emergency room

  • M is for mask, R is for resilience


    Last month we had JB’s first in-person medical appointment since quarantine began in March. JB needed to be re-fitted for leg braces, as he’s (thankfully) grown a lot in the past year.

    “We thought we were just going to postpone this meeting for a few weeks until this whole pandemic blew over,” I said to the technician as he measured JB’s shins.

    “Didn’t we all!” he replied, chuckling.

    I think it’s safe to assume no one accurately predicted we’d be spending these past few months the way we have been.

    I often wonder what JB will remember about this time in his life. One day in May in his virtual preschool class, each child was asked to bring something starting with the letter “M” for show-and-tell. One boy brought a mask. As the students continued their “presentations” with as much focus as three-to-five year olds can muster, I had to turn away and take a deep breath. They are already unfazed by this, I thought. Kids are so freaking resilient! Why can’t we stay that way as adults?

    A few days later, I visited the local coffee shop for a much-needed Nutella iced latte. (Fun fact: If you get it with skim milk, it’s basically a health food.) This was my first time going out since my state required masks to be worn in public. As I put on my mask for the first time, I got a weird squirmy feeling in my gut. “This is the new normal,” I thought. I took a selfie before getting in my car, so I’d remember the moment.

    Fast forward to July, when – long story short – I found myself in the emergency room with JB as doctors did every test imaginable to figure out why he was inconsolable and had a fever. (Basically, since JB can’t tell us what hurts, the doctors have to run a bunch of tests to rule out anything super serious. This was the second time this year we’ve been in this situation.) Due to coronavirus restrictions, my husband, Chris, wasn’t allowed to be in the hospital with us, as there was a one-parent-per-patient rule. (We traded places the next morning.)

    I won’t say much about the ER visit or subsequent overnight hospital stay, out of respect for JB’s privacy. What I will say, though, is that fortunately JB was discharged the next afternoon with a clean bill of health and a new Star Wars “Rey” teddy bear. (Did he orchestrate this whole visit solely for that bear? We may never know!)

    During those 24-or-so hours I was at the hospital, though, surrounded by all sorts of unknowns, I tried to stay focused on the present. That beeping is just because JB wiggled his blood oxygen monitor off again, I’d tell myself. The nurse isn’t coming right back because it’s close to shift change, not because she found something bad in JB’s test results.

    Was I completely successful in staying calm? HELL NO! I got through it, though, with the help of friends and family texting me encouraging messages throughout the day.

    I often think back to the time we went to the same hospital for a maternity-ward tour as part of our child-birthing classes. I could not stop shaking with fear as we pulled into the parking lot. “I can’t go in,” I told Chris. “I’m too afraid. I hate hospitals!” With Chris’s support, I did muster the courage to go in, and seeing that the hospital did not, in fact, look like the constant-dome-of-terror known as Grey Sloan Memorial, I felt relieved.

    Now JB has to visit the hospital several times a year for procedures, tests, and the occasional overnight stay. He’s already used to seeing his “helpers” wearing masks. It’s a normal part of his life, of so many other kids’ lives, and of so many other parents’ lives.

    Now that I think about it, maybe JB isn’t the only one who’s grown.

    Maybe us adults can be pretty resilient, after all.

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  • ‘The Boy Who Wiggled’

    Since the day JB was born, we’ve immersed him in the world of Harry Potter. We started reading him the first book in the hospital nursery; and since then have finished the first two books, Fantastic Beasts #1, and are currently working through Tales of Beedle the Bard.

    In October, JB got his first pair of glasses. With the round frames, his bright eyes, and his father’s 20-year history of being told he looked like the famous wizard, it was inevitable that JB start being told he looked like Harry Potter, as well.

    Apparently that wasn’t enough, though, so last week, JB decided to go for the lightning bolt scar on his forehead, as well.

    He was dancing and wiggling around on his changing table while I was getting him ready for bed. And he wiggled right off the changing pad and onto the rug below, cutting his head on the way down.

    As the emergency room staff was giving him stitches (sure enough – in a lightning bolt pattern on his forehead), it took all my strength not to shout something like “Be careful – I made him! He’s fragile!”

    But he’s not. He’s resilient, and fearless, and conniving, and clever and a million other things. He’s a person all his own: A person who communicates a bit differently, and moves in his own way.

    There are several things he can’t currently do. But there are so many more things that he does with ease, and that others may not be able to do. He can smile, laugh, pet his dog, kick, dance, communicate, see, hear, snuggle and more.

    I was never an adventurous kid. I was super cautious and afraid of everything – monkey bars, water slides, thunderstorms (still hate these), etc. JB doesn’t have that caution or fear, though, and while that can obviously be dangerous, it’s a bit nice, too. Nothing is holding him back, not other people’s opinions, not his physical or medical limitations, and, as of last week, not his changing table anymore.

    Get ready for many more adventures from The Boy Who Wiggled. I have a feeling he’s going to give J.K. Rowling’s books a run for their money.

    Photo by Rae Tian on Unsplash.

    Thanks for the title suggestion, Jen!

    (Please note: this post includes Amazon affiliate links.) 

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