We spend the better part of yesterday evening in the Emergency Room at Children’s Hospital.
Cody had been complaining of a headache that would disappear when he laid down but would come back in full force when he would stand up or walk around. On top of that he had no qualms about being told to lay down and rest. And when he actually fell asleep in the late afternoon and slept for a good hour and a half – something he would never normally do – I knew where we were headed. I was expecting the worst.
Cody has a VP shunt. He has not had a shunt failure, unless you count the several that occurred before he even left the hospital after he was born. Shunts have a greater than 95% fail rate and some of the signs of a shunt malfunction are headaches and lethargy. Typical ailments for the most of us…
After waffling and being noncommittal, I asked the question, “How many warning signs do we need before we know, before we get in that car and drive the hour drive to the hospital?” The truth is that we don’t know and I guess if it was very apparent, and we actually did know, then we would not even take the time to pack an overnight bag just in case.
So we went. Cody was tired in the car but perked up after a while. By the time we got there he was acting perfectly normal. But still… We didn’t know.
There was much time spent answering questions, hooking up machines that beeped and blinked – all very reminiscent of his first three months of life. There were CT scans and X-rays and those voices in my head reminded me of the research that children that get routine X-rays are at a higher risk for all sorts of cancers.
Husband went in with Cody to the CT and X-rays while I wandered the halls with Carter. One hallway had all the planets decorating the floor and so we made a game of it. Can you tiptoe to Pluto (yes, yes, yes, I know that Pluto is not really a planet anymore…)? Can you count the stars – and don’t forget that the sun is a star? A nice nurse gave Carter some stickers. He really held up very well considering the majority of the attention was not on him and we were there for hours.
Near the end of the visit, I made a comment to Husband that not only did we blow way past the boys’ bedtimes but we were rapidly encroaching on my bedtime. Carter’s ears perked up.
carter: Momma. When do you go to bed?
me: Oh, shortly after you and Cody do.
carter: But when momma? Is it your bedtime now?
me: Not too much longer after you and Cody go to bed. It is not quite my bedtime yet – but soon.
carter: How ‘bout now momma? Is it your bedtime now?
me: No, not yet.
It went on like this until he started to pry out of me exactly how many minutes it would be until my bedtime. I am not sure why the fascination but it was strong. It did not stop until I had proclaimed that it was indeed past my bedtime.
Today I did not go into my classroom. I did not student teach. Moments before we left for the hospital last night, I emailed my mentor teacher two days worth of lesson plans because I just did not know what we were dealing with. It was not that she needed the plans – she has been teaching for 19 years and I think she could easily wing it – it was because I needed to let her know that I was ready, I was prepared and that I was not taking the decision to step away lightly. This morning I could not bring myself to send Cody off to school. Not yet. Husband had a meeting he did not want to miss, but in all fairness, had I even pushed a little, had I not volunteered to stay home, he would have called in. But I needed to stay home with Cody, I did. For me.
Cody was fine. He ate, he rested (begrudgingly), he helped me clean. I made him do math and read stories to me. We made strawberry smoothies and snuggled with the dog.
Tonight the boys went to bed at their normal bedtime but they did not sleep. I kept hearing them talking, laughing. I let it go on longer than I would usually do. Finally I got up and went it. I turned on my stern mommy voice, popped open the door and firmly stated that it was past their bedtime, that it was almost past mine, and that I needed them to turn their voices off and get some rest.
There was silence in the dim nightlight lit room. Then two little voices piped up from the bottom bunk – sorry momma. Yeah, sorry momma.
It gave me pause and it took me a moment to realize that Carter and climbed down his ladder and was snuggled up in bed with Cody. I have never seen him do this before.
And then Carter asked me, Momma, is it past your bedtime?
It wasn’t then – now it almost is.
This time the CT and the X-rays showed no change in Cody’s ventricles – no swelling. There was nothing abnormal in the images of his shunt. This time everything was okay.
There is a new day ahead. It is time to try and put those worries behind and move forward.
It is indeed my bedtime.