A tale of fright and fate on one crazy night

Image courtesy of Sebastian Gerhards and http://www.flickr.com

I’ve written before about my family’s Friday night routine. How we typically crank up the music and dance like no one is watching. But not this past Friday. No, this past Friday was not our typical Friday at all.

It all started earlier in the week. Kiddo complained that his stomach hurt. A kid had accidentally kicked him earlier that day. Boys, I sighed to myself while I took a look. His skin was red and swollen ever so slightly. “Did you get bitten by an ant or something?” I asked Kiddo, not really expecting an answer. The raised area was larger than the typical mosquito bite, but then again it was located near his waist line. His clothing could easily have irritated it to a larger size, especially if he was scratching it, but it looked more like a larger insect bite.

“I did see an ant on my tummy,” Kiddo advised. “It could have gotten stuck.”

After Kiddo went to bed that night, I looked up images of fire ant and poisonous spider bites as well as medical articles their associated effects on children. An ant bite can result in a rash in some children for up to a week one article said. Another said three days. Another said to consult your child’s physician. It was the usual mixed of contrary information. We decided to simply monitor bite for the next few days, treating it with a mix of hydrocortisone cream and Benadryl.

The following day, the bite still looked ugly. The surrounding raised area seemed to have grown smaller, but the bump in the center had grown larger as if troops of bad news under the skin were amassing for a larger assault. However, because there had been at least some positive change, we decided to monitor and treat at home for another day.

Friday rolled around. The bump now appeared like an epidermal volcano compared to the flat plane that is typically Kiddo’s abdomen. Lamont would take Kiddo to the doctor’s office. I expected a phone call to say that they’d given him a steroid shot or something of that nature, thinking that it had to be an allergic reaction. It was not.

Instead, I received a call from Lamont. “We’re going to the emergency room.”

That bump proved to be a golf ball sized abscess (and not a bite at all) and required immediate treatment involving light surgery. My mind instantly went into pure what if panic mode. “What should I do?” I asked while my mind desperately sought a lifeline to cling to. I wanted to be there, but what about my other son? An ER is no place for my 4yo.

“I’m with him,” answered Lamont. “You, take care of LT.”

“If he has to stay overnight, I’m staying with him,” I informed Lamont, although I wasn’t yet sure how we’d manage the child swap. Either Lamont would have to leave Kiddo and meet me at the house or I’d have to somehow find someone to watch LT, last-minute, on a Friday night. Then it hit me. My dad, stepmom, and brother were spending the evening with us. We’d set it up weeks ago. My other brother was moving into his new place and our house was to serve as a hotel.

My dad’s other title is Doctor and my stepmom’s is Nurse.

My dad’s first question upon arrival was, “would you like me to go to the hospital?” He looked at my face. “Or should I ask, do you want to go to the hospital?”

“We are happy to stay with LT,” my stepmom added. “Whatever you need.”

Just knowing that had options was a balm to my nerves in and of itself. LT rounded the corner, just as frantically hyper in activity as were my thoughts just seconds before. A three to one adult to child ratio might not be enough to contain him in this state. I realized there was little I could offer in the hospital room beyond what Lamont was already providing. The procedure could well be over before I even arrived. “I’ll stay here for now,” my logical side ultimately decided. “But if anything changes, I’m going immediately.”

My dad continued to rattle off a slew of medical questions and terms as the time progressed. My brother asked if I understood anything our father was saying. He laughed when I shook my head. He hadn’t either. And like that, things began to feel, if not more normal, at least more manageable.

We continued talking in between updates from Lamont, the conversation keeping the worst of my what if fears at bay. Kiddo had been given a sedative. Kiddo’s procedure was underway. The medical team is awesome. My parents would nod with each report. They would have treated the same. Kiddo was resting. Kiddo was coming home. When it was all done, I was mentally and emotionally tired, but I knew deep down could have been much worse. Kiddo’s prognosis could have been less favorable. I could have been alone with my what ifs.

The next day, released and back at home, Kiddo was healing as he should (my dad verified). As I waved to my departing family, it hit me once again just how fortunate I’d been. Of all the times to stay over, they just happened to visit me during a medical emergency.

Whether the timing was a lucky coincidence, fate, or blessed intervention, I make no judgment. I wrote last week about my fear of sharks not then knowing a much more immediate threat lay waiting at home. I wrote about my father’s advice to mentally combat the ups and downs not then realizing how soon I would have to put that advice once again to the test. I continue to marvel at the interconnection of things, this web more comforting to see especially after experiencing a spider’s bite.

In this case, the how or why doesn’t matter. All I know, all I care, is that my son is already acting like his normal, goofy, lego-dinosaur-and now Pokemon-obsessed self, and for that, I am grateful.


Climbing the stairway to heaven

I had been working in Hong Kong for a few weeks when my hubby joined me for a visit. Granted some free time, we decided to go exploring beyond the urban sprawl. I had already had my fill of skyscrapers, wall to wall people, and open air markets. I wanted to go some place quiet, someplace I could hear myself think. Luckily there were a number of options. Considering its association with a large communist state, Hong Kong is remarkably tolerant of religion and has a slew of temples and other houses of worship scattered across its territory. Located on the second largest island is a Buddhist temple that welcomes believers and tourists alike. It seemed like the perfect place for us to go.

big buddha base

The rainy season was threatening to begin at any moment. The skyline was marred with heavy cloud cover. This temple boasted a huge bronze statue high above the tree line, only you couldn’t see any of it from the ground below. From our vantage, the statue might not exist at all. Sure, plenty of people claimed it was there, but that could easily be some prank pulled on unsuspecting tourists. The only thing we could see was a staircase that continued into what seemed like infinity.

My legs hurt just looking at it (they still do), but we hadn’t come all this way to look at a staircase. We had to go up, and up, and up some more (Hong Kong takes their stair building seriously).

view from big buddhaAfter 500 burnt calories or so we were still only half-way up. The clouds hadn’t gotten any thinner either. I had already gotten what I wanted out of this experience. We were relatively alone on this staircase to nowhere. It was so quiet and peaceful at the landing. I was able to hear myself think, but that might not have been a good thing. I started wondering what was the point of getting to the top. We weren’t going to be able to see anything. Why bother? If we turned around now, at least gravity would make the way easier.

I started wondering what was the point of getting to the top. We weren’t going to be able to see anything. Why bother? If we turned around now, at least gravity would make the way easier.

Not party to my inner whiner, my hubby kept on going. Peace and quiet weren’t his goals, he wanted to see the giant statue. Occasionally it is a problem when our goals don’t line up, but this was one of those expectations. I might have another chance to come back on a day with better weather, but it was unlikely he would. It was now or never. I grit my teeth and continued after him. I’d make it to the top for his sake.

big buddha statue Hong KongThe wind picked up as we climbed higher. Suddenly the clouds parted, and there it was. The bronze statue was not one of those fat and happy Buddhas I was used to seeing in American Chinese restaurants. This version was not grinning from ear to ear, made to look like everything was some big joke. Instead, he appeared accepting, calm, and serene though still with a hint of a smile. His hand was raised up in greeting and welcome.

The wind died back down and the clouds rolled back in, but I had seen the statue. I knew it was there and it was closer than I expected. Those final flights of stairs didn’t seem quite as impossible anymore. I could do this.

The news recently has been quite disheartening, to the point that I am tempted to never turn the TV back on again as if that could in some way stop the events from happening. The damage in Nepal, catastrophic, the loss of life, tragic. Where do you even start rebuilding? How can you possibly mourn so many lost? Closer to home, there have been riots against a system that has so many broken parts that it can be fixed only through a massive undertaking. It seems like we are at the bottom of those stairs. We only can hope that if we work hard we may yet find a better future, but there is no guarantee that we will like the results. And yet, turning around is not an option. If we are to find the peace we seek, we must first take the first step.