Thursday, January 28, 2010

A Wife's Pain, A Husband's Journey, Who's the Jackass?

Our daughter Madison was born September 10, 2001. She was our first and because we were ignorant newliweds we were slow at going to the doctor to confirm the pregnancy. So at about week 12 (after a full 3 missed period), we called her doctor and the receptionist basically freaked out and scolded us for waiting so long. So we go into her doctor and lo and behold, she was pregnant. So besides the joy of knowing that we would be parents, we were met with 2 pieces of bad news- 1) we'd have to deliver at a hospital 45 minutes from our house because everything was already booked in advance at the nearby hospitals 2) our embryonic child's kidneys were too big- a red flag for Downs Syndrome. The hospital situation was chalked up to ignorance, but the kidney thing was a conversation stopper.

The doctor quite bluntly said that we had a very short window in which to terminate the pregnancy and that we'd need to do the amnio test and meet with a genetic specialist to confirm and advise us in more of a specialized manner. So between that doctor visit and the genetic specialist appointment we were faced with the discussion of how to proceed once we had that second appointment. Now back then, Nadine was Catholic and I was Christian, but we weren't practicing our faith. And our faith was more based on how we were brought up instead of any sort of Road to Damascus moment.

Well, for the first time since we got married, we prayed together about this and to be honest, there was no decision to be made. It was not our will, it was His. Flash forward to the genetic counselor appointment and the results- we were actually a month more pregnant that we though. So our daughter's kidneys were big because they weren't that big. You call that what you want, but to us our faith in Christ was renewed that day.

Now for those gentle readers who are reading this next paragraph despite the possibility that you might not be Christian and perhaps you belittle religion or you you are pro-abortion, you can rest easy because my little testimonial is complete. It's time to return to what I do.

So on September 10, 2001, I was getting ready to go to work and Nadine was home for the final few weeks before she was due (doctor's orders bedrest). I head to the home office to check my fantasy baseball stats when Nadine calls- "It's time". To this I reply "Just a second, I need to check my baseball stats..."

Next thing I hear is a banging into a doorway. I run downstairs to see Nadine dragging her overnight bag to the car. Needless to say, she was not happy. I got the message, loaded up the rest of our stuff and we headed to the Scripps Hospital in La Jolla- in rush hour traffic- 45 miles from our house. The conversation on the way there went a little like this "Are you ok?" "..." "Are you doing alright?" "..."

Now although I'm sharing the story of our first child's birth, that is not the point of this post, it's just background. But to finish off this part of the story: water broke when we walked in the hospital, 45 minutes of labor, Ed McCafferey broke his leg on Monday Night Football, nurse woke us up the next day to tell us that the World Trade Centers had been destroyed. Happy birthday Madison.

Flash forward to yesterday- January 27, 2010: I had been having some back pains a few times this past week- not muscle paid- Nadine said it was gas, so Tums, hotpad and some whining by me. Two nights ago, I finished my work at 4AM so I got 3 hours of sleep, and last night I wrapped up my work (and politial analysis) by a respectable 3AM. I rest my head and wake up to excruciating pain in my back- it's now 3:12AM. But this time I couldn't get comfortable no matter what. I'm talking about debilitating, leg shaking pain. Nadine got up and donned the Google MD hat and figured that I've got the symptoms of kidney stones. Meanwhile, the cheapest man in the world (who just finished paying $6000 for his son to spend the night at a mountain resort hospital) was wondering how he's going to get to the hospital. I could tangent about the fact that there's a brand new state of the art hospital 5 minutes from my home, but I'd only get upset that it sits dormant- 1 year past the grand opening date due to the economy. So I know that the next closest hospital is 20 minutes away. It's good that it's raining and that I couldn't sit down or stand up or lie down.

And get this- for the sake of keeping our kids dreaming of Mario Kart Wii, I grabbed my cell, and my bible and got in my car to drive myself. I turned out of our neighborhood and the sweat began. Did I mention that it was raining? I got 5 miles away and I was basically between any commercial development, and I thought I was going to die. I really thought I was going to pass out- I figured that if I pulled over on the side of the dark road, I might get stuck in the mud, get out of the car and fall iinto the road, or I'd call 911 and they wouldn't be able to find me. So I pressed on. I got about halfway there and pulled into the Dunkin Donuts center. No, I wasn't hungry, I just needed a checkpoint, a halfway house, a well lit place to die in dignity... I got out of the car and tried to walk it off but felt worse. So I prayed for just a little more strength and got it on. No choice but to get it on.

The rest of the drive was a blur. A little under the speed limit, the most comfortable position was my chin resting on the steering wheel, Nadine was texting me like crazy, the Classical music station was playing 1812 overature- hardly Baby Mozart material, the Christian station was playing some hardcore praise music- not really bringing me closer to God. Maybe in the Nine Inch Nails way, but not in the way I was hoping for. I got to the hospital, drawn in by the bright EMERGENCY light and I pulled into the emergency vehicle dock by mistake. No time to freak out, I calmly flipped one and found the real parking. Got out of my car (did I mention that it was raining) and walked up to the lobby like a jell-o man. The hall monitor jumped up and shoved a thermometer in my mouth. I couldn't look up, I couldn't tell you what color hair she had, and I spit the thermometer out and asked her grab me a something to throw up in. I almost asked her hold my hair back so it wouldn't get puke on it as my memories of college flashed back to me, but then I realized that I had no hair. The feeling passed for a moment. I went into the admittance room, staring at the ground now, sweat pouring and then I expelled. The non-MDs were singing "Kidney Stone" acapella and I was admitted.

IV, CT scan, morphine, 3 units of saline and it was confirmed. Did I mention Morphine? I've never had it before. I was expecting the nurse to put a big M on my forehead. And while I didn't need a cathedar to blow up the stones, I still thought I was going to die. Once I peed in a cup, I was sent home by 8:15AM with a prescription for FloMax- that's right, the old guy medicine! I had a conversation with my nurse during a later bout of more pain
Me: "Am I being a wuss about all of this? I mean do I really need this pain medicine?"
Her: "Passing a kidney stone is the male equivalent of childbirth"

So now it all comes together. 8 years later, kidneys, a painful drive, trying to find cheap punch and judy hitters on the waiver wire. I have finally made up for my inconsiderate actions of 2001. As I left the hospital, Nadine called me to say that the kids were off to school and that she's on her way to work. In my croaky and exhausted voice I said "We're even". She laughed and I love her for that.

1 comment:

Paul said...

I commend you on your decision. We didn't know that Alli would have down syndrome before she was born. We didn't have a decision to make as we didn't have the information. We welcomed her into our lives and then found out she had DS.

After the initial shock, we realized that she is our angel on earth.

I know you're a great father. If you had a child with special needs, that would not change.