Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Part Two: The Surgery

It's 5:30am on December 21st 2012.

Wow this year has gone by so fast. Four days till Christmas, the birthday of our Savior. This is truly my favorite time of year. The saying passed down from my grandmother to my mother, a saying my children will affectionately say to their children "Jesus is the reason for the season". It puts everything into perspective and nothing else really matters. All the sibling bickering, the passing of the football in the house only to break a few of my most precious decorations, the yelling and screaming, choking, and empty threats assertively yelled from the couch.... All of it disappears this time of year for me.

I walk into Precious Angel's room and gently sit on the bed. My poor baby is going to be put under and cut into. A first among a long line of firsts as a mother. I lean over and softly kiss his head, "Hey sweetie. It's time to wake up. This is the day buddy. We are going to fix your arm once and for all."

Precious Angel: "This sucks. So much for the end of the world...I'd rather have the world end..."

Me: "Please don't say 'sucks' in front of me, now get up and let's get this over with, and you better change that attitude."

Can you blame him??

We check into Children's around 6:00am. I love Children's. I love the doctors, the nurses, even the people who work in the cafeteria are so accommodating and caring.
The receptionist quickly and efficiently checks us in and says. "Tommy, do me a favor and pick out a gift for yourself. Most are unwrapped but some are wrapped if you'd like to be surprised. You'll find tags with ages and if you unwrap something you don't like or want then bring it back and open another until you find something you like."

His face lit up! There must have been over a hundred gifts lined up along the desk and wall. These pictures do not do it justice. The receptionist said that this wasn't even a fraction of the gifts they have to give. She has closets full that they will hand out through February.
Wow. That is truly awesome.
Tommy takes his time and scouts out all the choices. I thought he was going to go for the Headbandz game but he stopped at a wrapped gift, "boy 10 and up".
With one hand he rips the paper off and his face lights up as he pulls out a handmade blanket covered in basketballs! It is the softest blanket and he says, "Mom! Look, it's like it was made for me!"
Now, I grew up in a "blanket family". We have always had an assortment of blankets beside, behind, or draped over any given couch. They ranged from crocheted to hideous or a combination of both. Thus in the Hamlin house we have an assortment of blankets as well that fall within that range. I was thrilled for Tommy and later you will see that it turned out to be a blessing that this gift chose him :)
We take our pager and find a place in the kid friendly waiting room.
When I say kid friendly I am speaking of Dan of course...

Remember Pac Man??

Precious Angel

Although our wait wasn't long it was long enough for a little nap with his super soft blanket.
Our pager goes off and we are taken to the pre-op room. This is where Dan and I will wait while Tommy is in surgery.
Tommy is visibly nervous. When I tell the nurse she orders him a xanax. Thank you Jesus.
Then the anesthesiologist comes in and says that this is his final day before retirement. This could mean one of two things. He's going to make this the best last day ever or he could give two shits because his mind is out playing golf.
Prepped and ready to go.
It's always a treat when we give Children's our name to enter into their database and a page of entries pops up on the screen. They are all "Oh my, you HAVE been here before. Wow, you must keep Dr. Albert busy..."
Yep, you have the correct file. That's us. And no, our insurance has not changed in the last three months.
I wonder if Anthem thinks they are being punked? I mean, that was my first reaction when this whole thing started...
They ask Tommy what color cast he would like. Tommy gives this serious thought.
"Well, I've had light blue, red, orange, neon yellow, green, and dark blue. I want glow in the dark but since it's Christmas can you make it look like a candy cane. Red and white stripes??"
"Hmmm, we've never done that before. I'll tell Dr. A and see what he can do, ok? What is your backup color?"
"Just glow in the dark please"
It's 8:15 on the dot and Tommy has had all the appropriate meds to make him relaxed and loopy. He is a bit emotional and I walk with his bed until I reach the double doors to surgery. With teary eyes I kiss him goodnight and say a silent prayer all will be well. The nurses assure me all will be fine, they take my cell number to call me if I decide to take a walk or get something to eat"
Like hell I'm leaving.
Waiting is the worst. It allows you time to think about all that could go wrong. Every minute passes like it's hours. Thirty minutes into waiting Dan says he's going to look for a vending machine to get something to drink. He walks out and then walks right back into the room.
Dan: Ummm, Dr. Albert just walked by me.
Me: What? Are you sure it was him?
Dan: Yes I'm sure, I profile notice people for a living.
Me: Well, what the f#@* is he doing out of surgery?? Shouldn't he be in the OR? Great it's probably "intern day" or some shit, everyone in the Christmas f-ing giving spirit around here, "giving" their surgeries to the Mr. Julys of the world. He better get his ass back in there and keep those idiot doctor wannabes away from our son. christ, this is probably a "learning" hospital....
Dan: Try to calm down, there is probably a good reason why he's out here..
Me: Yeah, cause I prayed the Angel of the Lord to come down and lay hands on his fricking arm!!! My ass there is a good reason... that's the ONLY good reason to leave an OR with my son on the table.
Dr. Albert (walking into our room and looking directly at me): Heyyy guys. I saw your husband in the hall and figured it was a matter of time before you came looking for me (chuckle).
Me: not smiling
Dr. Albert: We tried to do a closed reduction alignment of the bones but I couldn't get the bone to align so we are putting him under now and I'm going to put in a rod. Just wanted to update you.
Okay, I guess that's an OK reason to leave the OR. Dan's right I need to calm down and trust these people know what they are doing. I'm feeling a little better now.
Me: How much longer do you expect to be?
Dr. Albert: Well, give me about 30 more minutes.
Me: Oh, I didn't mean it like that! Take all the time you need, no rush. I was just wondering.
Well damn, I hope I didn't offend the surgeon. Nice going Katie.
Forty-five minutes later, and I am pacing the f-ing jail cell they put us in. Could this room get any smaller?? Dan did finally leave and get a drink and a doughnut.
Tick. Tick. Tick.
Finally Dr. Albert walks in and says, "I ran 15 minutes over, sorry. Tommy is great. I put in two rods to stabilize the bones. He will be in recovery for about an hour. The nurses will come in and tell you your room number then you can wait up there. If I don't see you, you guys have a very Merry Christmas!"
Dan: Funny how the doctor apologized to you...
Me: What, I was just concerned. It's how I cope. When I'm scared it translates into anger.
Lucky Dan, lol.
Within minutes the nurse comes in and gives us our room number. They will be bringing Tommy up to the room so we can head up there and wait. It's probably good for me to take a walk, burn off a little of my nervous energy.
There is a bit of construction on the fourth floor so it was a little difficult to find the room. We reached the end of the hallway to a set of double doors with a sign that says "Oncology Patients Only Beyond This Point". Hmm, that's odd because according to the law of ordinal numbers the 415th room would be right after those doors.
I go to the nurses station to ask for directions and she says to go through those double doors.
My stomach falls because I know what I am going to see when we cross through those doors. I will not joke about this part of my story because there is nothing funny about the beautiful bald children we walk passed. Every single one smiling so big as we pass the rooms. Lord, forgive me for ever complaining about this surgery. It puts everything in perspective.
Waiting, waiting, waiting. It's the theme of the day today. Our room is nice. Although there are two beds we have the whole room to ourselves. Dan is so calm, as always. Assuring me all it well and he will be here before we know it, etc.
About an hour later in comes Tommy.
With a Candy Cane cast!!
Only at Children's.. these people are the best. We have yet to be disappointed with their services. Thank you Children's!
Pain is not great and we try to find a happy place with his meds. If we can't get his meds under control they will keep him over night. Damn.
There is usually one sure thing that brings my children true happiness and that is food. Did you know that they have room service at Children's? Absolutely anything you can think of they have on the menu. Furthermore you can order as much as you like and whenever you want. And if they bring your food and you are out of your room for a test or xray or something they will just take it back to the kitchen and leave you a note that when the patient returns please call us back and we will make a fresh plate and bring it right up. Amazing.
First up, a cherry slushy. Second order, a blue slushy. Feeling a little ambitious on the third, a BLT sandwich, Cheetos, grapes, and a sprite. He ate every single bite.
By now he is feeling better, even his color looks good.
 Then Catholic Services comes in. A woman carrying a basket asks Tommy would he like a gift? Are you kidding?? I know he is thinking as long as it's not Mass, sure!
They give him a handmade card from some school kids and a few books. It was so thoughtful and made Tommy smile. Wow, two gifts!
About an hour later another woman walks in our room and announces that the Air Force is here to hand out gifts, and would Tommy like one? Two men in full dress uniforms come in and give Tommy a dart gun "to shoot the nurses", lol.
Look at his face! This was the highlight of the day. I am in awe of the generosity. Our nurse, Steph was awesome. She was so nice to Tommy, with gentle hands and HID THE NEEDLE when she put in his IV. Maybe Mr. July should come intern at this wonderful learning hospital....
Things are looking up and we officially have our discharge papers.
We are going home!!!
All is well now, the worst has passed. It was a rocky Christmas for us. Max ended up running a fever of 103 and Dan and I took turns going to the Grandparents. Today Tommy woke up with the same fever...
I can think of a million worse things so I can't complain too much. I think God put us in a room surrounded by cancer patients for a reason.
A broken bone heals.
New Year's Eve is right around the corner. I hoping we are cashed out for 2012 but crazier things have happened.
I'm just sayin....

Merry Belated Christmas and Happy New Years!

Monday, December 24, 2012

Wait, what?! Are you serious? Dammit. I'll be there in five.

Tommy at UMVC
You know how back in August Tommy broke his arm during his first football game?? Yeah well you're gonna love this one....

 Part one: The Story.

I stayed home with Max last Monday because he was running a fever and I wanted to keep an eye on him. Usually when he is sick with a cold I don't take off work. He is pretty good about lying low and is self sufficient but this time he looked like he could use a "mommy day"... I mean he didn't actually say this and if you asked him he would probably prefer that I NOT stay home with him but moms know best and all that crap...

It actually turned out to be a really great morning because I was able to care for my sweet sick little boy, placing a cool wash cloth on his head, sitting by his side the whole time, spooning warm broth into his precious mouth.


Now, I know what you are thinking.... "yeah right". Ok, that's not exactly how the morning went. Max stayed in bed and I caught up on the DVR while grading the never ending stack of papers. It really was a "mommy day" all about me! As a matter of fact I called Dan at work and told him how much my life rocked and could it get any better than this?! I love it when my kids are sick!


Note: when my boys are sick they are so sweet. It brings back those memories when we loved them enough to jump in front of a car. Those moments when you just look at them and think "could I love them anymore than I do right now?" I think it was somewhere around two or three years old. When they see you and they run full force and wrap their chubby little arms around your neck. Seriously, the best... This sweetness all comes back when they are sick for some reason...


As with all good things.. it abruptly came to an end. A little before 11:00 their school called and said they think Tommy broke his arm. I was all "dammit" then "but we are still paying on the first one, how can this happen???" and finally, "is he ok?"


I run into Max's room and tell him I need to go to school because they think Tommy broke his arm to which Max just shakes his head. Exactly.


Then I make the dreaded phone call to Dan as I am driving. It goes something like this:


Me: Hey sweetie!

Dan: Hey beautiful, how is your morning going so far? Are you relaxing? Is Max ok?

Me: Umm, well, kinda..... Funny story (small giggle), I am on my way to the school.

Dan: okaaaaay.... what's going on??

Me: I'm sure it's fine but Kelly called and said that Tommy tripped in gym and they think he might have possibly broken his arm. I'm sure he just fell on it wrong but I am going to take a look just in case.

Dan: WHAT?!! Are you serious?!

Me: I know it's probably a false alarm but they called so I feel obligated to go check.

Dan: christ, it's always something with these kids!

Me (pulling into the parking lot): Holy shit they called an ambulance, What the f*$#!? I'll call you back.

As I pull into the parking lot I see an ambulance and Tommy being wheeled out on a stretcher. I throw my car in park and run over to him. He is hysterical. Screaming, crying, reaching for me, crazy like. I think he was in shock because I've never see him like this.


I hop (and when I say hop I mean completely trip and now have a black and blue shin) into the ambulance and try to calm him down but he was completely crazy. So the medic boys, Kurt and Mr. July decide to IV him.


The meds take immediately and he calms slightly.

Here is what he said:

1. Mom, I'm so sorry I know how much this is going to cost you.

2. Why did I have to break my arm, what is wrong with me?

3. And mom can you please homeschool me.


My reaction was:

1. Baby please don't worry about the money it is the last thing on my mind, I just want you to get better (I wonder what this ambulance ride is going to cost, if I crochet everyone a f-ing potholder for Christmas I might make up the difference. Yep, that’s what I’ll do). Seriously Tommy, money is not a concern at all.

2. There is nothing wrong with you, it was the asshole that tripped you, don't worry I'll put your brother on it (ok, I didn't really say that but I sure as hell thought it)

3. Hell no.


He was playing Capture the Flag in gym and a friend tripped him, not on purpose.  Well maybe on purpose in the way boys are idiots and think it’s funny to trip their friends and watch them fall, but not on purpose in the way it would create a broken arm. I think there is a “bro code” where they draw the line at broken bones.


Back to the ambulance:

Mr. July: Ma’am, is your leg ok?

Me: (who the hell is he calling Ma’am. Did my mom just get in here with me?? No dick, I’m fine. Maybe we should focus on the obvious right now) I’m fine thanks.

Kurt: How does your son do with morphine? I think we should start an IV.

Me: (thank God, someone who knows how to do his job. Mr. July should get out a notebook and take notes. Step one, offer drugs. What a prick, yes we get it… you work out…apparently all the time…) Yes, please start an IV, I think morphine will be fine, It’s what we, I mean he had last time.  Thank you, you are a Godsend.


Me: Tommy, Mr. Kurt is going to put in an IV, hold still and be calm. You will be much better when you get the meds trust me.

Kurt: Ok Tommy it’s going to be a little pinch. My dipshit partner here is going to hand me the needle over your wide opened eyed face where you can take the time to study the length of the needle and reflect on how painful it will be when I jam it into your not still hand.


Seriously Mr. July….. get your shit together.


Kurt does a fabulous job at getting the IV in and as I stated before, the morphine starts to work. I figure this is a good time to call Dan and give him an update.


Me: Guess what?

Dan: What the hell is going on? Who called an ambulance?! Is it really broken?

Me: Yes, it is really broken. Same arm as last time and in the same place. The school called the ambulance, I guess he was screaming and in pain. It’s probably school protocol for something like this. What should I do??

Dan: Tell the medics we want them to take him straight to Children’s

Me: (speaking to Kurt because this is not his first rodeo) I’d like to go to Children’s please.

Kurt: I’m sorry we have to take him to UMVC. We are contracted with them...

Dan-talking through the phone because he can hear everything being said: That it bullshit! They go where we tell them. Take Tommy out of the ambulance and put him in our car and take him to Children’s!

Kurt-speaking to Dan as he could hear him yelling through the phone: I can call the hospital and get an override….

Me- speaking to Dan while Kurt is speaking: He has an IV, I can’t take him out of the ambulance…

Dan: Shit, just take him to UMVC and we will take him to Children’s from there. I’m leaving work now. I’ll meet you there.

Mr. July: Once you get there you can take deny treatment and take him to Children’s.


Thanks stupid.


We get to UMVC and go through the usual. Xrays, doctors pulling his chart.. yes, he just broke this arm in August, yes they said it was healed when they took his cast off, yeah what are the odds??

 Ouch! I'd say that's broke...

Xray showed that both bones are broken…again. They tried to set both bones but they could only get one straight.


So, off to Children's we go the next day to see the orthopedic doctor, Dr. Alberts.

And guess what?? Another xray confirms that his bones are broke but this time the radius is twisted and we are going to need surgery.

 A metal rod and some pins for six to eight months. Tommy is a mess, he’s in so much pain and completely freaked out about surgery. I don't have the heart to tell him he will need another surgery to take it out!


It is what it is. Worse things are going on in the world but still..., he's MY baby and I hate that he's in so much pain.


Through all the medicine he said "mom, are you gonna blog about this?" I said "you bet your sweet ass I am, it might be the big payday we are looking for"


Ok, I didn't really say that either... : )

Oh and by the way, I noticed the new construction going on at UMVC.

You're welcome UMVC- Love the Hamlin Family via Anthem Blue Cross


Just in case you lost count we are up to EIGHT broken bones between the two boys, one set of stitches, and one injury to the eye because apparently swinging an open umbrella around WILL indeed "poke your eye out"..


I told you so.


Merry f-ing Christmas....

From the Hamlins

This is the face of a father whose "had it up to here" with ER visits...

Stay tuned for the rest of the story,  Part Two: The Surgery.