Wednesday, July 08, 2009

A quarter lighter and not an ounce of bear heavier.

Monday started out like any other day and ended 48 hours later unlike any I can remember.

It began with a small group of my friends and their children who gathered in my kitchen to participate in a chemistry experiment that, if we were lucky, would yield Mozzarella cheese. As we heated four gallons of milk to 90 degrees I counted small heads and realized that one was missing. Oliver was quiet upstairs and with a bit of apprehension I climbed the stairs to check on him. One too many apples had caused a bit of intestinal distress and, well, there was some kind of mess to clean up. I gave Oliver a quick bath, closed the door on the smelliest room and brought him downstairs to join the cheese-making fray.

Later, after we had all eaten our share of fresh, yummy cheese and the last of our friends bid adieu, I loaded Oliver and Sami in the car to rent a carpet cleaner. We also stopped by a local shop and bought a new rabbit to add to our fold. 10 week old Digger would join old and crotchety, not-much-fun Bo-Bo in our rabbit hutch.

Once home again, I told the kids to play in their room with Digger while I set to work cleaning the carpet in the other room. Mid-way through my work Sami tugged on my elbow to tell me that Oliver had another accident in their room. Sighing heavily I stripped him down, put him in the bathtub and set to work cleaning my second carpet of the day, telling Sami to play with Digger in RT's room. While I was busy, Oliver finished his bath and went to play in bedroom A again and -- you guessed it -- had another, explosive, accident. I put him in the bathtub for the second time and set to work again on carpet A, only to be interrupted shortly thereafter by Sami telling me this time that Digger had pooped all over RT's room!!! Oh well, I thought: might as well clean ALL the carpets.

When I was finally finished I plopped down in my desk chair thinking to myself: well, at least I had the carpet cleaner. I had put in a full day's work in just a few hours and was, well, pooped! As I thought this to myself I heard first the sound of Oliver gleefully jumping on his bed and then the distinct sound of something hard clinking against his teeth. A coin? A marble? I quickly ran through the probable list, inwardly groaning that I don't get a moment of peace, but sat for another second reminding myself to have patience. I'm working on patience.

In that final second, as I sat there, Oliver began choking on whatever it was in his mouth. I was almost to his door when he bolted out, ran past me and in to the bathroom with a wild look in his eye. By the time I stood next to him he was wheezing and struggling to breathe. Then, a breath, followed by gagging and retching. I guided him to my desk chair then and watched for signs that would indicate what I should do next. At this point he was breathing fine but acting somewhat subdued. I called our pediatrician and the nurse recommended that we head to the emergency room.

Kids swallow stuff all the time, right? Probably he would just poop it out, whatever it was. Going to the ER would just reassure me that everything was OK and make me feel like an alarmist, right? Wrong. The x-ray showed a very obvious round object about the size of oh, a quarter, lodged in his esophagus just behind his heart. Oliver, they told me, would need surgery. What? Surgery? Are you kidding me? I just couldn't get over the enormity of what happened in the time time it took me exhale a tired sigh.

A few phone calls to the hospital staff yielded more news: Oliver would need to be transferred by ambulance to a larger hospital, over an hour away, where they had a pediatric surgical staff.

We were finally admitted to a room at U.Va. a little before midnight and Oliver promptly fell fast asleep. The next morning, another series of x-rays told us that the object had not moved and that we would have to follow through with the surgical procedure.

Around noon, a quarter was retrieved from Oliver's irritated esophagus, which was promptly soothed by 7 popsicles in rapid succession.

On the way home from the hospital we were involved in a three car, one 200lb bear, accident. I'll save that story for another day but I'm just throwing it in here now to reinforce my claim that this was quite a day. ...

The good news is that Oliver was incredible. He was a superstar. He handled the whole thing, from start to finish, without a bit of fuss. He was cooperative, calm and didn't complain one time. He was poked, prodded, pinched and shuffled from place to place and he handled it all better than his mother, who was bitter tired and a nervous wreck. A year ago, or two, and this whole episode would have been unbearable, the stress 100 times more intense. But Oliver surprised me with his resiliency and maturity. And although the circumstances weren't a bit pleasurable, he was a pleasure to behold.

I want to end this post by saying something about how this experience made me realize how different life with Oliver is today compared to how I imagined it was going to be three years ago when we just struggled to get through each day. I can't quite think of how to express the huge difference between the future of my imagination and the reality of my boy at the present. But as I am at home again, settling back into our routines with a boy who is one quarter lighter, I know that anything is possible. The future is bright and completely unwritten and I, for one, can't wait to see how it all turns out.

In the meantime, all quarters, silver dollars, marbles and the like are neatly stashed out of reach.


  1. Anonymous12:48 AM

    All I can think of is how poorly I would have handled every aspect of this unbelievable day. You are one amazing mama. And Oliver is one amazing boy.

  2. Oliver is a champ! What a boy to handle everything so well! Do you think he makes the connection that all of this happened because he put something in his mouth that he shouldn't have? Because that would be a nice side effect, if he started thinking twice before he pops something in! I guess time will tell. Did you have Sami with you the whole time too? That would add another layer of stress...

  3. Holy cow! As if one incident by itself weren't enough. Whew, so glad Oliver came through like the trooper he is.

    I get exactly what you mean about appreciating how different life is today versus a few years ago. It's been really nice to watch how far you both (all!) have come together and to learn from you along the way.

  4. Oh my! All I can think is the same thing that Kristen said -- I'm sure I would not have handled any aspect of this day as well as you did. Thank goodness he is okay, what a trooper! And go, mom!

  5. I'm so glad that Oliver is okay. That sounds like an unbelievably stressful day for the whole family! I am intrigued by the bear story....