Wednesday, August 18, 2010

It's that time of the year again.

Jordan recently had his heart annual and clinic visit. For those unfamiliar with what this consists of, I've blogged about it here, here, here and here. He has these procedures to monitor the functioning of his heart transplant, to ensure that the major vessels surrounding the heart are healthy, and that there are no signs of rejection.

The good news is that we received the results and there's no rejection. All signs are positive. Other levels they like to monitor (thyroid, iron, cholesterol, etc. also look good). Some levels we are getting retested (EBV was slightly elevated.)

But in general, thumbs up!

Jordan waits to get his bloodwork done. They drained him of 12 vials. He handled it extremely well. I bit my tongue as I watched the phlebotomist pull out one vial after another; and Jeff looked positively faint. In fact, the technician said,

"Mommy, go stand behind him in case he falls over." She meant, stand behind Jeff, who was sitting on a chair holding Jordan.

Yes, they refer to us as "mommy" - meaning me. I'm the mommy. And Jeff is "daddy." As in the dad. It's just slightly disconcerting to be referred to this way by a grown woman. I've come to realize this is how certain hospital staff choose to refer to the parents. I guess it's just easier for them then learning our last names. Or looking at the patient's chart and referring to us with a prefix and last name.

I'd like to believe I would call the parent by their last name. I think I would. The same way I would use a proper last name for an adult patient. Like, "Good morning Ms. Jones, how did you sleep last night while you were laying in traction and the nurses' station was right outside your room?" Maybe it comes from growing up in a culture where we referred to anyone old enough to be considered an adult as "auntie" or "uncle." It didn't matter that they didn't have an ounce of family blood in them that resembled yours. If they were old, they were your auntie, and you better show some respect damn it. I think I just about keeled over and died the first time I heard a friend refer to a parent by their first name. If I had ever dared to call one of the auntie's by her first name, I think I'd be backhanded. And then they'd tell our mom, who would probably back hand me as well for being so brazen.

Then I started thinking about how I refer to parents and kids that walk into the courtroom where I work. When I conference a case, occasionally I will meet with a parent and/or her child. I don't think I've ever referred to a mother of a 16 year old as "mommy."

"Listen, Mommy. I know your daughter has been habitually truant and refuses to obey the rules of your household. I know you want to "lock her up." But she's not a criminal; and the system does not allow you to restrictively place her. Got it, Mommy?"

I digress.

I thought a lot about preparing myself for this biopsy. I thought about what to say to Jordan the night before, and what I would do to stay calm and be a supportive parent instead of a belligerent, raving lioness protecting her cub. As it turns out, we were sorely tested, but I think I'm prouder of my behavior than usual. I focused very hard on the nurses and doctors who were doing an excellent job with Jordan, and I again, bit my tongue when confronted with behavior I can only describe as puzzling.

Here, Jordan watches tv while sitting through 40 minutes of an ECHO. He was such a champ! He watched the technician smear the cold jelly on his torso, and then quickly lost interest as the "Sing Along with Mickey Mouse" video (yes, video! As in a VHS tape!!) played on the tv. Jeff and I had a good laugh about that. We're so spoiled now. Does anyone remember what it sounds like when you rewind those VHS tapes? And even the concept of rewinding sounds foreign now. What's rewind mean when you've grown up with DVD's that you just set to play at the menu screen? If you really want a sense of how old I am, I can tell you that I still remember watching video discs (the big, square shaped behemoth) that my parents would rent and put in our video disk player. Those dinosaurs went extinct almost immediately.

I digress again. I had a lot of time to think about things while we waited. Here, Jordan waits to go into the biopsy operating room. To put it in perspective, we arrived at the hospital around 7:45 am. We left the hospital around 8:30 PM.

As in night.

Jordan began the day with all the tests (ECHO, EKG) and bloodwork. Then, we went to a different part of the hospital and began the pre-biopsy routine of weighing him (again), filling out forms, meeting with the anesthesiology team and the cardiac team, and the cardiac fellow. I have got to get it in my head that the cardiologist doing the biopsy is a real doctor. I have got to sneak a picture of him next time, because I swear to God, he looks exactly like my brother Riz.

Here's my brother, Riz. Look, he really is an adult. He even has a kid. Actually - he has kids! And he's a doctor too!

And when the doppelganger-cardiologist/Riz, stands next to my son with a stethoscope (and a teeny-tiny diamond in his nose!!!), I don't register that he's a real doctor. He looks like a tall, gangly Indian guy in a white coat playing dress up. I like the nose diamond though. Shout out to ethnic body piercings.

Later, I ask Jeff "Are we going to meet the cardiologist already?"

He says,

"We just did. That was the Indian guy."

Every time. I forget, every time. He's so young! It's like babies doing operations on babies. Sometimes I get confused and call him a "fellow," which is sort of an improvement, because it implies that I think he's practicing to be a real doctor. It shows optimism. It's better to be considered a fellow, as opposed to a kid playing dress-up.

I'm awful, really. Doppelganger Riz/cardiologist guy was really very sweet. Even when he talked to us about the unexpected events that occurred when Jordan was under anesthesia. I believe the term he used was "freaky." Or possibly "freak." As in "it was one of those freak things, we just can't explain."

As a parent of a child who goes under anesthesia a few times a year, I can assure you that the words "freak" and anesthesia don't belong in the same sentence.

But, like I said, today I was a brand-new mom. A zen mom. A calm and accepting mom. I just nodded sagely and listened.

So, Jordan had some freaky things go on while he was dozing away under anesthesia. As a result, they had us stay in recovery for a full six hours after they brought him back into the cath recovery room. Those six hours passed about as slowly and painfully as you might imagine.

And, we had to keep Jordan flat on his back and immobile. Yep, fun times.

What I'd like to remember about the experience:

1. One of my favorite people at the hospital actually vented about what a hard time she had there dealing with some staff. She's is just about the sweetest soul, and has known Jordan since the very beginning. I always think of her as a bundle of sunshine and smiles. Hearing her confess about the challenges there put things in perspective. This is a tough job for them too.

2. I talked to Jordan about the biopsy the night before. Mina, who is habitually glued to his hip, was present as well. She was not happy when she learned she could not come to the hospital with us. She also demanded to know why she couldn't have biopsies as well. I think I might have seen just the teeniest of smiles on Jordan's face. Isn't it funny how kids can turn any situation into a game of "it's not fair! I want that too?"

3. I vow to remember that the cardiologist doing the cath is a real doctor and not just a doctor in training, and he's very competent and a nice guy. I also happened to really like the cardiology fellow, who was a young woman. She was extremely patient and answered my one question sincerely. I asked her if it would be possible to adjust the bandages on Jordan's groin in a way that made it less painful to sit up. And she explained why that was not advisable. And I understood. And she had a kind face.

4. There is one nurse there on the cath recovery floor who I absolutely adore. I love her. When she's there, I am instantly comforted. Even though she calls me mommy too, coming from her it feels like a badge of honor. She's the kind of person who deserves to be a nurse, and she is so gentle with Jordan, I wish I could just hug her. She has a kind face too.

What I would like to forget:

1. I would like to forget the image I have in my mind of Jordan trying to sit up in bed screaming as they took the probe bandages off his chest.

2. I would like to forget the way his voice whimpered as he begged us to take him home.

3. I would like to forget how wretched he looked when he threw up in bed after the procedure.

There - got it out of my system.

So, Jordan has recovered from the annual. We've been very busy this week with guests. We've done some super fun things! More on that later.

Bermuda update - Still waiting to hear. Jeff and I are going to get our fingerprints taken to prove we aren't deviant criminals. We've also submitted the kids' health forms to prove they aren't contagious. Up ahead - Oscar gets microchipped!

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