Thursday, February 2, 2012

Gimme Shelter

Oh, a storm is threat'ning
My very life today
If I don't get some shelter
Oh yeah, I'm gonna fade away
-The Rolling Stones,  
"Gimme Shelter"

I've been a little on edge lately, even more than usual.   After last week's scares at both the cardiologist and the pediatrician, it surely felt like a storm was coming.  I went from the dramatics of last week, straight into another tour of four twelve hour shifts (two days, two nights) and right back out the other side into Tuesday with the OT's.  Plus, as it turns out, a surprise cardiology appointment downtown at Sick Kids.  I'm usually pretty ugly coming off of nights in ER... after my fourth shift I just want my bed and some peace and quiet.  This week, I was extra ugly.  I'm talking Jim Morrison standing on the hood of a car yelling at random passers-by that they are "...all a bunch of f☠cking slaves!" kinda ugly.  Surprise trips to the city are not my bag at any time, so it was a pretty mean scene (even if I am the Lizard Queen).

Wyatt's first appointment was at 7:30 which makes for a very early morning.  After spending an evening packing bags and getting things ready for the other two kids to spend a day at friends, I tossed and turned most of the night.  Although I really only had two hours sleep that day (after working my night shift), I couldn't still my thoughts until well after midnight.  When the alarm went off at 4, I knew it was going to be a hectic day.

After showering, dressing, gathering, running around like the proverbial decapitated chicken and trying to remember everything, we got a rather reluctant Team Logan into the van.  Drop off two, get gas, wagons ho.  Or, as it turned out, wagons "no", as the highway was backed up to infinity.  Our radio in the Whaaambulance is fried, so until I figured out that I could broadcast through my phone, it was a pretty quiet and tense drive, punctuated by Sean's oaths and random gesticulations at the seemingly never ending parade of psychotic drivers. The cherry on the top of our Poop Sundae of a morning came in the form of an overzealous, overly bitchy security guard at Yorkdale Mall (where we would get on the subway to go downtown).  You have to understand a few things about Yorkdale:  The paid parking for the subway is poorly marked, it is underground and everything else is blocked off until after 9:30.  We also have a behemoth of a vehicle which does not park under anything very well due to it's sheer, mind blowing bigness.  We also had not been there in a while (especially to get the subway), so we did not know any of this.  Already woefully behind schedule, we circled the area where we thought the subway parking would be and then went farther afield.  Spotting a security "car", we headed over to ask directions. I say "car" with my tongue firmly planted in my cheek, as they seem to have blown the budget on the enormous blindingly blue flashing light arrays on top and had to resort to buying bathtub toys to mount them on.  The conversation went like this:

Sean: "Hi.  We're trying to get to the subway to go down to Sick Kids and we're trying to find parking..."
Blondie: "Turn around, go right then go right.."
Sean:  "Oh, ok...We were just down there and..."
Blondie: (louder) "Sir, I just told you.  Turn the van around, turn right and then turn right!"
S: "Ok, thanks... (about to ask about the height clearance), but..."
B: "You have to PAY for parking here sir!  You don't get to park here for FREE!"
S: "I know that, but..."
B: "You are not listening to me and I've told you TWO TIMES ALREADY!  Turn YOUR VAN AROUND, TURN RIGHT AND TURN RIGHT!!  Do you not UNDERSTAND what I'm saying? 
S:  "Yes..."
B: "Turn your van around NOW, Sir, TURN YOUR VAN AROUND..."
S: "Yep.  You're the best" [ed note:  This is family code for "you suck"]
J: "What a c☠☠t!"

We turned the van around, followed the blonde harpy's directions and found ourselves facing what was a very low hanging entrance to a garage.  As this was our only option and we were now going to be late, we nervously nudged the Whaaambulance inside as our antenna whacked on every pipe, sign and low hanging beam.  We found a spot, unloaded Wyatt and the stroller/clown car and headed to the subway.

The rest of the trip to Sick Kids wasn't too bad except for the stairs.  The TTC has many Accessible stations, but Yorkdale is not one of them.  Sean carried the stroller and I carried the diaper bag and Wyatt in his car seat.  It's been a while since I have traveled around the T-Dot in the morning rush and I will say that it will hopefully be a while until I have to do it again.  Everyone runs up and down the stairs and looks skinny and immaculate as they scamper along.  We, by comparison, looked like Jabba the Hut's family as we crazily puffed and sweated along, open coats flying as we dragged our kid and luggage to the train.  We arrived at the desk at 7:40, ten minutes late for the appointment and 25 minutes after we were told to be there.  The receptionist was a lovely woman who was very kind and I cooled off as I filled out the paperwork.

Wyatt has had many echocardiograms, dating back to before he was born.   This time however, was going to be very thorough and was expected to take upwards of 90 minutes.  Due to this, he had to be sedated.  After undressing, weighing and measuring him, the nurse handed me a loaded (oral) syringe full of chloral hydrate.  This is a drug that I am very familiar with;  it's an olde-timey sedative that we still use occasionally, especially on little old ladies who don't respond well to benzodiazapines.  It also tastes terrible, so with my grown up patients, we usually mix it with orange juice or something similar.  Wyatt had to take his straight up, which he did, like a champ.  As soon as the medication started to work however, he started to fight it.  He got really restless and irritable (which I am sure was compounded by the fact that he was starving).  His nurse turned on the coolest star projector ever and he eventually drifted off to shooting stars and purple clouds.

We were sent for a half hour break and found ourselves some coffee in the Atrium.  Sick Kids is a fabulous hospital and the attention to detail is astounding.  The nurses have uniforms made by Roots...  Each floor has a kid friendly theme:  we were on the fourth floor, which is all about space.  The washrooms have aliens, the walls are festooned with stars and there is a giant interactive "asteroid" outside the CDIU (Cardiac Diagnostic and Intervention Unit).  It is fabulous.  Our few minutes of freedom were over all too quickly and we had to return to Wyatt's side.  We returned to find him with an oxygen mask as his O2 saturation levels had dropped during the test.  At the time, I shrugged it off to the sedation and possibly positioning.  He woke up slightly for his ECG and was pretty irritable by the time I tried to give him his breakfast.  He only fed a little bit and then drifted off again.  By now it was just after 9:30 and we got him dressed and wheeled him across the hall for his next appointment with the cardiologist (which was scheduled for 9:30).

We didn't get to see the doctor until 11:45, which was a little distressing, especially with a baby who alternated between hyper-fussy and unconcious.  The end result however: the doc is "not impressed" with Wyatt's heart.  This, in medical speak, means "good news" as there is nothing in particular that needs acting on at the moment (where as normally, "not impressed" would be a negative response).  Wyatt has a balanced AVSD which in itself isn't causing him too many problems, however his mitral valve is causing some regugitation which may be the cause of the higher pressure in his lungs.  This may also be caused by sleep apnea apparently, so we now have to take Wyatt for a sleep study.  As these appointments are few and far between, it won't be for a few months and in the meantime, the two cardiologists will meet and discuss his progress.  The sleep lab will call us with the appointment, so with that, we took our leave.

Aside from all the drama of the last few weeks (and all the truly unimportant things, like ignorant guards and stairs and the like), we have been very lucky with Wyatt.  What could have easily have been devastating news over and over again has turned out to be not as bad as expected.  He will still have to have his surgery and it may end up being sooner than age 3. He may also have sleep apnea;  we won't know until after his sleep study.  In the meantime he is still a happy almost-one-year old boy who loves to play and listen to music and cuddle.  He was also a hoot yesterday as in his inebriation as he would crack himself up making fart noises.  We've been lucky.  We are also very blessed, a fact that was very clear to me yesterday when we picked up two very happy kids who spent a glorious jammie day playing with their friends.  The storm had passed harmlessly overhead.

Sick Kids has a wonderful multi-level fountain in the Atrium of the hospital.  Before we left, I touched a penny to my sleeping son's lips and tossed it into the water, asking for a little extension on our luck.   I bent over and stroked his velvet cheek, knowing full well that come what may, I will find shelter from any storm;  with my friends and within my little family. 

"It is in the shelter of each other that the people live." - Irish Proverb


  1. May the fleas of a thousand camels infest the pubic hair of the parking security guard.

    On a happier note, I am glad Wyatt's heart was "not impressive".
    "Keep calm and carry on." (however that can be done).
    Love to all of you


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