Monday, December 3, 2012

Florence Nightingale: Third Time's A Charm

If you've been with me for any length of time - or if you know me personally, may know that I am friendly, compassionate, empathetic, and all those other good things that give you warm feelings inside. Well, at least while I'm out in public.

You may also know that, in spite of my wonderful qualities - including humility - I am simply not a good person to have around in any kind of emergency situation. 

I tend to think I'm tough. I grew up in the Upper Peninsula, survived harsh winters, worked on the farm, learned to drink some pretty hard-core koolaid, (remember the 190 post). I was a preschool teacher for 9 years. I did missionary work in the Philippines and ate some pretty unusual things. I used to work in the school office. I can handle blood. I can handle sneezes and pee. I can even tolerate vomit.

My daughter recently had a minor procedure done on her face. She had to get a small lump removed from her cheek. She was very nervous about the procedure since she wasn't going to have general anesthesia. (Freaking out is a little more like it, but I'll try not to embarrass her too much.) I decided that I wanted to watch the procedure because I knew it wouldn't be too invasive. If I can look at surgeries online and check out skin diseases on WebMD, I was sure I could handle such a minor procedure.

In fact, blood, in and of itself does NOT bother me. Some situations, however, take me completely by surprise. But, I figured that I would be prepared for the small incision on Hope's face. A little blood, a little lump removed, a few stitches. No biggie.

The day arrived and I went into the exam room with my daughter. Doc was positioned on one side of her, so I went to the other side and held her hand. Numbing shot, ketchup and mustard wash (my husband's name for the iodine bath before surgery), scalpel.

Um, OK, so I decided that maybe I wouldn't watch. I figured I should just keep my attention on Hope. I knelt down next to her so I couldn't accidentally sneak a peek.
First, the incision: scalpel. Gauze. Blood. Doing OK.

Hope had gotten past the first part – I figured the rest would be easy as pie.
Then she said, “I just heard a popping sound.”

“Yeah,” the doctor said, “I have to pull it out because it's kind of stuck in there. You'll probably hear a little more popping before I'm done.” Then he went on to describe the texture of the offending cyst – according to him, it was like cheese.

I started to feel a little hot.

He continued, describing how he was trying to squeeze the thing out like a giant zit.

I started to feel a little queasy. A little shaky.  I put my head down on my arm and prayed, “Oh, God, please don't let me pass out.”  I didn't think it would help Hope's nerves at all to have mom swooning.

At this point, Doc started chuckling and said, “Hey, your mom is doing really well.” Hope had her eyes closed, so I don't think she knew anything of the drama unfolding beside her.

I desperately tried to think of a way to change the subject. “Hey, Hope, we might get a kitten for Christmas.” At that point, Doc picked up on my attempt to keep my lunch down and started talking about when we were in college. 

You see, Doc and I went to college together. He was my husband's room-mate one year. He and many other friends actually visited my parents' home in the UP more than once. He really, really likes to talk. And I really, really like to talk. I'm sure he assumed that I was tougher than I really was when he started talking in great detail about removing the chunk of "cheese" wedged in my daughter's face.

Read about my previous episodes in these two posts:

I'm finally convinced that I'm not as tough as I think.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Black Friday Stupor

Yes, I know Black Friday was a week ago. An early Thanksgiving always makes everything seem earlier, and then I'm in denial about the whole holiday season. Well I guess that usually happens anyway – the whole being-in-denial-because-the-holidays-are-approaching-too-fast-and-I'm-not-even-remotely-ready.  I can't blame it on the early Thanksgiving.

So, the real truth:  I just did not get around to writing this post until a week after it happened.

Money has been especially tight this year due to it being the 2nd year my husband has been on disability after his stroke. And I, myself cut my hours back to part-time in the spring because I have a certain disability that kicks in when I'm working 40 hours a week, trying to keep a house that is somewhat peaceful and doesn't look like the set for a horror movie, and trying to raise 4 kids with minimal help from my recovering husband.  My disability is called “Crazy Mom.”

Money aside, the girls started working on me a few weeks before Thanksgiving: “Mom, are we going to go Black Friday shopping this year?” Apparently, they have fond memories of getting up at 4 AM, huddling on the heated seats in our minivan, and walking into the stores with our butts steaming. Each time they asked about Black Friday shopping this year, I hemmed and hawed. I tried to be non-committal. But no matter what I said – or didn't say – the girls just couldn't believe that I would skip a family tradition. We went last year. I guess that was when the tradition started. You've got to be careful what you do with your kids around the holiday season, you know. If you make one false move, the children are going to say it's tradition and force you to do it every year at Christmas-time for the rest of your natural lives.

So, with the words “we have negative money” and “I'm not buying anything for you today no matter how much whining, conniving and cajoling you do” ringing in their ears, we did indeed go Black Friday shopping. We didn't get up at a ludicrous hour. Instead it was maybe a ridiculous hour. It was 6 AM when my 10-year-old came in to wake me up. “Tell your sister to make the coffee and I will get up in a few,” I said. I'm so glad my children are fellow coffee-drinkers.

Apparently, I hadn't consumed enough coffee to assist me with the simple tasks of walking and talking, so mid-morning, we headed toward the Barnes and Noble in the Lansing Mall because they have a Starbucks cafe inside the store. As we approached the sprawling store front, there was a very large sign assuring us that, yes indeed, Starbucks coffee was sold at a cafe right inside their store walls. So I took that to mean right inside their store walls. As soon as we entered, I found myself in front of a row of registers. And the smell of coffee was overpowering – I needed to have some, and I needed it NOW. I looked at the friendly cashiers. Then past the friendly cashiers. There were displays of books stacked behind them. “Huh,” I wondered, “Where do they make the coffee?” So I carefully scanned the entire section to see if I could find a menu or coffee makers or cups or anything that indicated that this cafe right inside of Barnes and Noble actually served coffee. Nothing. So I did what any rational human being would do in the situation. I just stood there. And waited for coffee to appear. I would occasionally search the faces of the friendly cashiers and wonder why they weren't offering to help me in their chipper, friendly cashier way, “What can I get for you?” or “May I help you?” Still nothing. Then I saw some laminated sheets next to each cash register. That must be the menu, I thought. I picked it up, asked, “Is this the menu?” and then realized that I was reading about payment and return options. Finally the heavens opened and it was revealed by divine intervention that this was not the cafe. So, I tried to cover my error and quickly said, “I mean, where is the cafe?” The friendly cashiers pointed and I turned around to see a giant Starbucks cafe a few aisles over. I quickly walked away with my kids to get some coffee.

Sometimes I can't believe they let me go out in public.