Friday, August 8, 2014

Vitamin D...& washing

We have broken free!

Clay & I have been home for 4 days now, & I could somewhat say that it's almost as if we never had our nine day hospital sojourn. Now that we're home life has just about settled back to business as usual. Doug is back at work, Ben, Rianan & Jack are back to school, Clay is healthy & happy, Blake & Will are no longer miserable little zombies. Everyone is sleeping in their own rooms, no longer playing musical beds as they sought reassurance & comfort from the parent & siblings who were still home & not holed up in a 8 x 5 beige color schemed, temperature regulated room complete with a double glazed window.

I tell you what, you really do lose all sense of time & passing days when the only sense of daylight you receive is through said window. I am certain that my Vitamin D levels are horrendously below recommended levels, based on the fact that I hadn't felt the sun shining on my face or the wind wrapping itself around my hair for nearly ten days. If I had been sporting a tan I certainly would have lost it last week. As it stands my skin is a healthy pale white, correction - last month it was. Now it's just a shade above translucent. 

Once it become apparent that our admission into the pediatric ward was going to last longer than 48 hours, I imagined all this time I would have on my hands to blog, to read, to just relax. Clearly I had some rose colored glasses on, as very little of the above happened. Those imagined hours were replaced with standing watch over Clay, eyes switching between vigilantly watching Clay & the monitor filled with important & informative numbers. The reality was far from relaxing. I thought our hospital stay would inspire a myriad of blog posts full of deep & meaningful insight, with the occasional recount of a humorous experience here & there. (I underestimated how uncomfortable it would be getting ready to sleep for the night when you have a nurse sitting just inside your door not three meters away, their entire shift dedicated to your room. Or waking up in the middle of the night to help Clay get through a coughing fit that caused the monitor alarms to sound off while trying to discretely wipe my dribble soaked cheek in front of said nurse. Yep, there ain't no wakin' up glamorous here. I'm just grateful that the pregnancy induced snoring has stopped.) I thought I would be able to read almost to my hearts content. Normally I finish a book every three days, thereabouts. The book I started on day two, I only just finished it the other day - eleven days after laying eyes on that first paragraph.

Instead my days were filled with re-positioning Clay while he was asleep because his oxygen saturation levels had dropped below 93. We found changing the way his head was positioned was the best way to bring those numbers back up, if only for the next ten or so minutes until they dropped again. Unfortunately there wasn't much more we could do for his high pulse & respiratory rate, that was in line with the level of care Clay needed beyond the support he already had. We just had to allow what we already had in place time to help Clay recover until he could be detached from each device. For the first five days nurses or doctors were in every hour or less - either for an alarm going off due to one number or another going too high or too low, coming in to chart Clay's obs, or for thrice daily reviews. When I wasn't wrapped up in all of Clay's tubes & wires (either mentally or physically) I was worrying about what was going on at home, talking & messaging with Doug, or Skyping with the minions.

The brief yet long enough experience of juggling a baby who had an oxygen stats sensor, Hi-flow air tubing & a drip, then for a few days adding in respiratory & cardiac patches & a nasal gastric feeding line, gave me a brief but intense insight to the struggles & heart ache so many families go through as part of their daily life. It's heartbreaking when your little baby is so unwell that they just sleep for hours on end or can only manage to stay awake for half an hour before getting tired, too tired to breathe easily which then creates a cascade of fluctuating numbers on that attention grabbing monitor with its flashing lights & pinging alerts. There is so many others for who that is just the beginning of their health implications. I've never underestimated how intense their experiences of having a home away from home in a pediatric hospital ward would be. How distressing it is to see your baby, your child, so unwell. Where the most you can do is hold them while the medical teams do their best to help. Sometimes you can't even hold them though, as it causes too much over stimulation on their little systems or gets in the way of the access required by the medical staff. Trying to comfort them while gently rubbing their head, encouraging them to suck on a pacifier to try gain comfort from some silicone instead of their Mother's arms. 

...& I'm crying again.  

Our temporary walk through their neck of the woods just gave me an even deeper respect for everyone who manages oxygen tubes & feeding lines, living their lives with daily hospital visits & admissions (brief or extended). My hat goes off to all the families who have to spend so much time apart, divided into two halves as one parent stays with the sick child & the other parent juggles life at home with the other siblings.

Doug certainly didn't have it easy either. Ben, Rianan, Jack, Blake & Will were all desperately worried about Clay. Plus this was the first time that we had all been apart for more than 24 hours due to an illness, & previously the longest I had spent apart from the other minions was three nights, when Blake was born back in 2010. With our time apart reaching eight nights it's no wonder they were all highly emotional. There was no chance in hell they were going to go to school, & I agreed with Doug on not forcing the issue. It was only just yesterday that my brain came back online & the internal dialogue that keeps me company decided it was safe to return once again. Prior to this, any time I thought of blogging, mentally I was met with the sound of crickets chirping. So I doubt the kids would have fared much better than I with any intense thinking & attempts at learning. Times tables, dictionary meanings & spelling words temporarily lost their importance last week. 

The Gods of inconvenience & misfortune were not holding back on Doug last week either. On top of holding down the fort at home, comforting tear streaked little faces & worrying about Clay - three days later Blake & Will crash completely with a horrible cold (we suspect the same one that struck Clay. Luckily their bodies are bigger & were able to support them while their immune systems fought the hard battle) That first night when they became sick Doug went to bed anxiously coming up with plan A, B & C for if he would have to take either Blake or Will into hospital at 2am. Thank goodness for the staff & Doctors at our General Practice, who got Doug & the five other minions in the next day at the last minute. They checked over the two sick ones, looked over the older three just to be certain, & reassured Doug that all was ok & they should be fine to rest & recover at home.

Kids are hard enough to look after when they aren't well, let alone when their world is upside down, so it was a new & unwelcome experience for all of us - Me dealing with the guilt & heart ache of not being able to look after our other sick little ones, Doug for having to look after Blake & Will who really were quite sick, along with everything else that was going on, without me there to back him up. While Skype is fabulous at helping to bridge the gap between distances, it doesn't even compare or come close to being there. Seeing a little face crumple, or sick bleary eyes from a toddler hot with a fever & not being able to do anything but try & come up with what feels like empty words. It's enough to make me cry all over again. 

But the Gods were not yet done with Doug. On day five, in the middle of washing a load of vomit covered blankets & pillow cases from Blake & Will who were up all night coughing & gagging to the point of regurgitating, the washing machine began bleating alarms & flashing error codes. I'm surprised Doug didn't pack up & volunteer himself to the nearest loony bin - 'cos at that point I sure would have. Luckily we have an over abundance of blankets, kids clothes & towels, because that is the only reason they survived without burlap bags & rope drawstrings through the following four days with no washing machine. 

Not so lucky for me though. 

Since Doug had to go back to work the day after Clay & I were discharged, & our new washing machine has only just recently been delivered, I'm now wading my way through piles of towels, sheets & pillow cases, darks, lights, jeans, socks & underwear. I think I'm slowly winning the battle - the tides have turned & our clean washing pile is greater than the dirty washing pile. 

Right now, if I could have one wish, given that we are all healthy & together under the same roof again, I would wish for a Rosie robot from The Jetsons. She could be my washing fairy, or washing robot, whatever.

Fairies & robots aside, I'm just glad I got the blogging mojo back.

...Plus a new washing machine.

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