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February 8, 2011

Tough Guy


"Lemme see my tough guy!" is a phrase that we say to Henry from time-to-time. I don't remember exactly when it began, but when we excitedly say, "Lemme see my tough guy!", Henry breaks out this fist-clenching, jaw-shaking, big-eyed expression. It's hilarious. Everybody loves Henry's tough guy.

Especially today.

After lunch, Adelaide was in the bathroom, begging Henry to give her a little privacy and I was cleaning up the lunch dishes, when I heard a thump and a Henry-voiced shriek. And then, screams.

I found Henry in the hallway in front of the closed bathroom door, cradling his left hand, big, fat tears rolling down his face. I looked at his little hand. Yikes. His left hand pinky had deep impressions from tip to base and the middle section between the knuckles was beginning to swell. Yikes. Was it my imagination or did it look a little crooked? Yikes.

I called Joel. I called our clinic. And then, we headed for the Emergency Room. Wearing very little by way of appropriate winter gear (wind chill: -15 degrees) and sporting the remains of our leftover spaghetti lunch, I quickly zipped over to the ER, one screaming kid (Henry) and one drama queen (Adelaide); Adelaide making remarks along the way like "It's okay, Henry. They'll just give you a swab and a shot!" and "I'm glad that it's not me with the hurt hand!" and "It's all my fault!" (I had no idea before today that she had a sense of right and wrong that was colored with blame and fault and guilt. Or maybe, I just didn't know that she knew the words to describe her feelings.)

Well, we got to the ER, but there wasn't any legal parking. DAMN. What happens to the family who drives up with a person having a heart attack? Or a traumatic head injury? Where do they park?? I was freaked out enough with my son's little pinky finger all swollen. Tearful, I left the kids in the car in pull-up driveway, ran into the reception desk and checked Henry in, ran back out to the car and parked illegally in a space reserved for the Iowa Department of Corrections. I pay taxes, right?

We were shown the waiting area, given a bag of ice, and promptly began The Wait. It was 12:45.

The kids were enchanted by a fish tank in the lobby, happily pointed out fish. Joel came and distracted us (i.e., me) with stories of Pathology Department Drama.

We were called back to an exam room at 1:00. A nurse checked us in, took Henry's vital signs, and said the doctor would be with us shortly. And she was, maybe ten minutes. We told our tale, looked over Henry and his pinky finger, and all agreed to an x-ray. At 1:30, an x-ray tech came and collected Henry (and Joel) for an x-ray. At 1:50, the doctor came back and said, "This is, like, the worst case scenario: I can't tell if it's broken or not. I see two shadows on the films. They might be blood vessels. The might be fractures. So, I've paged Peds Ortho."

I've paged Peds Ortho.

Our afternoon plans, including a nap, were shelved at that moment. We understand health care. You call and ask for the opinion of a specialist, you will wait. And wait. And wait.

So, with his own patients waiting for his specialty expertise, Joel left. The kids and I watched every PBS cartoon from 2:00 - 3:45 (Arthur was my favorite). We rode around the ER in a little wagon (complete with a baby-sized IV pole attached to the back). Adelaide found a complementary teen bookshelf and was invited to choose a book by our doctor (She chose "The Greek Gods" by Evslin, Evslin, and Hoopes.). We had a glass of ice water. We ran into Henry and Adelaide's pediatrician and chatted for a bit. I texted Joel about our lack of progress.

Finally, at about 3:30, Henry fell asleep in the wagon. And at 3:45, the Peds Ortho resident came in. I'm sure that it was his easiest exam of the day; Henry slept through the entire thing. The resident examined his hand carefully, and then formed a plaster splint alongside Henry's pinky and ring finger. The resident bound Henry's hand with an ace bandage and I asked him to use more tape, please.

We were discharged at 4:10. I woke Henry for the car trip home and he screamed the whole way, angry about his interrupted nap and the weird thing on his hand. He perked up with some food, some Tylenol, and just being back home, though. And he was his usual jokey self, showing off his Tough Guy tonight with vigor.

I love my little Tough Guy.

February 6, 2011

Go Pack Go!


We are so very excited about the Packers going to the Super Bowl this year that we made some decorations, bought a balloon, and created a very Perfect Lemon-Lime Packer Poke Cake.

Go Pack!

February 4, 2011

Digging Out


Wednesday's blizzard dumped 12 inches of powdery white snow on Iowa City and then blew it all about so that in some places the snow is four, maybe five inches, deep and in other places the depth is a foot or more deep.

It's a wintertime novelty to get this much snow at once, especially in a land that often gets only "wintry mix" with which to craft our snow Zeuses and Heras. Adelaide and I peered out her bedroom window on the blizzard night and watched as the wind whipped huge clots of snow through the air up and down our street. Adelaide remarked, "It's pretty Zeus-y out there." Indeed, Zeus blew down a big one.


On Wednesday morning, we began the great dig out. We awoke to a huge drift parked right in the middle of our driveway that measured fifteen inches, and set to work shoveling a little path from the garage door to the driveway. Our efforts took about an hour. Schools were closed, public transit halted, the University cancelled classes, and the National Guard was Humvee-ing it around picking up stranded folks on the highways. Of course the hospital stays open, so Joel trudged off to work down our unplowed street on Wednesday morning, armed with extra granola bars, extra socks, and a charged cell phone, for the three mile hike to work. Joel made it to the end of our street before a nice couple gave him a lift to the hospital's main entrance, after he helped to push their little sedan out of a snowbank.

At home, while the kids napped in the afternoon, I managed to make a car-sized window in the snow from the garage door to the end of our driveway, all the while adding to the six-foot tall mountain in our front yard. The work of shoveling the enormous amount of snow out from beneath our knees was made trickier by having no good place to deposit the snow. Earlier in the morning, we'd tossed shovel-fulls onto our front yard, but very quickly that pile became a mountain that required the shoveler to lift and toss the newer shovel-fulls over the original pile to deposit. Several neighbors were out Wednesday afternoon, digging and shoveling, and we all chattered amicably, the weather having given us all really something to chat about. After a while, our next door neighbor said, "This work really calls for chocolate and schnapps."

We didn't have any schnapps, but after Joel safely got home, we toddled our aching shoulders, backs, and tailbones, off to bed on Wednesday night on a cloud of martinis.

After working daily on the snow chore, we've got a nice, clear swath that leads both cars to the road. But, if you come over, please call first: The front door is completely impassable.