Film Essent Archive for August, 2012

Adventures in Parenting: Hospital, Schmospital

Just when you think things are all settled down, they unexpectedly go awry. This was going to be a post about our fantastic camping trip to Ocean Shores, in which I actually went completely off internet for five days and survived. It did, actually, feel very good to unplug for that long for the first time in forever. And we did, actually, have a terrific time on our camping adventure, cooking many fairly extravagant meals and desserts, playing in the ocean, building sandcastles, watching the sun set over the endless blue Pacific, and sitting around the campfire. It was a lovely trip.

The one dark spot of the whole thing was that Neve, my 15YO, had a couple of bouts of extraordinarily bad abdominal pain, so bad I thought we’d have to trek to the nearest ER. But then both times, the pain resolved, and we thought all was well. Until Thursday afternoon, when the pain came back with a vengeance. Called our doc’s office, and fearing a burst appendix, they sent us directly to the nearest ER, do not pass go, do not delay. So off we went. Six hours, a very high white count and a suspicious but not conclusive CT scan and ultrasound later, Hospital #1 decided to transfer Neve by ambulance over to Children’s Hospital to let the pediatric specialists figure it out. After more tests, and several visits by the surgical team, they admitted her to the hospital with the plan of repeating the ultrasound the next day and possibly doing some exploratory surgery.

The CT scan indicated a large softball-sized mass near her left ovary, and things didn’t look too peachy on the ultrasound, so in short order I was conferring with surgeons about emergency surgery, signing off on the surgery forms, and a couple hours later she was off to the OR, with a great deal of uncertainty about what exactly they’d find. The surgery was supposed to take an hour or two. Around hour three I was getting nervous, and when they finally paged me back to surgery, I raced back there, where the nurse said, “Oh, yes, Patient Allen. Uh, we’re going to put you in this family conference room, the surgeon will be in shortly.” Erg. Okay, so was my daughter out of surgery yet? “Doctor will confer with you as soon as he can.” Great. So I sat, and I waited, and waited some more, distracting myself reading Cloud Atlas, a fog of parental worry enshrouding me.

Finally, finally, the surgeon came in, bearing mostly good tidings. They had removed a softball-sized cyst, from my daughter’s ovary. The cyst was so large it had caused torsion, and the ovary had gotten twisted three times into a tight spiral, cutting off blood supply. They were able to save most of the ovary, but the fallopian tube was dead. As for the cyst, it was huge, all right, one of the largest the surgeon had ever seen. But it was fluid-filled, not solid, and the surgeon was clearly relieved to be able to say that he didn’t think it looked malignant. Not 100% sure on that, yet, as they have to wait a week for pathology, but much better news than they’d thought going in.

So now we’re back in a cozy room, Neve’s pain meds are keeping her comfortable, she’s eating and moving around okay. We can go home later today and she will be recovered enough to still perform next week in Alice in Wonderland, in which she’s playing the Caterpillar. Not exactly what we’d planned when we headed out for camping last Friday, being back at Children’s again (this time, thankfully, sans the absurdly cheery holiday music I had to endure every time I popped down to the Starbucks on the first floor last December), but also much better than it could be.

Children’s is still Children’s, the constant parade of worried parents shuffling about, with only the faces mostly changing out. Last night I ran into a dad I met here last December whose baby girl has hepatoblastoma and had been here since last March; when we were going home that time, they had also just been released and were heading over to the Ronald McDonald house for a respite. Sadly, his daughter has relapsed, and the haunted look in his eyes and the tremble in his arms when he gave me a warm hug spoke of the kind of bone-weariness that sets in when a child is terribly sick and you want to fix it but can’t. I had no words to help him, this erstwhile hospital friend of mine, nothing to offer but a hug and a kind word. What else is there to say, besides “I’m so very sorry.” Worried as he must be about his own child, he was also concerned for mine and offered his well-wishes that all will come back clean on the pathology report. If anyone knows what it feels like to be waiting for pathology reports, it’s a parent who’s been dealing with them for over a year now with little likelihood that any of them will ever come back clear.

The docs and nurses here are great, they’ve taken great care of my baby. We will go home this evening, after the last round of IV antibiotics, and it’s likely the pathology report will be fine and we will go on with our lives in the outside world. I feel very blessed, every time we’re here, that our hospital stays are brief and not semi-permanent, that my child will heal completely within a couple weeks and all will be well. I hope, for my hospital friend, that healing happens for his baby girl as well.

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“The purpose of film isn’t to present the kindness of the world.”
~ Isabelle Huppert

The Promised Land steers into the fact that the United States can mean whatever people want it to mean. You may not be able to be Elvis, but you can sure as shit impersonate him for a living. America, like its current President (at least as of this article’s publication), is so dangerous precisely because it’s a blank canvas on which anyone can project their dreams. Whatever it is that you see for yourself, there’s someone you can pay for the pleasure of believing that it’s possible. In his view, the pursuit of happiness is the ultimate con, a delusion that prevents us from seeing our circumstances for what they are.

“Forget the Matrix, it’s the invention of happiness that blinded us to the truth. The rich got richer and the poor help them do it. Jarecki doesn’t argue that the American Dream is dead; he argues that it was never alive in the first place — that we were all lobsters in a pot full of water that was boiling too slowly for any of us to notice. And now it’s time for dinner. Donald J. Trump is the President of the United States. Elvis has left the building.”
~ David Ehrlich