January 08, 2011

A Day that will go down in limp-famy

As I mentioned previously, I recieved a call just before 5 a.m. Friday morning informing me my wife's c-section was infected and had ruptured, so right away I knew our stellar run of luck over the past couple weeks continued to bless us in myriad ways. If I get a call informing me a meteor struck our garage and killed a cat, I'd actually consider that sort of good news/luck because, you know, one less cat.

Thankfully, my father-in-law had been informed of the situation and he arrived at the house just as I finished showering and preparing for the day. While the gout wasn't quite as debilitating as it had been the previous day, I was still opting to hop on one foot rather than put any weight on the swollen club at all. The slightest bump against my toe hurt so bad I could see through time and yell expletives so loud the International Space Station had to filter it all out.

My wife had been in the ER, but they were informed professionals from obstetrics wanted to look at her, so she was being transferred across town to the very same building all this drama began almost exactly one week earlier. I travelled downtown, parked in a nearby ramp, and then did my best foot-dragging Quasimodo impression from the ramp to the hospital building. Once in the hospital, I said "screw it" and commandeered a wheelchair.

I actually arrived at the hospital room before my wife was transported, and she arrived about 10 minutes later sprawled out on an ambulance gurney. A nurse asked to see her ruptured incision and. . .

I consider myself somewhat of an expert when it comes to smells. I can create smells some people consider vile beyond comprehension but, I have to say, an infected and ruptured c-section incision carries with it an odor so pungent with rot, I would rather have been taking in deep snootfuls of a pile of dead puppies.

Doctors quickly concluded they had to open up my wife's incision entirely and drain any infected abscesses, which really helped dispel some of the glamour I may have held regarding being a doctor. Sure, the money is probably excellent, but locating and draining horrid-smelling abcesses probably isn't high on their "can't wait to do this one" list.

On the plus side, my wife required considerable sedation, which meant she would be getting some much-needed sleep. Her maternal instincts have been in overdrive since the twins arrived--and particularly since Finn passed--so telling her to look after herself and get some rest is like telling a chipmunk to fix an atomic clock. So, as the doctors prepped my wife for abscess-cleansing surgery, I dragged myself slowly back to the parking ramp, drove home and managed to get a couple hours of sleep myself before heading back to the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) to check up on my daughter.

One of the first things they tell you at the NICU is to expect ups and downs. They also told us to expect the first 24-hours to be a kind of honeymoon, since preemie babies typically don't show distress until after the first day. With Finn, the news was pretty much all down, even during the honeymoon period. His lung x-rays immediately showed worrisome signs, and they only got worse and worse until, well. . .

Zoey, on the other hand, has been remarkably stable, although her x-rays have shown cloudiness and, on a couple occasions, a collapse of the upper lobe of her right lung. These things fluctuate considerably, and my wife and I have to remind ourselves the doctors will definitely tell us if there's anything truly warranting concern, as they did when informing us of Finn's condition. We have to take it on faith they're not shielding us from truly bad news.

After checking on Zoey and being assuaged by her condition updates, I went back to the obstetrics hospital to check on my wife. She was still groggy from the medications, but otherwise she felt okay. I was informed I'd have to stay to watch the nurses change her incision dressings because--and this part is key--I'll be expected to change the dressings at least once a day for the next several days. Mind you, this isn't just plopping a band-aid over a boo-boo. This will entail reaching into an open incision and stuffing gauze and other absorbant medical wonders into the wound as if I'm preparing a Thanksgiving turkey. I'll do it, of course. Willingly even. But damn it, I sure as hell don't have to like it.

I returned home, but not before stopping by a grocery store to pick up milk and cranberry juice. My father-in-law used our car last week a few times, so he placed his handicapped placard under the passenger-side visor. Now, I would never have used that placard if I could have walked normally, but I saw the placard, looked at my swollen foot and said "You know what? Screw it!" I'm hoping that small act of moral failing won't doom us to an extension of our current string of bad luck.

Thrown unfairly into all this drama, of course, is our 15-month-old son, Aiden, who up until last week lived a life consisting largely of structure and schedule. All that's been thrown into the toilet for the time being as we rely on a rotating cast of family members to watch and care for him during the day. In the early days of our ordeal, he seemed genuinely confused by the turmoil, but now I suspect he's learning how to play the various characters against each other to obtain what he wants. He's been eating foods and has had access to juice and other drinks my wife and I would never have given him before the Dark Times. . . Before the Empire.

Obviously, the financial questions regarding all of this are many and varied. My wife has excellent health insurance, so she's largely covered, and Zoey should be covered by a tangled Web of government programs and charitable organizations. Because Finn didn't live very long, he didn't qualify for the same assistance as Zoey. It's all very confusing and daunting. I have to sit down with a social worker to hammer out all the details, but that's something we'll do when things settle down a bit and I'm actually able to walk again. Until then, my thinking has basically consisted of "screw it!" Another ambulance ride from the obstetrics hospital to the NICU? Screw it! Whatever! Milk pumping equipment? Screw it! Add it to the tab!

I imagine this is how the government has basically gotten into the deficit and debt mess it's been roiling in. At some point, they got so far behind, actually doing something about it was just plain impossible so politicians just collectively threw up their arms and yelled "SCREW IT! ADD IT TO THE BILL! WHATEVER! IT'S NOT LIKE WE CAN ACTUALLY DO ANYTHING ABOUT IT!"

So, yeah, things continue to unfold in strange and unexpected ways, in an ongoing drama I never remotely thought I'd personally experience. I try to keep a sense of humor when I can, although there are times, particularly at night, when I think of the family of five we'd been making plans for for the last several months, and I just break down, because they were pretty great plans, and it was a pretty great family. Now we exist in a kind of world where we try to make plans day-to-day, assuring ourselves Zoey will come home with us in four months, although in the back of my mind there's a small voice reminding me she might not. I do my best to shoo that voice away, but it's persistant, particularly when I see her tiny self in her incubator.

But then she grips my finger, and I can't imagine her being gone.

Posted by Ryan at January 8, 2011 01:59 PM | TrackBack

Damn, man, you are becoming rather adept at yanking on my heart strings with these posts.

But I will put in a request with management that 2011 stop treating you and your family like its personal bitch. That's just not fair.

By the way, the video of you bouncing along with Aiden on his new horsey? Gold! I laughed out loud!

Posted by: Erik at January 11, 2011 03:36 PM
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