day, bright and early we headed to the airport for our flight home.

On the shuttle bus on the way to the airport, Josh got a text message from Delta saying our flight was delayed. I was concerned we'd miss our connection, but Josh assured me we wouldn't. We checked in at the front counters, sent off our luggage, asked about the connections and the agent assured us we were fine. We stood in line for security and got another text message saying the flight was further delayed and we were definitely missing the connection. We decided to go through anyway, and spent the next 3 hours arguing with gate agents and over the phone because according to them, we were stuck in San Francisco with absolutely no options for getting home.

We finally exited the terminal and went back to the front counters to argue and were seated on an overnight flight departing at midnight that night. With two kids, one of whom was drugged and acting crazy, and we were totally and completely sleep-deprived. When I tell you the Delta agents were horribly rude and unhelpful, it is an understatement. I almost started crying while standing at the counter when the agent told me I was lying about our 19 hour flight from Boston to San Francisco, and when he said that because we'd booked our flights with mileage, we were pretty much screwed because there was nothing they could do for us (which by the way, WHAT? So I am a loyal customer and you reward that loyalty by screwing us over?).

In desperation, I finally called the hotel back in tears and told her what was happening and asked if there was any way we could have our hotel room back (it had already been cleaned and checked out) for a few hours so the kids could nap and we didn't have to stay at the airport for another 12+ hours. Would you believe they said yes? She told us we were welcome to come back and she would set the room up again with a pack and play and we could stay as long as we needed to. That, my friends, is good customer service, and you better bet I will go out of my way to stay at that hotel chain again.

We returned to the hotel with just our carry-ons and car seat and jackets, and I let the kids sleep for the afternoon before the flight home. Thankfully I'd packed a pair of pajamas for each of them in the carry-on suitcases, so I dressed them in those for the flight back to Boston. We returned to the airport at 9pm, grabbed a couple snacks in the airport, and finally started our trip home at midnight.

It was AWFUL. We had a stop along the way, and Josie pretty much cried the whole way home (6+ hours) because she was too exhausted and uncomfortable to sleep, and Gabe couldn't get comfortable either, and after sleeping 3 hours, decided he was up for the day. Josh and I propped our eyelids up with toothpicks and did the best we could to manage the two of them. We finally landed in Boston at 11am, at which time Josh had to head straight into the office and I had a message from our pediatrician that I had an appointment with a hand surgeon that afternoon at 2pm, and I had to make it, because he didn't have another appointment for 3 weeks.

We rushed home, I dressed and fed the kids (dry cereal, since we had no food in the house) and we headed out to the hand surgeon appointment. On no sleep, with one drugged child and one sleep-deprived and screaming child. The appointment took 2 hours, and honestly, I have never been more mortified as a parent. Josie cried for the entire 2 hours, and Gabe was completely and utterly freaked because this was another doctor looking at his finger and trying to touch it and do x-rays and he was clinging to me like a spider monkey and crying and begging me to take him home while Josie clung to my legs and cried and gnawed on the bone models they had in the office.

I wish I were joking, it was beyond awful.

Thankfully, the surgeon said the surgery looked great and was healing well. It was exactly what he would have done, he said. We had a quick chat where he recommended casting the arm because he said little boys are notoriously untrustworthy with stitches and surgical sites. I agreed, but when the nurse who did the actual casting came in, she poo-pooed his suggestion and said she'd rather try to splint it. I was skeptical, but when she said it would be much easier for me to have a splint, I agreed. She did a half-assed splint, which I quickly made her re-do, we got our follow-up appointment, and I promised the kids cookies in the cafeteria on the way out.

I pushed the two of them in the stroller through the halls and got into the busy cafeteria where I tried to buy cookies and a grilled cheese so they'd have actual substance in their stomachs, while Gabe and Josie cried and argued, and somehow in the midst of the commotion, Josie got back and RIPPED THE SPLINT off of Gabe's finger, gauze, metal splint, bandages and all.

I swear to God, I almost left the two of them in the middle of the aisle.

My second thought was to sit on the floor and cry.

I did neither, but as best I could, calmly walked them back to the hand surgeon's office, waded through the crowds of waiting patients with the stroller, and told the front desk receptionist that I couldn't possibly do the splint and needed to talk to the doctor again. I was brought back, where we had another quick chat and after examining his finger, we decided to go for the cast after all.

I had several hours of horrible guilt that night when we got home because the cast is massive, from beyond the tips of his fingers to his shoulder. I had some kind of crazy post-traumatic stress anxiety attack where I started crying and couldn't stop and became convinced I was ruining his life because his arm was going to become atrophied underneath the cast and he'd never play sports again. It got so bad at around 3am that I started trying to figure out what I could do to cut the cast off myself. In the end (and after assurances from Josh and a few hours of sleep), I really do believe it is better. Gabe said to me as soon as she'd wrapped up his arm, "Now no one can hurt me! Now my finger is safe," so I think he is happier too.

So that's that. This Wednesday, we go back in to the surgeon's office and hopefully the cast comes off and a splint comes back on. Gabe is managing beautifully with the cast and has impressed all his little friends with it and gets lots of attention. He is definitely having some lingering issues about me leaving him and has been particularly teary and clingy lately, and will burst into tears and ask me not to leave him out of the blue. I'm also having some anxiety and especially have had some strange moments where I'll start thinking about everything that happened and break out in a cold sweat. It's been stressful, and as soon as we got home Josh had to leave on a business trip and both Gabe and Josie have been sick. It's been a little crazy, to say the least.

But, and it is a big but, Gabe is going to be fine. We're all fine, and I have a renewed appreciation for parents who have to deal with seriously ill or injured children. This seemed like such a nightmare to us, but in the grand scheme of things, it was a minor injury and we'll all recover and one day we'll hopefully laugh about it. Well, maybe my mom won't, but hopefully we'll look back and not want to cry. I don't know how parents keep it together and advocate for their children day after day and keep it together. My hat is off to you.

Thanks for all your kind thoughts and words. As always, they are great to hear, and make me feel better.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

worst vacation ever, part II

When last we left off, our heroine (oh, who am I kidding? basketcase, is more like it) was speeding along the highway to reach her son who'd been admitted into the emergency room.

10 minutes onto the road, the doctor called and told Josh she was hopeful Gabe wasn't going to lose his finger. And that was when I lost my mind.

The doctor said they were taking him in to get x-rays, and then would evaluate the cut part of the finger. At that time we learned it was the pinkie finger of his left hand, and I spent many minutes of the drive taking deep breaths and trying to find that reassuring. You don't NEED a pinkie finger, right? Kids won't make fun of him TOO much if his pinkie finger is messed up. The pinkie finger is practically useless, if he loses it, it'll be okay. It worked, somewhat. But the truth is you don't want your baby to hurt, no matter what. And you don't want your baby to have any kind of deformity, no matter how minor, no matter if it is just his pinkie. And worst of all, you never want him to go through anything without you by his side.

Josh and I drove silently, willing the cars to drive faster. We sat in standstill traffic and bit our nails and stared at each other, and stared at the phone and prayed for time to move a little slower so we could get to the hospital. When we were about an hour from the city, the phone rang and it was my mom. She said the x-rays showed no break in the bone, and they'd already numbed his finger, which went horribly, as you can imagine. She said poor Gabe was screaming for them to stop and for her to take him away. And geez, I felt like the worst mother ever.

We hung up, and I finally gave in to my need to pee, that I'd been putting off for 3 hours already, not wanting to tack on those 5 minutes to the trip. We were literally sitting at a dead stop on the highway, so those 5 minutes weren't going to change our arrival. It might even help.

We got back on the road, and with 25 minutes to go, we got another call from the doctor. She opened up the call by saying, "I'm sorry we have to talk under these circumstances," which is pretty much the WORST POSSIBLE WAY you can start talking to a parent. My mind jumped to terrible scenarios, but it turned out to just be her way of talking. She said she'd been able to sew up his finger, but he didn't tolerate her trying to repair his nail, so she'd just "tacked it back on". I've never heard of that before, so after getting her to explain a little more thoroughly, I asked if that was common, and she said yes, she did it all the time. To tell you the truth, she was fairly dismissive and rude on the phone, and I later found out my mom had already had two arguments with her.

Backing up the story for a minute, when she'd numbed him, my mom asked her if she could numb him once and then wait a couple of minutes for the anesthetic to take effect before numbing the rest and she refused. Then when she was doing the actual sewing, Gabe was screaming the entire time that he could still feel it and flinging his body all over the place and begging her to stop and she told my mom he was lying and didn't give him more anesthetic. My mom starting screaming at the doctor, and they got into an argument where the doctor told my mom that "she was the doctor and she decided how they were going to handle things." Then my mom, which may not have been the best thing, told her I was already unhappy about my mom's choice in hospitals (which was true) and that I thought she should have taken him somewhere else. They had some sort of disagreement over that also. My mom says Gabe screamed for the full 7-10 minutes while they did the sewing, and the nurses were apparently so horrified with the doctor, they wouldn't help with holding him down. My mom had to take the brunt of his terror, and toward the end she said the stress was literally making her black out and she thought she might faint. My stomach is turning just writing that paragraph, so let's move on.

I hung up the phone, and told Josh about the whole "tacking on the nail" thing, and about my mom's comments on the doctor's behavior, and decided to call our pediatrician, even though by this time it was about 11pm in Boston. I made the call, told him the whole story, and he said hands were way out of his area of expertise, but he did agree it sounded a little bit sketchy. He said I was totally within my rights to ask for a hand specialist to look over her work, and if I was worried I should do that.

Josh was racing down the highway while I was on the phone, and finally, we were there. I called my mom to find out where they were, and I could hear Gabe screaming through the phone. We sprinted through the parking lot and into the emergency room, and finally, FINALLY, we were there. I threw my arms around Gabe, and held him on my lap while he sobbed and begged me to "run away from here and never come back". Nurses were trying to finalize the bandages on his finger and he was distraught, but when the doctor walked back in, I felt his whole body recoil. She started to insist on removing his bandages for us to see, while Gabe, my mom, and both nurses were arguing to just let him be. We talked her out of it, thank goodness.

I asked her about a hand surgeon, and she just about bit my head off. She told me I was being ridiculous, and a hand surgeon was totally unnecessary, she did this all the time, a hand surgeon would never come for this kind of injury. I was taken aback, but I insisted. We argued a bit, she said she wouldn't call a surgeon, and finally I picked Gabe up and told her I'd be taking him to another hospital. At that point, my mom walked out in tears, furious with me for insisting on another course of treatment that would likely end up in more pain for Gabe. I understood where she was coming from, but in my mind, I had to ask. I had to know this was the right thing to do, and I thought 5 minutes of pain was worth his hand being repaired correctly. I had to believe the Gabe in 10 years would be grateful if his pinkie was perfect and whole.

When I stood up with Gabe and told her we were going to another hospital, the doctor got visibly nervous, and said she'd go consult with a colleague. She came back and said there was a hand clinic tomorrow we could go to. Fine, I answered, we'd be there. She left, and returned again and said she was going to try the hand surgeon if I really felt that strongly about it. Great, I said. She called, returned, and said she was shocked, but the hand surgeon said he would come when he was done with his surgery. Perfect, we said we'd wait for him.

It was 9pm by this time, and Gabe hadn't eaten since noon, so she said to go out and get him food. Josh went out for some food, and Gabe scarfed it down like he hadn't eaten in weeks. Chicken nuggets, fries, chocolate milk, he was starved. At 11pm, the surgeon finally showed up.

He came in and chatted comfortably with Gabe, removed his bandages, examined the wound, asked my mom again to describe what had happened, and then told us everything the ER doctor had done was wrong. He said Gabe could lose his finger if we left her stitches in the way they were. He said the ends of the bones of children are more like cartilage than regular bone, so you can't see a break on x-ray. The growth plate in his finger could have been crushed, and without a repair the finger might not grow properly. The nail bed also needed to be properly repaired, the finger nail removed, and a substitute covering inserted. The hand surgeon should have been called because it was a partial amputation, and at the very least, a pediatrician.

Throughout all of this, of course, the ER doc was SILENT. Super super silent, and I couldn't even LOOK at her, lest I start throwing punches. There was talk of trying to hold Gabe down for 20-30 minutes to do an exploratory look around and see whether the hand surgeon could fix it without an actual operating room. I put a big fat thumbs down on that one, and told both of them Gabe had been through ENOUGH, and if anyone was doing anything to him, it would be asleep or sedated, or SOMETHING.

Of course, you'll recall that this same ER doctor told us to feed Gabe, so no one could do any sedating or putting to sleep tonight. The hand surgeon talked with us for a good amount of time and he agreed we should just schedule an OR for either later that night or the next day, and proceed with a surgery, which is where he figured we'd end up anyway.

He left to schedule an OR, and a flurry of activity followed. Gabe needed either an iv or injections of antibiotics (we opted for injections) and paperwork and medical history and various other preparations. The injections were horrific because the nurse proceeded to prepare the needles in front of Gabe so he started preemptively screaming and begging me to keep her away from him. I lay in bed with Gabe, holding him, and telling him all about the swing set I was going to buy him for being such a good boy, while he repeatedly asked to go home.

During all of this activity, no one returned to re-bandage his finger, and Josh and I were terrified he was going to bump it or get germs on it, or whatever happens to a partially amputated finger that hasn't been repaired correctly. We must have asked 9 times for a nurse to come put a bandage on it, and I finally had to open up the cabinet and grab bandages and antibiotic ointment and do it myself.

All of this time, poor Josie was at home with my poor Dad who has never been left alone with a child in his life, and who had absolutely no idea what to do with her. God only knows what he did with her for all those hours, although I did hear she slept in the recliner until my mom got home at 1:30am.

Toward the end of our time in the ER, the ER doctor did return to the room. She walked in and said she was sorry about the whole situation, it was a learning experience for her too, she didn't know she needed to call a pediatrician or a hand surgeon. Now, I am generally pretty forgiving and non-confrontational, but I LITERALLY could not look at her. I could not see her face, I could not make eye contact. I was so mad, I thought I could actually spit. I said, okay, fine, and when I wouldn't respond further, she bent over to try to meet my eyes and said again, "really, I'm really really sorry. I feel awful. This is all my fault." And I felt for her, I did. I understand, she made a mistake. But she made a mistake on my fucking kid, and I just couldn't give her what she wanted. I nodded, said thanks, and then turned back to Gabe and wished for her to leave. She didn't come back again.

We were eventually discharged at 2am, Gabe passed out in the car on the way home, and we set the alarm for 4:30am. The surgery was scheduled for 6:00am, and we had to check into the hospital at 5:45am. Josh and I didn't sleep a wink all night long.

Part III of this nightmare to come, after I deal with my flooded bedroom due to the broken gutter that is pouring water against our window and causing rain to flow freely onto our bedroom floor. Oh, and did I mention Josh is out of town?

Thursday, June 03, 2010

worst vacation ever, part I

Josh and I had an amazing trip planned for last week. I was flying to San Francisco on Friday afternoon, taking the kids to my parents' house and getting them all settled in. Then on Wednesday morning, I was picking Josh and two of our closest friends up from the San Francisco airport and heading off to Napa/Sonoma for a wine trip that culminated in another dear friend's wedding.

Our plans were fabulous, and we were so excited, and I planned and researched and planned and researched on best wineries and best restaurants and best locations and most fun things to do. We were all giddy with excitement, especially Josh and I because it was our first ever kid-free vacation since having Josie. We couldn't wait.

Friday came around and I packed everyone up, got the kids ready, Josh took us to the airport, and we boarded the plane as planned, and then sat on the tarmac. First, we sat there for an hour when they announced an ice storm in Atlanta (our connection), although I called my friend in Atlanta and she reported no ice storm, but whatever. Then it was two hours. Then it was three hours. After three hours, the crew announced that by law they are no longer allowed to keep people on the plane for longer than three hours, so we were allowed to get off the plane, but although they had to allow us off, they didn't have to wait for us to get back on. So if they got the call allowing the plane to take-off, they were allowed to LEAVE PEOPLE in Boston. They would make a quick announcement at the gate, but if we went to the bathroom or to grab a snack, they were permitted to leave us.

Now, if you have two or more children, you know even a trip to the bathroom can take forever, so I, of course, stayed on the plane. I thought the odds were pretty high if I got off the plane with my two maniacs, we might get left behind while I was chasing one or the other around the terminal.

The wait turned into 4, and finally 4 and a half hours, when the pilot finally announced we were allowed to take off. Now, at this point, we haven't moved an inch, and the dvd player has already run out of batteries and everyone is tired and frustrated. I have to admit, though, the kids were still doing really well at this point. We fly to Atlanta, I'm freaking out about our connection, but at least I've secured a place to stay that night if we can't make it to San Francisco.

We land, and sit on the tarmac for another 45 minutes because there is no gate for the plane, but finally, FINALLY, we are parked and allowed off the plane and we run through the Atlanta airport, board the train, jet over to another terminal, and are thrilled to find our connection also delayed. I grab chicken nuggets for dinner at the first food stand, rush onto the plane, without even having time to change anyone's diapers or take a bathroom break or charge the life-saving dvd player. We get settled onto the plane, and the crew announces- there are no pilots. The pilots are missing, no one can find them, they think they are on some delayed flight that hasn't even landed yet. Now, why we're all boarded on the plane and sitting here, no one knows.

I have to laugh or cry, so I laugh, and try to get the kids calm and settled in. We eat dinner, and wait, and wait, and wait. 2 hours later, they announce the pilots have landed. Another hour later, the pilots show up on the plane and everyone claps. Half an hour later, we are completing our safety check and finally heading out.

By this time, we're at 2am Boston time, the kids are losing their shit, and frankly, I'm losing my shit too. We're all tired, annoyed, stir crazy, hungry, bored, and did I mention tired? Oh, and no one has napped.

We make it through the flight by the skin of our teeth, and I tell you, it is a good thing you aren't allowed to beat your children in public because I had my moments during that flight. Josie wouldn't stop crying, and when she finally fell asleep, Gabe kicked her in the head because he was frustrated he wasn't sleeping also. She fell asleep again and Gabe announced he had to poop. I held both children in my arms for most of the flight, and if I moved an inch, one or the other would cry. My patience was being SERIOUSLY tried. Seriously. We landed, and I finally got everyone settled into bed at 7am Boston time, and were up for the day a little less than 2 hours later.

I will say, however, after those first two days of recuperating from the flight, we had a great few days. We spent quality time with grandparents, checked out the sights, played at playgrounds, I had dinner with friends, and the kids were happy.

I was anxious, but left the kids in capable hands, picked up Josh and our friends, and started our vacation off optimistic that we'd be having a terrific time. We tasted wine, ate great food, laughed a TON, ate delicious cheese, laughed a TON, and hung out with our fantastically fun friends. There were multiple times during those first couple of days where we commented to each other that vacations like these were what made growing up worth it. We were having so much fun, and the wedding weekend hadn't even started yet.

Friday came around, and we met up with the bride and started the wedding activities. Friday night consisted of Sex and the City 2 in the afternoon, and a casino night including dinner and lots of gambling for all the guests. I left Josh lounging in a square full of shops and excitedly went into the movie, until about 15 minutes in, he ran into the theater, grabbed my arm and told me he'd gotten a call from my mom that Gabe had hurt his finger and was in the hospital.

I ran out of the movie theater, our friends grabbed all of their stuff out of our car, and we jumped on the road back to Sacramento. We were in Healdsburg, about 3 hours from Sacramento on a good day, and we were leaving in the heart of rush hour, right at 4pm. We were a mess.

10 minutes onto the road, the doctor called and told Josh she was hopeful Gabe wasn't going to lose his finger. And that was when I lost my mind.

Part II to come...