Tuesday, September 6, 2016

The Favorite Son Saga: How I Spent My Summer Vacation

Crazy summer vacation for Yours Truly. First of all – and I’m not complaining, but I don’t really get a summer vacation. Considering I’m one of the 24/7/365 sort of dads, (you know, no ex- in the picture), a parenting vacation is about as common as a hen’s tooth. I do sneak away once a summer for a guys’ weekend in Chicago, as I did this summer. That weekend usually planned around a trip to visit my parents and friends to St. Louis. That was great, but that’s really about it.


The real crazy part of the summer actually is a cautionary tale for all parents and it began before summer actually did.

Early on a Tuesday morning in about a month before the end of the school year, The Favorite Son (TFS) woke up because he felt nauseous. Coincidentally, he’d eaten his sister’s leftover General Tso’s chicken, which I’d suspected was past its prime. So, I’d believed he had a mild case of food poisoning. Eventually, TFS went back to sleep. The next morning, I kept TFS home from school.
The Chicago Six playing the back nine.

Tuesday became Wednesday, Wednesday turned into Thursday morning, and TFS still didn’t feeling well enough to go to school. So, I called the pediatrician’s office. I spoke with the doctor’s nurse who told me that TFS just had a stomach virus and that he should feel better in five to 14 days. Okay. On Friday, TFS still didn’t feel well, but, because he wanted to play in his baseball game that night and because we had make weekend plans with friends, he managed to get to school for the second half of the day.

On Friday night, TFS played second base. After the game, he and I went to a friend’s house and he seemed fine for the most part. However, at one point, I noticed for the first time he complained that his plumbing was a little backed up and had a fever of about 101°. On Saturday, he felt a little better. On Sunday, the plumbing started to move again; I assumed that he’d be ready for school on Monday. However, after missing four days of class, TFS still could not go to school. Although it had only been five days, I called the pediatrician again. This time, I insisted that the pediatrician see TFS and we had the first appointment that morning.

After a brief examination, the pediatrician wasn’t convinced TFS's ailment was a stomach bug and referred us to the emergency room at St. Anthony’s Hospital. Fortunately, my house, the doctor’s office, and the emergency room are all within a quarter mile. On the way to the ER, I stopped at my house to grab an overnight bag because I pretty sure I knew what would happen next.

Leading off.
After an ultrasound and a blood test, the ER doctor confirmed TFS not only had appendicitis, but TFS’s appendix was severely swollen and perforated. (That tough little fucker played baseball with a perforated appendix two and a half days earlier.) After a few hours, TFS took a ride in an ambulance to Westchester Medical Center (WMC) where he stayed another week while doctors drained his appendix and got ahead of the infection. It was no picnic for TFS or his Ol’ Man. At least I got a little relief from the First and Second Beautiful Daughters who both stayed at WMC with TFS for a night so I could get a couple of decent night’s rest.

TFS was discharged the following Monday with his appendix still in his in his belly and instructions for his caregiver for the application of an intravenous antibiotics and an antifungal seven times a day for 15 days. The surgeon didn’t want to remove the perforated appendix before “the body cleaned things up,” as the surgeon described it. Prior to completing the course of the IV drugs, TFS once again had symptoms of appendicitis, fever, stomach ache, and nausea. It turned out that the port in his arm where the IV drugs were administered had become infected. When his port was removed, the infection cleared up right away. However, the incident resulted in another weekend stay at WMC.

Finally, four weeks and a day after he woke up feeling sick on a Tuesday in mid-May morning, TFS returned to school. Considering all of the time that he spent studying with this dad at the hospital and the tutor who spent a week and a half with him at home, TFS’s fourth quarter grades improved by about ten points across the board. Six weeks later near the end of July, TFS returned to WMC for another two day stay and finally had his appendix removed. TFS recovered for another two weeks and with two weeks of the summer remaining, he finally got a clean bill of health.

I’ll never know whether TFS’s appendix had already perforated when I first called the doctor two days after symptoms originally presented. Although this wasn’t my first trip to the circus, but there are a few things I wish I‘d known or remembered. I guess we forget some things if we don’t regularly deal with them.

1)   The next time when I think one of my children should see a doctor, even if I’m wrong about my admittedly amateur diagnosis, I’ll insist that we see the doctor.

2)   While I have often practiced the concept of, “Be Prepared,” I really should have had an overnight bag ready to go in the trunk of my car. It may not always be so convenient for me to get my stuff together when the feces hits the fan.

3)   There’s nothing like a crisis for reminding you of the people who’ve got your back.

4)   Even though Au Bon Pain is a nice place to have lunch once in a while, the food gets tedious when it’s the only choice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. (There’s an Au Bon Pain Restaurant franchise inside WMC. It’s the only place to eat inside WMC.)

5)   Comfortable accommodations for a patient’s family is not a hospital’s primary concern. It’s not a hospital’s secondary concern, either.

6)   When someone in your family is sick, I mean really sick, nothing else matters except getting that person well again.

7)   While it was a mostly fun to spend as much time with TFS as I did, too much of a good thing is not always a good thing. By the end of the summer, he and I were both ready for school to start.

The Favorite Son and Dad.


This story turned out to have a happy ending, as I expected it would. Although I believe we tend to get what we expect to get in life, good or bad, I’m neither na├»ve nor untried and I realize we don’t always get what we expect. Hope for the best.