Tuesday, November 30, 2010

How to get your kid excited about going to the hospital

Gorge him on pizza and ice cream first. Mr. Persnickety never eats dinner anymore, and we knew he wasn't getting breakfast before surgery, so we let him eat his most favorite food before we drove up to the hotel. He was in heaven. He discovered all seven levels of nirvana simultaneously. Pizza! and ice cream! The nice folks at the neighborhood joint we got the ice cream at (mmm, they still had pumpkin) let us take our time as Mr. Nirvana savored every teeny spoonful, even though they were putting chairs on top of tables and sweeping down the floor. The girl at the counter got a huge kick out of his excitement when we ordered, telling us that was one of the perks of her job. Have I mentioned how nice people are around here?

Of course, he sugar-crashed about two seconds after we got back into the car and slept the whole way to the hotel.

If we ever do this again -- and I hope we don't -- I'd spring for a suite, just so he can sleep in one room and we can watch TV or something in the next room. Once we got him changed and resettled, we were afraid to move around too much in case we woke him.

I didn't sleep much, on account of the mattress was hard and it was an unfamiliar setting and I was worried about oversleeping and my kid was having surgery in the morning.

We each snuck downstairs to grab food for ourselves so that he wouldn't catch us. I guess we could've also fasted to show solidarity, but hey, he didn't have to drive. Luckily he didn't seem to notice the lack of breakfast, what with all the interesting stuff going on around him.

There was another couple with a young son checking in the same time we were. He was having a different type of procedure, though I can't remember what. The kiddie waiting area had these cool magnet-boat table things that fascinated kiddo, and I briefly wondered how expensive they were.

All the little curtained-off pre- and post-op rooms have little TVs in them. That is genius. Because kiddo got to watch Mickey Mouse pre-op and Special Agent Oso post-op, and it was practically as good as a narcotic. Which begs the question: If TV is so good at keeping kids in hospitals docile, why do we let them watch the stuff at home?

Anyway, the team was brutally efficient at managing kid and mommy. I took him into the operating room, they coaxed him up onto the table by showing him the neato equipment, they got the mask over his face just long enough to put him out, they suggested I give him a kiss and then reassuringly ushered me out. So clearly down to a science. I was both annoyed by it and impressed despite myself.

The hospital's downstairs cafeteria has Starbucks coffee and a huge wall aquarium. (And, DH said, pretty good omelets.) I saw a clown fish ambling about and wondered if it was there because of "Finding Nemo." Just one of those things you think about when there's something else you don't want to think about.

And then it was over. He took a while to wake up, and he was groggy and grumpy and kept rubbing his unbelievably red eyes. We offered him ice packs, but they would've blocked hs view of Special Agent Oso, so no way. He sat on the oversized wheeled recliner chair in Daddy's lap, as zoned out as he could manage to get, munching graham crackers.

And then when they gave us the all-clear to go, he spied the playroom in the back of the recovery area and threw a fit because he wanted to play with the trucks in there. So we hung around the hospital for an extra 20 minutes or so.

His eyes are still red at the edges but less so, and he hardly ever rubs them. They're turned inward a little now, but overcorrecting is common in cases like this and they might snap out a little more later. They're definitely not wandering out the way they did before. So promising, I guess.

Of course, they're going to look red in photos, so I'm not too sure how to handle the holiday card thing. Stick sunglasses on him?

I do wish we hadn't forgotten the leftover pizza in the hotel fridge. Maybe the maid got to eat it.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Waiting for one thing to go right over here

Kiddo has a tiny cough, not the sort of thing I would remotely worry about normally, except his surgery is in two freaking days and we already postponed it once because he had a (much more noticeable) cough. Worse than waiting for your kid to have surgery? Preparing yourself mentally for it for two months and then finding out you have to wait another month anyway. Really just kind of want to get it over with.

He also had a fever a few days ago, although that's gone. So just the issue of, does he have a real cough or is he OK for anesthesia? Making things worse is that he's figured out he gets to schlump on the couch and watch more "Phineas and Ferb" if he stays home sick, so periodically he fake-coughs and says he can't go to school because he's coughing. We are never, never letting this kid see "Ferris Bueller's Day Off."

The whole apparatus is primed to go. Grandparents are ready to drive up. We have a hotel room booked near the hospital so we can get there on time. I have the day off from work. I have a monster truck ready for him as a post-op reward. He just needs to be OK for two more days and then he can cough -- or fake-cough -- all he wants. Although he still isn't getting to watch extra Ferb, because he's getting a little too TV-obsessed lately.

Curse you, Phineas and Ferb, for being so funny! And curse Doofenschmirtz, too. Also Perry the Platypus.

I guess it's a little hypocritical to freak about his TV watching time when I have every intention of going downstairs and catching up on Stewart and Colbert till I fall asleep on the couch. But then I don't throw a tantrum when the TV gets turned off.

Still waiting to give poor Pigeon a proper burial. The emergency vet (who, incidentally, sent a nice condolence card, doubly nice considering they'd never seen me or my pet till that night) said their standard procedure is to mail the cremains to the house. Convenient or creepy? Celia already voted creepy. I voted they're 40 minutes away from my house and if I walk back in there I'll start sobbing again, and I dislike crying in front of people. Otherwise I'd watch Nicholas Sparks movies.

I hate "cremains." It sounds so stark. Like a lame attempt to put a tactful spin on a gruesome word. "Ashes" is better, if not completely accurate.

At any rate, I got some bulbs to plant over her in the yard. Ironic, really, since all she ever did was eat my plants. But it seemed like a nice touch. I kind of need the ashes, though, before I can plant anything, and I very much hope the ground doesn't freeze before I get a chance to do this.

Bad week, please get better.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The carrier is empty

But I can't quite bring myself to touch it yet, or put away the food and water dishes that still have food and water in them. At least we can leave the bedroom doors open now, since there's no worry an ailing cat will seek out a substitute litterbox.

By the numbers: 14 years, 7 homes, 2 states, 5 jobs, 1 marriage, 2 kids and any number of car rides. I drove her back and forth between my first (and second) apartment and my parents' house countless times. I worked nights and was physically unable to wake up early, so sometimes I drove us down after work -- at 2 a.m.

We drove her down to Florida when we moved because I refused to bring her on a plane. (Although I reversed course on that when we moved back, because that was the year four hurricanes hit the state one right after the other, and I'd already moved back to start my job, so I flew down and got her. Nice how I left DH there but came back for the cat, right?) We let her run loose in the car because hey, 14-hour trip, and she bopped around and eventually settled on the back of the back seat, that little shelf under the rear window, and stared at the cars behind us. We only ate fast food that trip, because we needed to be able to bring food back to the car.

So I guess it's appropriate that she died in the car, on the way to the emergency vet, radio off, moving quietly through the dark. I had a feeling she was gone, but I kept driving, just in case.

She never liked traveling much, especially not in the carrier, but she liked being places. She knew every hiding spot in my parents' house. Her first trip to my mother-in-law's house upstate, she saw a bug outside and leaped straight up to grab it, attaching herself to the screen door three feet up. (I still wish I'd gotten a picture.) She liked the high living room windows in my second apartment, the huge living room/dining room in our third apartment, the year-round balcony in our Florida apartment, the sunny living room spots in our New Jersey condo. In the new house, she'd claimed the big window in our bedroom as our own and was apparently taunting the neighborhood dogs from it. Plus our bed. Always our bed. Frequently on top of me. The only times she was evicted were when we had a newborn in the room, and she did not like that whatsoever. Anytime I wasn't holding a child was fair game for lap time.

She liked to play fetch and hunt bugs, and then eat them, even though they didn't agree with her. She destroyed nearly every couch we ever owned, plus a recliner, the sides of our mattress and several patches of carpet. She also destroyed about half the knickknacks I owned when I first got her, along with all the plants. Including an aloe, normally unkillable, just by knocking it over repeatedly until it gave up. And I'm pretty sure she scared the iguana into a premature death, because she loved the heat lamp on top of his tank and kept hopping up there to warm herself.

She was also sweet and friendly and loved being petted by whoever. Even people who didn't like cats, liked her. Which says something.

We knew for a few years that the kidney failure she was suffering from would eventually kill her. But we could never get a firm read on when, or which medications meant something and which were meaningless, or which tests were necessary and which were padding the vet's apparently bottomless pockets. She wouldn't take pills. She wouldn't eat special kidney-diet food. The only thing that ever did anything was injecting her with fluids -- a fun time, really, I'd recommend that to anyone -- and it got more and more difficult to do, what with all the scar tissue on her shoulders.

Don't for a minute think I'm claiming to be Saint Pet Owner here. I'm not. Minus the kids, minus the jobs, with an ounce more free time or sleep, we would've taken better care of her. She got so emphatic about not being medicated that I quit, well before I should have. I got tired of waiting for her to die, which is a horrible feeling to have. I'll never know how much longer she would've lived if we'd done everything right.

As it is, her last conscious memory may well have been being medicated one last time, because she went limp right afterward. I hate that.

But at least I never had to make the conscious decision to put her to sleep, which was my deepest fear all along. I didn't want to choose to do that to her.

There are worse ways to go, I think, than a quiet ride in the dark. 

Goodbye, Pigeon. I'll miss you.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Trick or treat and treat and treat and treat

Wow. Seriously. 15 bags of candy. They just kept coming. DH spotted cars lined up around our complex, so we're figuring people were coming in from outside because it's a nice easy sidewalked kind of walk with lots of houses. Our last place, if we went through two bags it was a good night. Here it's Trick or Treat Central.

It was nice though (even despite DH running out twice for more candy). Because I love Halloween. I dress up. I put bats and spiders in the windows. I watch Charlie Brown. This was the greatest holiday when I was a kid (you get to wear costumes! People give you candy!) and I hope it still is for kids today, so I want to do my part.

Especially for my kids, even if our trick-or-treater was still coughing. Possibly from asthma, we're now told. Hooray and I'm sure that won't affect the rescheduled surgery at ALL. But at any rate, he seemed at least well enough to take a spin around the block. Kiddette had an attack of the teething, so she and I answered the door together. (Her: Princess Kiddette. Me: Black and red brocade dress, pink witch hat.)

Here's a gender quiz for you: When someone answers the door holding a small girl in a pink princess dress, who will react to her, 1. girls or 2. boys? Really, you need an answer key on this? The boys went right for the candy. The girls, no matter how old or young they were, went "Awwwwwww" and "She's so cute!" and "I love her dress!" and "Aw, did you go trick-or-treating?" Which just proves that girls always check out other girls' outfits, and boys have no idea girls exist until puberty.

The kids were mostly in costume -- OK, teenagers, if you're too cool to dress up shouldn't you be too cool to do this at all? -- and mostly polite enough to say "thank you," which is about all you can ask for. Many of them openly approved of our candy choices (that would be all chocolate, all the time). I saw some Elvii, a couple Hogwarts students, some '50s girls, at least one flapper, a bunch of fairies, a few princesses, a ninja, a Spider-Man and the cutest little ladybug girl, whose dad was apparently filming our entire exchange on his smartphone. "Say 'trick or treat'! Now say 'thank you'!" he coaxed without ever taking the thing away from his face. I thought about demanding he produce a release for me to sign, since he was using my image and all, but then figured negotiations would really drag things down and the next batch of kids needed candy.

The parents were generally cool, coaching the kids on politeness and waving to me from the street, but I have to say, I think some of them weren't getting the point of the whole thing. You're not supposed to be driven from house to house. You're supposed to WALK. Boo hoo, it's cold. Wear a turtleneck under your costume and suck it up like I did. Was I cold? Yes. Did I get a ton of candy? Hell yes. The good outweighs the bad, kids. Also you should probably burn some calories before you scarf down all the Reese's.

Honestly, parents, land the copter for one night. It's a safe neighborhood.

So, things we know for next year: Buy more candy. Have a little more fun with the decorations (which were on the sedate side). Film the parents and see how they like it. And don't even try to have dinner until at least 9.