Friday, June 29, 2012

The Bigger Picture

The girls and I had to make the trek to Cincinnati Children’s hospital yesterday. Maya’s doctor’s ordered yet another ultrasound due to her elevated liver enzymes. So I tossed both kids in the car and make the hour-plus long drive to Cincy. The appointment was at 2:30, which meant we left our house at 1pm. There was construction through Dayton and more in Cincinnati. (Hey it’s Ohio, road construction that goes on forever and ever is part and parcel of living here – along with weird weather patterns and mullets.) I grumbled the whole way, as driving through construction is not high on my list of favorite things to do. I grumbled when we got off the highway because the exit we take was screwed up due to construction/repaving/who knows what. I grumbled when we entered the subterranean parking garage because they were working on it and parking was limited.

The appointment itself was fairly straightforward and took about an hour. The tech was (as usual) very understanding and knowledgeable. She turned on a movie (The Little Mermaid) and chatted with us about various topics. Afterward, Maya was hungry, as she was not allowed to eat or drink anything for four hours prior to the ultrasound and that is a LONG time for her to go without food. So we decided to go the cafeteria and get her some lunch…and what do you know….more construction. The seating area in the hospital cafeteria is very large but the vast majority of it was closed off, leaving very limited seating. But we managed to find a table for Maya to devour her chicken tenders, Powerade, applesauce and chips. Then we had to make a stop at the pharmacy in the hospital because of a recent medication change and (of course) the new medication is not readily available at other pharmacies. (Our local pharmacy told me they couldn’t get the med in until July 9 and we couldn’t wait that long.)

The lady behind the counter at the pharmacy told us that the medication needed mixed and it would take about 20 minutes before it was ready. By this point it was after 4pm. All I could think about was the fact that rush hour in Cincy starts at 3:15. The highway is completely gridlocked from that time til about 6:30, Monday through Friday. And after we emerged from that mess we were going to be driving though Dayton’s rush hour. Joy. So the girls and I got comfortable on one of the couches in the main concourse. We did some talking. As we were talking, we also did some people watching.

We watched as a mother pushed her small child around in a wheelchair, attached to an IV pole and a feeding tube.

We watched as a nurse pushed a teenager in her wheelchair who had IV ports in both arms and was completely bald and wrapped in a heavy blanket.

We watched as a jaundiced infant was being pushed in a stroller by her parents.

We watched as the mother of a child who had serious physical and mental disabilities push her child’s specialized chair up and down the concourse, and watched the child smile when the sun’s rays brushed her face.

We watched as parents who were wearing the special ICU lanyards walked by, discussing their child’s treatment.

Almost everyone who walked by us, whether it was a patient or an employee of the hospital, smiled at Maya. Some of them even stopped to chat or compliment her on her shirt or the braid in her hair.

As we sat and waited for Maya’s meds to be mixed, I realized that being bothered by rush hour traffic wasn’t really that big of a deal. After all, we were allowed to leave. Many of the patients we saw were undergoing serious treatments that would require weeks or even months of living in the hospital. But I didn’t see despair in those faces. I saw hope. I saw peace. I saw happiness. And I realized that we were lucky – and by “we,” I mean all the patients at Cincinnati Children’s. It is a place offers more than just top-notch medical care. It offers hope. And for the parents of a child who has a life-threatening disease or condition, that hope is something that you must cling to in order to get through each hour of every day. I remember feeling that hope as we went through Maya’s illness and I remember feeling grateful for all of the time I got to spend with her, even when I was afraid that the outcome might not be good.

The drive home took us two hours, most of which was spent sitting on I-75 or creeping through construction zones. But this time, I did not grumble or complain. I simply listened to the sound of my daughters laughter and singing from the backseat and thought about how lucky we were – not only for receiving the gift of life from her transplant, but for the gift of hope, which is something that keeps us going still today. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Planning, Schmlanning

I admit it. In most areas of my life I’m a planner. I like to plan our menus each week before I go to the grocery store. I always check the fridge and pantry to see what we have on hand and then make my list accordingly. I rarely deviate from my shopping list. (Unless it’s to buy an extra bottle of wine. Duh.) I also like to plan my daily activities, especially pertaining to the neverending task of housework.  I have a list that I follow regarding specific household duties. For example, the vacuuming and mopping get done on Tuesdays and Fridays. Bathrooms get cleaned on Tuesdays, I try to toss a load of laundry in every day, etc. Sheets get changed on Mondays. The cat litter gets cleaned out at least once a day. (Sometimes more, as the moment I clean it the cat jumps in and takes a massive dump, therefore causing me to scoop up yet more poop. I swear he does it on purpose just to fuck with me.) I plan the times that I do my school assignments and set reminders on my phone as to which assignment gets done on a particular date and time. I take a walk with the girls every night at 7pm and we always take the same route. Anyway, call it OCD or whatever, planning things out works for me. I think.

But so far this summer has not gone as planned AT ALL. I was all set to start a part-time job at the small liberal arts college that I attend. I lined up the babysitters. I turned in the necessary paperwork. I waited patiently for my start date. Finally, I got an email stating that MORE paperwork was needed. Unfortunately, there are numerous people that are part of the hiring process and all of them decided to go on vacation on alternating weeks. Needless to say, I still haven’t started my job. On the upside, I’ve been able to spend more time with my girls, as they are out of school for summer vacation. (Of course, this is also why I need that extra bottle of wine that isn’t on the grocery list.)

One thing I don’t plan is my writing. I try to write every day but I don’t outline, I don’t storyboard. I usually start out with a vague idea and just start typing away on the keyboard. Character names and motivations usually occur to me while I’m typing. For the most part, my little non-system in this particular arena has worked out for me. So of course, that got me thinking. If the fly by the seat of my pants technique works for me as a writer, will it work in other areas of my life too? Would my little world go to hell in a handbasket if I stopped trying to plan every last little detail? It’s something to think about. Especially when I’m laying awake in bed at 3am.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Summer Dreams?

So the past few months have been crazy busy, and the last few weeks I feel as if I have been running around like a chicken with its head cut off. School has been particularly brutal – I should have known better when two of my professors announced at the beginning of the quarter that their classes are structured more like graduate level classes instead of under grad classes. Keep in mind that I was also planning my (re) wedding during this time period – which luckily went off without a hitch on the appointed day. (Thanks to a bunch of help from my parents and other family members and friends – well except for I forgot to grab my flowers as my father walked me down the aisle to my waiting groom – a fact that I didn’t realize until much later in the evening. Oops.) The ceremony was beautiful, people at the reception seemed to have fun and we’re legally hitched again. Much better than the first time around. Whew. 

Anyway, I have been looking forward to having a nice, relaxing summer with my children. (Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she?) During the last few hectic months all I kept thinking was that things would calm down when summer finally arrived. Except it seems that’s not exactly the case. First of all, the hubby is going to be away for military training for two months. Secondly, I am taking classes this summer. (Including a week long intensive writers workshop.) Thirdly, I have been offered a position in the Writing Center at my institute of higher learning. (I tried telling the powers that be that I have no idea how to play well with others and I am not a patient person and I have no idea how to help other people become better writers but they did not believe me.) Plus I have been trying to keep up with a few different writing projects between folding laundry, tripping over Barbies, and cleaning out underneath the girls’ beds. (Seriously, how do they amass so much stuff under there? Where does it come from?)

Needless to say it looks like this crazy pace that I have barely been keeping up with is going to continue for a while….and of course I can’t forget about my alter ego. She has a separate blog, separate Twitter account, and her own FB account – and her bossy romance writing self can be extremely demanding, sometimes insisting that I drop everything I have going on to work on one of her projects. Hmmph. But since she is the one who’s getting published I guess I owe it to her, right?

I have figured out the only thing I can do is take things one day at a time. No one said the path to following your dreams was easy….I’m just thankful for my family and friends who have continued to help me on this journey (especially those who bring me wine.)

What about your summer plans? Anything exciting?