Wednesday, May 18, 2011


So...last week I had to bring my 3 year old son to the Jersey Shore University Hospital (not fucking kidding) due to a severe stomach flu and the resultant dehydration. Oh, plus he had strep/pneumonia. It was tough. His poor little body.

But, in the scheme of things, it wasn't too big a deal. My mom, who I wrote to about it in China, was all "Oh, it's fine." And I knew how she was thinking of when I was one month old and had a kidney blockage and very very nearly died. It's part of the parenting package, I suppose. Taking care of sick children. People don't really tell you that ahead of time.

Like I said, though, I'm extremely lucky and he's fine. A little iv fluids, a little iv antibiotics - he was right as rain. And for that, God bless modern medicine. Or, technically, the invention of iv's and antibiotics.

I do have a whole post to write about how I'm not only interested in the 18th century due to Phebe Taylor (who lost three children in about a year and who, I think, insisted on being buried with them forty-five years later) but I'm also currently caught up in The Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon. Most of that series is set during Phebe's lifetime, as it turns out. Which is great for me, because I think Diana does a fair amount of research on daily life and what it was like for families - especially women. Plus there are sex scenes. It's a romance series, after all.

The main character of the series is Claire Beauchamp Randall Fraser and she's a doctor. So there's also a fair amount about what medical care was like in the 18th century. There wasn't a lot of it, is what it was like. But we know that. I was just reminded, reading the fourth book in the series, that with something that happened to my 3 year old, back then, that would've been fatal. Serious diarrhea/vomiting followed by a cough followed by dehydration and that whole spiral of weakness and not wanting to eat or drink - all that leads to death for 3 year olds. Or it used to. Just that simple. Just a couple of weeks of horror and then he would've been gone.

But he isn't and it was stopped by iv fluids and antibiotics. Probably not even the antibiotics were really necessary, just the iv fluids.

And for me, when I was one month old, a kidney blockage definitely would've been fatal. But it wasn't. I had surgery, I was put on antibiotics and I was fine. And my brother didn't die of meningitis when he was seven. And my dad didn't die of cancer at 55. And it's all ok.

But I wanted to write this post about a few things that happened in the hospital and, more or less, a couple of general observations about hospitals. And how horrible they are. Or, I guess I should say, how much I hate them.

Cause I hate them. They feel like prisons to me. Even for what were joyous occasions - the births of my children - they felt like prisons. Those times, about day three I started pacing like a tiger in a cage. Or a prisoner in a cage. Pacing, pacing pacing. Bags packed and pacing.

This time was like that too, but it was 24 hours after having been there. We were admitted overnight due to my son's pneumonia sliver in his xray. It was okay. He got more fluids, more time for the antibiotic to kick in. He slept well and it was worth it. We left after about 29 hours, in the end.

But, swear to God, I couldn't wait to leave. The doors I walked past were little doorways to universes of pain. And, maybe not, but it felt that way. A good number of times I walked past and a child was screaming and screaming and screaming. That happened only a few times, but that was enough. I couldn't help, obviously. I couldn't do anything for that child and I just had to go back to my room and shut the door to stop the noise.

Right after we checked in and were brought up to our room, a chaplain came by. My son was pretty zoned out, still. Understandably. So the guy didn't get the interaction he was looking for, I guess. He told me he just loves coming to the pediatric ward. He loves coming through for "a lift to my spirits". So, I nodded, and said, "Uh huh." and just did small talk with him. After a few hours, though, I was all, "The fuck?" He comes here? This godforsaken place of pain and fear and heartache?

I guess the miracle comes when you leave, but what you have to go through to get to that point is, invariably, horrible. Even a minor thing like us. I had to help hold him down while they poked him three times to try to find a vein that would take the iv. I'm probably not saying that correctly, but you know what I mean. Dehydrated kids have horrible veins. So, that's typical. The screaming, though. And I was lucky! And I know that's a fact because he only had to do that the one time, and I heard kids going through that frequently in the pediatric ward.

So, the chaplain thing happened. And what else? A few other weird things. I noticed that time kind of stopped while I was there. Which is normal, I guess? You're so focussed on what's happening that time and the rest of the world cease to exist. Everything stands still.

I remember that from when my dad was so sick twenty years ago, but I don't really remember it that vividly. Maybe I blocked it out. Maybe I'll block this out. I don't know. I remember trying to help my mom. Especially when they told her that the cancer might've spread. And the time we spent waiting for the results of more tests (it ended up being ok - he's alive, after all).

And even if you have CNN running constantly in the hospital room, the world outside still ceases to exist. Kind of like at the airport. You're just sitting there, killing time, hoping for the best, waiting for someone to tell you that you can leave. Only with the hospital, you have to throw in all the pain and fear and misery.

But I was lucky. My son was lucky.

A few other things about the hospital have been rattling around my head for a week or so. They're pretty unrelated to anything, but they happened and even while they were happening, I was kind of outside myself, thinking "Huh. That's happening and I can't really believe it. Is this happening? Huh. I guess it is." Once I explain, it'll make more sense.

First thing is that I overheard a nurse and a mother talking outside my door, at some point. And I didn't catch it all, probably because Fan Boy and Chum Chum was on pretty loud in my room, but I thought that the nurse said about how she had heard about his (meaning the mom's son's) case, but couldn't believe it. The mother said something along the lines of "Yes, they put his foot on backwards to help with the prosthetic." (This is where the "Did that happen?" part of it comes in.)

So today, I google foot backwards and guess what? It did happen. But in Ohio. So either the Jersey Shore Hospital is some sort of portal to the hallway of the pediatric ward in some Ohio hospital, or the kid was for some reason at our hospital. In any case, could I make this up? Would I ever? No. I'm nowhere near this creative. But anyway, it happened. All in all, highly surreal. And here's the link to the story by CBS local New York news.

Oh my God, this is long. I was going to also tell you about Kyle who pushed us out of the hospital - I couldn't carry all our bags plus my son, or else I wouldn't have waited the extra hour it took to get Kyle and the wheelchair he was pushing to our room. Anyway, Kyle comes. Handsome young guy. We walk out near the entrance to the emergency room -that's where they told me to bring my son. The ER doctor didn't believe me, but they fucking told me to bring him there. Don't question me, ER doctor! Don't! Anyway, we're walking out and I look over to the ER and four or five people are restraining someone writhing around, moaning in pain on a gurney. And for this, Kyle apologizes. "No problem, Kyle. I'll go get the car." I couldn't tell if the guy was just completely disabled and having a sort of seizure or if he was some sort of drug addict. In any case, it was bad enough for Kyle to apologize. Which was nice.

And then, thank the fuck, we got in our car and came home.

The end.


  1. Too much to comment on here, so I'm gonna settle for a simple. "Aren't Kyle's great? I have a Kyle of my own, and I'm tellin' ya, I highly recommend them!"

  2. There shouldn't be a ' in that "Kyles". I just had to point that out so it wouldn't keep me up all night.

  3. Also, the 17 steps you have to go through to post a comment on your blog is a monumental pain in the ass.

    First I have to go to wordpress and log in to a defunct account.

    Then I have to come back here and type (or should I say REtype - because I usually forget step one, and I type a comment and then it gets thrown out because I can't prove I'm in the special comment allowed club) a comment.

    Then I select my profile.

    And type in my name.

    and THEN I have to type in those stupid captcha letters.

    I guess what I'm trying to say here is FUCK YOU, Blogspot comment system. Fuck you straight to hell.

  4. You know why they make this so hard? So that I, in the end, get three comments instead of one or two. Holla! Got you!

    I liked my Kyle. I haven't had a Kyle in my life in ages. Ages! Alas, this Kyle encounter was brief, but memorable. Seriously, if I hadn't been so intent on getting the fuck out of there, I would've been all girly and coy and stupid around him. But I wasn't, because I'm a goddamned adult. And I wanted to get the fuck out of there.

    I need to go comment on your blog and it's already set up for me! It remembers me! Maybe blogspot doesn't remember you? Awwww, sad. :)