Tuesday, July 10, 2012

How We Spent Our Summer Vacation


Please excuse the extended absence from this blog.  My computer was down and the kid got sick, we went out of town, I got another job and I had to work a double.  Sort of.  Mostly I am a procrastinator of the first order. When I begin to feel like I should write, suddenly all of these super important tasks come to mind.  I begin to remember that I have to knit that scarf I promised someone ages ago, start the laundry, go for a run, see if I still owe my 9th grade algebra teacher any back homework, give the dog a bath, reconsider going back to college to finish my degree...anything to avoid actually sitting down to do one of the things I enjoy most in the world.  I have spoken before of my paralyzing fear of both taxidermy and public humiliation resulting from failure. This is how it manifests.  And I am not the only writer who experiences this form of writer's block, which is self-imposed and therefore more of a writers' avoidance.  I know because I was Googling it while waiting for my math teacher's return email.  I think I may have found the cure.  The only thing I hate more than hypothetically bombing at a blog I don't get paid to write, is cleaning.  Whenever that vacuum cleaner comes out, it is like a french-kiss from the muses.  My brain rolls and tumbles with all the amazing and hilarious anecdotes I could be writing about and sharing with my friends, who are also probably sitting at their desks Googling things like "what is the scientific name for 'fear of taxidermy'", to avoid their obligations, and see my link pop up in their news feed.  (By the way, Automatonaphobia is the closest I could come up with, and it is a fear of life-like but inanimate objects.  And it seems that plenty of other Google users share my fear, too).

Nightmare.  I got sick even looking for this image. If you ever want to sleep soundly again, never Google "taxidermy animal using a typewriter".  Or anything like that.  Trust.


So today I made up some story to my husband about wanting to shampoo the carpets. Mostly so he'd take Isaac and our niece Reilly the hell out of the house for a few damn minutes, and also because it is beginning to smell like a barn in here, with the heat and humidity and yet-unwashed dog. After about ten whole minutes of valiant effort on my part, I realized that our stupid carpets will never be clean, we should just have hardwood so I can aggressively avoid cleaning something different for a change, and that I should probably over-share the hell out of our most recent adventure with Isaac, one that gives "our little bruiser" and whole new, and scary meaning.

On the Saturday before the restaurant where we work closed down for a week, Isaac woke up from his nap covered in bruises.  Head to toe.  He had a goose-egg on the back of his head like Wile E. Coyote has after meeting with the business end of an Acme anvil.  His legs looked like he'd been thrown down the stairs.  Now, I knew none of this had happened to him.  Either Matt or I are nearly constantly with him, and when we aren't, my sister or our super trustworthy sitter have him. I knew someone would have alerted me if the boy had a run-in with the Roadrunner. I freaked, but I like to keep my freak-outs in perspective.  Things could get out of hand if I let each and every fear reach maximum saturation.  I called my mother, sister, husband and babysitter.  Everyone said that it was strange, sudden and unexplained, and that I should call the doctor immediately.  We got an emergency appointment an hour later.  Four hours after that, we were on our way to Strong Memorial Hospital in Rochester NY for treatment.  Isaac had a dangerously low platelet count of 3000.  Apparently a healthy adult has somewhere around 150,000 and up.  His count was so low that he could bleed to death if he fell. But the good news! It wasn't Leukemia.  That is  one thing that all the bruising could signal.  But it wasn't. It isn't. And it won't be.  It is something called Idiopathic thrombocytopenic purpura, and this translates to "low platelet count for unknown reasons" (don't worry, even the doctors stumbled over it most times, just say ITP).  He got a treatment called WinRho, which gave his platelet-attacking antibodies the ol' Scooby-Doo, dressing up his red blood cells as a decoy so his platelets have a chance to regrow.  It worked terrifically.  He's back in business, by the following Thursday his platelet count was up to 328,000, and we were home.  So I am no longer helmet shopping or attempting to encase him in bubble wrap, and by most accounts, ITP is usually a one time thing.
I don't want, for a minute, to pretend that I had the sickest kid on the planet, or in the hospital, or on our floor even. I didn't.  It was scary, it was nerve-wracking.  But for all my history of Worst-Case Scenario-ing everything, I did not do that for Isaac. He seemed to feel and act fine, so I had not one ounce of panic in me.  About a minute of relief-tears upon hearing we had to rush him to a major children's hospital for an emergency treatment, yes. Full-on fear? No. I don't know if that is a mother's self-preservation instinct, a delusional optimism, the benefit of having a scientist for a mother, the push of my friends and family's prayers being answered or what. I did bargain.  For a hot minute I thought that if I were somehow nicer to Isaac, he wouldn't be sick.  If I just let him eat all those crackers instead of dinner.  If I let him climb the stairs every time he wanted to, if I allowed him to scream at the top of his lungs in the grocery store and stand on the couch, if I could allow him to be a bad boy, a baby, a kid in all the ways he wanted to be, he wouldn't actually have a low platelet count.  It would be a misunderstanding and we could just forget the whole thing ever happened. No needles, no worry, no conversations about the "L" word I mentioned earlier.  I can't imagine how parents with really sick kids do it.  I mean, I knew that giving in and letting him devour the dog food (yeah, he's still doing that), is not going to magically cure his illness.  His platelets aren't making an active choice to die-off because I make him wear pants and won't allow him to hit the cats. He's still in need of parenting.  I still have to make all the right choices that will help him grow into a good person-  not one who screams bloody murder if he's not allowed eat hand-fulls of kibble while standing on the furniture. What about the parents of the 50 pound 10 year old we saw, with no hair, getting his exercise by walking around the nurses station? Do they feel constantly compelled to allow endless Star Wars marathons and Frozen Cokes for lunch? The mind reels at just how difficult saying "no" must be when it is said to the sick and weak little person walking around with your heart in his failing body.
I have thought about this post, in one form or another, from about Day 3 of being a parent.  It occurred to me that the only thing more painful than childbirth is being a mother.  The agony of pushing his entire body out of mine was nothing compared to the agony of knowing that he is now separate from me.  The world has him now, and there is only so much I can do to protect him. What a crazy balancing act we play, as parents. This last week has certainly been one of blessing-counting.  There is nothing like staying two nights in a children's hospital to make you realize how sick your kid isn't. (And, it is worth mentioning, nothing like two nights sleeping in a hospital pull-out chair to make you realize how indispensable places like the Ronald McDonald House must be for families whose children are.  http://rmhc.org/, if you're the donating type).
 Oh, the little Hartley/Vallely byproduct didn't mind being center of attention at all! Flirting with the nurses and everything.


Alright, you got your cry out of me, Matt will be home any minute with the Romanian Demons (that is what Reilly mistakenly called Loony Tune's Tasmanian Devil yesterday.  I'm keeping it), and I think the Water Vacuum (another one of Reilly's gems) is still running where I left it to write this not-so hilarious piece.  Hope you still like me!