Thursday, September 18, 2014

Bubble Wrap, Disappointment, Validation, Energy, and Family as Community

So on Friday L got into the van after school asking for medicine for her pinky because she fell and hurt it on the playground. I thought it odd that her teachers didn't tell me because they always do when she has an above average tumble which let's be honest is about once a week. When we got home I looked at it, it was sore, pink, and swollen. I didn't make much of it. She asked for some neosporin spray and a bandaid. Earlier in the week a bandaid fixed a head ache so I obliged and she went off playing, later we had another family over for dinner and the kids played hard. When the bandaid fell off that evening I knew it wasn't good, it was swollen and purple. She wasn't complaining she wanted another bandaid which I gave her and I decided to look at it in the morning. One look in the morning I knew it was broken. We started our first Saturday with out an agenda in 3 years with a trip to urgent care. It went well considering how urgent care can be, it was fractured at a knuckle, they gave us an over sized splint and told us to see a surgeon, I asked to see the one who worked on L's arm, and we went on our way. I was only mildly able to control my panic at the word surgeon. I was doing great with all this, it wasn't nearly as traumatic as the broken arm, then I heard surgeon and my imagination ran wild with nightmare like scenarios. Later that day I had Paul run back and get the xrays on a CD for me so I could look at them. I looked and said I have no idea what I am looking at but I a pretty sure we will be ok with out surgery. I tried to calm my fears which for the most part worked, until she got that splint caught between her bed and the wall Sunday night and she screamed in pain, the first time she cried through this whole ordeal.

Monday morning I was up early and called the surgeon's office first thing, in all the panic packing we did last month I left her card out on the bulletin board, perhaps it was my mother's intuition. Speaking of earlier in the week before someone had spoken about their child breaking their arm twice, I thought no that can't happen, something in me knew this was coming. They can't see her until Thursday it ends up getting bumped to Wednesday, we get a better plan of care until then. Life moves on even though I am a little annoyed that they can't see her sooner. It's hard to keep her still and visions of re-injury danced in my head. I think if I could wrap her in like 10 layers of bubble wrap everyday I might have less anxiety. I don't "do" waiting well (I swear this is a product of my childhood spending torturous amounts of time in doctor waiting rooms). I tell Paul that I am going to have a melt down about this eventually he should be prepared.

I pick her up from school Monday afternoon with little incident other than the next turn life on it's head announcement from the head of school. You need a little back story first, we did not know what we were doing come the beginning of this school year even two days before it started. Originally we thought it likely that I would have a position locally full time. We had to make decisions before that so we re-enrolled her in her preschool for Kindergarten with two ideas brewing, one being that I would be working and paying tuition wouldn't be so cumbersome. The second idea was that we would be moving during the first part of the school year so we would keep her in her school to avoid 2 new schools in a matter of months. Now bear with me because I know these next few lines are going to be so jam packed full of my privilege it almost makes ME want to puke, I just need you to hear that I know there is a level of great privilege in being able to have to forth coming break down. An added layer of protection here was we also enrolled her in public school to hold a space for her at the neighborhood school because of how this system works they can be bussed nearly an hour across town. We had a solid three fold plan until it all fell apart.The job I though I would have fell through in May.  Early in August we asked for a housing extension or some other housing option on campus because we didn't know where we were going next. There were no viable options on campus so we had to be out at the end of the month. We started panic packing and making decisions quickly. School was starting in just 2 weeks.

Another complication was that Paul had lost his job back in February and we had to spend a while living off our savings, our savings we had set aside for these very days. We didn't have deposit money for a new place and we couldn't sign a lease because we could be moving at any time. All that to say we decided to home school until we settled down. We pulled her out of the public schools, loosing her spot close by, we made arrangements to go say good bye to her teachers. At the last minute our housing was extended through May things settled down. She ended up spending the day and staying at her school for the next 6 weeks. We were scrapping up the tuition, selling things to get it covered for September because an hour a day on the bus is just too much at five. October was creeping up on us and we had already started to scramble to find tuition when the decision was made for us, they had an application for her spot and unless we could commit to the whole year her spot would be given up and by the way I need to know what you are doing by tomorrow.

Since we didn't have the money at that moment to pay for October and since we have no idea when or where we are moving, we made the heart wrenching decision to pull her out and start home school. I did OK with this until she was in bed and I went to send the email saying September 30 would be her last day. I hit send and burst into hard sobs, I am talking hard uncontrollable gasping for breath sobs. I just took away the last stable thing she had in this time of transition, she came home from 7 weeks away with Grandma, to packing and moving all her stuff to storage, she has no extra curricular activities because we can't commit to a full year of anything. This felt like a hard punch in the gut, I felt like a total failure at being a parent because I couldn't provide her with that one (expensive) stability. A conversation with a trusted friend the next day made me feel mildly better.

Wednesday was doctor day, I had a lot of what I guess you could call nervous energy around this appointment, like the kind when you can't sit still. Getting her there was a fiasco but there we were, it was broken, it did not need surgery, just an over sized cast. I said to the doctor, I felt like this one was much less traumatic as her parent. She looked me straight in the eye and said, "It's much less traumatic for me as her surgeon." I wanted to jump out of my chair and hug her and cry all at once! I doubt she knew it but she provided SO MUCH validation for me in that moment. L's arm was broken badly, she could have been facing a life time with a deformed arm or limited range of motion. As a person whose worst nightmare is children's hospitals, our two days there were torturous. However people sometimes don't understand that and I heard a lot of it's just a broken arm it will heal and life will go on. I knew in that moment that my mild post broken arm PTSD was not a deficiency in my ability to cope, it was real. It was hard even for an accomplished surgeon to fix, someone who sees it all, found it traumatic too. So thank you Dr B for that amazing affirmation. This whole pinky thing has been much easier to handle at least thus far, much more like"just" a broken bone that will heal.

Now we went home and I had all this energy still, a weird kind of energy, not so much nervous but like I could not sit still. I hadn't had caffeine since a diet coke at lunch. The best way I can explain it is when you haven't seen someone you love for a long time and they are coming that day by car or by plane and you just can't wait for them to get there. Or when you have the house all set up for a party and you are just waiting for guests to arrive. Or when you get a call that a dear one is going to the hospital to have a baby and you pace until you get the "Its a Baby" call. I can remember knowing my grandparents were coming back from FL and this is how I would feel. Or when my sister in law went to have my niece. I laughed a little because even in her old age my grandmother would be excited like this for our arrival to her place in FL, pacing with snacks set out. Possibly genetic? However, I am not expecting anyone, so I don't know what to do with all this twitchy energy.

Thinking about my Grammy made me think about how I grew up. In times of great transition I think we all reflect on life and so there I was reflecting on life. I grew up with a ton of family around. Holidays were insane with excitement and company, random school days coming home and seeing the car of a relative out front would always get me running. We had a variety of people live in our home from cousins, to grandparents, to friends, for a variety of lengths of time. We also had our own instant community because if there was an emergency one phone call would find someone to pick up the slack. I miss this a lot. All my childhood birthdays were spent with my cousins not random people from my class, it was a treat when I could invite two friends. Some days I mourn that L won't know this kind of upbringing, maybe I cling to these good parts of childhood extra hard because of all the crappy sitting in waiting rooms parts. She doesn't know what it's like to have a crazy Christmas Eve with a sugar rush and her cousins and grandma's baked ravioli, meat pie, and baked beans. She won't know what it is like to sit in a circle with her cousins and open one gift at a time and being as excited to see what her cousins or siblings got. There is something to be said about having extended family close by or in the same house.

She will have many experiences I didn't have like living in lots of states and traveling more. At five she has me beat in number of states lived in clear up until I turned 30 when I hit 3 states. She will learn to know her neighbors. She will have wonderful experiences she will cherish. Some days I just wish I could share some of the things I cherished with her. Certainly all this family as community had some downsides too, like no privacy ever.

This has been long and meandering if you have stuck it out this long thank you, its a little more raw then my typical posts. I don't want to leave out the gratitude, today I am grateful for no surgery, for validation, for family, and the broken bone that means my child is healthy and energetic. I spent a lot of time in children's hospitals, I know these struggles could be much more difficult, much more life or death.

Blessings on you!

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