Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Lessons from the PICU

So, when I decide to have an emergency, I am not content to merely have one or two major incidents. Anyone can have an emergency c-section leading to a preemie baby and a painful recovery. I like to step things up a notch and have another child admitted for a rare random disease, just for the bonus points. As I was being prepped for my surgery my cell phone rang, and since I was on scared-out-of-my-mind auto pilot I answered it. Mia's pediatrician was calling to tell me that she needed to be admitted to the hospital IMMEDIATELY. My hysterical laughter alarmed both of us so I handed the phone to Charlie and let him deal with it while I went to my happy place in my head and started humming The Girl From Ipanima.

Long story short, Mia wound up on the other end of the hospital while Claira and I were there recovering. I guess she doesn't like to be left out of things. She somehow managed to get osteomyelitis in her hip. Honestly, who does that? So here's what I learned from that whole experience:

PICU nurses deserve hazard pay. NICU nurses are saints, I'll give them that any day. But the PICU nurses have to deal with the kids when they are old enough to fight back...and be bored...and try to escape. Not that my perfect angel of a daughter would do any of that. Mia very quickly learned that if she pushed the pretty red button on her bed, a magic fairy would answer and grant her every desire. Another movie? No problem. Mint brownies at 2 a.m.? Brilliant idea! New sheets and jammies because you managed to spill paint all over, again? Don't even worry about it, I am here to serve you. At least that is what Mia heard. I'm sure the conversation sounded a whole lot different from the nurses station.

Numbers are hard. Ok, put yourself in my place for a minute. There is a special code to get into the NICU, a special code to get into Pediatrics, and a special code to get back to my room, which is where I have to be in if I want my drugs. I know I could probably handle that for a short period of time when I am focused and wearing my own clothes. But put me in a hospital gown, ply me with hormones and sleep deprivation, and it was like they were making me do quantum physics in order to pass through any doors. After a couple days the nurses knew who I was and the tale of my improbable adventures in family health care were whispered in reverence in the hallways, so they would let me struggle for a minute trying to remember where I was and who I was trying to visit then they would chuckle and just buzz me in, shaking their heads in pity. OH! And the security bracelets! By my count I had 5 of them semi-permanently wrapped around my wrist by the time I crawled into bed that first night. As I am not a jewelry type of person that was a massive irritation.

Kids adjust pretty quickly to anything. Now, if I had to have a PIC line in my right arm with a tube leading to a medicine pump in a giant fanny pack around my waist and was told I would be wearing that for over a month, I would probably throw at least one or two massive tantrums...a day. But not Mia, she just shrugged, then figured out how to accessorize her pump with massive amounts of glitter and self-fashioned arm warmers. I kind of want to be just like Mia when I grow up.

And finally, mother-daughter bonding can take place in the strangest of circumstances. It's been a couple months but Mia still cuddles up with me and talks to me about how cool it was that we had matching IV's. And she would call my room phone every couple hours to see if my magic red button was working properly yet (she was very upset that the only thing the nurses brought me when I pushed it was more pain meds). She would call and we would discuss what we would order from the cafeteria for lunch, then when our food trays came I would call her back and we would talk on the phone as we ate. I have a lot of memories from that whole experience, but listening to Mia giggle on the phone as she figured out that she could make her bed go up and down will stay with me forever. And sitting in the chair next to her bed and watching her patiently show her little sister how to work the buttons to Eliza's amazement and delight is one of my favorite moments ever


Mom to Many said...

Love your post Amy! You are awesome!

Christy Marshall said...

Glad you are writing this down, you will laugh at these memories in a few years:)