Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Christmas in the Hospital

I love Christmas. A bunch. I love the trees, the trimmings, the presents, the generosity, all of it. However, we’ve had a couple of rough ones.

Christmas 2000. Sheryl is 4 months pregnant. I’ve been at my first job after teaching for 6 months. December 18, 2000. The business is closing and they are laying all 3 of the employees off. However, the roughest one we had was two years later.

Christmas 2003 looked like it was going to be a good one. I had just accepted a job with my current company. My contract with my previous company, EDS, was going to allow me to do some part time work with them through the next few months, providing some extra money. Kinsey was two and a half and was really getting some idea of the Santa Claus Christmas thing.

December 23, 2003. I totaled out my car. Turned into a lane where I thought a car was turning and it went straight. So there went a car that’s been a good one for us and now we have to start thinking about another one.

Christmas Eve. We go to my parents’ house to do Christmas. The benefit of having both sets of parents close is that we get to see them both at all holidays. So we were going to Sheryl’s parents on Christmas Day. Kinsey got some really nice toys: some Little People stuff, some Toy Story things including a big Woody doll that talks when you pull his string. I got a guitar. Things were very nice, except for that nagging wrecked car in the back of our minds.

Until we started noticing that Kinsey wasn’t breathing very easily. It wasn’t very noticeable for a while, but my mom mentioned it. She and dad are both nurses (as well as my sister and now my brother), so they broke out the stethoscopes and listened. On their recommendation, we called the on call pediatrician and she recommended that we take Kinsey to the Vanderbilt ER. We did it and the doctors put her on oxygen. She wasn’t getting enough O2 into her lungs and it was causing her to breathe so shallowly. So they put a mask on her and said that if the O2 came up and stayed up on its own, she’d be able to go home.

Have you ever tried to keep a mask on a 2 year old? I’m sure a few of you might have Not the easiest job in the world. She didn’t like the smell. She didn’t like the feel of it. She was tired (all of this happening around midnight on Christmas Eve). Her O2 levels wouldn’t stay up so the doctors said she had to be admitted and would have to stay on the mask all night. So here we are, Christmas Eve, and Kinsey has to spend the night in the Vanderbilt Children's Hospital, just before they opened the new building.

Well, Sheryl sent me home to get some clothes for them and I brought back a little Christmas tree that I got from Walgreen’s too (never thought I’d be thankful for the “Shop on Every Corner,” but there you have it). Sheryl sent me back home to get some sleep so that I’d be able to help out some more the next day.

I got there on Christmas Day and Kinsey was doing much better. Her levels weren’t back up to completely normal, but they were getting there. We ended up going home that afternoon and she got to have Christmas with Sheryl’s family on the 26th.

One thing that has always stuck with me is how sad a children’s hospital is on Christmas day. Of all the places a child should be on Christmas, the hospital is the last place you want to be. We were the recipients of some immense kindness of strangers. Kinsey got several stuffed animals and we also got a $25 gift card to GapKids from Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, as did all the kids on the ward. I’m not a fan of their music necessarily, but Sheryl and I are definitely fans of theirs.

Kinsey’s great and has really gotten into Christmas this year. I would just encourage everyone to think about those who don’t get to enjoy Christmas in the same way that most of us will.


Tiffany said...

As you know, my sister spent the first few months of her life in Vandy's NICU. A few years ago (sometime while I was in college; I don't remember the exact year), our family was invited to visit the NICU by the doctor who delivered Tara, and who still works at Vandy. We took donuts (of course) for the waiting room and nurses station. Tara scrubbed up with Dr. Shenai and went into the unit. They walked around and spoke with every family there.

Dr. Shenai introduced her to the frantic parents, and told them a little bit about her story. He told my father that Tara is still the sickest baby he's ever seen live, in almost 30 years of neonatology. But she came out if it, our real-live miracle. To see the hope Tara's story gave those parents was glorious. I get teary thinking about it now.

I don't know what happened to any of those babies - how many survived, what problems they will always live with, etc. - but I know that Tara made a real difference to those families at an unimaginably hard time.

I didn't know that about Kinsey, and I'm so glad it wasn't anything long-lasting.

I hope y'all have a great Christmas this year!

Malia said...

I don't think I never knew about that incident. You've got me thinking about a possible Christmas project this weekend...

Hope all in very uneventful this Christmas!

DJG said...

Thanks for sharing. I might listen to Tim & Faith with a little less of a grimace myself.

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