Friday, October 8, 2010

Is this Heaven? Nope, it's the Hospital

When you hear a child sweetly, wistfully, whisper to her mother, "Thank you, Mommy. Oh, thank you. I love you so much, Mommy, because you take me to places like these." You might think that mother had just taken her child to Disney World, or a birthday party, or a least a large park that looked like a castle. But if you had been in our van today as Hannah whispered these sweet words to me with all the emotion of a sappy love story, and had thought those things, you would have been wrong. We were returning from a children's hospital where Hannah had apparently undergone the biopsy of her dreams.

Hannah has an amazing, unbroken optimism about her. She revels in new places, new experiences, and new people. All of which she hasn't gotten enough of lately, I guess. She soaked in the beautiful scenery on our three hour drive down yesterday. "Oh!" she exclaimed as we topped a hill, "Look, Mommy, look at the pretty colors on the trees! Oh, it's fall, it's fall!" as if she wasn't every bit as excited about winter, spring, and summer. "Oh, look at that old, falling apart barn, Mommy! Why is it all broken like that?" I began to answer, but soon realized she much preferred to speak than to listen to my answer. "Look, two cement mixers beside us, Mommy! Oh, look, Mommy, a big hill, a really big hill! Why is that hill so big, Mommy? Hey, the sun is setting! Oh, look at the pretty pink clouds!"

She also busied herself creating a doodle-pro depiction of herself on an operating table, with a doctor running a tube down her throat and me standing beside her, smiling. That's a picture of her insides on the wall beside my stick-figure on the left, a box of Kleenexes on the table in front of me, and a cast removal machine in the lower right-hand corner. I guess you never know when you might need a cast removed.

Hannah, was thrilled with the sleeping accommodations at our hosts' house, for no particular reason, except that it was something new. I slept a bit better than last time around, but still restlessly. We were up just after 6:00am and left in the dark. Hannah was, of course, enamored with the big city lights glowing in the dark sky as we entered the interstate. "Hey, there's a really big tall building over there, Mama! It looks like the Serious Tower in Chicago!"

Her chatty demeanor cooled to a simmer when we were finally checked in. Before long we were shown back to a room, and I was surprised to be greeted by the same nurse who had cared for Naomi. She looked at me a minute and said, "You're the mother of the reader, aren't you?" When I explained to her how excited Hannah was to be there, the nurse took extra care to make sure that Hannah received all the special treatment that Naomi had.

Though Hannah was suddenly tongue-tied, her eyes continued to glow. Everyone seemed delighted to have a child that was happy to be there, and they were determined not to let her down. Hannah was outfitted with a gown, a pink butterfly surgical hat, pink latex gloves, and a bottle of bubbles.

We played two rounds of Candy Land while we waited our turn. I won the first game--it's hard to let someone else win in a game of complete luck. So I challenged her to a second game. Watching her face fall, as I closed in on the Candy Castle again, I had to think quick. "Oops!" I said, bumping the pile of cards, "I better shuffle these again. Hey, look, Clifford's on TV." Then I did some fast rearranging of cards that just happened to send me back to the Candy-Cane guy and Hannah all the way up to Princess Lollipop in the same turn. She was delighted with her fortune, and the day was saved.

The nurse asked me if I thought Hannah would need any medicine to help relax her in order for them to take her back to the procedure room. I laughed and said, "No I think she'll do just fine walking back on her own." Are you kidding me? She's been looking forward to this for two weeks now. Wild horses couldn't drag her from it! And she did just fine, walking back, laying on the table, and breathing the sleepy air, no assistance needed.

The doctor briefed me about 40 minutes later, saying she couldn't see any obvious signs of Celiac with Hannah, but that is not uncommon in Celiac. It really takes a look under a microscope to make the diagnosis. Hannah was more subdued when they wheeled her bed back to my room. She was groggy and had a bit of a sore throat, but that was nothing that a little Sesame Street, some apple juice, and a grape Popsicle couldn't cure. She was also delighted to see a stuffed doggie-face pillow,
just like Naomi had received, at the foot of her bed. Hannah later told me, "I was so surprised to see that doggie pillow there, it surprised me right up into a sit!" She was actually disappointed that we were discharged before the Sesame Street episode was over. She received a royal ride to the exit, in red wagon with a bag full of her surprises tucked beside her. And then it was over, but I guess that was OK with her.

On the drive home Hannah was silent for awhile, which was a relief to me as I tried to navigate us out of the city. After a bit, she smiled at me, in between bites of Curious George fruit snacks, and said, "You know, Mommy, I knew it was going to be good, but it was even better than I thought!" This was followed by a Hannah thank-you chorus and a happy ride home. My only problem now is that Emma is jealous...


  1. How sweet! You really MUST send that last comment to their patient representative department (or to the nurse at the GI lab) at the hospital (you could send your entire blog entries from the girls for that matter.) Those are the wonderful stories that they love to hear. She could end up being the poster child for a hospital commercial! (You just never know!)
    So glad that it all went so well and that Hannah enjoyed herself. And to think that you were worried that it would not live up to her expectations???

  2. I did give my blog address to the GI doc with some of the titles of posts that might interest her. One of the nurses who cared for Hannah yesterday also just called to check on how she's doing and I passed the blog on to her as well. I think Hannah has managed to brighten a lot of people's lives. She does look like a poster child, doesn't she?