Tuesday, May 30, 2006





Kendrie -- Day 166 OT

Blaine -- Home from Seattle, burned like a crispy French-fry

Kristie -- Fat (see the PS. But getting my energy back!)

The rest of my family --- oh dear heavens, just read the update!

So, let’s see, this is one heckuva story … where do I even begin? Let’s start with the birth and go chronologically from there. Again, I don’t want to give too many details out of respect to the baby’s family (and let’s just face it --- it’s too disgusting to hear about someone else’s labor pains and epidural and hemorrhoids and vomiting and stitches unless you are REALLY close friends!) but I will at least tell you the fire-department part.

I had a doctor’s appointment for one final check up on Thursday the 18th at 2pm, with plans to induce on Friday morning. As my journal entry at 3am on Wednesday/Thursday filled you in, I started having some pretty intense pains (or at least what counts as intense for a weenie like me) during the middle of the night, so on Thursday morning I called the baby’s parents, who were staying in a hotel near the hospital, and told them to meet me at the doctor’s office when it opened at 9am. I was pretty sure I was in labor (in some form!) and didn’t see the sense in waiting around until that afternoon. I mean hey! God invented pain medication for a reason and no sense martyring myself, waiting to get me some.

So my mom and I dropped Brayden and Kellen and Kendrie off at school that morning, then headed downtown to the hospital. It’s about a half hour drive, and naturally the parking deck was under construction, so we had to detour all over downtown Macon, me grimacing in the passengers’ seat the entire time while we searched for a space. Finally we found one and walked across the street to the doctor’s office (which is situated next door to the hospital) only to be met by a steady stream of people exiting the building. I felt like a salmon, trying to swim upstream, just getting in the doors.

We walked in the building and were told that the elevators were off-limits due to a fire alarm, but I was welcome to walk the nine flights to my OB’s office if I’d like …. Uh, yeah. I don’t think so. So we sat down in the lobby for about fifteen minutes, as the fire trucks started lining up and down the street and fire fighters came into the building (and promptly got into the elevators. … I ask you, where is the justice?) until we were told, lo and behold, there really WAS a fire, and we would need to vacate the building.

By now the baby’s parents and grandma had joined us in the lobby, as the entire building was being vacated, so we headed outside. We asked a security guard if he knew how long it would be and of course he didn’t, so I sat down on some steps to wait -- not so graceful, but at least I was sitting down.

Suddenly, a woman magically shows up with a wheelchair and asks me if I would rather sit in something more comfortable, since it’s obvious from my volcanic-sized stomach and occasional panting that I’m in labor. I’m embarrassed and say no, but she insists, and then wants to push me around to labor and delivery in the hospital, but I really want to see my doctor and confirm I actually AM in labor and not suffering from some e-coli poisoning or something ….. But eventually I give in and let this woman push me in a wheelchair, through the throngs of evacuated medical workers crowding the city streets, fire engine lights flashing in the background, with my mother bellowing “Lady in Labor! Step Aside People, Lady in Labor Coming Through!” the entire time. Very low-key. Just like I like it.

And from there, I’ll spare you the gory details except to tell you that Nicolas was born at 11:24 p.m., the delivery of whom culminated in my epidural being turned off and me trying to push out a 10 lb, 2 oz, sunny-side up baby, for the final two and half hours of labor, with no pain medication. None. At all. Whatsoever. (until the last two pushes!) Not that I’m bitter or anything.

I had been given a shot of Phenergan after the delivery (again with the disgusting vomiting details) and was knocked out like Rocky Balboa in whichever movie that Russian guy kicks his ass until the next morning, at which time I woke up to a monstrous ache in my neck and the back of my head …. The result, I assumed, of a neck muscle I must have pulled in my marathon pushing session the night before. I slept most of the day, but had this same migraine-type pain in my head whenever I awoke (Aha! Here’s where it gets interesting!) but only if I was sitting up or standing. As long as I was lying down, my head felt just fine.

I still had the pain the next day when it was time to be discharged; in fact, it might even have been worse. I told the nurses my head was killing me, and I thought I had pulled a neck muscle, but they released me with Motrin and told me I would be fine. By the time I was wheeled from my room to the front doors of the hospital, and waited for my mom and the kids to drive up and pick me up, the pain was so bad I was sitting there just crying … nothing to be done for it. And for the record, I might gripe and whine and complain and bitch about a lot of things, but I am NOT the kind of person who sits around crying in public for the fun of it. I was DYING people, dying.

By the time I got home that Saturday afternoon, I told my mom I really thought my head might explode. You should have seen me trying to lay down in the passenger seat of Blaine’s pick up truck during the ride home, to alleviate the pain. (Naturally, my van was being detailed when I went into labor a day early so we hadn’t gotten it back yet.) My mom suggested, considering it was almost 5pm on a Saturday, and knowing that nothing would be open later except the ER ….. that I go to our local MedStop. So that’s what I did, explaining that I had just given birth, and obviously pushed for so long that I pulled a neck muscle and could they please, please, please help me with the throbbing before I voluntarily drank a cup of Raid to kill myself and dull the pain. So I got a shot of something and some muscle relaxers …. And came home and basically went to bed for three days.

Now, if you’ve ever head of an “epidural leak” or an “epidural headache”, you already know where I’m going with this story. But if you’re like me, and had never heard of such thing … well, you lay in bed for three days, thinking that you’re going blind every time you sit up or stand up. And you take a lot of drugs. That really do no-one any good. Especially your poor mother who thinks you’ve overdosed in the back bedroom.

There were two exceptions to my “Don’t get out of bed and Do drug yourself into oblivion” situation …. Sunday, when the baby’s parents brought him for a visit, and Tuesday, when my mother cut off half of her thumb and I had to drive her, pain not-with-standing (hers OR mine) to our local emergency room for stitches.

Oh, and did I mention, that when my mom came to visit me, she brought her dad with her (my grandpa) who planned to spend these three weeks visiting my uncle in Atlanta. Ninety years old and in fair health, both mentally and physically, he unfortunately fell down, was admitted to an Atlanta hospital, and unexpectedly died the next day. We got the call Sunday while Nicolas and his parents were visiting.

And here is where things started to get bizarre, to say the least.

Sunday we found out my grandpa had died, and my uncle began arrangements to get the body back to OKC for burial.

Monday, I lay in bed and moaned a lot. That’s about all I remember of Monday. Painkillers. And moaning.

Tuesday, my mom had her unfortunate Cantaloupe Cutting Incident and had to be taken to the ER.

By Wednesday, I had figured out that if taking a boatload of pain killers wasn’t getting rid of my neck and head pain, in fact, not even making a dent in it, it probably wasn’t a pulled muscle after all. I listened to the girlfriends who explained what an epidural leak was, decided that was probably what I had, and spent ten hours in the local emergency room/operating room getting something medieval called a Blood Patch to take care of it. Basically, another epidural where they take blood out of your hand and inject it into your spine to close the hole from the original epidural, where all the cns fluid is leaking out and causing the pain. Who knew? Even more basically, I had the same spinal tap procedure, more or less, that Kendrie and her fellow ALL kids have done week after week, month after month, year after year. I certainly didn’t enjoy it and feel more respect than ever for these kids who undergo such a procedure dozens of times ….. but it DID work to get rid of my pain and therefore was the greatest thing ever.

On Thursday, my uncle, aunt and cousins arrived in OKC for the funeral and decided to stay with my dad, since my mom was visiting me and the house had two empty extra bedrooms.

Funeral was Friday.

Lucky for us my aunt and uncle were staying there, as when they arrived back at the house Friday night, they discovered my dad had fallen out off his wheelchair (or scooter, I’m still not clear on the whole story) (for those of you who don’t know, my dad has muscular dystrophy) and had laid there for about an hour, unable to get himself up. Subsequent visit to the ER revealed, fortunately, nothing more than some bruised ribs.

We were sitting back, thinking how providential it was my aunt and uncle were there, since my sister and her husband and their kids (you think it’s hectic at my house? They have four boys, ages 3, 5, 8 and 10) had gone out of town for Memorial Day Weekend ….. my dad would have lain there all weekend, with no one around. We joke about it, but I guess one of those “I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!” gadgets for him to wear around his neck is next.

As seems inevitable at this point, my sister’s gang was destined to join the melee these past few days. It happened when her 3-yr old son fell off a bunk-bed at the lake house and broke his elbow in two places. Still in their swimsuits, smelling temptingly of sunscreen and fishy lake water, my sister and her husband had to rush him to Children’s Hospital and spend the night, before his surgery the next day to set his elbow with pins, plates, and a full-arm cast he’ll have to wear for the next five to six weeks. Now *that’s* a fun way to start off the summer for a three year old! (NOT!)

And although there wasn’t a thing we could do from here to help my uncle, attend the funeral, help my dad, or help my sister and her family, we DID at least get to greet Blaine when he returned home on Saturday night.

My plans to join him in Seattle were thwarted by the epidural headache --- I could barely manage to stay upright long enough to use the restroom, let alone try to navigate the Atlanta airport and sit up for a five-hour flight. So he pushed on alone, thankfully able to manage his final week of radiation treatments without help, me feeling like a pile of neglectful, guilty dog shit the entire time. Well, you know, if dog shit had a head that hurt like hell.

In a nutshell, he’s happy to be home, but feeling pretty crappy. Although on the outside he looks like he fell asleep in front of one of those 1980’s home-sunlamps (was I the only one who had one of those?) he admits it's the burns on the inside of his mouth, nose and throat that are the most painful, not the ones on his face. Eating is difficult, as swallowing is near impossible unless he completely numbs his mouth with medication first. He’s got a bald patch on the back of his head where the radiation shot out behind his ear …. I made a joke about a dog with mange, but he didn’t seem to think it was very funny, so I knocked it off.

Sleeping basically IS impossible, as breathing through his mouth for more than a few minutes at a time results in the inside mouth sores drying out, which is extremely painful. So the poor guy goes to bed and sets his alarm so he’s not sleeping more than an hour at a time; that’s about all he can stand. He’s a walking zombie and they say the side effects will culminate and continue for another two weeks before they start to improve. Quite frankly, I don’t know how he’s going to make it. I know he **will** but he’s feeling pretty grim right now. He does have home health nurses that (we think) will be coming out starting tomorrow and I’m hopeful they have some suggestions for pain management and for him to be able to get some rest.

On a happier note, the kids are thrilled to see him again, and I know he’s glad to be back. We just keep telling ourselves, “This is probably the worst it will get, so once he gets through it, everything is downhill from there.” Right?

I hope that’s not too depressing of an update, but many of you have been kind enough to inquire about him in the guestbook and I figure at the very least you deserve an honest report. If you could keep the prayers and happy thoughts moving in his direction, specifically that he could get some relief from the pain from the burns, I know he would appreciate it. I read online somewhere that sometimes, the treatment for cancer is worse than the cancer itself. Blaine says at least for now, he definitely agrees.

Hopefully it’s like labor, though, and if we ask him again a month from now, he’ll insist it wasn’t so bad. Much like I intend to downgrade the epidural headache to nothing more than an annoying little twinge, and go on to blissfully have dozens more surrogate babies (ok, perhaps dozens is a bit of an exaggeration, but as cute as that little guy is, how can I NOT want to do it again???)

For now, we’re enjoying the start of summer (my kids lasted until 9:15 Monday morning before I heard the first “I’m bored!” --- how about your kids?)

Hope your Memorial Day was wonderful.

PS. One final funny thing. Well, funny to me, anyway. According to my bathroom scale, I am two pounds away from reaching my pre-pregnancy weight. NOT that that is really anything to brag about, considering I was thirty (ahem, forty) pounds overweight to start with. But regardless, I have apparently lost 38 of the 40 pounds I gained with this pregnancy. The funny part is that no-one took the time to give my uterus this information. Hence the reason I still look six months pregnant and I’m still wearing elastic-waistband maternity clothes. Hence also the reason I’ve been asked who knows how many times (I quit counting at a dozen, I swear) “So, when is your baby due?” from total strangers, and even worse …. “Well, I thought you already had that baby, but obviously not!” from people who know me. Including my kid’s teacher … and one of the moms on the baseball team tonight …. And countless others. Could someone let my uterus know …. “Elvis has LEFT the building!”

PSS. May 30, 2006 Dear Blaine, Happy Anniversary. I love you dearly. Wow, nineteen years, and the laughs just keep on coming. Truly, how can we stand this much fun? :)

PPSS. In reading through the guestbook entries the past few weeks, I saw several of you were kind enough to offer up your birth weight guesses for Nicolas to a charity of my choosing. Although there are so many wonderful pediatric cancer organizations, what really drew all of us together was this site, so I would suggest that if you are so inclined, please make your contribution to Caringbridge. There’s a link (I am pretty sure) at the bottom of every CB site you can click to make an online contribution. I owe so much to this great web host that has allowed me to connect with so many of YOU!

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