Monday, September 30, 2013

After a restful summer, September always seems to catch me unprepared and this year was no exception. The beginning of school has meant working three jobs, getting used to a convoluted sleep pattern, and trying to squeeze more activity into less time.

September and the beginning of school has been a little unkind to Eldest too. Just as she was reaching her stride in the beginning of the semester, she fell ill. That sounds ominous, but thankfully, it was nothing horribly serious, and antibiotics have worked wonders for her.

In the midst of her not feeling well, she was cuddling with a teddy bear she received when she had her appendix removed. As she thought about the events that led to her being given the bear, she realized she hadn't named the creature. With keen and witty insight that makes her punny father proud, she decided on a name, Appendecteddy.

So, wonderful reader, I will re-share my recounting of the events surrounding Eldest and her appendectomy.
I originally posted this in December of 2011.

Friday, December 23 was a crazy day. I picked Eldest up from school and brought her home. She complained of a stomachache while we rode home. I assumed it was from anxiety due to wondering whether she was going to get coal in her stocking this year. After we arrived home, we sat on the couch together to chat. The pain must have gotten worse because, all of a sudden, she gripped my arm in a death grip, dug her nails into my flesh, and let out a low moan.

My wife and I decided a trip to the doctor was in order. So, Eldest and I went off to see the doctor. After explaining the situation to him, he looked at my arm, applied a little antibiotic cream, and said I would be fine. Then he said I probably should take Eldest to her pediatrician. I called my wife and told her what my doctor said and that we were on our way to the pediatrician’s office. There was dead silence on the other end, then she said, “Wait, what?”

When we finally made it to see the pediatrician, he sent us off to Strong Memorial Hospital Pediatric Emergency room. There she was asked a hundred questions; although it was actually the same five questions asked twenty times. “Where does it hurt? What is your pain level on a scale from 1 to 10?  What is your birthday? Do you have any allergies?” and “What is the meaning of life?”

After a while, when someone new would enter the room, Eldest would blurt out, “I am allergic between 7 and 8, it hurts July 2, I was born on the lower right quadrant and it hurts due to seafood and peanuts. Oh, and I am allergic to cats too.”

The doctors explained there would be a couple of imaging tests to determine what was going on, although they were ‘fairly certain’ it was appendicitis. The first test was an ultra sound, which apparently was not ultra sound, since it did not show anything definitive. The next test, and the most concerning, was a cat scan. As I already mentioned Eldest is allergic to cats. When I mentioned this to the wonderful technician, she just laughed knowingly and said she was sure my daughter would be fine.

The rest of the evening was long on waiting and short on activity. Doctors came and went, nurses took blood, and Eldest finally was moved up to the 4-3600 unit of the hospital, the “Pediatriac Surgical” unit. I had previously thought I had three daughters, when I actually have three pediats. This revelation, which came at 3 a.m. with no sleep, was quite disturbing, but not as disturbing as realizing my eldest pediat was going to have her appendix removed.

After a short nap, Eldest was wheeled down to pre-op, and by 8 a.m. was in surgery. The surgeon informed me that everything had come out fine.

“Everything?!” I asked.

Not everything, he assured me, just her appendix.

Eldest returned to her room, and we joined her. There we waited some more. What a way to spend Christmas Eve. Middlest, in her best radio announcer voice began to intone as a TV announcer advertising the latest Christmas album, “For your enjoyment this year we have some of your favorite holiday songs; ‘I am dreaming of an appendix less Christmas’, ‘I’ll be home for Christmas, just without an appendix’, and of course, everyone’s favorite, ‘All I want for Christmas is an appendectomy’.”

Eldest laughed, clutched her stomach and moaned, “Stop; it hurts to laugh.”

It was a pain sitting in the ER, waiting for surgery and waiting for her discharge to come home late Christmas eve night. My family and I are thankful for the doctors, nurses, and patient care techs in the ER, surgery, and especially on the 4th floor of Strong, for their wonderful care for our precious Eldest.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Was it a Mouse in the House, or a Moose on the Loose

Middlest has been known to speak with a British accent, and at one time looked at the clock and out of no where said, “It’s Five O’clock? God Save the Queen!” So, she was not amused on Thursday when she discovered we had a surprise visitor to our house. That visitor revealed its presence to Middlest early in the morning as she was getting ready for school.

The visitor was a wayward field mouse, who had mistakenly wandered into our house and sought out the comfort of our kitchen. This greatly displeased all three of my daughters, and  Beloved as well.

I am puzzled by this attitude towards the small and lowly mouse. As my daughters grew up, they enjoyed watching a set of videos starring a country mouse and a city mouse. This dynamic duo of mousedom traveled all over the globe, had many fine adventures, and contributed greatly towards the good of mankind. This animated duo helped save people during the San Francisco Earthquake, preserve priceless ancient artifacts in Egypt, inspire Monet to paint water lillies, and even protected the crown jewels of England.

Despite this early education regarding the wonders of mousedom, my daughters do not like mice. They think they are evil.

And my phone registered their discomfort Thursday morning as it rattled incessantly with messages of grief, anguish, and disgust. Finally, after a bazillion texts, the phone heaved a sigh of quietness as daughters went off to school and Beloved was certain I would be home to take care of the situation.

The last set of texts went like this:

Eldest - I didn’t see the mouse when I left this morning,
but I also wasn’t looking for it.

Me - K. Thanks

Eldest - But I could feel its evil little presence watching my every move.

Me - Ha! I shall poison the evilness. And  
      let its carcass rot outside for all eternity

Eldest -  My ears rejoice at the sound of such an evil plan!

Me -  But soft, I am eager to slay the
        beast and return my domain to a    
       happier state

Later, Eldest once again texted:

Eldest - Has the enemy been vanquished?

Me - The trap has been laid.
        The enemy shall be caught
        unawares and sickened by its
         own appetite

Eldest - This Lady protesteth not.

Some people have the nack for taking a mole hill and turning it into a mountain; my family takes a mouse and turns it into a moose.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

On the First Day of School, My Boss Gave to Me

Thursday I drove a school bus. This isn’t really a revelation, since many of you know that during the school year I work three jobs and one of them is driving school bus. Today was also the first day of school, which means lots of frustrated parents, teachers, bus drivers, and administrators.

In the morning I rode along with a new driver, but in the afternoon I had my very own route. Well, since I am only a substitute driver, I never really have my own route. I simply borrow someone else’s route for a short time and give it back when they want it back.

The afternoon’s run started out dreadfully. I was assigned my route and went to the file cabinets where the information on all the routes are kept. I found the folder for the route I was assigned to and it was empty. That could be good or bad. It could mean that there really wasn’t anywhere for me to go, or it could mean that I had to guess. Not sure which it was, I did the unfathomable, I checked with my boss.

That was a mistake.

Apparently, there wasn’t a regular driver for that run. The paperwork hadn’t been completed. And no one was sure where the bus actually was and the students needed to be picked up from school in 30 minutes. With amazing speed, I wrote out the directions, found the bus, and made it to the school with time to spare.

My first school was an elementary school. I got all the students delivered in a timely fashion and without incident. My next route was a middle school after school run. I figured this one would be easy, since the pupils were older and more mature. I got to the first stop, at the corner of Trig Terrace and Chemistry Lane. I opened the doors and announced where we were. Nothing. No one moved. So I started on and asked the students if anyone was on the bus for the next few stops. I was ecstatic since there were quite a number of stops I could skip.

After I reached the halfway point in the trip a young scholar approached me and said, “I think I missed my stop, I needed to get off at Trig Terrace and Chemistry Lane.” I smiled politely and said, “Yes, you did, but have no fear, I shall safely convey you back to your appointed stop.” Or something like that.

I was disappointed the run was going to take me a little bit longer than it should, but it wasn’t a big set back, and I could recover. I was heading to my last stop at the wild west side of the district, when the student, who had told me she lived on a corner of English Road, suddenly exclaimed, “Bus Driver! You have gone the wrong way. I live at 131 English Road and that house number is 3163.”  That was on the far eastern side of the district.

She had gotten on the wrong bus. But all was still not lost. I turned the bus around and on my way back to the totally opposite side of the world, I dropped the forgetful, and apparently deaf, and most likely blind, student off at the corner of Trig Terrace and Chemistry Lane.

It soon became apparent that my last student had great confidence in her non-existent geography prowess. As we traveled down Mt Read and when we reached English Road, the road she lived on, and only a few blocks from her house, I asked, “Does anything look familiar?”

She looked out the window and read the road sign. “Oh, Mt Read, you are close, but you need to keep going straight.” I almost lost it. Not in a bad way, but I almost laughed out loud at the young lady. Although we had come from a different direction, this was the intersection she had been describing for the past few minutes, using phrases like, “I am an expert on my street and how it looks” and “when we are close, I will be able to give you directions.”

I turned down English Road and the student said, “This looks kind of familiar.” Then she saw a street sign. “Wait, there is a road just like that near my house. Oh, look, that's my house!”