Friday, September 5, 2008

Countdown to Escape: T Minus 6

September 5, 2008

If you judge the quality of a spa by its relaxed pace and unhurried staff, never rushing you to the next part of your day, then surely Spa TCH will add stars to its Michelin rating. Somehow Erin's enjoyed the day unencumbered by an IV pole until guest services finally hooked her up and started pre-meds at 10:00 last night. Imagine twelve hours in our suite with nothing on our agenda. We did slip away as the Houston rush hour traffic started gathering nine floor below us for a jelly massage and ultrasound of Erin's chest (known on the menu of available relaxation options as the "Pampered Girl's Echocardiogram"). We also saw four episodes of Hogan's Heroes (you haven't experienced the drum cadences at the beginning of HH, if you haven't sat in lounge-chair tiered seating with surround sound eminating from the nurse's call pad!). You wouldn't believe the bill for these luxury accommodations, but believe me its worth every penny (and perhaps some of the nickels and dimes).

I did learn something new about Erin yesterday morning: Erin + nebutol = RAGE. Part of her conscious sedation included nebutol which we had never used before. When I went in and found her recovering from the PICC line placement, her face had that contorted look, like Bilbo Baggins from The Lord of the Rings had when Gandalf (or was it Frodo?) tried to take the ring away from him, and she was not using her "indoor" voice. The nurse looked equally angry. Apparently, the nurse thought that Erin was a serial verbal (and perhaps physical) abuser who had been raised by wolves in a den with no manners. I had heard of children having this reaction, so I gently probed the nurse about what drugs she had, and asked whether what we were witnessing be a reaction to one of them. The nurse was absolutely confident it was NOT the sedation drugs, "because when children have that kind of reaction, they are incoherent and out of control. Erin might be out of control, but she is perfectly articulate and acting that way on purpose." I told the nurse that the reason that Erin could rage coherently was because she was very intelligent, and that I was positive she was having an adverse reaction to something. The nurse and I apparently agreed to disagree with that assessment and needless to say, they moved us out of recovery up on to the floor, as soon as they could. I hope this is the only time Erin ever needs a PICC line, because I think we burned our bridges there and won't be invited back.

In the hospital world, "unremarkable" is the best report a parent or nurse can give the attending physician about the previous shift. I can proudly say that our night was unremarkable, except in the number and obnoxiousness of the interruptions to our sleep. We had started a poop watch yesterday afternoon, on the presumption that most of Erin's discomfort, including her back pain, likely came from backed up plumbing. After some senna and colace, things started moving, at least a little, and Erin presented us all with a nice gift in the toilet this morning.

Thank you for the patient greetings. We actually got two deliveries yesterday (about twenty-five cards) and have started pepping up the room. If you didn't have time to send one yesterday (or you are bored at work) you can click here and follow the instructions for sending a greeting: We are still working on the theme (besides your best wishes) of your favorite or least favorite memory/story from middle school or junior high.

Before we started getting cards, Erin worked on beautifying the room by drawing a lovely mountain scene on the wall-sized white board. Underneath it, she wrote "Being at home in your mind is almost as good as being at home."


  1. I always enjoy your writing so much! Thanks for sharing the things that make up your day in such a remarkable way.


  2. Hello, Buenger girls! Vickie, thanks for keeping us informed about our Erin. Erin, keep up the good work on training TCH's staff. That nurse needs to work on her bedside manner, doesn't she? Stay tuned for a hand-delivered note to add to your decor.... HUGS to you both!

  3. Ahhh... I'm so glad to hear that Children's Hosp San Diego isn't the only one with a spa-like atmosphere. I was beginning to think I shouldn't have shared that info for fear of hostility from other NB parents. Enjoy the concierge service! You just can't get it at home!

    XO - Melis, Mom to Max Forever

  4. Good Evening Ladies,

    We sent our card this evening but you may not get it until Monday!

    Vickie.. you definitely have a way with words!

    Erin... you hang in there with that nurse. WE know that you are teaching them well! Much love and hugs to you! We didn't know you were in the hospital before Colton left his message this evening. But there is a going fishing message on your machine!


    The Lilie's

  5. Way to go, Erin! Go You!

    Love from the Sahms

  6. Hi Erin and Vickie!

    We are all praying for a phenomenal response and great tolerance of this chemo.

    Erik had an excellent response to two rounds of dox and I pray Erin's response is impressive as well, since she has not had dox in a long while.

    It is SO hard to deal with facing the hard stuff again. I hope she will rapidly be able to get back to something easy which cooperates with her busy life of soccer, swimming, and amazing all her teachers with her profound wisdom and wit.

    Erin you are an amazing young lady.

    And that nurse could stand to learn a few things about the difference between incoherence and intelligible raging!

  7. Erin's vocabulary absolutely exceeds her age. Maybe the nurse learned a few new "big" words!