Friday, September 26, 2008

It Was Coffee...

I still can't believe it. Charlie is doing very well. We went for a follow-up appointment Tuesday and the nurse said it looked good. At least I think that is what he said. I couldn't really hear anything over Charlie's uncontrollable hysteria. He lost it the millisecond we entered the clinic. We go back on Friday, Oct. 3rd to see the doctor and determine what therapy he needs. I am going to try to get my hands on a sedative... for Charlie that is.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Yesterday... Unedited

This is not for the faint of heart.

Or coffee lovers.

I was talking to a friend and trying to balance the stroller that had tipped over by the donut table. Charlie dunked his hand in my cup of coffee. I didn't even see him do it.

When he started screaming, the entire church was congregated in the lobby staring while I held his contorted, thrashing, panicked self. His hand was swelling and turning red.

Don't freak out I said to me as I freaked out.

I took Charlie to the bathroom and ran cold water over his hand. He screamed louder. I took him back out to the lobby and asked Greg to go for ice.

He brought back one cube. Someone else handed me a bowl filled with ice water. Other people started handing me odd items they found that might help, but nothing would calm him.

We should take him home. Greg and I grabbed our stuff and headed to the car. I knew he would calm down once we were away from the mass of people. But he didn't. And his fingers were molting.

I started crying because it was my coffee, my negligence, and my fault. Greg is frustrated because he can't fix it. We snap at each other and debate what to do. Charlie screams and Toby keeps talking about trains as if the world is not tumbling into anarchy.

Our church is nowhere near a hospital, but we commit to an ER and take off on a terrible ride.

Charlie is outside of himself with anguish. I can't hold him in the car so I gently rub his cheek even though he keeps pushing my arm away while he waves his hurt hand around and beats it on his own face.

At the hospital, Greg lets me out at the ER doors and I am greeted by a stoic front desk worker. Maybe she was trying to impress me with her de-sensitization to calamity. I was not impressed. She didn't say a single word as I fumbled around the desk for the sign in sheet, crying, and holding my baby whose finger skin was dangling around his knuckles.

I hate you I don't say when I hand the form over the counter.

We wait. Charlie is hysterical. No one reacts but us. Greg goes for ice in the vending area and the front desk lady shrugs her shoulders when we ask how long.

I hate you I don't say again, but Greg does. She goes to the back and when she comes out a person is with her to collect Charlie. She threatens to call security on Greg who is tearing out his hair with frustration. The lady takes her time showing us to a room and I wish she would prove her point in some other way because my baby is hurting so bad.

They give Charlie a shot of morphine and after a few minutes his sobs melt into sniffs, and then he is out. He had been crying for two hours.

We need to transfer him to Parkland, the doctor says.

Really. He's pretty burned, huh? That's what we were thinking during the infinity wait when my sons shrieking had to compete with the crickets in your lobby.

They call an ambulance for me and Charlie and Greg takes Toby home. He will meet up with us after he finds a sitter. Neither of us has our phone so we say a wary good-bye.

At Parkland we are greeted by a sixteen-year-old resident who is skippity do about having a pediatric burn patient. He is so proud of his medical knowledge and experience and he explains how cleaning the burn will be very painful, but luckily Charlie will not remember it.

Oh that is lucky, Doogie, I say while I think I hate you in my mind. Thankfully the burn team arrives with a genuine, tender-hearted doctor and nurse who treat Charlie like a sweet baby boy and I am relieved.

They explain the burn care carefully, but nothing can prepare a mother for that kind of trauma. I wondered how many moms have restrained their child for a bigger burn than Charlie's. It broke my heart.

When they were done, they bandaged him up nicely and gave us instructions to change the wrap at home.

At 4:30, 8 hours after I left the house for church in the morning, we left Dallas and headed home.

Charlie slept the whole way.

Today he is fussy and groggy, but fine. He wants me to hold him when he is awake and I am glad that he needs me. He is going to recover with no problems at all, thanks to the wonder of modern medicine.

I, however, am permanently scarred.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

News On Charlie

I hope this sufficiently takes the place of a zillion phone calls and emails. Please forgive us for not calling you all individually.

This morning in the lobby after church I was holding a scalding hot cup of coffee in one hand and Charlie in the other. He was sitting on my forearm with his arm around my neck. Our stroller dumped over so I transferred the coffee to the hand on Charlie's side so I could set it back up. Before I realized it, Charlie had dunked his hand in the hot coffee. It took me a moment to see why he was screaming, so his hand was actually in the hot liquid for a couple of seconds.

He was inconsolable. We did the normal stuff: run it under cold water, set it in ice water. I decided to take him home to soothe and calm him, but in the parking lot Greg and I saw that the skin on his hand was peeling and blistered. We took him to Denton Presby instead. After a consultation with their ER doc, they sent Charlie and I via ambulance to Parkland. (This is a bigger hospital in Dallas that has a good burn unit.)

Charlie's burn was only second degree, but we learned that burns are more dangerous the more surface area they cover due to swelling. Since Charlie's burns surrounded his entire hand and fingers, it was a serious burn. Swelling can cut off circulation and threaten the health of the affected area.

At Parkland they cleaned his burns and medicated him heavily so he could sleep. It was a very painful process that I will not fully describe. I am thankful that we have access to modern medicine and that Charlie is young enough that he will not remember.

We just got home a little bit ago. He is in his bed still asleep, with a bandage the size of a boxing glove on his hand. We go back in a few days to have it cleaned again. Please pray that he has a speedy recovery and feels little pain.

I will write more soon. Love you all.

BTW my Facebook was hacked and now I cannot log on at all. If you post messages there I can't write back, but I do get them in email.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

The Writer's Conference

There were name tags. There were bagels. There were interestingly clad women with no make-up. My boys were at home with daddy. I was in heaven.

It lived up to the stereotypical conference in every possible way. When I arrived at the host church I could smell the coffee before I was even ten feet from the propped open double doors. I checked in at the folding table and clipped my plastic coated name tag onto my shirt. Andi Hawkins, Texas. This was going to be good.

Everyone is happy to be at a conference on the first morning. Not me though. I was ecstatic. For two whole days I planned to live it up. I was going to network, you know like business people do. I spent days deciding what to wear. I settled on a cream colored sweater with a jean skirt. Dressy for a woman who lives in t-shirts and capri sweatpants covered with snot smears. I wanted to break out my cute shoes to match, but turns out "cute" is just another way to say "torturous". Believe me, some of the attire I witnessed at this conference took all attention from the comfy flip-flops I chose instead. There was a puff sleeve and lacy collar here and there, odd hats, and faded knits with those little bally things clinging all over the fabric. There is no clear explanation for this except that writing is a very introspective career that doesn't pay very well, hence, clothing is merely functional. Call me crazy, but it seemed to add to the mystique. I cannot express to you how much I love these people.

I met a woman right off the bat from my hometown and we became instant friends. Christy I know you are hating me for mentioning you after my fashion analysis, but I am only working chronologically here. You looked great, girl. Christy and I spent many hours this weekend bonding and talking about blogging. She has an amazing story and a gift for encouraging others with her writing. She also has a fabulous website and plans to add a blog soon. Show her some love when you get the chance.

I went to classes all day. Writing basics, query letter writing, formatting manuscripts, personal experience articles, interviewing. I ate up every minute. I had a wonderful lunch with two friends and no one asked me to squirt ketchup or cut up their nuggets. It was refreshingly adult. I had that feeling from summer camp as a kid when you somehow forgot home and adopted a new reality. Almost.

At the end of the first night, the conference director planned to announce the winners of the writing contests. Entries were pre-submitted by attendees prior to the event. I submitted two things: a version of my post "The Garbage Man" rewritten as a children's book, and my post "Running: A Relative Term" as a poem. I didn't want to feel nervous. That would mean I thought I could win and I didn't. But I was nervous. This place was filled with people who knew what they were doing. I felt like a wannabe trailing the popular girls after school.

The director climbed to the stage with a stack of certificates. The winners would also earn fifty dollars cash and a signed copy of the new book Eyewitness. I wanted to win.

He introduced the children's book category. I gulped. I tried to appear casual. And...

I won.
What do ya think of that?

I walked up on stage to get my award and the director read a line from the book to the whole group. I was so stinkin' proud I cried when I got back to my seat. It was unbelievable.

So, if you see me out in public anytime soon and I am wearing ten year old sandals and tapered knit pants you will know why. This world I loved as a child and lost somehow along the way, is calling me back again. I can't wait.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Lunch... Interrupted

I ate a ham and cheese panini in a little cafe on the edge of Southlake Town Center. I had already been to the doctor that morning and told it was not time, see you next week. My friend Jerri sat across from me making idle conversation while I pouted about my inhumane state of being. Every so often we paused so I could breathe in and out and adjust to the intermittent cramping in my belly, false labor rallying to mock my ginormous, bloated, blob of a self. When we finished, Jerri looked at me curiously before parting with an intuitive suggestion: go home and rest. I waved off this gross overreaction like any deliriously pregnant idiot.

Though the cafe was around the corner from my hospital, I drove the fifteen miles back home with Toby in the backseat. I called a couple of friends to nonchalantly ask labor questions -- but not because I thought I was in labor or anything. That would be really melodramatic. What I had was just a tightening around my middle every so often.

I was getting Toby down for nap when I suddenly doubled over in pain. It only lasted a few seconds, but it was very intense. I decided to call the doctor and Greg, just to be on the safe side. Greg flew home... the doctor, however, told me to call him in the morning if I still felt like something was happening. I sent Greg back to work and called my pregnant friend Jennifer to come over and sit with me. Greg protested, but I told him how labor lasts forever and I was not actually having it anyway. It was false labor.

Jennifer and I timed my contractions for almost two hours. They were getting worse, especially since it wasn't the real thing. We called the doctor back -- just to check in. He said it was no big deal until the contractions were six minutes apart for a complete hour. We cheerfully kept tabs on the clock and gabbed about how huge we were and how we would always remember the day we sat around my house keeping our cool when most pregnant women would have rushed off to the ER like dorks only to be sent right back home. Hahaha.

I went ahead and called my mom and dad, you know, just to let them know I was not about to have a baby, just feeling some terrifically strong Braxton-Hicks. In fact, now that I have them on the phone I think I am going to let them talk to Jennifer for a few minutes... I am suddenly unable to stand. Actually, I can't even breathe without crying a little bit... is this typical of false labor?

It was at that point that Jennifer took over, God love her. She pulled a groggy Toby from his bed and whisked him next door to my friend Keri's house along with two diapers and an indefinite pick up time. She and Keri hoisted me into Jennifer's mini-van, which I assure you was no small feat. Jennifer talked to me, called Greg, drove, and timed contractions. I cried. I thought, what kind of person cries through Braxton-Hicks? How would I ever survive the real thing???

We stopped at the church where Jennifer intended to drop me off to my husband. Unfortunately, I could not get out of the van. Greg had to hop in the driver's seat with me and Jennifer followed in his car. It was 3:30.

At 3:50 we pulled into the hospital parking lot. Greg had been on the phone with the L and D floor to explain our situation and they had a nurse waiting for us in the circle drive. I was white knuckling the seat cushion and moaning like a wounded lion. As we pulled up, an innocent bystander inadvertently walked in front of the mini-van. I remember yelling out the window in my best Linda Blair for her to "MOVE"!!! Greg, however, recalls it with a bit more @$#%#& thrown in. You can pick.

My nurse, Suzy, whisked me up to a room in a wheelchair. She gave me a gown to put on which I unfortunately was never able to do. I got as far as undressing before a surge of pain prevented anything more. Suzy rushed in and helped me to the bed. I begged for my epidural. I screamed. I crawled around on the white sheets pleading for someone to cut the baby from my abdomen and put an end to this ridiculous formality. Somewhere in my delirium, a pack of medical professionals arrived to not save my day. Equipment was rushed into the room and this and that person were paged STAT.

My doctor explained that he could break my water and speed things along, but an epidural would never have time to work. I explained that it would work even if I had to gouge the needle into the center of my own brain. As if staged for a TV movie, my water broke with a loud pop. I started bawling, crouched on the hospital bed that looked like the background set for a horror movie. I guess he had pity on me and an anesthesiologist was allowed to give the epidural a try. She was wonderfully quick -- but not quick enough. At 4:20 pm, approximately one nanosecond after my epidural went in, Michael Charles was caught by the doctor with the gown I never had the joy of donning.

It was a miracle. The first baby to ever be born to a woman in false labor. Everyone walked around me like I was the Blessed Mother. Okay, not really. Everyone seemed pretty put out with me and my capacity for denial. Greg was utterly traumatized after witnessing a birth void of pain relief and dignity. My mother was somewhere between Oklahoma City and Ardmore missing the whole thing. Jennifer was relieved to not be scrubbing placenta out of her mini-van floor mats. I was the only one feeling quite dandy. I spared myself the anxiety of impending labor and even better... I never missed single meal. By 5:00 I was in a private room munching on a turkey sandwich.

Charlie, some day when you are old enough to read this without dying of embarrassment or gagging, I hope you know that you were worth every minute. I love you.