Ouch, that hurt.

ice pack

My Ice Machine

My shoulder hurts worse than it did before surgery.  I don’t think that’s right!  HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE FOR ME TO BE ABLE TO SLEEP ON MY LEFT SIDE WITHOUT AGONY?  I LOVE sleeping on my left side.  It’s my favorite side.  I MISS that side so much.

They called me at 3 PM on the day before surgery to inform me that I should be at the clinic at 6:30 AM the next day for the decimation of my arm.  I was also informed I could not eat or drink 12 hours before.

“Can I at least have black coffee?”

“No Mr. Tanner.  Don’t even swallow water when you brush your teeth.”

I immediately opened my snack drawer in my office desk pulling out my stash of M & M’s and Sweet Tarts.  I knew I should begin packing away nutrition immediately understanding the food sabbatical Dr. Isbel was putting me on.

When I was taken back to be prepped the next morning, the nurse asked if I needed to go to the bathroom.  I did.  She then asked if I had any concerns.  I said, “Yes.”

“So, what are your concerns Mr. Tanner?”

“I don’t like needles in my veins.”

“We will deaden the area before we stick one in.”

“Anything else?”

“I’m afraid of blood clots.”

“You’ll take an aspirin a day to help ensure that you won’t develop a clot.  Keep moving around, don’t be sedentary.   Wiggle your feet often.”  She showed me how to bob my feet and toes up and down to avoid this potential crisis.  I began immediately.

“Mr. Tanner, you won’t need to move them until AFTER surgery.”

“I just wanted to practice.”

Another nurse came in and pulled out a syringe.  She said, “This will deaden the area where we put the IV.”  She shoved the needle in my hand.

This is unhelpful.  They stick a needle in your hand to deaden the area so they can stick another needle in your hand.  She was right, the IV did not hurt.  However, I almost came off the bed with the initial injection.  Maybe next time I’ll ask if they can give me an injection to lessen the pain for the injection that lessens the pain for the IV.

The anesthesiologist was the father of a kid who went to middle school with Stephanie.  Because I knew him, I decided I had to act braver.  I didn’t want him to go home and tell his daughter that Stephanie’s dad was a weenie.  It’s a good thing because he shoved a needle the size of an ice pick in my neck and left it there four of five minutes while he maneuvered it around to deaden the nerves in my shoulder and arm.  Had he been a stranger, I would have simply left.

Once they had me hooked to the IV and I had my hospital gown on, I had to pee again.  Geeze this bladder.

They rolled me into surgery and two muscular dudes lifted my frail lifeless body onto a coroner’s type table.  That’s the last I recall.

When I woke up, my fiancé, Florence Nightingale, was in the room.  She helped me dress and fed me Cheez It’s.

My arm had no feeling.  The neck needle had totally deadened my left side which would last about 12 hours.  It felt like I had a two by four attached to my body.

When we got home, Julie told me to rest and headed to the store to buy some provisions.  I wanted to do as she instructed, but the Weed Man had just aerated and seeded my lawn, and I needed to water it.  She left, and I headed out to line up the sprinklers.

When Florence drove up from the store and saw me shoving the sprinkler head into the hard ground, she was NOT happy.  I never knew that sprinkling your yard could have the adversarial affects she described including additional pain, extended healing time and potentially more surgery.  But my lawn is beginning to take shape which is healing in and of itself for me.

I had planned to use bags of peas to ice my arm for the next week (I also had some Green Giant corn kernels in the freezer).  Instead, Florence purchased a machine that pumps ice into a pad that you attach with Velcro on your shoulder.  The doctor suggested I purchase it at my pre-opt appointment but it cost $150 and peas are $1.79 at the Food Lion so I declined.  I’m glad she got the machine.  It feels really good and will have ongoing use.  I plan to fill it with ice next summer and Velcro it to my armpits after jogging.

All in all, surgery went well and a couple of people at work who don’t really like me that much were extra nice on Monday when I wore my sling.  And in approximately 10 – 12 weeks I should be able to lie on my left side.  Eureka!

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A Bug in the House

Most of the time I love being the father of three kids.  In fact, there was a time that I wash pushing for a fourth.  I just really enjoy being a dad.

However, last Sunday night, my enthusiasm for parenting waned a bit.

It started as a lovely evening as I watched the girls in our church’s annual Christmas pageant.  At the pimento cheese reception following the service, Stephanie asked if we could grab a quick dinner at a nearby Mexican restaurant – and take four of her friends with us.

Seeming like I’m always saying no, I surprised her, “Sure, I’d love to.”  She was giddy.

All was good with las adolescentes sitting at an outdoor table can tacos and Michelle and I inside with another family from church.

Approximately ten minutes after arrival, Stephanie flew up to my table, “Dad, somethings wrong.  I’m going to throw up.  We gotta go now!”

“You sure?”

“Daaad, I know when I’m going to puke!  Yes, I know!!”

We arrived home at 6:55 pm.  Her regurgitation began at 7, several of her friends still waiting for their rides.

“Ahh – Stephanie’s vomiting in the bathroom.  Anyone want more salsa?”

I settled her in my bed with a towel and a plastic trash can.  Michelle took nurse duty, while I ran to pick up DJ from another social function.

I drove up.  DJ opened the car door.  “Dad. I feel like I’m going to puke.”

Great  –  a gaggle of gaggers.

At approximately 8 pm, there were two, each vomiting in 20 minute cycles.  I worked hard to keep a clean trash can by each one’s head to avoid up chuck on the furniture.

Michelle actually got tickled as she watched me rapidly cart barf from room to room.  And to her, it was funny…

Until 11 pm.

She didn’t call for me,  I just sensed something was up.

I dashed up the stairs, she’d clearly been asleep.  She sat by her new creation, a zombied look about her face.

Oh baaby.  Couldn’t make it to the bathroom?”

No reply – still in a daze.

The more they spewed, the more nauseous I became.

“Is it possible to vomit and diarrhea at the same time?”, one of my daughters asked.

“Yeah.  Two exits, no waiting,” I replied as I ran for more towels.

Stephanie finally fell asleep at midnight; DJ at 1.

Michelle threw up every 25 minutes, without exception, until 6 am.

I’d put my head on the pillow and nearly get relaxed when I’d hear the beginnings of the heave.

There goes the trash can, then the gut grumbles, followed by the actual act.

Thankfully, I have an immune system made from steel.  I nearly bathed in the stuff but never caught the bug.

Once I think I’ve been through every parenting scenario at least once without Lisa, a new one rears its head.  I don’t think I’m ever going to master this.

A Gift from Camp

When most kids return home from camp, they bring their parents something nice, like handmade pottery or an ashtray.  My child brought me pink eye.

Yes, Stephanie returned home from camp on a Friday afternoon about 3 pm.  By 5, her left eye was pinker than Frenchie’s hair in the movie Grease.  It lasted for five days.  On day seven, my left eye began to itch.  I sit here twelve days later still looking like I just returned home from a night out with Otis from the Andy Griffith Show.

Have you ever laid face down in a sandbox with your eyes wide open?  That’s what this feels like.

I’ve been through two and a half boxes of Kleenex, dabbing the goop from my pus filled corneas.  On the first day of my diagnosis, I had to have  two business meetings with people I’d never met.  I apologized for my tears – told them talking about work just choked me up a bit.

For seven of these days we’ve been on vacation – our annual family/friend reunion at a small resort in Capon Springs, West Virginia.  Imagine 200 people coming together who haven’t seen each other in a year or more.  The hugs, handshakes and pats on the back were flowing … except for me.  When they saw my eyes they gave a tacit smile and backed away as if I had Smallpox.

On Wednesday, Capon staff  hosted our annual BINGO game.  The guy in charge didn’t know I had the funk and invited me to be a guest caller – quite the honor at Capon Springs.  When I stepped up to the microphone, I pulled out a small bottle of hand sanitizer and publicly scrubbed myself before touching any of the BINGO balls.  Instead of calling out the letters B-I-N-G and O, I substituted B, Pink Eye, N, G, O.  I figured if I couldn’t beat ’em, I might as well join ’em.

My sister-in-law is an epidemiologist at Duke University Hospital.  She’s working on cures for some rare diseases.  I suggested she change her focus.  I mean there simply aren’t that many people who are going to be struck by an organ eating bacteria.  But everyone gets pink eye.  Why isn’t someone working on a vaccine for that?  I’m talking Nobel Peace Prize here. 

I’m thankful I wasn’t quarantined and that my family still allowed me to eat at their table in the dining room – although as far away from children as possible.  And I have to give props to one woman who hugged me after finding out of my temporary condition.  She said, “I’m a teacher, I’m immune to that junk.”

Teachers aren’t scared of anything.  She’d have hugged me if I had Eboli.

So today I started steroid eye drops.  My sclera is still pink, but I’m blinking faster than Lance Armstrong can pedal.  Maybe I’m nearing the end.

Hiding Out From Child Protective Services

she looks fine to me

Posted by Jesse

I can’t believe this happened again.

I offer to drive the morning shift all the time (by “offer” I mean I stumble into the kitchen two minutes before departure time, sparsely dressed, one eye open, and grunt “need me to drive? no? cool.”) but Danny handles it almost every day. He says he enjoys the time in the car with the girls and I enjoy the extra sleep enough to believe him.

But once every two weeks or so Danny has an early meeting, and I get the morning shift.

Late in the spring we had one such morning. The girls were eating cereal and I was making lunches, when Michelle begin mixing tears with her milk. It should be noted that encountering her melancholy countenance in the a.m. is NOT a rare occurrence. It can be triggered by a frustrating bout with hair, a missing button on a skirt, or not getting the prize in the cereal box. Or, apparently, an upset stomach.

“I don’t feeeeeel gooooood,” she sobbed.

Uh-oh. Two things come into play here:

1) The Tanner family (Danny’s parents) and the Katsopolis family (my parents) handled sick days very differently. He likes to claim we weren’t allowed to miss school if we revealed a severed appendage dangling loosely off of our bodies. I like to tease that he was basically home-schooled since “sick days” meant any day he had gym. Both are exaggerations. Slight exaggerations.

2) I am not about to be the sucker Uncle who gets played! And, to be totally honest, I hate having to bother Danny when I’ve got “kid duty” because he won’t ask for help unless he really needs it, meaning he’s either got an important meeting or he’s taking his quarterly night out to socialize. I try to avoid contacting him if at all possible. His over-caring self would literally feel guilty that one of his girls got sick on a morning he wasn’t there.

So I did the thermometer thing. Normal enough. I inspected for unusually pale (or green) skin complexion. Other than her claim of not feeling good, I couldn’t see any obvious sign of illness. I worked at Camp Sea Gull for over a decade, and the nurses have told me repeatedly that a stomach ache with no other symptoms is usually just something else. Michelle probably forgot to do her homework and was dreading facing the teacher.

I cracked a few jokes, got a smile or two out of her, got the other two girls in on the “buck up, kid, you’ll be fine by lunch” routine, and we were off.

She threw up on her desk around 9:30 a.m.

If there were a place you could go to voluntarily be lashed with a whip, I’d have signed up in hopes of relieving my guilt.

Fast forward to last week. I’m on morning duty again, and again we have morning tears. This day Michelle is going on a field trip, so she’s picking out an outfit rather than wearing her usual uniform–a source of much consternation, since she has to choose between shorter-legged jeans (tapered? capri’ed? cuffed? what do you call those things?) that leave her a bit chilly or the longer jeans that will almost certainly get a bit wet. I know where this choice will go–Michelle HATES wet jeans. But she’s not happy being chilly either.

“I don’t feel good,” she let it be known. But–Stephanie can attest–there was no force behind this statement. No insistence. I was sure it was all about the jeans. I didn’t even take her temperature.

Her teachers did. She had a fever of 102. Though, I’d like to point out, that was a reading taken after being outside and doing some creek stomping, so I think when I am on trial my lawyer will be able to make a good case that you cannot prove she was actually sick when I dropped her off.

Regardless….don’t tell Michelle, but next time I’m driving the morning shift? She’s got a four-word “get out of school free” card if she’s smart enough to play it. Blame Danny–he’s the fool who leaves me in charge of these girls.