Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hosptial Reprise, Reprieve

Anytime Z gets the wheeze going on, Egg and I go back and forth trying to decide whether she needs to go to the hospital. For the most part, we don't really consider going to the doctor because that would be but a detour on the way to the hospital. The doctor's office always freaks out when they listen to Z breathe her darth vadar-y breath. On Monday night, Egg came home from school and went in to check on she-who-had-been-sleeping. She was not sleeping. She was sitting up, coughing and wheezing. She just wasn't getting better. So we hemmed and hawed for about 12 minutes. Finally, we decided to just go. The decision is always hard--she has never again been as sick as she was in Feb of '06 when she had RSV and we were in the hospital for 8 days. To be released from the hospital, her oxygen levels had to stay at 93% or above. That's usually where they hover when she's sick now. At the doctor's office, 93% sends them into a tizzy. At the hospital, they're usually OK with the 93% but worry about the way her lungs retract. They think it could get worse and that she could get worn out. She has been sick for 6 weeks, off and on. We too were getting worried about her getting worn out. So on Monday, not knowing where her oxygen levels stood and having been listening to her cough for days and wheeze off and on that day, we went in.
I packed everything we would need for overnight. Contact case. Waterbottles filled. Books. Magaazines. Toothbrush. Z was pretty excited to go. We never leave the house at 9:30! Go? Car? She started jumping and putting on her coat and saying shoes shoes shoes shoes. Go go go go go. So we went.
We were ushered in, more, we think, because of our solid medical insurance than our deeply illing child, but possibly because anything respiratory freaks everyone out. They looked at us like we were a bit weird for bringing her in. The doctor came in and sat down next to Z and asked us why now. Z kept cocking her head to the side to say hi hi hi. As if to say, don't pay attention to them. I'm out after dark. Let's party. The doctor, fully charmed and off-put by such a sicky being in such a good mood, asked us again, why did you bring her in now?

We said that on the condition of getting the predisone, we would bring her in for any wheezing. They seemed to think that was a bit extreme. Her o-sats stood at 93%, sometimes dipping to 90, sometimes up to 95. We were sure we were in for the night. Or the next 8 days.

But the doctor, whom I love now more than butter, said, let's give her a breathing treatment and then I think that will be that.

We tried not to get our hopes up. We also tried to convince Z not to jump up and down on the bed for fear the tape that held the puls-ox monitor to her toes came off and her sats dipped to zero and someone in some nurse's station recorded it and we were going to be locked in for life.

The Respiratory Therapist came in, gave Z a treatment (alubterol0l). Z let her put a a mask over her face. Everyone was amazed Z was wearing the mask for the treatment rather than just using the blow-by method. Z was amazed they had invented something with stretchy-bands that go around over her head and hold a dinosaur-shaped plastic thing to her face. Or she was quite satisfied at all our amazement. Most kids won't do that, said the RT. Never. Said the doctor. The doctor said she'd go order the steroid meds and be right back to listen to Z and we'd be on our way.

She didn't come right back. Right after the breathing treatment, Z sounded great. But an hour went by and her o-sats dropped back to 93, even 92. Egg and I looked at each other. We're staying, we realized. We stare at the o-sats, holding our own breath. We've spent weeks like this, waiting for the o-sats to stabilize. Waiting for the magic number to hold.

The doctor came back, looked at Z with concern. She ordered another breathing treatment.
She'd be back. With admit papers, we assumed.
Less than an hour later she came back. She listened. She said she was going to get the Attending.
Getting the Attending is never good. It's a consultation--a what-to-do-now? A this-is-a-real-emergency. Sound-the-alarms type of thing.
Beth, the attending came in. .
She looked at Z. She looked at us.

OK, then, she said. She looks good. You guys are out of here.

I do think we may have danced a little.

20 minutes later, we were on our way.
Z was excited to go back in the car. At night. In the dark!

We came home and had a party. Z jumped off the coffee table fifteen times, prompting us to ask her to please, not make us go the ER two times in a night. I had a glass of wine. Egg had a beer.
We had this conversation:

There was a headline on one of the news pages. MSN I think, teasing what is the “least attractive city in the country?” Answer: The City of Brotherly Love.

Me: But they have the best sandwich. I’d rather have a perfect sandwich than be beautiful, wouldn’t you?

Egg: No answer.

Me: I know. You’d rather stay beautiful. That’s the problem with us. Beauty vs. true satisfaction.

Egg: It’s gluttony or vanity.

Me: it’s not gluttony. I just want one, not a hundred (thought I have had two Philly Cheese Steaks in a row before).

Egg: Thou shall not covet thy neighbor’s sandwich.

Me: I think you’re mixing your commandments with your deadly sins.

Me: I really want a Philly Cheese Steak now.

We did not rush out for Cheese Steaks. We were in our own beds by one.

It makes going to the hospital seem like it might not be the 5th circle of hell. Maybe only the 4th.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Kids Aren't Entirely Impossible

When your kid has been sick with the same cold for three weeks and you call the doctor and ask for prednisone because it’s the only thing that makes it so she doesn’t have to go to the hospital and they give you the prescription with the caveat that if she wheezes once you have to bring her in to his office which you know means they’ll send you to the hospital which is the place where nurses come in every 45 minutes to wake you and the child up so no one sleeps and no one gets better and yet they do little except monitor her where her o-sats never go lower than 95% and you take this as some kind of indication that her wheezing does not automatically indicate not breathing and so with the next cold you wait it out and there is no wheezing (yet) and there is no hospital (please no) and you make Pho Bo for dinner and the butcher at Meijer cut your top round (supposed to be sirloin) thick (you asked for carpaccio-thin) and you go home and put the too-thick meat in a star-anised beef broth ($3.89 an organic box broth\) and you drive home hoping there’s no wheezing (none) and the broth is good but the meat (top round, thick) is tough but your daughter-with-nose-running is drinking the broth and eating the rice noodles and chewing on a basil leaf, asking for another bean sprout makes me think that you maybe have a new date (since your husband is not a Pho zealot) for the Vietnamese restaurant a mere 12 miles away and she wants some of your broth with the four jalapeƱo slices and you give her a sip and she says water water water and then asks for more soupand you are relieved when she runs and jumps and says bean sprout over and over indicating not wheeze just breath, you relax for the first time in 28 days and chew on the jalapeƱos in your soup and let your own nose run and run.

Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Getting the Cooler Back Out

We had our friend's birthday party at our house. It was 88 degrees on Saturday. On Oct 6th. In the northerly Midwest. So the cooler came back from the basement, was stocked full of beer, and several people came over. I got to hang out with a few I barely knew and am now glad to know.
Also, there was some good cooking this weekend: A recent issue of Gourmet has all kinds of Latin American recipes. We made chicken a la brasa marinated for 24 hours in various spices and soy sauce. Delicious. I'm making zucchini and poblano pepper soup for our neighbor who broke his hip while mountain biking. Not here. In Tennessee. There are no mountains here tall enough to break your hip. Also, Equadoran potato cakes were made but they stuck to the bottom of my pan. I don't have a non-stick pan. Would this have helped? Is this the problem with every potato cake I've ever made? Must I pollute the planet with my teflon needs and bite the bullet and buy a one?
Last night: Chile with Mexican chorizo. I finally learned the difference between chorizo. Spanish chorizo is cured and sliceable and Mexican chorizo is spiced, pork sausage that you have to cook. Our farmer's market sells the latter. I had it for the first time the other night in the chile. 31 and I tried to cook with it before but it turned all greasy and mushy. We tossed it. The kind from the farmer's market was perfectly crumbly and not oily at all. Delicious. I have just enough leftover to make a scrambled egg recipe of chorizo, leftover tortilla chips from the same issue of Gourmet. Tonight? So many more chicken recipes. But, since I have 4 intermediate nonfiction essays, 6 intermediate poems, and 2 capstone papers to read, comment on, and grade, I may not be cooking much. Why do I make my students write so much? If I was a better teacher, they could learn by osmosis. Although I guess reading is a kind of osmosis. But I have to check their reading by reading their writing. Oh the vicious cycles!

Saturday, October 06, 2007

Business of writing

This week, some writing got done but it felt more like business than creation. I worked out in my mind a few of the last details of the novel's plot but if details are not on the page, it doesn't really count. I did have one of my characters trade sex for a peak at a patient's records but otherwise, I'm stuck on the denouement. I kind of hate denouements. I think I'd prefer to write a choose your own resolution book. Once I know how it's going to end, I get bored.
Then I spent the early part of the week trying to figure out how to record two poems for the upcoming issue of Drunken Boat. Apparently, Macs have a built in microphone and a built in recording studio (Garage Band! Thanks Craig for the tip). So I finally recorded the poems on Erik's computer.
Then I got an email from Tin House's editor that she liked a piece of mine but that she needed me to revise it. So I got down to business and started revising. I moved the middle to the fore, strengthened some connections, cut a section about imagining being blown up in Wendover. Then, the next day, AGNI's editor mailed me to except the very same piece for their website. AGNI's great but I would have preferred the print version to the online space. So I emailed Tin House and asked them what to do. They said, I'd go with the sure thing since it will still be a couple of weeks over here for us to decide. That's cool, I thought. Thanks for the advice. And so I sent my one piece off to AGNI and will send a new piece to Tin House. Next week? Is that too soon?
Then, I started to write a review of Jenny Boully's new book for The Diagram. And maybe I finished it? I wrote an exegetical epic metaphor to describe the book. It's already over long. I may be done.
And then, I finished Dr. Write's amazing story collection. It is amazingly smart and precise. Next, I'm starting Scorpion Tail's new novel. I cant' wait.
I also went out to campus on a Thursday! to see Jason Breadle talk to A's students. Really nice guy with some really great poems. I'm going to buy his 2nd book from Red Morning Press.
I also sent my (new, NEA-ish) book of poems off to Steve to see what he thinks.
I still need to finish my talk for NonfictionNow but then I can get back to noveling and these much-revision-needed essays. I'll aim for Dr. Write's precision but if I get close to say, only three mistakes per page, I'll be happy. I need a live-in editor.
Also. I must be commenting on students' work and preparing for my capstone class to be observed on the 17th.
Also. M's birthday party tonight at our house. Must go clean. Or at least hide things. Oh, weekend, I hardly knew you.