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Showing posts from January, 2009

Down with the ship?

There's a great Bill Cosby stand-up sketch about Noah building the ark. When I was a kid we listened to the bit on road trips, over and over, until we all could recite it. There's a line that stands out in my mind -- maybe it's even the last line of the sketch? -- that Cosby delivers right around the time that Noah loses his cool and tells God to take a hike, that he's not building the ark anymore. God says, "Noah. How long can you tread water?" For some reason that line is repeating in my head over and over today. But it's not as funny.

I have worked at the same nonprofit organization for over 10 years now. Those of you who are good at math will realize that means that I've been at the same place for all but 1.5 years of my professional life. One of the first things that struck me about IRA was that so many people had worked there for 20+ years; in fact, the first week I was there, they threw a retirement party for a man who had worked in the mailroom…

Grown-up words and what to do about them

We know our children are little sponges who soak up all our words, actions, mannerisms. They are often parrots, but even more often they are fun house mirrors, amplifying and exaggerating our own idiosyncratic behaviors until we cringe, laugh, or hang our heads in shame.

Yesterday while cleaning up his toys, Sweet Boy got frustrated trying to put one of his train pieces together. Instead of crying or raging like he would have a few weeks ago, he threw the toy down and yelled, "Oh, fuck it!"

Oh. My. Lord.

The air was sucked out of the room. We were suspended in time and space, frozen as our eyes met. I took a split second to consider my options:
(1) Freak out and yell at him---scare him into never saying it again;
(2) Ask him to repeat what he said, because maybe I heard it wrong and I don't want to overreact;
(3) Ask where he heard that word, stuff his mouth full of soap, then call the offending child's parent immediately (a la The Christmas Story);
(4) Ignore it so he does…

The Professorial President

I have been struggling the last few weeks to generate interesting writing on this blog. Sorry. I hope you're not completely bored.

As I sit here tonight drafting and deleting, rewriting and rethinking, I have the ABC Nightly News on the TV in the background. Of course they're focusing coverage on Obama's first few days in office, and of course I'm smiling.

Today Obama signed executive orders to close Guantanamo Bay and to ban torture. (Hooray!) Politics aside, what was most remarkable was that as he signed, he read a portion aloud -- and then he explained its meaning in laymen's terms. You know why? Because he wants We the People to be aware of and understand the laws under which we live. What a novel idea! Could there be any more striking contrast between the current president and the former (He Who Shall Not Be Named)?

Maybe it's because I'm the child of teachers, the grandchild of a principal, and the editor of teacher books, but I am just shy of giddy that…

Let the goosebumps ripple

This weekend started the festival of goosebumps called the inauguration of Barack Obama. First on Saturday morning, we rode the Claymont Amtrak station in the hopes of catching a glimpse of the Obama Train. We knew we wouldn't see Barack or Michelle or Joe or Jill, but we wanted to be among the Delawarians to welcome them to the east coast. We just wanted to be part of the excitement. Unfortunately we didn't make it before they had closed off the road to the station, but we did drive up and down Philadelphia Pike, with police chopper circling overhead, trying to time it so we could see the train go across the overpass bridge. The lone state trooper sitting under the overpass eventually waved us along with stern warning, so we didn't get to even see the train. But we tried; we waved to the Obamas and Bidens in our hearts. Instead of being there live, we went home and cuddled on the couch with some hot chocolate and watched Obama's address in Baltimore. Commence goosebum…

A new year, a new us

Sorry I've been away for a while -- just trying to get in the groove of our new diabetes-and-hyperlipidemia lifestyle, focusing on training Chris in the ways of the healthy eater, spending as much time as a family as we can. Everything's going well, one week in. I'm proud of Chris, truly. He's taking this seriously, writing down every morsel he eats, going for walks outside (we went out at 7pm one night this week, all three of us bundled up, and played a game of Eye Spy with our maglight -- really fun) or inside on the treadmill when it's mega-cold out.

He seems like a new man, and I can't believe we didn't recognize all the signs and indications that he was sick. I mean, it's possible he's been full-blown diabetic since about last spring -- which would explain many of the things about his attitude and lifestyle that have been really frustrating to me this past year. Hindsight is 20-20, I know, but I'm hoping that now, as he finally discovers wha…

The next chapter begins -- time to get healthy!

He's home! He's home! He's home!

I picked up Big Daddy and hauled him from the hospital yesterday afternoon, took him home so he could scrub the hospital funk off, and then we went over to pick up Sweet Boy. I can't adequately describe the scene, but I bet you can imagine the reunion of father and child: We walked onto the playground, where Sweet Boy was swinging Superman-style. I let Chris walk in first, and when Boy saw Daddy, he ran harder than I've ever seen, arms outstreatched and joy all over his face, yelling "Daddeee!!!" across the playground. A big family hug, smiles and giggles and kisses, and teachers dabbing tears from their eyes. Fabulously good homecoming.

We had a happy experience at Target, where Big Daddy picked up his new meds and learned that they're available in cheap generic form -- $4/bottle. Thank you, God! So, instead of spending $40/month on pills as we've been doing, we'll be spending $48/month on pills...not the $100 o…

It ain't easy parenting grown-up kids

My dad took me out to lunch today, and I realized about halfway through the meal that I was really not good company. I apologized to my dad for being so grouchy, explaining that I've just been feeling all sorts of junk this week, yada yada yada. And then I said, "It just wasn't supposed to be like this, you know? We're too young."

I looked up and noticed his teary eyes and thought, dammit, girl, you're an idiot! You see, those were the exact words my dad said to me on the morning we realized that my mom was dying. She had been admitted to the hospital on the previous night with seizures and by morning they had determined her cancer had spread to her brain; it was, therefore, only a matter of time before she was paralyzed, and death wouldn't be far behind. We'd been in the ER most of the night, and once they admitted her, Chris and I came home to take care of my sister. My dad walked into the room where we were sleeping on the pull-out sofa, and he just…

Almost home

Day 8 and the end of Chris's hospital stay looks to be drawing near. Thank goodness. His triglyceride count came down from 6,000 on the first day to 500 this morning -- as the doctor said, he's their Golden Boy success story of the week. While 500 is still high, it's much more manageable, and with time and diet and exercise and many pills, hopefully he can keep his levels in the normal range (@150). And Chris just called with palpable joy in his voice: He'll be eating solid food for dinner tonight -- real food for the first time in 8 days! -- and if his angry pancreas tolerates it, he'll be coming home as early as tomorrow.

So I should be really happy. But I'm feeling anxious. Even though I've gotten my head about the super-special diet, the news about the number of pills he'll have to take (forever) nearly sent me into a full-on panic attack this morning. And once he's home, it's all on me -- no nurses to administer pain meds, no doctors to test…

Gratitude

Just want to quickly say THANK YOU to everyone for the love and support you've shown me, Chris, and Hayden this week. You're all wonderful, and I'm forever grateful.

Things we learn, part 2

Spent this morning with Sweetie in his fabulous hospital digs. First thought as I entered the room: What the hell is that smell?! Turns out, it's Sweetie. Ew. He's been bathing every day, but the stuff in the "fluids" IV bag seems to be seeping out of his pores and permeating the sheets, his clothing, the curtain around the bed. This is a smell I can't seem to describe -- not quite BO, not quite antiseptic, but somewhere in the realm of really sharp cheese mixed with vinegar. To say it's nasty is an understatement, and I can't seem to get it out of my nose this afternoon either. (I brought his clothes home to wash them, but I really wanted to just burn them!)

Of course you can't crack a window on the 4th floor of a hospital, so after about 10 minutes in there, I couldn't take it anymore. I asked the tech to come in and change his sheets and unhook his IV so he could shower. Sheets, fine, she said, but IV no-can-do; the morphine pump cannot be unhoo…

Things we learn, part 1

It's the end of hospital day 5. I'm tired. I'm sad. I'm lonely. Spent the entire day in the hospital with Chris, waiting for various docs and dietitians and nurse-advocate people. We started the day hopeful, ended the day crying over the phone. We thought he'd be coming home today, but around mid-day his pain came back with a vengeance, so they stopped the liquid diet and pumped up the morphine, drew some blood, and came back two hours later with the news that the magic numbers that need to go down have instead started going back up. So we wait. Maybe another day or two. We hope. Deja vu. This is exactly what happened last time. I'm trying to not think about that, trying not to panic.

Tonight after tucking my sweet little one into my bed because he is afraid to sleep alone, I'm taking a minute to count my blessings. One thing you learn when you spend time in a hospital is there are many, many people in the world who are worse off. For example, the man in the…

Dear doctor

Dear kind-faced doctor with the spiky hair,
I hope I didn't offend you with my questions this morning; I'm not a pushy person, really, and I hope I didn't come off as disrespectful or ignorant. Just that I've been in this situation before -- I've watched my husband go through this pain, and I know which medicine eased it. There was a team of specialists on the case last time, so it seems unusual to have just a small group of family docs working with us now. I did a lot of research last time, so I know all the complications and risks he's facing -- please don't try to candy-coat it. I'm tired of repeating the same damn story to a different doctor every two hours -- can't you just look up his records?

I'm sorry I told you I'm pissed. That was inappropriate. But I am pissed. I'm pissed that you told us his genetics are crap and this is beyond his control. I know you were trying to ease his mind, make him think that this wasn't his fault, …

In sickness and in health

I can think of at least 100 ways to spend New Years Day, none of which involve sitting in a hospital emergency room watching my husband writhe in pain. However, I'm sad to say, I welcomed 2009 in just such a way. Craptastic, no? My honey has been admitted to the hospital this evening with acute pancreatitis, the very same illness that kept him hospitalized for 22 days in August 2004.

There are a events over the course of a lifetime that really define us, you know, the ones that we use to mark time periods, and his 2004 hospitalization was one of them. It changed us both. The timeline of my life goes something like this: grade school, moving to Stratford, going to college, meeting Chris, Mom dying, getting married, Chris in the hospital, Sweet Boy being born. That three-week hospital stint really stands out for both of us because it was horrible. Traumatic. Terrifying. He almost died. I remember one specific instance when I stood at the foot of his bed watching him drift in and out …