The last 5 days have been an absolute whirlwind. When my daughter, a college senior, attending school 4 plus hours away, phoned me, I had no idea what we were about to experience. She had skipped class to return to the health center on campus as a follow up after having incredible side and back pain over the last several days, and an excruciating night. She was already stressed due to skipping her class to even go there. (You have to know my daughter to know how stressed she was by this, and I mean REALLY know her.) (She DOES NOT skip classes, overachiever that she is.) The campus doctor was pretty sure that she had an inflamed gall bladder and not the gastritis that they had been treating her for, and advised her to seek Immediate medical treatment. With scripts and referral in hand, she made calls, and attempted to have bloodwork and a sonogram, but the office wouldn’t see her for several days, and having new insurance and no card in hand, would not treat her, even though she had every number necessary. Being out of state, she was fearful to go to the ER, and possibly creating more out of network issues, and called us, quite upset and frustrated. We decided that the best course of action was to come get her, and seek medical treatment in state and closer to home. Her dad headed out, and her friends, geniuses that they are, packed her up for a day or two, and threw her in the car to head toward her dad in order to connect quicker. I called around, endlessly, to find her an appointment near us much later on in the evening to be seen, due to the travel timing, and thought I scored when I got an appointment with her pediatrician at a satellite office, 45 minutes away at closing. We could possibly get her there in time…maybe. Unfortunately, after many years of being with this practice, they realized that they no longer accepted this, new to us, insurance. I got the name of another doctor whom our friends adore, who does participate and scored the first appointment for the following morning! Yes!!! Well, we never made it there. Instead, we ended up in the ED of a hospital somewhat closer to home, after the pain worsened and the vomiting began. We parked, were registered and waiting to be seen, and then the guy next to me began to seize. I realized immediately what was happening, and got help. Not the quickest response from the staff, but, I know, it’s all in a day’s work for them. It didn’t help the rest of us with trust. Moments later, she was taken in, gowned, bedded, IVd and examined. The ED nurse, thank you Stephanie, we loved you, and the ED Doctor, thank you Andrew, were great with her, and concurred with what we all thought was going on. Bloodwork and sonogram ordered, nausea meds at the ready, and then my daughter began to have complications while the IV was being done, and had what I’ll call two “episodes” where she lost consciousness and created quite a stir, and a lot more attention. It didn’t help the rest of us, and delayed the sonogram, additionally getting her an EKG, which was very necessary, and then she refused pain meds, claiming she was only at a 7. They warned her that the scan could become pretty uncomfortable, but our warrior refused. Well, cleared for the scan, they got transport, who moved her to another gurney, and then we proceeded to circle around the hospital trying to find the right radiology place, as the one we were sent to had a sign newly on its door…”we’ve moved!”… Not that they told this poor girl to where, but she remained patient and stopped at every known radiology temporary location, while we followed her and the gurney like puppies after snacks. When we finally found the right place, they apologized for not letting transport know, and then the sonographer apologized to us for the tight quarters. The test, itself was pretty intense, and now our daughter’s pain threshold was at a 10….naturally.
We spent the entire day in the hospital, hydrating, treating the pain and nausea, and awaiting results…the scan ruled out the gall bladder, so no impending surgery for that. The bloodwork showed a probable severe kidney infection, dehydration, and a gastrointestinal ulcer, plus a couple of other, hopefully, non emergent issues to be tended to after healing from this…again, did I say she’s an overachiever? We are finally discharged; I head home to get her Into bed, and the hubbs heads to the pharmacy to get all of the prescriptions, which, of course, without medical cards, becomes the next fiasco, and delays us further, as if it’s par for the course. A few hours later, I head into work, for a mere two hours…only my program director knows what’s going on, and, apparently, I pull it off, as no one there catches on, until someone, well two someones, tell me a couple of days later that they had NO idea, how crazy I am to have come in, and how could I leave my baby? And then the guilt, already sitting JUST below the surface, emerges….How do you explain something that you don’t want to explain? …When you have a job where you forfeit your pay if you don’t show? That you have already lost time, and are the sole breadwinner for a year already…that the impending snowstorm creates more stress and more of a pay loss…that you’re freaked out by how you have even been holding this together financially since before the now unexpected but expected, hospital bills were even an issue…you just can’t….and you don’t. …and I continue to hold it together. I feel pretty focused.
The next day it snows…and it doesn’t stop for 13 hours, cancelling my morning classes, and, shortly thereafter, my evening classes. …And I succumb to it…the decision has been taken away from me and I am home. Maybe, as it should be. My husband, true to his fashion, is already on the phone, yelling and cursing at the insurance rep that has no idea why our cards still have not arrived.
I cringe…it’s not my way, believing that you always get more with sugar than with vinegar, and it truly just makes me uncomfortable…I know he’s also frustrated, but It’s not the rep’s fault, and I tell him that…he does not appreciate my input. I decide to channel my energy into prepping hospital friendly, safe to digest food, to be at the ready to tend to my patient. I’ve done nothing prior to this snowstorm to prepare for having an ill child at home; I didn’t know it was going to happen. She’s still highly uncomfortable, nauseous, dizzy, and can’t take meds without food. I consider toast…she might be able to keep that down. Maybe not, but maybe. Scared to eat anything solid, my mother suggests jello…brilliant. He makes jello, and I make farina, and then I have an epiphany. I head straight for the cupboard and make pasta…lots of pasta….small pastas…pastina, tiny shells, ditalini, and reject anything larger. I put them all in separate, tiny, portion sized for a toddler, containers, and stack them, and fill the top shelf of the fridge. I feel accomplished. In charge. Victorious. And then….the toaster oven breaks, just as I plan on making toast for her. Yes, it’s the same toaster oven that I have single handedly repaired the handle to two times. The same one that toyed with me in November, and teased me that it was going to die…When appliances are SUPPOSED to bite the bullet in our house, but it didn’t. The timing is all wrong now, and I am completely thrown by it. (Read my “no appliance November”; I promise, you won’t be disappointed.) and, because of the toast, I lose it.
The following day, i set her up, feed her, medicate her, and head to the supermarket, determined to find just the right things to care for my child, and I purchase more pastas, cranberry juice, and a dozen packets of jello, and duplicate all of it to send back to school with her. (The overachieving Apple doesn’t fall far from the overachieving tree.) I then head to kohls to purchase the toaster oven I researched throughout the entire evening before, and when I get there, they don’t have it, even though online it said it was in stock at that location. I find someone to assist me, and he helps me find one at another kohls 20 miles away, which I then call, to be sure they have it, and Andre assures me it will be waiting for me at customer service. I also confirm that it is not an exclusion from using my 30 percent off coupon, which he assures me it can be used for, and I look at the time, and head north. I’m driving “expediently” and toward what will soon be early Friday rush hour traffic for those trying to get a jump on the weekend, but I figure it’ll only be the start of it, and I forge forward. When I arrive there, the store, unfamiliar to me, is flipped around from the layout of the other, and I end up in the wrong area, need a GPS or directions to find customer service, and then see that there is only one woman on line ahead of me. She seems to need every assurance in the book for her credit of $21.67 back to her gift card, and I begin to show my impatience. My daughter is not answering my calls or texts, and hoping she is sleeping, I glance, again, at my watch. Yes, I wear a watch. (Thank you camp, and isn’t a phone for communicating?!) I feel like the nursing mom, running out of pumped breast milk and needing to get back to my newborn. This is taking wayyyy longer than expected, and is further stressing me out. I make it to the counter, the rep? Clerk? Associate? Calls someone to lift the toaster oven to the counter for her, and it is MUCH larger than I expect. She assures me it’s just the box, but then she lets him go. She then tells me that I cannot make the purchase there, and have to bring it to the main cash registers in the front…SERIOUSLY? …ummm, can I get someone to help ME carry it there? Thanks, love. She calls to someone already in a jacket, not the same guy, and he confirms the item number and he accompanies me and carries it to the front. Of course there is 1 cashier, and 7 people ahead of me, already looking like they’ve been there for days, and he gets on line with me. We wait for about 10 minutes, which seems like eons, along with the screaming infant behind me, that can’t be consoled, and I just HAVE to ask him… “Do you always wait with the customer?” And he replies “um, no; I was on my way out for my lunch break and they asked if I would carry this up here for you.” The baby continues to wail, a not so subtle reminder of my mommydom, and I swear I actually looked down at my chest to be sure I wasn’t leaking breast milk, (I haven’t nursed in 17 years) and then I totally lost it…I mean REALLY lost it. I looked at him and said, pretty loudly, “YOU have been VERY helpful, and kind, and patient, but YOU should NOT be waiting here on YOUR break.” And then I got louder…THIS guy has been EXTREMELY helpful, but now HE’S going on his break…RIGHT NOW.” And the guy just smiles at me, I thank him, and he leaves. Picture Shirley MacLaine in the hospital in the movie “Terms of Endearment”… “It’s time for my daughter to have her shot…she’s waited all of this time, IN PAIN…GIVE. HER. THE. SHOTTTTT!” Everyone stops, and looks around, and, miraculously another cash register opens…a very far geographical distance from where I am standing with this huge box, and no one to lift it, but the cashier smiles and awaits my approach. I have no patience for anyone now, and push the box to the register. And, of course, when the sale is rung up, she and two managers can’t get the system to accept my coupon. I name everybody I have ever spoken to from kohls, and they get Andre on the phone who confirms our conversation, and that it’s not an exclusion, but now two cashiers, two managers, and Andre don’t know what to do. I suggest computing what 30 percent off would be and subtracting it from the total. I suck at math and they think I’m a genius. And then the manager tells me she also has a migraine, and I try to help her. I suggest caffeine with her tylenol and I mention how this was a multi hour fiasco, that my daughter is home, not answering me, when all i needed was to make toast…toast that she probably wouldn’t keep down anyway, but she needed toast, and the toaster oven just went, and I had been everywhere I was told to go to get this one, with my coupon. And then, it happens…I begin to cry…REALLY cry…over toast. The manager apologizes to me, and offers for someone to carry out the box, and someone immediately appears to do so. I get in the car, realizing now that I’ve also lost one of the lenses of my sun glasses. This errand has taken hours instead of what should’ve been 45 minutes, and the guilt ensues. I thank the guy, gather myself together and head into the now, not so early, Friday rush hour traffic. I call my mom on the ride home, to help me calm down, and she can’t understand why I need this fancy toaster oven when her toaster cost $18. I decide to tell her that we “just have different needs”. She accepts this, but I’m aware of her “tone”. I probably should’ve just blasted the radio and sung very loudly…next time…When I get home, we unpack the box and prep the oven for use. My daughter, for the last several hours, of course, has been trying to sleep, because of the pain, dizziness, and, of course, needs to eat something before having pain meds, so I sheepishly offer her something….we go with jello….I don’t even dare offer her toast. I may never see toast the same way again. The lesson learned…#gowiththejello