Thursday, March 14, 2013

After all this she still goes to Africa!

I wrote this, didn't want to publish it, then said the hell with it!  Look, I know everything is great now, Twila is her happy self again, the sky is blue and I can notice it.  I know that families deal with much worse and some on a daily basis...that is certainly not lost on me.  But, this post is me catching up with those out-of town friends and family who have been calling and asking how we are, for those friends I love dearly but haven't had the energy to talk about this with, for those new Internet acquaintances who have been so kind to reach out and voice their concern.  You are all very much appreciated and it's been something our family has really taken to heart.  Thank you.

So, lately the questions seem to have gone from, "How is Twila doing?" to, "How are you doing?"  They know.  How did I not know?   Frankly, I have been wanting to write this post at the same time as I have been avoiding it.  I think I was so strong while it happened but now that the dust has settled I feel a bit delicate, pensive, and well, honestly,  I think I just feel different.  Yeah... I feel very different.  I feel thoughts working themselves out without my knowing it.  Does that sound weird?  It feels weird.  I think it kind of hit me the other day when on the phone with my mother she said, "I think it's reasonable for you to feel this way.  Your daughter had a life threatening day."  A "life-threatening day"... she's not even four.  {Sigh}

A week ago today Twila awoke sleepy.  She had been coughing through the night.  The weather here has been so erratic everyone with allergies has been suffering a bit extra.  I woke up to give her some medicine to bring her relief, allow her to sleep.  She didn't.  Our snowy day was a school day and so we continued with our morning as usual.  I did offer her a breathing treatment though because I heard a slight wheeze.  When I left her at school she cried when I left.  It was the first time she had ever done that.  I asked her if she was okay.  She never complains.  I'm just now seeing the down sides to that.  I left for an appointment when ten minutes later I got a call from Twila's school - her lips were blue, her face was pale, her chest was fluttering.  When I arrived back at her school, I found her resting on some pillows while two little girls with worried faces read to her calmly.  She looked dazed.  I'd never seen her so tired.  We calmly rushed {if there is such a thing} to her doctor where everyone was prepared to measure her oxygen levels and care for her.  Her doctor had time to administer oxygen and a few breathing treatments before telling me that her levels were too low. She would have to be transported by ambulance so that she could have oxygen for the ride to the emergency room.  {Be strong, be strong, be strong...}  She would have to stay at least one night in the hospital.  {Be strong, be strong, be strong...}  I later found out that someone as bad off as she was would normally have to spend 3-4 nights in the hospital.

You know, through this whole event, timing has shown itself to be magically perfect.  If I hadn't been late to school that day due to the administration of her breathing treatment {which now I know helped her more than I knew at the time and probably allowed her those extra moments during transport} she wouldn't have been placed on the lap of her teacher; I wouldn't have had a conversation with her letting her know that Twila seemed extra tired that day, off somehow.  Things Twila and I discussed days ago {like what an ambulance was and what happened inside and who paramedics are} were proving to seem less like day to day discussions and more serendipitous.  Many of the experiences we had the following days I could look back and see that preparations for them were days in the making!  So as we entered the ambulance with her baby Emma {her favorite pillow which I just happened to grab while running back in for something I forgot} she wasn't afraid, didn't complain once.  She only spoke a few times to ask the paramedic questions about what things were inside the ambulance, what the procedures were.  We made it fun if that's even possible.  We made it an adventure.  I suppose that my natural reaction in disaster type situations or when someone else needs me to be strong is to pretend to ignore what should be fearful and instead concentrate on other things, hopefully humorous ones... it's to think of that other person, imagine myself in their shoes and wonder what would make them feel better.  I overcompensated by chatting with the paramedics, laughing at anecdotes, asking Twila about the view and what it felt like to drive backwards...  I was distracting myself too I suppose.

They were expecting us at the emergency room.  They were calm, efficient, made Twila smile, were caring and thoughtful to her.  They were sweet to me too.  I can't say enough good things about the Children's Hospital here.  She was given a massive amounts of steroids, extra breathing treatments, inhaled medicine on top of that.  Tests were made, samples were drawn, x-rays were taken.  Hours slipped by and soon it was the evening.  Doug arrived and I could tell he was shaken.  He was being strong for Twila but his eyes were sad, red... nervous. This was the first time I came back to the event as a whole...what was happening to our baby... to all of the unknowns.  I hadn't eaten anything that day... he brought food, games, preparations for the evening.  He's a great dad.

Later, when Twila no longer needed oxygen she was transferred to another room in a different part of the hospital.  She was crazy from all the steroids.  She was now loving the adventure, loving the buttons that made her bed fold and bend, the wheelies in the wheelchair...  We met with more doctors and learned of more possible causes.  Every two hours - more breathing treatments, more medicine.  Another night without sleep.  Too much television.  In the morning she awoke early to blood being drawn.  She cried for the first time since the morning prior when I left her at school.  So brave.  More steroids.  More television.  More treatments, x-rays, visitors.  Then, home.  We came home.  After just one day instead of what could have been 4, we came home.  Thankfully she responded to the medicine like a champ.  Besides an invisible wheeze you wouldn't know she was recovering from anything.  She put on a dress I had just bought her, went upstairs to get a crown, grabbed a bag and went "To Africa".  After playing that afternoon she went to sleep right away.  I sat on the couch, drank wine, stared into space...I crashed hard.  And now, a week later I feel like there are still fears, still concerns, still a lot of unknowns.  But I know that things have to go back to "normal".  I know that if I hadn't let her go back to school, hadn't let her sleep in her own room, hadn't acted like everything is like it was before this, that it would have never gone back to that way.  I would have become that over protective mother.  I could have easily brought worry to a place that would have been detrimental to our family.  I still feel me fighting a natural urge to protect her and keep her safe from something I don't understand how to keep her safe from.  So, life is back to normal.  She goes to school.  We play outside.  I pretend everything is fine when inside everything still feels so un-fine.  I ignore, like I did when I was in disaster mode for Twila, every thought I have that wants to set me down a very sad path.  I pretend that I am not worried about her every second she's away.  I resist the urge to go upstairs and check up on her during the night and then finally go upstairs to make sure she is breathing easily.  So, I tell myself, "Everything is OK.  Everything is as it should be."  I tell people that everything is just fine; everything is normal.  But I think I may still be pretending.  And that's okay...  Fake it 'til you make it.  Be strong, be strong, be strong...


Were you curious about her "going to Africa"?  Here she is on an airplane with her bag packed.  This was that very afternoon.  It was so good to see she was quick with making things "back to normal".  I am taking many lessons from her these days. 

Twila:  Okay.  I need to get ready and pack all my things. {She is quickly grabbing items from around the house and stuffing them into a grocery bag}
Me:  What?  Are you going somewhere?
T:  Yes.  I need to pack my things to get ready for an adventure.
Me: Oh fun!!  Where are you going?
T:  I'm going to Africa.  {She is still packing.}  I don't want to leave anything so I need to go and pack my things.
Me:  Why are you going to Africa?
T:  I'm going to visit my uncle.  Remember my uncle Orc-y?  {She made him up like a year ago and this was the first I have heard of him since.  He was "A man she was married to in a past life.  He's a very nice man.  A tall man.  Kind.  He lives in Africa where there are a lot of bees."}  I'm going to visit my tall uncle!
Me:  Oh, that sounds like fun.  Please tell Orc-y that I said 'hello'.
T:  Okay.  I will.  I have to go now.  Africa is very far so I need to go now.
Me:  Okay.  Safe travels!

I later checked her "suitcase" and inside the Zabar's {yum} grocery bag were the following items:  Two pairs of slippers, a dress, a crown, a cup, half of an egg shell stuffed with a piece of sushi, a cat toy, barrettes, one piece of toast with a spoon from the bath toys, a wand, six unmatched socks waiting for their mate in the laundry room, a pair of socks, one mushroom, and a garlic bulb.  One can never be too prepared.

I love her so much.


Clare B said...

What an adventure for you both. I was nearly in tears reading this post - such a lot of worry. We had a near scare when Emilia was 4 days old; ambulance, back to hospital, oxygen and 2 nights observation. I think I dissociated myself from it all and just. kept. going. Like you do. Like all Mamas I guess. Big hugs. ox

Erica Ann Awesome said...

She packs like I do. Your post made me cry. The tears contain many different emotions. Love to the family.

brandy-son Zen master flash said...

Oh Mama, I'm so sorry to have read this so late but I am glad you were able to write it to help work some of your own feelings out. She sounds so strong and brave. I just LOVE her imagination.

R Montalban said...

I am so sorry to hear about what happened, but relieved and happy all turned out ok. Twila going to Africa, well after all she went through it was probably a most welcome place to go and get better ;) warm weather and her uncle, surprised you didn't go too, maybe her plane didn't have enough room. Love her little adventure to Africa and what is nicer is you shared it with us so we could see she was ok. Hope you are too lovely xxxx

StageSoul said...

Wow. Thanks for sharing this, Anika.

StageSoul said...

Wow. Thank you for sharing, Anika. Love to you all.