Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Scenes from the pediatric unit

After 5 days and 4 nights in the pediatric unit of a fantastic hospital, Ava's eye infection was on the mend and we were ready to go home; VERY, VERY ready! Here are some snapshots from our extended vacation at the hospital in absolutely no particular order because it's all a jumbled mess of disjointed, sleep-deprived happenings in my memory:

me on phone: "I think she is doing better...I don't know. Hopefully we'll be able to go home tomorrow.."

Ava pointed a finger at me (quoting Lotso from Toy Story 3): "Now wait a minute there sweet potato! You ain't LEAVIN' Sunnyside!" then she dissolved into a fit of giggles..
One morning/afternoon/evening (no idea which) Ava was making her ten thousandth trip to the playroom on the pediatric floor. Swaggering through the hallways with her "cowgirl hat" (actually a fireman's hat but whatevs) she tipped the hat and said "Howdy-do Doctor!" in her best southern accent to every person we encountered. Every face that lit up with laughter encouraged her even more...and most of those lit up faces averted eye contact with the zombie-eyed, unamused Mom-ster who was straggling behind the adorable, puffy-eyed peanut. I was always on the verge of losing my patience with that stupid hook IV pole on wheels. I felt like a broken record "oh, jeeze! Ava, slow down, AH! Yikes...the IV is going to rip out of your arm, stay CLOSE!!" Just writing about that stupid thing made my blood pressure rise.
So, we arrived at the playroom--empty except for a grown woman doing a puzzle at the miniature table. I smiled and tried to discreetly read the name-tag on her uniform shirt. Definitely not a nurse or doctor because we would have met her by now. Maintenance worker on break? Doesn't make sense. Too tired to play the role of super-sleuth Annie, I decided to introduce ourselves,
"Hi! My name is Anne and this is Ava."
"Oh, hello! My name is Janet! I'm a volunteer!" woah, Janet--that was loud.
"Howdy-do Janet!" Ava tipped her hat.
Janet laughs and shakes Ava's hand. "Ava, would you like to do this puzzle with me?"
"No thanks."
"Oh, ok. Well, there is play dough in this cabinet! Here, let me set up the play dough for you! We can pretend to make cookies together!"
"No thanks."
"No? That's fine! How about I grab some crafts? You like crafts? I bet you're good at coloring. Look, here's a wooden puzzle that you get to color and..."
"No thanks." Ava's thumb has now made it to her mouth and she is nestling in to my leg. At least I don't have to worry about her wandering too far from the IV pole. I feel sorry for the volunteer and nudge Ava "Oh, look! The puzzle has a rainbow and it's own markers!!"
Ava's got a death grip on my jeans and whispers "Mom, I don't want to play with her. Why do I have to play with her!?"
"You don't HAVE to play with me, Ava. But if you want, I can get down some baby dolls and we can play house!" Ava buried her face into my pant leg. I imagined that this poor woman maybe lost a child and volunteering at the hospital helps fill a void for her. I then decided it was my duty to make Ava play house with Janet.
Now, if you know Ava...you know how this ends. Nobody, and I mean NOBODY makes Ava do anything. Stubborn as a mule. So after several pathetic attempts to get Ava to accept Janet as her new BFF, I snapped to my senses. We're not here for Janet, we're here because Ava's sick! She's sick...and I'm exhausted...we don't have to cater to the volunteer in the playroom! So I ended it with a simple,
"Ava, would you like to go back to your room and watch tv with me?" Her little face looked tired and scared from all that pestering as she nodded yes, thumb in mouth.
"Mumma will you hold me?" I gathered her up in my arms and she fell asleep on my shoulder before we got to her room.

Erik stopped by on his way in to work today. "How about I take Ava to the playroom for a little bit so you can relax?" Sounded so good! I sat cross legged in the chair and enjoyed my coffee while watching Elmo's world. I was genuinely amused...new low point.
"Mom, I'm so hungry" Ava's face looked so pale and sad.
"I know sweetheart, you can have some ice chips if you want!" I was embarrassed by my lame attempt to comfort her. She turned away from me, folded her arms across her chest and fought back tears.
"Ava, the doctors might need to do surgery to help your eye feel better. If they do surgery and you have food in your tummy it will make you sick."
"But I already am sick." Ava 1, Mom 0.
"I know but..." in walks the pediatric ear, nose, and throat doctor.
"Hello! We are going to do another cat scan on Ava to see how the infection is doing."
"I'm hungry."
"Yeah, let's go get a picture of your sinuses, and see if you can eat!" Ava smiled and we waited for the transporter.
"Uh, hi. I'm here to take Ava to diagnostic imaging. My name's Bryce." Bryce looked like he was still in high school and he never made eye contact when talking to us. Ava stared at his ear hole spacer the entire time he pushed her bed to the elevator.
"Is your earring made out of air?" He pressed the LL button and didn't answer her.
"Excuse me, Rice. Is your earring made out of air?" Bryce smiled at her.
"Well, the middle part is air." Ava rested her head back but never took her eyes off of his spacer. I followed Ava and Bryce out of the elevator and through unmarked double doors.
"This hospital is a maze! How long did it take you to learn your way around?" Bryce perked up and looked me in the eyes.
"This is my first week and I get lost all the time. I don't know." And there we were...in the mother baby unit.
Hi-ho, Hi-ho it's back to the elevator we go.
*below is a picture of Ava when she was finally cleared to EAT!*

In the earliest hours of the morning, the pediatric opthamologist would come in to see Ava. He was so kind, so good with her, and really took time to answer not only my questions, but hers as well. These are just a few of the reasons why he made it into Ava's prayers every night and into her sweet little heart. One day when he was looking in her eye with the light she said,
"You know what, Doctor Kipp?" He turned off his eye light.
"What's that Ava?"
"My eyes are usually really beautiful and blue and not even at all swollen. I'm actually kinda beautiful, really." her face held a proud little smirk.
"Oh, yes...you are a very beautiful girl. You remind me of a Disney Princess."
Ava let a laugh escape through her nose, and tried to hold back a smile. After he left she looked at me and said "I think I'm going to marry Dr. Kipp when I grow up. Well, unless he's a wrinkly old man by the time I grow up. Then I'll just marry Patrick Dempsy from the Enchanted movie."

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