Monday, January 23, 2006

What Fresh Hell is This?

I got home from work early on Friday and went by to pick up the bambini. They were out for a walk, though, so I came home and had a few uninterrupted minutes to chat with MZA in the living room. The phone rang and he came back out into the living room and said, “We have to go right now. Daisy had a seizure.”

Daisy had a seizure. Those words come at you kind of backwards, as in your mind simply can’t quite masticate that kind of information. But your body kicks in and we were out the door and up the block to Nina’s, the daycare provider. We walked in and another mommy was there, pale with her mouth in an “O” shape and m’sweet Daisy Faire was sitting on Nina’s lap all ghostly pale and her eyes were all wrong and she was listless and looked like she was about to lose consciousness.

We piled Daisy and Ian into the car, raced to Nick's school to pick him up, and headed for the emergency room.

Nick said, “It’s not serious is it?”
I said, “She had a seizure.”
“A seizure! That’s when your brain can’t control your body!”

Leave it to Nick to explain it all for us.

Every red light burned a brand onto my cornea—we slipped down Sligo Creek Parkway, where we have spent much happier times on family jaunts, and drove up to the hospital. I stopped the car and MZA pulled a limp and stoic Daisy from her car seat and headed in with my insurance card in his hand. I parked and came in with the boys. We did some initial paperwork and then went to the triage nurse.

MZA handed Daisy over to me and I held her noodly little body like I was never going to let her go. This is what went through my mind: I thought about Terri Schiavo, of all things. I really did. I thought of how insensitive we all were to demand that those parents just pull the plug and be done with it—and believe me I was the biggest advocate for them to pull the plug—but all of a sudden I just knew I’d be the kind of mother who would never let her daughter go. Oh yeah, there is no other kind of mother.

I explained everything to the triage nurse and, you know, in these times of apathy, disregard for human frailty and general lack of kindness and manners, I was afraid I would not be able to properly convey to this person how worried I was and that my daughter had to be seen RIGHT AWAY. But guess what? Providentially, the nurse absorbed everything I said and reacted with just as much calm urgency as I felt the situation necessitated.

They got my little girl a room and checked her vital signs—fever of 105, which is what caused the seizure. She had a fever that morning and so we gave her Motrin and she rebounded so remarkably we thought everything was OK. We told Nina the situation and Daisy was fine all day, but then they went on a walk and the Motrin had worn off, and her fever must have spiked, and she just collapsed.

So we went back into the pediatric ER and, as we were walking by the nurse’s station, there was a big stuffed Patrick from SpongeBob and my wee sick little girl perked up and said, “Pa-krict.”

We lay her down on a gurney bed. She put on a green hospital gown with the “doggies” on it and they took blood and then put her on an IV for 45 minutes. Her little hand was in a blue splint and a nasty plastic vial was pierced right into the flesh where we had put a kitty cat tattoo last week.

The little girl across the hall was named Lily and her daddy had a cell phone. Oh purge and be damned the cell phone! Especially in the emergency room!

“Well, Lily is now officially a Cagney…”

I heard his voice, drugged with the expectation on the other end of the line and the excited importance of being able to deliver the dramatic news:

“She broke her arm! Yeah we’re in the emergency room…”

I saw that some fun and wacky resident had blown up a green surgical glove for Lily and so I blew one up for Daisy and she was dee-lited.

The doctor came in and she looked EXACTLY like my colleague C, whom I adore. Isn’t it funny how that happens sometimes? It’s like God sends a little emissary or something—here, here is someone, an instant archetype for you to process. Or maybe psychologically we turn people into something we can comprehend or feel comforted by.

It turned out to be the flu and so we needed to give her Motrin every six hours for the next 24 hours and Tylenol in between if needed. The IV drip finished. I asked the pregnant nurse when she was due and she said April.

I asked what she was having and she said, “A little girl.”
I said, “That’s wonderful. What are you going to name her?”
“Penelope, Penny for short.”

That’s cute (sort of). I said, “I have two boys and they are wonderful, but there is something special about little girls.”

Daisy had a double orange Popsicle, cookies and sips of apple juice. She laughed and shot her legs up in the air and then she wriggled out of the hospital gown. MZA took the boys to the cafeteria for French fries.

When it was all over, Daisy and I came walking out of ER and Nick came running up to Daisy and gave her a big hug. Ian came running up to me and, just as I expected, wanted to know where HIS green balloon was. I told him I had it in my purse—airless.

When we got in the car, I had to tell Nick the dinner party we planned for Saturday had to be cancelled. He was really upset—three of his friends were supposed to come with their parents and little sibs. That’s huge for an 8 year old. We’d all been looking forward to it.

Then Nick said, “Did you get a balloon for me too, Mommy?” Uh. No. And he laughed and then I turned around and I said, “Are you OK?” And he burst into tears. I FELT SO BAD. I said, “I only got one for Ian because I knew he’d have a cow about it. I didn’t think you’d want one!” Then a light bulb went off and I remembered my colleague C—clearly a blessed symbol of the day—had given me a small model Mercedes and two classic Mercedes car calendars for the boys. Yahoo! I told Nick I had something special for him when we got home.

We got home and dosed Miss Daisy with the first of a cycle of Motrin. I told her, inexplicably, that it was “Winnie the Pooh’s medicine!” Ian coughed and said, “I have a cough! Can I have some too?” Cough cough.

I kept hugging Daisy and she looked at me so wisely, so intently, as if she knew we had really been through something together. When she was on that gurney bed with the little blue splint and the needle jabbed into her hand, I sat next to her on one of those black stools with the wheels, and for the first time in my life, I knew I could sit by her side for as long as it took, without being tired or uncomfortable or impatient. I sat next to her and held her hand and she looked up at me, for really long periods, right into my eyes, and I knew we were in the process of reinforcing a powerful, mysterious and lifelong bond.

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