Saturday, March 14, 2009

Red it is!

Posting again - for some reason the last part of my post did not get posted...

The orthopedic surgeon had told us to come in for a check up a week after the surgery to add one more layer to the cast since he had left room for swelling. So we went to his clinic again and KB very happily sat on the bed and waited for the surgeon. When the doctor walked in and asked KB how he was feeling and if he was feeling any pain, KB casually said, "No, I don't feel any pain". And again said, "Why didn't you give me a red cast?". The surgeon said, "Ahh...yeah. Even my daughter (who looked about six) asked me why I didn't give KB a red cast?" (She happened to walk with him during his rounds the day after KB's surgery). He told KB, "OK, we will give you red today". And when they were really ready to put on the next layer, the doctor playfully asked KB, "You want orange?", to which KB surely replied, "Red"! The surgeon smiled and said to him, "Just making sure!". KB looked satisfied with his new cast. I felt quite bad to think that we still had five more weeks to go but I tried hard to tell myself that time will go by fast.

A few days later, I took KB and KG to "Party city", since KB wanted some "worm balloons". After I got that and other such junk in my cart, I walked to the check out line. And I could not believe the coincidence in the conversation I had with two people at the line. The guy behind me asked me "What happened to his arm?" and I told him. He said, "The moment I saw him, I knew...because my son went through the exact same fall - just two feet high - fell awkwardly and had a surgery soon after and was in a cast for six weeks!". Same hospital even. And the woman in front of us heard him talking and said, "My daughter had it even worse...she was only two and she broke her collar bone when she climbed on the kitchen table and fell down...and they could not do any surgery or just had to heal on its own!".

Can you believe the coincidence - this has never happened to me - I rarely even talk to people while standing at the check out line, especially at party city! And all three of us had gone through the same kind of thing...I could not believe it. I felt as if it happened to make me feel better and to reassure me that KB will be back to normal soon. The other guy said his son is totally back to normal...and even the little kid with the collar bone fracture eventually started using her arm. All is well that ends well!

KB now walks around with his bright red cast. I tell the story of how he fell and what happened to his arm like a broken record since the bright red cast attracts the attention of so many people!
KB just runs around and his sister seems oblivious to any of this. The other day I came out of the bathroom quickly only to see KG happily playing with her brother except that in the process she was literally sitting on him on the couch! I have to guard his arm and make sure it doesn't get rammed into or it doesn't get wet. Each time I feel sorry, I control myself and think about Baby S and how he has now had his one eye removed (His mom emailed me saying the surgery went well) and that I should take this in fall, period. They run around and things happen. I am trying hard not to walk on egg shells all the time worrying when either KB or KG will fall from something.

I will end this post with some nice words from Baby S's strong and courageous mother (the baby who had tumors in his one eye). "I cannot wait until he is well, it seems to be such a simple thing considering there are so many children who are just normal and healthy, but I know to be able to raise a normal and healthy child is both a miracle and blessing. I wish you all the strength and blessings that Baby S has taught me to take care of your son and daughter. We will keep your family in our prayers." Her son, all of sixteen months old had taught her to be strong and in turn she is giving me strength. And I pass it on to all of you.

Friday, March 06, 2009

The bright red cast...

My brother and I waited in the family area talking to the other mom (T) about her baby S. I just stepped out after about half an hour when I saw an OR nurse wheeling out the stroller in which they took KB inside. I asked him how much longer the surgery would take and he said it was already done and they are now putting the cast on him. I was very surprised and relieved to know it was over already. I had expected to wait for an hour and a half. But we had to wait another half an hour for them to allow us into the recovery room. B had to stay with KG in the family area while I went in to see KB. They had a little crib kind of bed made of steel, I guess to prevent kids from falling out etc. KB was still fast asleep under the effect of the anesthesia. The IV needles were still connected and he did not have his shirt on. Just a pillow on top of his chest. He still had his pants and shoes on him. My first instinct was that he would be cold and I asked the nurse about it. She said he wasn't cold since they keep the room temperature warm and he had a pillow on his chest. He looked suddenly so much more grown up in the kind of expression his sleeping face had. It is so hard to put into words.

I went out to the family area and let B in to see KB. While B was waiting there, the nurse tried to wake him up just so they could make sure he was able to recognize us, was able to speak clearly etc before transferring him to the main hospital (out of the surgery unit) for the night.
When KB woke up, he started crying immediately asking for "Mammma". So B told me to rush in and I came running to see KB. As soon as I held his fingers, he was calm. Half awake but clearly recognizing us all. I asked him if he wanted me to sing "Mudakaratha modakam" a song he has heard me sing nearly every day. He said yes. I sang softly into his ears. The nurse was passing by and I asked her how long before we get transferred to the hospital. KB even in his half asleep state was following my singing. He got upset that I was not continuing. So I quickly started singing again. He fell asleep again while I waited there. A few minutes later, he woke up again and looked up and said "Hey, anga paaru, sea horse!" (Look there, a sea horse), pointing a picture above him. After sometime the nurse told us which room we would be moving to at the hospital for an over night stay before being discharged. They wheeled KB as it is in the crib bed and we (myself, B, KG and my brother) followed the nurse to the next building.

The day before the surgery, at the doctor's office, they had asked KB what color cast he would like to get on his fractured elbow. He looked at the spectrum of colors on display and picked "red" instantly. B blames it on my influence. He says I don't even realize how much I gravitate towards red when it comes to clothes. When I saw KB in the recovery room, I was disappointed to see him in a blue cast because they had specifically asked KB what color he wanted but gave him the wrong color. To a child, these things matter. When KB was moved to a bed at the main hospital, he noticed his cast and immediately said, "hey, why didn't they give me red?!". I told him some random reason but KB did not buy it. It was close to 7.00 p.m. already, KG had to be fed. So they left and I was alone with KB. I told the nurse around 8.00 pm that KB had not peed since 2.00 pm. She said that I could give him juice and then if he tolerated it well, we could then coax him to pee. She said it he did not pee even after four more hours, they would then use a catheter. I was again afraid of one more procedure on him, so my immediate goal was to get him to pee after drinking his juice. Thankfully that all went OK and the nurse gave him stickers even for that! KB had a field day because I gave him juice when ever he asked for it. And different flavors each time! Because he hadn't eaten anything all day. We sat and watched some baby Einstein programme on TV and then I read some books and told him stories. He complained of the cast feeling too tight, so they had given him morphine. He was not sleepy at all and said that he would only sleep at home. I somehow convinced him that we could only go home the next morning. Finally around 11.40 pm, he fell asleep. I slept right next to him in his bed itself. I hardly got some two or three hours of sleep that night. But KB slept well for the most part except when he had to get up to go to the bathroom.

The next morning when the surgeon came on rounds, KB answered his questions about how he was feeling etc and immediately said to him, "WHY didn't you give me red?!". The surgeon was really sweet about it and said that he knew at the back of his mind that he had messed up. He then apologized and said one week later, when he put on another layer, he would give KB a red cast. I really appreciated the kindness with which the doctor talked to KB and really understood that these little things matter to the child.

BTW - I am writing all this so I don't forget about it all - I don't mean to bore you all with fine details. I am assuming people will skip over to read the gist if they do read this post! I want to write about the other two moms and the coincidental meeting with two other parents at Party city...but I am too sleepy now to continue. Hope to write about that in the next post.

Wednesday, March 04, 2009

The little soldier...

I wanted to write about this whole experience for different reasons. One, writing helps me feel a tiny bit lighter. Two, I wanted to remember how KB reacted to this whole thing and how he amazed me with this mental fortitude in just accepting things as is and truly going forward instead of looking back and moping about how and why he has to go through all this. The kind of resilience you always knew kids had but when seeing it first hand, it really amazes you. Three, I wanted to remember the strength of the other two moms I met there and wanted to write about it for me and all of us to be inspired by and draw strength from to face our own little problems.

Back to the "brave young man" and "little soldier", titles KB truly earned from the nurse who treated him in the ER and also in the recovery room after the surgery. When they took him to take some "pictures" of his hand, KB told me "Amma, X-ray yedukka poraa maa" and the nurse was taken aback by how cool he was about it. He was fascinated by all that was happening around him in the ER. He did not cry while she took the X-rays, he just wanted me next to him, that's all. And while we waited for the doctor he told me, "Amma, I am looking at why every one here is wearing glasses" and then we spent some time looking at who were or were not wearing glasses. The nurse told him "You were so brave, how many stickers do you want?". Very innocently, he replied "Two". She said, "Only two? No. You were so brave, I want to give you five stickers". KB was thrilled and it was touching to see how he was still such a baby.

Before the surgery, they gave him "Versed" a medication used to reduce anxiety and also reduce their short term memory so they wouldn't remember exactly what happened at that instance. The nurse said he would act drunk almost 10 min after he drank it. But KB was fully alert even half an hour after they gave him the medication. I was very nervous because it was now 3.00 p.m. and I had to wheel him into the OR and hand him over to the surgeon. Thankfully he was in the stroller and I just wheeled him there and the nurse took over without him realizing it. It was heart breaking to hand him over and see him disappear behind the double doors. The nurse reassured me "We will take good care of him. We will put a mask on as soon as we go in and he will be asleep". I just prayed that he should be OK and everything should go smoothly. The surgeon had said it would take about an hour and half for the surgery. B immediately went back home to pick up KG and come back with her to the hospital.

My brother and I were waiting in the family room when I bumped into the other mom waiting there. Her older son was the same age as KB and was playing there. Her younger son, 16m old was in the OR while she was waiting there. I asked her what the problem was with her child. Very calmly she said to me "He keeps getting tumors in his eye orbit". My heart sank even hearing those words. Her strength just shook me. Here I was completely falling apart at the thought of KB undergoing surgery for a fractured elbow and here she was like a rock facing such horrors. I asked her, "How do you manage to be so strong?". She said, "Because I faced the worst when they made the diagnosis. But now I am strong because he has no one else. I have to be strong for him. We have been here so many times and each time after surgery, he bounces right back and starts playing his older brother. We are coming back here next week. They are going to take his eye out because if not they said he won't make it". It sent shivers down my spine to hear those words even. I felt as if God sent me to her in that family room to remind me that kids are strong and that I need to be strong for KB too. I felt so badly for that mom, I just wanted to hug her tight. I couldn't find words to describe how inspired I was by her calm strength and courage as a mother.

While driving to the ER, I was telling B that truly it was these moments when we are really parenting. Rest of the times, you feed the kids, they grow up. You sort of just coast along and go with the flow. It is during the moments of extreme highs and lows that you as a parent have to be the fulcrum and hold the child in place and give them the strength to be calm. And in the moments of lows like this one, you are truly tested. You have to bear the pain of seeing your child in pain, of not being in control of their destiny. Some of you wrote about the guilt I might feel. But strangely that is one thing I did not feel much of. Because I truly could not have prevented this unless I kept him in front of my eyes 24/7 without ever doing any other work. He was just sitting in his high chair after dinner chatitng with me while I was loading the dishwasher. As I bent down to load some dishes, I heard him scream in pain. He was getting down when he just slipped and fell awkwardly. From a height of may be 2 feet. It is like an adult tripping while walking. I just had no control over it. I did have very negative thoughts like, "It is my bad karma that is affecting him" etc etc. Truly speaking, I still have those kind of ridiculous thoughts , but what can I do about it. I have to accept that I cannot control every aspect of his destiny. This was the first stark reminder for me that I do no have control over my children's life beyond a certain point. Life just happens and my role is to be there for them no matter what. That is all I can do. And meeting that other mom and hearing her calm words, I realized what a responsibility that was. To be strong when your child is in pain. I have been fighting myself each time I feel pity for KB to see him do things with only one hand. I tell myself, if he is being strong and taking it in stride, it is quite ridiculous of me to feel sorry for him. Why me, why him...yes, I do feel that way. But I tell myself, there is much worse out there. At least God has granted me the mercy of a finite time of six weeks when his hand has to be in a cast and the hope of things being back to normal. Something so many others don't have. I am afraid to even dwell on that thought. I move on quickly to the mundane of every day life so I don't focus on any of this too much.

Will continue...

Monday, March 02, 2009

Things change in a split second

I never expected to start writing again. But when your heart feels heavy, you need to pour out. You want to question the unknown and rebuke destiny for how merciless it can be. And that sort of absurdness can only happen in your own space - your diary or in this case your own blog.

My dear little KB (who is now 3.5) fell off his high chair step on Tuesday (Feb 24) night around 9.00 p.m. He uses it just like a chair - it is more convenient for him to sit in it and reach up to the table to read his books while I give him dinner. He climbs in and out of it all the time quite comfortably. But that night he just slipped by chance and fell awkwardly and landed on his elbow. Because we have tiled hard floors in the dining area, the impact resulted in a fractured elbow. I could tell from the way he held his arm that it was serious. So immediately we rushed him to ER. He was so brave and so calm in the ER when they took X-rays and put his hand in a cast. The ER doctor made us wait for over an hour (at 12.00 a.m) while he waited to hear back from the orthopedist. Finally at 1.15 a.m or so he talked to us and said that the orthopedist was insistent that we take KB to a surgeon right the next morning. He said that KB might need surgery to put pins in his elbow to hold the displaced bones in place to make sure he does not suffer arthritis as a young adult. The moment the ER doctor uttered the word "surgery", I literally was fainting. I could not stand, just had to go and sit in the chair. I somehow gathered myself after a few seconds to continue the conversation.

B took Wednesday off and I spent all morning trying to get a referral and an appointment with an orthopedic surgeon. I hardly slept because I kept worrying and praying that the surgeon should not look at the x-rays and say that he needs surgery. But sadly that is what happened. He said KB needs to have surgery on Friday (Feb 27) at 3.00 p.m. By then I had cried so much at night etc when KB wasn't seeing me that I was mentally prepared for it. The thought of general anesthesia scared me to no end but I had no choice but to face it. The surgeon was kind enough to squeeze in KB's surgery at a short notice but then he could only do it at 3.00 p.m. Because it had to be done under general anesthesia, I was not allowed to give him any solids from 7.00 a.m. And not even water after 1.00 p.m. I was worried sick as to how I could refuse breakfast and lunch and hold on till 3.00 p.m. But sometimes even in bad times a few crumbs of good luck get thrown your way. KB being the angel that he is, also helped me out so much. His perception of my emotions stuns me at times. Very unusually on Thursday, he woke up from his nap three times and said "Mamma, I love you". And that night he said to me just when he was about to fall asleep "Mamma, I love you the most". I made him take his afternoon nap late and made him go to bed only at 11.30 p.m. My brother flew in to be of moral support to me and I waited him to come before taking KB to bed.

The next morning, I gave KB 8oz of pediasure at 6.30 a.m and then made him go back to bed. Strangely he woke up only at 9.00 a.m. though he usually wakes up by 7.00 a.m. every morning. KG on the other hand woke up very early so I took her to my neighbor's place and made her take her afternoon nap there while we took KB to the hospital. After KB woke up, I gave him a bath very carefully without getting his cast wet. I had to cut a long sleeve shirt to be able to put his sleeve through the cast. Around 10.30 a.m. I gave him 4oz of Motts' juice. The surgeon had told me to keep even the clear liquids to a minimum. I was so paranoid that he should not have a reflux reaction to the anesthesia so I tried to be very strict about keeping the clear fluids also to a minimum. KB was so calm and so mature, not once he asked me for his morning milk or cereal or even for water. I had prepped him the previous night as to what I would give him and he somehow accepted it and did not give me a hard time. We got into the car around 12.30 pm in order to check in at the hospital at 1.00 p.m. The patient interview etc lasted for an hour. We then went into the short stay unit (SSU 4) and there they checked his weight/pulse etc. KB has been playing a lot with his doctor kit so he was quite enjoying the whole scene there. He wore his plastic doctor's glasses while we went into the hospital. A surgeon who was passing by as we entered said to KB, "Those glasses look cool man! Do you want to see my glasses?" and he had a cool magnetic pair that would come apart in the middle and hang around his neck which he showed to KB. KB immediately turned to me and said "I want magnetic glasses too Mamma"!".

To be continued...