Archive for the Parenting Category

Swallowing the Ladybug, Part III

Posted in Parenting on January 31, 2011 by Mike

So we had to drive to Temple.  At midnight.

I imagined that the ambulance would have its lights flashing, its siren blaring as we roared down Hwy 6, but no such luck.  Don’t get me wrong, the driver wasn’t pokey, but he only got up to about 75 or so at times – I didn’t have any real trouble keeping up.  In hindsight, following an ambulance to Temple was the best choice because I would have gotten LOST after turning off of 6 at Hearne.

An hour and a half later, we arrive at Temple – Suzie’s sleeping pretty soundly and Laura had managed to doze a bit herself.  I, on the other hand, was sleep-deprived and my eyes were swimming – those last 30 minutes of the trip were  a bit dicey for me; only Sirius blasting Liquid Metal managed to keep me more or less alert.

More waiting ensued.  We spent about two and half more hours waiting for Suzie to be taken for an x-ray, and by this time (about 4:30 AM), Laura’s patience was running out.  She finally went to speak to someone and soon after Suzie was wheeled out to x-ray where they found that the ladybug had moved to the entrance of the small intestine (looked it up: the pylorus) where it was lodged snugly.  We’re both worried that if they don’t get going with the endoscope soon, we may be looking at actual surgery to get the damned thing out.  But the staff assures us that there’s time and they’re prepping the room at that time.  Forty-five minutes later Suzie is taken for the procedure and there’s nothing for us to do but wait.

I’m going to try to describe what I was feeling at this time.  For those without children, I’m not quite sure you can understand the feelings a parent has seeing a child wheeled away to a surgical room.  It doesn’t matter if it’s merely for ear tubes or anything else – there’s a fear that you might never see your child again.  At least that’s what I felt.  It’s one of the most difficult emotions I’ve ever had – I know it’s necessary, but I don’t want her  out of my sight, and yet I can’t do one damned thing to help her.  It’s faith that allows the nurse to wheel the child away – faith in the staff, the doctor, and God that you’re doing the right thing. But it’s also a helpless feeling, one that I don’t feel too often, and one I never want to feel.

Waiting is excruciating.  Humor helps – Laura and I joked about wondering how Suzie was going to pay this off and things like that, but nothing could relieve the tension.  Neither of us dozed at all – we finally located some coffee and watched a National Geographic show on orangutans,  remarking how we bet the baby apes never swallowed anything stupid.

Finally, the doctor came out with a small plastic cup in his hand.  I noticed this because that’s what I immediately  looked for when he came through the doors.  The relief was palpable – it washed over me like a warm shower, I kid you not.  I felt a warmth envelop me as the doctor told us he was able to get it (it had almost been taken in by the valve) and I know I had tears of gratitude well up when he was describing the procedure.  It was a brief talk; the doctor left us pretty quickly but then returned about 10 minutes later to ask if we wanted to see her.

Of course we did.

We saw Suzie wake up from the anesthesia – there was the pretty standard confusion as to where she was and she cried a bit.  Then she puked up some blood from the scratches on her esophagus caused by the endoscope and the sobbing really began.  But other than that, she was fine; she needed to stay until the doctors saw that she could eat/keep things down – Laura decided to drive back to College Station and make sure her work was taken care of  while I stayed with Suzie.

She slept.  I watched.

This is what started all the trouble.


Sidenote:  After we saw Suzie wake up, it was decided I needed to go find a CVS for some pull-ups.  The nurse there tells me where to go but neglects to tell me how to get to the hospital exit.  Now, I’ve gone the whole night without sleep so I walk out of the recovery room a bit disoriented, but looking for signs directing me to an exit.  I must have taken a step in a wrong direction because an older doctor came up behind me and grabbed my arm, asking me what I was doing down there in a restricted area.  In my daze I try to explain about my daughter just inside the room I had exited, all the while thinking that his grabbing my arm is a bit uncalled for, and, looking back on this, I believe if I hadn’t been so disoriented he might have seen me react a bit to his grabbing me.  Anyway.  His aggressiveness was odd.

Swallowing the Ladybug, Part II

Posted in Parenting on January 17, 2011 by Mike

Yeah, Suzie had swallowed it.

I looked around the desk for the charm but obviously couldn’t find it.  Meanwhile, my wife is making arrangements to get our older daughter to her parents because we’re going to need to take Suzie to the emergency room.  She then lays into me about not paying attention to Suzie, which in my opinion is a patently unfair accusation because she was sitting on my lap and I was tickling her at the time; if anything, I was paying TOO MUCH attention to her.  True, I had no idea that Suzie had put the ladybug in her mouth, but…well, that doesn’t exactly help my case, does it?  I only know that I couldn’t believe Suzie had done this – she had never really been one to put things in her mouth – and I couldn’t really defend myself against Laura’s complaints.

So basically we’re both frustrated and worried about our daughter, and on top of this it was a chore to wake Tina up.  Seems once she’s out, she’s OUT.  I roused her at least twice, telling her to get some shoes on to get ready to go to her Bubba’s only to find her asleep in bed three minutes later.  When her Bubba did finally get to the house, Tina still seemed confused as to what was going on and why I was yelling at her to get out to Bubba’s truck.

Anyway, Laura and I got Suzie, who had calmed down a bit by now, into the car and took her to the emergency room.  Suzie was asking questions about what we were doing, but was in strict agreement with the idea that the LADYBUG HAD TO BE GOTTEN OUT OF HER TUMMY. Unfortunately, Suzie thought this was going to be a pretty simple process: “I’ll go to the doctor and he’ll get the ladybug out?” she kept suggesting, and Laura and I could only hope it would be that simple.

We had no idea what was in store for us.

The emergency room was quiet when we arrived – the St. Joseph facility had practically just opened that year and we were able to walk right in and take Suzie to a room.  Then the waiting began.  The nurses, of course, came in and asked the pertinent questions, but we kept waiting for them to take Suzie for the x-ray.  This was about 10:15 or so.  Another 40 minutes passed before they took her for the x-ray, where they found that, yes, she had swallowed the charm and it was settled in her stomach quite nicely.

Here’s where the fun begins.  After looking at the x-ray, it’s determined that the ladybug should be able to pass naturally and that we should be able to take her home and just keep an eye out for it in a day or two.  Laura was a bit concerned about the antenna on the thing (they were a bit pointy) but that didn’t seem to worry anyone else.  I, on the other hand, felt a bit of relief, because I had visions of Suzie having to have surgery to get the thing out.  So at about 11:00 PM I’m thinking we’re going to be able to head on back home. Then the doctor being consulted said that it would have been different if the charm had had both a battery AND a magnet in it – either one by itself was apparently not a problem.

Well, damn.

Funny thing about those ladybug charms – they have the small battery to light up the LEDs but they also have a magnetic back to them (apparently to teach dads a lesson about not watching what their kids put in their mouths).  So when Laura lets the doctor know this little factoid he gets a bit more serious and starts making some phone calls.  And we’re back to waiting.

After another 20 minutes or so, we find out that we’re going to need to go to the Scott and White Hospital in Temple because there is no one in B/CS  who will use an pediatric endoscope.  [note: Laura and I at the time were outraged, thinking that some doctor just didn’t want to get out of bed.  Later she would talk to a friend in the medical field who explained the concern about liability among doctors who haven’t concentrated in that kind of procedure  and how the doctor in Temple is practically the best there is at pediatric endoscopy].  Then we are told Suzie will be taken by ambulance, which is an 80 mile trip, and that the EMTs have been informed but that we would have to wait not only for its arrival, but the arrangements to be made for the transfer.

Now, Laura is not the most patient of people in even the best of circumstances (don’t ever be in a car with her during rush hour traffic – it’s not pretty).  She’s a take-charge person (a reason I love her), and there were moments that I could tell that she was seriously considering packing up Suzie in our car and making the drive ourselves.  Which would have been bad because I would have ended up driving and then we would have ended up lost.  It didn’t help matters much that Laura’s dad was there kvetching about the waiting and generally being grumpy toward the staff, and thus stressing Laura out more.  Still, Laura remained calm and reasonable while I went home to pack some things for Suzie and Laura for the trip.  Suzie, meanwhile, slept.

Finally, at about midnight, the ambulance was ready to go.  Laura was to ride in the ambulance with Suzie while I followed behind in our car.  They got loaded up and we were off to Temple…

next time: the drive to Temple and more waiting

Swallowing the Ladybug, Part I

Posted in Parenting on January 9, 2011 by Mike

So, I have two daughters, ages 8 and 4.  My eight year old likes to think she’s 13 but I’ll end up writing about that another time.  My four year old is very easy-going, and up until this past December there’s been no “drama” with her (her sister’s had stitches in her forehead twice, not due to anything cool like sports, but general clumsiness).  That all changed when she swallowed a lady-bug.

I had just come back from my shift at a newspaper late night and was sitting at my computer, probably reading texags or something.  Suzie, my younger daughter, stays up a little later than her older sister because she doesn’t have to get up as early, and she likes to snuggle with my wife before she goes to bed.  I think my wife (Laura) was in the dining room putting together Christmas invitations for the party we were having in two weeks.

Anyway, Suzie comes up to me and wants dessert, even though it’s 9:30.  I put some yogurt pretzels in a little bowl and she comes to sit on my lap while I’m back on the computer, reading random crap (I have to keep up on my random trivia for QRANK).  She then notices the ladybug on the desk.  Laura had just cleaned off the desk in order to display a nativity scene at the top which meant a lot of junk hidden behind the pictures of our kids we normally keep up there got pushed down to the desktop.  One of these lost treasures was a necklace charm shaped like a lady bug, which lit up with blinking lights when the back was twisted.

This is the infamous ladybug

She immediately grabs it, correctly identifying it as a ladybug.  The battery inside was long dead so I couldn’t show her how it lit up, but she didn’t care.  She examined it a bit, and then  went back to eating her yogurt pretzels – I saw her grab a pretzel from the bowl so I thought her interest in the charm had faded. [Now here’s where I apparently wasn’t a good dad].  Suzie asked me to sing the “Yo Gabba Gabba” song “There’s a Party in my Tummy!” with her, so I raise my voice an octave and start singing it, tickling her tummy [note to parents: don’t do that while your kids are eating].  Suzie started giggling but then started gagging and coughing; something was apparently caught in her throat  so I put her down and called to Laura, thinking she swallowed a pretzel wrong.  Actually I was a bit frightened; I had seen my daughters get food caught before but this was different – for a moment I could tell Suzie couldn’t breathe.  So my calling Laura was more out of feeling of utter helplessness and a hope that my vet wife could fix her.

But practically as soon as the gagging/coughing began it stopped – Suzie spit out some fragments of yogurt pretzel into my hand and I felt relieved that THAT was over.  But then Suzie started crying, and as I started to try to console her she said those four words that would lead to one of the longest nights of our lives:

“I swallowed the ladybug!” /sobs

To be continued…