Amie, by her own admission, is not the most empathetic person in the universe. Sometimes that happens when your recovery from a car accident results in a bunch of surgeries. As a result, I’ve been the one to go with him for all his surgeries except one, his locally done tympanoplasty. This time she was going to LA and dealing with the stress of uncertainty regarding rides, housing etc.
The Lead Up
She needed to get some details sorted out in preparation for their trip on Saturday. They were going to stay with a friend on Saturday night, but needed to nail down details for Sunday and Monday. Our friend lived about 45 minutes away from the hospital. I’d been told she may be able to stay in the PICU the night after the surgery. At Shriners’ they required me to stay overnight if he was staying overnight (that only happened once, thankfully). But they were uncertain, and she needed to be certain. She also needed to know if there was a spot at the nearby Ronald McDonald House.
So the phone calls began: the hospital, Shriners’ and the Ronald McDonald House. She discovered that parents did not stay in the PICU, but there was a “Community Parents’ Room” with curtains between beds. “Sorta like camp?” “I’m really not sure.” This was not sounding like a great option, but rather a last resort.
On the RMH front, nothing. She left messages. She got the weekend loop of “Dial 0” which brings you back to the same message. She had to go the “hotel points” route for a nearby hotel. Accommodations were set, but it took awhile and some frustration.
Despite his little brother having a runny nose all week, Eli didn’t seem to have any cold symptoms. He may have escaped illness which would postpone the surgery.
Heading to LA
It was a 12:30 flight to the City of (Fallen) Angels. This meant we could have our usual Saturday breakfast together of waffles and bacon. While talking that morning before breakfast she mentioned:
A: “I really wish you were going, not me.”
S: “I am a cad and a scoundrel.”
A: “You know why I can go?”
A: “Because there are no exercise classes that week. I didn’t need to find a substitute.”
Praise God for the little things.
Eli never really unpacked his backpack which was already bursting with books, toys and his tablet. He just added to it. This time he remembered a charger; two actually. Not wanting to mess up her neck meant bringing her pillow, which meant bringing a bigger suitcase (violating my travel light policy). Thanks to the “pre-op” appointments this was a longer trip than usual.
It was an easy ride to the airport. Child #1 bailed on us since she hates car rides. “I can say ‘good-bye’ here.” She just wanted to be dumped at the curb. Contrary to her wishes I came to a complete stop. They made it to the gate and waited. And waited.
A weather system was slowing down flights. Their plane was coming from Denver which had recently suspended flights indefinitely. Thankfully their plane had taken off, although late, before the suspension. But there was the appointments, a schedule to keep. This creates stress. Despite the delay, they arrived in LA in due time, met our friend and were off to the appointments at the hospital.
Keep in mind, these were necessary “pre-op” appointments to take place within three days of the surgery. I’m thinking blood work and stuff like that. They weighed him, measured his height, took his blood pressure, a nasal swab, and an oral history. The first two were done on Monday. The last was all in his file which they should have had. No off book surgeries in Mexico. So they made Amie and Eli travel early and spend an extra day so they could take his blood pressure and a nasal swab. Yeah. But at least they got to celebrate Dr. Thomas’ birthday with her and her family. They enjoyed some good Indian food, reminding them of the times Reena would cook for community group.
On our end, things were pretty uneventful. In light of an upcoming trip, and the fact that we only had one key for the van, I stopped by a place to get a spare. It was 40 minutes of whining by the little people. After rest time I popped some corn and we watched the rest of The Princess Bride, which we had started the previous week. Child #1 even joined us (that tween thing). We had some red beans & rice for dinner.
Sunday was rather uneventful. But there were two key moments when it created unfortunate circumstances for me. Those were the moments Amie called.
Since I had “medical leave” I was not preaching. I taught SS and lead the liturgy, but one of the assistant pastors of a sister church in town preached for us. Since I planned on being home all day Monday, I printed off a bunch of stuff for our Session meeting Monday night. Then I got the phone call. Distracted, I forgot to send the liturgy information to my admin, and forgot to get my paperwork from the printer. I did not yet realize this unfortunate reality.
One of the things she told me was that he was groggy and had a sniffly nose. Perhaps he was coming down with Asher’s cold. But one side effect of the pain meds we were supposed to give him was drowsiness. Who really knows.
After giving them lunch, I watched the Patriots beat the Broncos (yes!!). Then we all watched Chicken Run since Micah wanted to watch it. Asher loves that movie, laughing all the way through even if he doesn’t catch all “The Great Escape” allusions. Then it was time to work on dinner. I forgot to thaw chicken which I intended to cover with Bisquick and creole seasoning. So I used the last of the Tyson breaded chicken which was just enough, barely, for the 4 of us. I made some cheesy risotto and was sauteing spinach. At the critical moment, Amie called.
In a panic. She had the borrowed Civic and her phone was going to die. She needed it for directions but couldn’t find the plug to charge it. Reena and her mom were in the worship service and couldn’t be reached. With the food at the point of being done or burning, she wanted me to look up the schematics to discover the location. I couldn’t find it, but she finally did (passenger side in the obvious location of under the dashboard- there is a special place in Hades for engineers like this). And my spinach burned.
The Day Of
Eli was scheduled to be there at 5:30. His was the second surgery on tap, but you just never know if they may have to switch the order. Nope. So began the wait with Eli watching the Cartoon Network for a few hours, awaiting his turn. Eventually they were brought to a room to watch more Cartoon Network and play on his tablet. Finally Dr. Magee showed up and the process of preparation began.
When he’s had surgery at Shriners’, they give me a pager. I can walk around to get exercise, pray, read and go get something to eat. At this hospital, Amie was trapped in the family waiting room. They didn’t let her go get food. I told her, “Ask if they’ll give you free migraine medication since they won’t let you go eat.” They had her cell number in case of emergency, but they wouldn’t let her leave.
Dr. Magee came out and talked to her. He thinks the sphincterplasty went well, and he did remove two teeth that were growing through his palate. If he’s happy, I’m happy.
In recovery and PICU he struggled with nausea. More so than usual. The night nurse had a similar problem and was all over it. After she went to sleep, Amie went back to the hotel to get some sleep. I wanted her to peek into the “family community room”, but you can’t always get what you want.
Back on the home front all was going well. We did school work and then went to Wal-Mart to pick up some ingredients for the shrimp scampi that was on the menu that night. We were taking advantage of Amie’s allergic absence. I had invited the elders over for dinner, so just in case there wasn’t enough shrimp, I bought some 4-cheese Italian sausage. We picked up lunch at Chipotle since there were no leftovers from the night before, and ate at the church office so I could get my materials for the meeting.
The next day he was still struggling with nausea. While he’d already peed, he needed to keep a meal down before he could leave. And so the wait began. And the stress due to the immovable flight time. At least on our end.
While she was waiting, we did school work after our second morning in a row of pancakes. Then it was off to work for about an hour to do some things I couldn’t do from home. Then back home for some leftover scampi and angel hair pasta.
Eli seemed to be well enough, so Reena, aka Dr. Thomas, arrived to get them to the airport so they could wait. LAX was horribly behind. 40% of the flights were late, and 40% were extremely late. On time was no longer a possibility, so which would it be- late or extremely late.
I checked on the plane’s arrival to LAX from Phoenix. That it was in the air was good. There was still plenty of confusion on their end as flights back logged, The plane couldn’t get to the gate because another flight was boarding. When they boarded, it looked like there were about 90 minutes behind schedule. So the rest of us ate the turkey soup I made. My first soup. Just before we left, I checked again. Apparently they spent another half hour sitting on the tarmac waiting to take off. Now it was an 8 pm arrival instead of 5:45.
When we got to the airport, they were now scheduled for an 8:15 arrival. This just keeps getting better. But they arrived safe and sound. Soon we were all home again.
Eli has been doing well. When asked about this pain he often say “1” or “0”. He has been getting more active. He has had trouble swallowing the pills. He also is less excited about pureed food. We’ve noticed he sounds different. But the food thing can be a pain for him. We stopped by a local theater to get a “loyalty shirt” which gets you a free medium popcorn when you wear it to the movies. I didn’t realize they’d actually give me one today. Eli was upset that Micah could have some, and he couldn’t. Yes, disappointing. But he’s on the right track.