January 20, 2012

Drawn and quartered.

"So, October sucked. How was your month?"

That's how an early-November post would have begun, had I found the time to complete it. Instead, it's how this mid-January post begins. Allow me to fill you in.

At the beginning of October, just two weeks after my maternity leave ended, the couple with whom Scott and I were sharing a nanny decided to pull out of the arrangement. They did it suddenly, by email, in a decidedly nasty manner. These were people we considered friends. We had gone out to dinner together, had them over for meals, and regularly exchanged friendly comments over facebook. They had shown no signs that anything was wrong. In fact, I don't think that anything was wrong. It appeared that they had come into a large amount of money. Had they simply told us that their circumstances had changed and that they no longer needed to share a nanny, we would have accepted it, wished them well, and used the eight weeks of notice specified in our agreement to make new child-care arrangements. Instead, they coldly and without reasonable explanation announced that they would be terminating the agreement in just four weeks.

In Toronto there is a very long wait for quality day care, especially for children under 18 months of age. We were in a jam. As well, our nanny was blindsided by the announcement that she would soon be out of work. She knew that Scott and I couldn't afford to keep her on our own, and her husband convinced her to avoid future nanny-share situations since this one had proven to be unstable. Those final four weeks of the agreement were extremely uncomfortable for her, as the other couple refused to discuss the issues and their usual cheerful countenance was replaced with a stern, business-like manner. She was hurt and upset by their behaviour, as was I. Various friends and family members suggested egging the other family's house, keying their new car or leaving a burning bag of dog excrement on their doorstep. I realized that, as satisfying as such actions might have been, they were unlikely to solve our dilemma. We would soon be needing affordable child care and our nanny would soon need a job, but our budget couldn't stretch to meet her salary requirements.

Thankfully (we thought), our nanny's requirements shrunk to fit our budget. After about two weeks in limbo, our nanny proposed that she continue to care for Kai, once the nanny-share arrangement was over, at a rate that Scott and I could (just barely) afford. We knew it was going to be tough financially, but Kai loved her to bits and she was excellent with him. We told her that we accepted her proposal and I drew up a contract. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to give her the contract right away, as Kai became ill and I kept him home with me for a week. (Kai was lethargic, wheezy and inconsolable following a third trip to the ER due to RSV and bronchiolitis.) In spite of the rough time our little family had been experiencing, I was optimistic. I knew that Kai would soon be feeling well again, and I was pleased that he would still have his beloved nanny looking after him once the other family was no longer involved.

Sure enough, by the end of the week Kai was doing much better. I, on the other hand, started the weekend off with what felt like terrible cramps. I had no idea what was causing the pain. As it grew increasingly severe -- worse than labour -- I sent Scott out for Midol and GasX to cover a couple of possibilities. Nothing helped. I finally caved and asked Scott to bring me to an ER. Since I have already made a long story even longer than necessary, I will attach an image of my tweets to summarize the next few days. (For any non-tweeters out there, tweets are posted in reverse chronological order, just like blog posts.)

Yes, that tweet on the bottom is true: On our way to the hospital, we received a text message from our nanny informing us that she had found another job and that she would be moving on once our current nanny-share agreement had ended. It's amazing that I didn't have an aneurism right there and then in addition to my abdominal woes.

After a long wait in the ER I had an ultrasound and was admitted for observation and pain management. A surgeon woke me at two in the morning to say that I was suffering from an atypical hernia. A portion of my intestines was protruding between -- and being suffocated by -- the two halves of my large abdominal muscle. For that reason, it was imperative that I have surgery as soon as it could be scheduled, otherwise that portion of the intestines could die and I would require a bowel resection... or something like that; I was on heavy drugs. All I knew was that my problem was going to be resolved a.s.a.p. (which ended up meaning approximately 17 very long hours later).

The surgeon sliced along my horizontal C-section scar and also made a vertical incision from the centre of the first cut about halfway up to my navel, hence the title of this post. During my recovery some of the stitches tore and copious amounts of orange liquid ran out of the incision, grossing me out so much that I passed out. Once I recovered, I took photos. Would you like to see? Never mind; I would hate to scare off the few people still following this blog.

The morphine was unkind to me. It caused severe paranoia and muddied my thinking. I don't remember many details about my week-long stay in the hospital. What I do recall is:

-I pulled the sheet over my face and pretended to be a corpse while being pushed on a gurney to the O.R., but the porter looked less than amused by my display of poor taste.
-My I.V. pole had one squeaky, wobbly wheel, just like the cart I always end up with when I go grocery shopping.
-My I.V. pump was plugged into an outlet located above the bed next to mine, and I had to unplug it whenever I needed to go for a walk; I can only imagine how frightening it was for the neighbouring patient to see a hand coming through the curtain and pulling a plug near her head.
-There was always chatter and laughter and the rattling of casters in the hallway, and the infuriating beeping of monitors and pumps.

Since Scott still had to work, my parents helped out a great deal with Kai. Very kindly, they brought Kai to see me a couple of days after my surgery. Subsequently I emailed them the following message:

Oct. 20, 8:37 am
After the natural high of seeing Kai last night, I'm in rough shape this morning! I didn't get any pain meds overnight, I had disturbing dreams, my incision has bled a couple of times, my head hurts and I'm running a low-grade fever. I feel like the big bandage was removed too soon and that perhaps I wasn't ready to get up and walk after all. I don't believe the staff permit a patient's progress to go in reverse, however, so I might have no choice but to push myself. At least they can't make me push myself fast.

Bah. Telling the nurse about feeling crummy led her to send in someone to take my blood. Needles: not just for breakfast anymore.

Today's student nurse is Michael, who I could very easily picture excelling at pizza delivery. Don't you have to graduate from high school before you can work in the health-care field?

I'm actually glad that Michael is my student nurse. Some of my roommates have Zora, who appears to believe that all patients are hard of hearing and that punctuation is overrated. HELLO MY NAME IS ZORA IM YOUR NURSE HOW ARE YOU Everything she says sounds like an admonition. ARE YOU PASSING GASES (For shame.)

Michael just came back to ask me a couple of questions he had forgotten. As he did so, the no-nonsense cleaning lady came in with her mop and barked at him to get out of her way. He asked me about my eliminations as he hopped back and forth trying not to get his feet mopped. It's an interesting pecking order around here.

Another nurse just came in, saying that she's working with my (staff) nurse. She drew dots near my incision, saying, "Dot dot dot dot dot dot dot." Okay...

In spite of the pain, the surgery, the mind-warping medication and the fact that I was sharing a room with three other languishing patients and a lot of noisy equipment, I managed to remain lucid enough to make some calls and find Kai a space in a brand-new home day care. He loves it. His former nanny sometimes visits him there on her days off, so I forgive her for her ill-timed quitting-by-text.

For two months post-op I wasn't allowed to lift Kai. You can imagine how tricky it was to obey that. It was important, however, as Kai's weight was likely the cause of my hernia in the first place. After all, I had been carrying him around for most of the week prior to my hospitalization. Scott helped to lessen the trauma of not being able to pick up my own child by giving Kai the physical attention I was unable to provide. Every night he bathed Kai, dressed him in a sleeper and placed him in my arms so that I could give Kai his bottle and let him drift off to sleep. Scott would creep back into the room a while later to put Kai in his crib. In fact, Scott continues to do this, as lifting Kai over the rail of his crib is still painful for me.

So yes, October sucked, but I'm healing well, Kai is happy, we all enjoyed the holidays, and I now enjoy daydreaming about karma taking the form of a flaming bag of dog poo.


Rob K said...

Oh, God, Jen, what a horrible run of bad luck you had! I'm so sorry for all that grief you went through and I'm so glad you're on the mend. Now get working on that flaming bag of dog poo!

Anonymous said...

I believe in Kharma, with or without the h. That said, Kharma is sometimes mistaken as me getting even. Hee, hee.

amelia said...

Nice to read your blog again! I kept coming here wondering if you would write again and you did and I missed it!
What an awful time you have had. When I saw you before Christmas, you looked great and although I knew all the bad stuff that had happened, you appeared to have recovered well. I really hope that is the case and that you are almost fully recovered. Just not putting Kai into his crib but having Scott do it is not too bad and that too will pass for you I hope.
If you need any extra dog poop to set fire to, let me know. We have an abundance...

cat said...

Lordy. This is just... wow.

You're on twitter?? *stalks*