Things could always be worse. . .

February 18, 2012 at 9:16 am | Posted in emergency room, Grief, life after loss, Love, mourning, venting | 6 Comments
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The other night I was talking to one of my favorite friends and she asked how everyone at my house was feeling.  I thought about it and cautiously answered, “Everyone is doing pretty well.”  And, I truly thought all was well, until 5 am the next morning.  I woke up to Evan asking me to go get some ice packs.  He had a bloody nose that would not stop.  I won’t go into the gory details but he was a mess.

This had happened once before a few weeks after Sawyer died.   Evan had come home from work and after a few hours he could still not stop the bloody nose.  He shocked me by asking me to call 911.  He was taken to the ER in an ambulance.   The bloody nose eventually stopped.

After Jake died I had this realization that anyone and everyone close to me could slip away at an instant.  Life had a new kind of uncertainty.  I even flipped out when our dog, Buddy, had to be sedated for a dental cleaning.  My very same favorite friend talked me down off the ledge as we waited at the vet.

Life seems so fragile. Maybe it was fragile before Jake and Sawyer died but I was oblivious.  After Evan’s first visit to the ER it was not hard for me to imagine the worst happening.  Only a few weeks before we had buried Sawyer.  Nothing is guaranteed.

After yesterday’s visit to the ER I found myself trying not to let my mind go to the worst places.  As I drove Evan from doctor to doctor I took deep breaths.  I reminded myself of what my grandfather always says when asked how he is feeling, “I could be better but things could always be worse.”

The doctors told us that based on Evan’s blood pressure we were very lucky that it was a bloody nose because there were far worse alternatives.  My mind had already played and replayed the worst of the alternatives.  Now I will do my best to focus on the present.  Unfortunately, Evan and I both know all too well that things could always be worse.  He will get better.

Evan holding Sawyer

Paranoid Parenting

January 28, 2012 at 11:22 pm | Posted in emergency room, life after loss, normal?, twins | 9 Comments
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I felt my heart racing as I drove down the street towards the twins’ pediatrician.  They were in the back seat.  I hoped they did not sense my panic.  My heart always races just a bit faster when we pass the entrance to the emergency room of the Children’s hospital.  I cannot drive past it without thinking of driving in the ambulance with Sawyer.

Confession #1 – At times I have driven way out of my way to avoid this entrance.  However, passing it is the only good route to the twins’ doctor.

Confession #2 – I have thought about switching pediatricians just so I do not have to drive down this street all the time.  I rule this out because I know that these flashbacks are in my head and I cannot escape them (and I love our pediatrician).

It was the 2nd straight day of high fevers.  Pink eye had definitely returned to our house.  And, as usual I am completely paranoid about their breathing.  Colds, flu, pink eye – it is all part of being a parent.  I know this and I repeatedly remind myself that all kids get sick.  I try to trust my instincts as a mother.  The doubt always creeps in – not matter what I do.  I thought Sawyer was fine the night he died.  My maternal instincts failed me that night – could they fail me again?

I had begged the sick appointment nurse to squeeze us in Friday afternoon.  We were the last appointment.  We got the pink eye medicine and an antibiotic.  Pulsox levels were good.  No irregular heart beats.   My panic started to subside.  I packed the twins back into the car and drove home.

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Hospitals, Hernias & Holidays

July 2, 2011 at 11:32 pm | Posted in emergency room, Grief, hospital, parents, twins | 10 Comments
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Yesterday I called Evan and told him to come home immediately.  As I hung up the phone, I questioned if I overreacted.  We had been at a close friend’s house playing.  All was normal except when we left one twin ran to the car and the other was dragging his left foot.  I asked if he wanted me to pick him up.  It is not unusual for him to get tired and ask to be carried.  However, when I picked him up he screamed to be put down.

Finally I got everybody in the car.  As I drove I thought maybe he was having an allergic reaction.  Maybe he could not walk because his feet were swollen.  Or maybe his shoes were too small and he needed new shoes.  I opted to stop at CVS rather than the shoe store.  At this point, they both were screaming.  She wanted ice cream.  He wanted to sit down.  After buying Benadryl, 2 toy cars and frozen yogurt to go, we were back in the car.  I made the call to Evan.  One of us needed to take him to the doctor.

At home I stripped him down to look for hives.  He was very swollen in his groin area.  Evan got home and took him to the after hours pediatric urgent care.  I fully expected a call telling me there was an unexplainable allergic reaction (like many others in the past) and the hives would be gone in the morning.

Instead Evan called to tell me that he was on his way to the ER.   The hive was actually a hernia.  I needed to go to the ER.   Luckily, I was able to drop off the well twin back at our friend’s house.  Thank you again!!

I got to the ER just in time for the ultrasound.  He screamed, cried and begged (politely) for the ultrasound technician to please stop.  Evan and I held him down.  Ok, Evan held him down.  I had to go cry in the hall.

After the ultrasound we waited to speak to the surgeon.  While waiting, I went to the bathroom.  The bathroom was right across from this hospital’s “consult room.”  The “consult room” was where Evan and I held Jake for the last time.  It was where we were when the ER doctor told us that Sawyer was dead.  They were different “consult rooms,” in different hospitals but they looked the same.  Standard issue plastic couch and chair.  Generic flowery art.  Striped carpet.

As I reached the door of our ER room I looked through the glass panel of the door.  Evan was holding hands with our very much alive son.  I thought of the glass partition which Alice Wisler so insightfully used to describe bereaved parent’s desire to be so close and so distant from their living children.  I walked back into the room.

The surgeon arrived.  He originally said that we would be checked in and surgery would be the next morning.   An hour or so later, we were told that due to life threatening cases and the holiday weekend we would need to go home.  We were discharged early this morning.  Surgery will be scheduled for this week.  I am going to kiss the twins one more time right now.

Sawyer’s Story (part 10): The Unthinkable

February 4, 2011 at 11:12 pm | Posted in emergency room, Grief, hospital | 14 Comments
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We stood in the room with the ER doctor.  We did not want to believe what he had just told us.  How could Sawyer be dead?  Just a few hours before he was alive and fine.  I felt like my head would never stop spinning.  Had he gotten a virus?  Had he choked?  Were there signs we had missed? 

A medical examiner had come into the room at some point.  He said he had to ask us some questions but we could go see Sawyer first.  We both jumped at the chance to go to Sawyer.  I just wanted to hold him.  Maybe if we saw him and held him everyone would realize this was just a big horrible mistake.

As we were taken to the room where Sawyer was it was explained to us that all we could do was literally “see” him.  We were not allowed to hold him.  We were not allowed to kiss him.  We were not even allowed to touch him.

We were brought through the  door to the room in the ER that earlier I had desperately wanted to open.  There was Sawyer.  He was lying on this huge hospital bed.  He was so small.  He was so still.  He had tape on his face from one of the tubes.  I screamed.  I just wanted to take the tape off of his face.  The doctor or maybe the medical examiner said I could not remove the tape.  In fact, Evan and I could not even get very close to him.  I could not stop screaming.  I just wanted to hold him.  I wanted to wake up from this nightmare.  I ran out of the room.

I waited for Evan in the hallway.  I tried so hard not to think about the fact that it was time to feed Sawyer.  I tried even harder to get the image I had just seen out of my head.

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Sawyer’s Story (part 9): The ER

February 2, 2011 at 4:40 pm | Posted in Death, emergency room, Grief, hospital | 9 Comments
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In the hallway of the emergency room I did not know what to do.  I stared at the door willing myself to be on the other side of it with Sawyer.  I thought Evan was driving right behind the ambulance so I did not understand where he was.  I later found out he jumped in the car and followed the ambulance.  However, when Evan got to a main street he realized he did not have his glasses on.  He did not have his contacts in his eyes either.  He drove back home to get his glasses. 

Meanwhile, I continued to cry in the hall.  The ER nurses and doctors were going about their business.  They were doing their jobs.   I kept thinking, “How can they possibly be going on with their lives when something is very wrong with Sawyer?” 

My cell phone rang.  It was my brother.  He told me that he was taking our parents to the airport.   I told him I hoped to call him back soon to let him know that Sawyer was fine.

Time seemed to stand still.  Why had I not heard back from the doctor?  Where was Evan?  The hospital chaplain came to talk to me.  I knew what this meant.  The hospital chaplain came to talk to Evan and me 5 years earlier.  They came to talk to us about Jake.  I could not talk to the hospital chaplain that night in the ER.  I walked away.  I might have said something but I do not remember. 

I called one of my oldest and closest friends.  I knew it was 4 something in the morning but I called anyway.   I remembered she told me she had gotten up the day after Thanksgiving to go shopping at an extremely early hour.  She answered and offered to come to the hospital.  I thanked her but said no.  I hoped to call her back soon to tell her everyone was fine. 

Evan finally arrived.  I had nothing to tell him.  No one had given me any updates.  The hospital chaplain was back.  This time she took us to a room.  I am  not sure how long Evan and I were in that room.  Eventually, a doctor came to talk to us.  He told us they were doing everything they could but Sawyer was not responding.  He said he would be back with another update.

I paced and every once in a while I sat on the floor.  Evan asked me to sit next to him on the couch.  I tried but I could not sit still. 

The doctor returned.  He said the words I could not believe we were hearing again.  “Your son is dead.”

Little Angel

We were given an angel to cherish and love. 

So tiny, so perfect, a gift from above.

When we looked at his face it was calmness we found

And that peace seemed to spread to all he was around.

His love touched our hearts like fine threads of spun gold

And we thanked G-d for giving us this angel to hold.

But we did not know then that time was our foe

And too soon, with a whisper, our angel would go.

Our hearts almost breaking, a touch soft as lace

Seemed to wipe at the hurt as it coursed down our face. 

We still have our angel to cherish and love.

Those gold threads now shimmer from Heaven above.

And though we can’t see him or cuddle him tight,

We won’t say goodbye, Little Angel, goodnight.

                                                – Author unknown

Sawyer’s Story (part 8): The Ambulance

January 26, 2011 at 6:50 pm | Posted in Death, emergency room, Grief | 13 Comments
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I felt like I was moving in slow motion as the ambulance drove the 3 miles to children’s hospital.  I kept trying see what was happening to Sawyer.  I could not see very much because there were so many paramedics in the back.  I asked the driver many times if my baby was ok.  Every time I asked he would respond, “I really can’t say ma’am.  Just calm down.”  Inside I was screaming.  How could I possibly calm down?  And, who was this “ma’am?”

It did not help matters that the ambulance driver went down the road with the bridge that was out.  The bridge had been out for months because of all the rain we had in the fall of 2009.  I thought that maybe the ambulance driver knew something I did not and emergency vehicles could go over the bridge.  I was wrong.  The bridge was out for all vehicles including Sawyer’s ambulance.  The driver turned around at the bridge.  He then asked me for directions to the hospital.

We finally arrived at the children’s hospital emergency room.  I had been there twice before.  One time for each of the twins.  Those times we went in through the regular entrance.  Each time the twin was fine and we all left through the same entrance.

Sawyer was rushed into the ER through the ambulance entrance.  I ran down the hall following Sawyer.  He was whisked into a room.  The door closed.  I was not allowed in.  I just stood in the hallway and cried.

I tried my best to rationalize what I had seen in the back of the ambulance.  I had seen Sawyer’s EKG.  It was a flat line.

“Do not judge the bereaved mother.
She comes in many forms.
She is breathing, but she is dying.
She may look young, but inside she has become ancient.

She smiles, but her heart sobs.

She walks, she talks, she cooks, she cleans, she works, she IS,
but she IS NOT, all at once.

She is here, but part of her is elsewhere for eternity.”
                                                                                                         –Author Unknown

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