family

Wherein I Support My Own Rock and ALMOST Murder a Nurse

I have honestly never seen my husband this way before and it is terrifying, After an 11 hour day at the hospital today I was finally able to bring Luke home. His vision will completely recover but for now he cannot see anything. I am told black-and-white will come back before color does.

When I was finally allowed into the recovery area I almost didn’t recognize him. I’ve been with this man for over a decade, through more than one surgery, and I have never seen him like this. He was huddled in the hospital bed, shaking. Normally I find this guy joking with the hospital staff and giving nurses advice on finding a good vein in someone’s hand.

The scenario today was nothing like that. One eye was bandaged up and he was silently crying with tears streaming down his cheeks. “I just really need you,” he said. “I’m scared.”

My heart seized up and skipped a beat. I can tell you that Luke has cried maybe three times in span of eleven years. It’s just not his way. He doesn’t scare easily. He’s not an anxious person and he is most certainly not rattled by medical procedures. He’s fascinated by them. He wants all the gory medical details because he’s a paramedic and they go nuts over that stuff.

He’s my strength, my steadfast place to land. Luke is my rock. Today I needed to return the favor.

The nurse at the station was complaining loudly about protocols, the wrong IV bags, and the crazy day she was having. She quite clearly would not answer the patients trying to get her attention. After a few minutes of me cradling my whimpering husband she came over and scolded me, “Well you snuck over here! I didn’t see you come in!!”

The rest of the conversation did not go so well. If I can give any advice to people dealing with me it would be DO NOT MESS WITH MY FAMILY!!!! And if you’ve ever seen a family member in pain you may understand the instant flood of rage that filled me with, “I-will-hurt-whoever-caused-this!!!!”

Me: Hi. Umm..he is not doing well. What’s going on?

Inside my head I said: Why the hell did you make my husband cry? He NEVER cries. He is the strong one!

Nurse: He’s fine! His vitals are OK.

Me: (looking dubiously at Luke’s shaking form) No, he’s not looking so great. I think you need to give him some pain medicine.

Nurse: Well he just had surgery. He’s fine. I don’t know what you expect. We already gave him medicine. He has to go home.

Me: Yes he needs to come home. What medication has he had?

Nurse: (rolls eyes) A lot. (Walks away)

Needless to say I did some shaking myself but more of the rage variety. Eventually I realized that he couldn’t see out of either eye and it was scary. He was also in a great deal of pain.

After a few deep breathes I re-approached Nurse Ratchet again and said in my assertive teacher voice, “I have questions. You will answer them like a nurse in your profession should do. I am asking what medications my husband has been given. Go ahead and get a chart if you need to but you will tell me specifically what he has been given.” Then I turned on my heal and went back to Luke where I sat pointedly looking at her with one eyebrow cocked.

She was able to manage her job after that. I got the information I needed. Apparently she was angry with Luke because he had been nauseous for hours. She said that his dry heaving was, “too loud,” and it “disturbed the other patients!”

While I was taking care of Luke, my parents were taking care of Carl. My mom got him to football practice and back again. The great thing about having my parents is that they were able to put together Luke’s special “face down” chair and help with Carl. They also make me feel calm and happy. The bad part would be that Carl was reading my mom’s text messages to her while she drive. He just so happened to the text I sent saying, “This nurse is a raging b**ch!”

I’ve never been happier to get out of a hospital, including after my own back surgeries.

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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family

When it Rains it- it’s a Freakin’ Hurricane!

I just can’t win for trying around here. Everything was all planned out for my back surgery at the end of this month. We had support for the kids, Luke was ready to cover all of the Mary visits and the driving. We were ALL SET. That’s when the figurative torrential downpour started.

I am looking at my life today thinking…what happened?!??

A few weeks ago Luke mentioned he needed to see the eye doctor. He wanted to wait for my employer to deposit their contribution into our HSA. Yesterday morning he woke up and couldn’t see out of his left eye. He can’t make anything out at all unless he is using peripheral vision with that eye. Our optometrist opened her office up just for him (thank goodness) even though it was her vacation.

After examining him she showed us a picture of an alarming amount of fluid build up behind his left retina and a possible tear. She called a surgeon and we left her office to go straight there! I called my parents to be there when Carl got off the bus, and possibly through his in-home counseling appointment.

As it turns out Luke needs ASAP eye surgery in two days but his vision should come back. However, he has to be out of work for 3-4 weeks and during that entire time he is supposed to be lying face down.

???!!!???#@#?!

I’m ashamed to admit that I cried about it. I didn’t cry for my poor blind husband, like a good wife. I cried because I was afraid he wouldn’t be there for my surgery when I woke up. I need him. Luke is my touchstone when I am scared. My parents will be traveling out-of-state until after my surgery. I mean I really really really need him!

I cried because I didn’t know who would visit Mary at RTC. If Luke can’t go then she’s left to feel abandoned by yet another set of parents. I cried because I didn’t know who would manage the cooking and the cleaning. We were going to hire someone but not if Luke isn’t collecting salary for a month! Was I going to have to run Carl’s 13th birthday party alone? All by myself????

There is a small-hearted, selfish part of me that is looking out for my own interests. I was so wrapped up in panic, I forgot that a decent human being would care about her husband. Instead, I was mad he didn’t schedule the eye appointment earlier. After all, emergencies are supposed to fit into my meticulously calculated schedule! Detours from the plan are not allowed!!

Today I woke up with a new outlook. I’m ready to do some planning. I’ll try to pre-prepare a bunch of meals we can just re-heat while Luke and I are recovering. I called friends and arranged rides and child care. Luke is going to the hospital with me. He wants to remain there, face down, for the duration of my surgery. I won’t be alone. My parents are going to visit Yary in our absence. With Nana and Papa she won’t be alone.

Today I want to be more empathetic. Today I’d like to type with fewer exclamation points needed. Today I want to be sweet and loving to my poor broken spouse. Today I am going to try to be more like Luke.

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

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adoption, family

Our Daughter Needed a Daddy: Adventures in A Father’s Role in Adoption

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My daughter needs her Daddy. Not having much experience in this area, she was quite confused in the beginning. When we went places she would sit as far away from him as she could. When he put his paramedic uniform on she would cower and shake. The sound of his boots on the steps made her jump, although she would always offer him up a timid smile.

Last week I watched her huddled up on the couch. She was wearing an over-sized Red Sox baseball cap and an enormous Paramedic jacket. A stethoscope was wrapped around her neck and a laminated first-responder badge hung from her lapel.

“Who are you supposed to be?” I asked.

“I’m the BEST daddy!” She joyfully shouted. She is clearly dressed up as my husband.

This makes me think of those early days. Those days when Mary was 7-years-old and completely flummoxed by Luke’s constant presence. She would often ask, “Why is he still here? How long is he staying?”

Sometimes she would tell me that I did things “all wrong.” When I asked her what she met she said, “You know, you’re supposed to have your kids first and then if you want a man or a boyfriend or whatever, you just get one. But you married Daddy first and you don’t have any other boyfriends. He’s our only Daddy.”

At times it was like having children who were exchange students from a foreign place. Carl would often comment how it was really weird that my husband and I never hit each other. He actually thought we never got mad at each other because there were no punches thrown. Despite the vigilant watch our kids kept, they never did catch me with my “other boyfriends!”

As time went on the children began to change their concept of who a daddy is and what a daddy is supposed to do. In the beginning, Luke worked a lot of hours. We had just added a large sibling group to our family and we needed the extra cash. He was often in uniform and it took a long time to realize that Mary’s fear stemmed from her fear of police officers. His medic uniform was similar. Mary was the only one of the siblings who had been home during the drug raid when their first mom was arrested and they were taken into DCF care.

Lucky for us, Luke is a giant goofball. He will dance around the kitchen with us, shaking his booty and singing along to old New Kids on the Block songs. He does an amazing “girl voice” and a bunch of silly faces. My husband is also the king of puns. He is hardly ever serious and he takes most things in stride. He will play barbies and dress-up and board games. He will allow his hair to be done in ribbons. In short, he is the ULTIMATE playmate for any child.

As time went on and the children needed more intensive therapies, psychiatric in-patient stays, evaluations, and scores of appointments. We had to make hard choices. Our children needed us and they were really struggling. I couldn’t handle the violent outbursts and tantrums alone. There were many nights where dinner didn’t get made for hours because Mary was screaming and clawing at my face or trying to break the windows in the house. The emergency crisis team would come and eventually the ambulance, and her brothers just had to wait. There was only one of me and she was frequently in danger of hurting herself or them or all of us. As we battled uphill for her mental health we knew we needed to do something differently.

Luke decided to work part time, on a per-diem basis in order to be around for all of the counseling and doctor’s appointments. Finances were tighter than they had ever been. Our income dwindled and our bills started to pile up. Something else was accumulating, though. The days of Mary’s intense rages were long gone. With the right medication, therapy, and with her father’s presence she was making huge strides.

The healing our children experienced this past year far outweighs anything we lost in income. Luke put the children on the bus each day and was there as soon as they got off. He made dinner, handled school functions and bonded with our children. If someone was having a violent meltdown, he didn’t go to work. He managed his schedule around our children’s emotional lives. Their healing and mental health came first. I honestly think that Luke was the key in helping out attachment challenged children to heal.

Mary’s journey into a relationship with her father has been the most rewarding to see. She began by avoiding him completely, as she did with all male figures. Now she is glued to his side. She’s picked up his way of speaking, his walk, and his food tastes. She began to wear a stethoscope around the house all the time.

Luke attended every trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy appointment with Mary. It took a long time for her to open up in therapy and she flat out refused to talk about her past unless Luke stayed in the room. Her therapist called it “unconventional” and just went with it. In this way, Mary was able to create and describe drawings about the traumatic memories of her past. She was finally facing her trauma.With Daddy by her side, she could do anything!

Mary has recently started to say that if she ever dates a boy, he will have to be “like Daddy.” When I asked her what that meant she replied, “well he has to treat me like a princess, of course!” At her annual father-daughter dance she was a princess. I got a picture of my beaming girl gripping my husband in a huge hug.

The time for Luke to return to regular work hours has come. As he journeys back into the world of saving lives on a regular basis, I find myself reflecting. Luke always saves. It’s what he does.  After all, he saved this little girl’s idea of what men are like. He saved this family. And one little princess will never forget that. Neither will her mom!

dance

 

**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.

*If you have ever considered foster or adoptive care, I encourage you to start your own adventure today!

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