Ali is feeling much better. On Monday she went to see her doctor for them to prick her finger and check her hemoglobin level to make sure it was going back up. It was back up to 9.2, which is great but she still needs to take it easy. While she was there she was able to check on Chris and Kate, while I had gone to see them at lunch time. They were both doing good in their new digs (planning their takeover), so we decided to take some time for ourselves that night and go to dinner. Just the two of us. So we headed out to one of our favorite local dining spots, Taverna. The weather was nice, cool with a breeze so we dined al fresco. When it’s not too hot, I enjoy sitting outside and watching the passerby’s. In San Marco you can get quite a mix of people so it makes for an interesting parade along the sidewalk.
I watch them and think “I wonder where they are going to? Where are they coming from?” I’m curious about their story. “What are they dealing with right now, or what have they dealt with in the past.” Everybody has their challenges, but not everybody spews everything out in a blog like this. Most people are pretty good at hiding their challenges. This experience has taught me that I have no idea what kind of a day someone is having, so maybe I should cut them some slack. Everybody could use some slack every now and then.
So I like the parade that passes us by up and down the sidewalk, Ali on the other hand has a knack for overhearing other people’s conversations (it’s not really eavesdropping if they are practically yelling). This is a skill she picked up watching the master, her friend, let’s call her Beatrice (she might not like being outed as a social spy). With either one of them, you can be out at a restaurant and having a conversation with them and the only responses you get are, “yeah”, “uh hu”, and “I know”. Clearly not listening to a word you say. Instead they have their bionic ears pointed 3 tables down and are listening to some 40-something’s recap of her date with some guy she met on match.com. It’s quite a gift.
There was an interesting family seated 2 tables from us and even I was interested in their story. I haven’t been trained in the listening technique yet, so I only hear bits and pieces. I tell Ali, “Make sure you get it all, because I want a recap later.”
Fortunately, the special at Taverna that night was the Ribeye, so Ali and I shared that along with a cheese plate to start. Ali had a glass of wine and I had two. She is working her way up to the dirty martini with blue cheese stuffed olives at Bistro Aix. Baby steps. It was a nice break from the huge weight we are both carrying.
I am so thankful to have Ali with me on this journey. She is my partner in every sense of the word and I don’t think I would have made it through this without her. We make a good team. When dealing with our ups and downs, we switch roles from time to time. Some days I’m the strong one and others, she is there to hold me up. Sometimes, this role reversal happens over the course of minutes. Unfortunately, last night happened to be one of those times.
Yesterday, Ali went to the hospital at lunch. She called me and gave me a great report. I was happy. I could relax for the rest of the afternoon, I thought. Ali called me a couple of hours later and explained, very calmly that the doctor had called. This is not good. Both nurses and doctors have explained that the only time they will call is when something of significance (bad) is or needs to happen. Ali explained that the ultrasound on Chris’s head had revealed that the ventricles had increased in size and that they were going to need to drain some spinal fluid via a lumbar puncture (spinal tap). Ali’s voice never wavered. She knew that she was giving me bad news while I was at work. She convinced me this was a good thing. At least they were addressing the situation and taking action, better than the alternative, I thought.
After work Ali and I went back to the hospital. Ali’s mom had made a carrot cake for the nursing staff, which weighed around 20 pounds. We delivered the bribe, scrubbed in, and went in to see Chris and Kate. Apparently, Chris and Kate have had a few pow-wows and are coordinating their efforts to drive me crazy. As we were speaking with the nurse taking care of both of them, Kate drives her heart rate up to the 230′s. This is the red-flashing stage on the monitor and a louder series of beeps. I tried a containment hold on her which is supposed to calm her. No luck. Then the nurse came over and moved her a little. Still, Kate was worked up. I felt more helpless than normal. I turned the lights down and put her blanket back over the incubator hoping that would calm her. I could hear her crying through the glass. It was awful.
As soon as Kate finally calmed down to normal levels, Chris chimed in and shot his heart rate up to the red-flashing level. Ali was talking with the nurse and PA and I was left to calm Chris. The containment hold did nothing. Chris was screaming at this point, louder than I have ever heard him scream. At least we know his lungs are growing strong. I wanted to jump out of my skin. All this chaos and I had to sit here… watching.
Then, it happened. I abandoned the containment hold the nurses had taught us and began to gently stroke the back of Chris’s arm. I talked to him. Told him he was going to be okay. The tension in his face eased, the squint in his eyes relaxed. The loud series of beeps stopped. His breathing slowed and his eyes opened full. He looked at me and we made a connection. His eyes seemed to say “Hey dad, I’m glad you’re here.” I felt like a dad at that moment. It was the first time that I didn’t feel entirely helpless. It was a great feeling. I am looking forward to many more.