Boy – it’s been a while! July 2, 2020

I certainly owe you guys an apology. I wanted to update you all when we arrived home and got back into routine, but….hmmm…that never happened. Instead we came home to a zombie apocalypse where toilet paper became its own currency and hand sanitizer became the new truffle. Anyways, we are home – we are safe, and we are sane….or at least two of the three anyways!

Things were starting to get a little wiggy with airlines just as we were leaving Quebec, but we arrived home safe and healthy; although by that time our provincial health services teams were monitoring cases on flights. We were a little nervous about this COVID thing because Ben had experienced some lung issues post-surgery in Montreal, so we decided to stick close to home. We wanted to give his lungs a chance to heal up after his struggles post-op. We then needed to decide how much the rest of us should be exposed to the real world. Because we were feeling pretty vulnerable, we decided to pull Hannah out of school one Friday because it seemed like COVID things were happening just a little closer to home than we were comfortable with. We contacted the school and got all Hannah’s books and such and off we went. About an hour later our province announced that no students would be returning to school the next week, so I guess our timing was right…the only difference between us and the rest of the province was – we had our textbooks! Thus started our home-schooling journey. Luckily enough Benjamin and I were fully trained. We already had our desks set up and our school schedule running the same as the hospital….9-11 and 1-3 now we just needed to add Hannah to the mix. Wow….it doesn’t seem like it now, but time really flew. Between our home school time (which I kept up even though we were told it only needed to be an hour a day), feeding homemade meals three times a day, walks, books, and games, our time flew by. Healing came easy and the kids stayed home. Jesse and I would go into town about once a week to forage for food or lysol wipes. It is only in the past few weeks that we have opened up socially a bit. Ben and I had to go out three times after arriving home, once for bloodwork, once for the doctor, and another time for xrays, but that was about it. We were all masked up and kept pretty much to ourselves.

While doing all this, I was finishing off my Masters degree. I am just about done – my last classes are next week…yay! I am holding my final assignment in my hand – just one more read (or two), and I will hand it in. So…all was good and peaceful in our lives… and then I saw the little red dot…

Ben’s healing has been great by the way. I found it a million times better than in 2017 when he struggled a bit with nerve pain. He has really done well – we get out and he rides his little scooter/skateboardy thing (carefully) often and we go for walks around our neighborhood. He, as usual, never complains and rarely has to take anything for pain. Asthma has been a real kicker this year, so we manage that quite closely, but that is all. Hopefully all this poplar fuzz will fly away and his asthma will improve. I just love this kiddo – he takes everything that comes at him in stride! For school he had to do a little autobiography and when he was talking about his surgeries at Shriners he said “it only hurts the parts that they work on – everything else feels fine”. Forever the optimist!

So…where was I…oh yeah….the little red dot. Ben and his buddy (our Covid family buddies) were in the hot tub the other day. (We decided to trade kids for a few days to get these kids socializing a bit). Jesse and I were sitting on the back deck and Ben was in the hot tub with his back to me. “What’s that?” I said, looking at the little red dot. “Hmmmmm” I said moving forward…”I don’t like it. Can you grab my phone”. On the lower part of his back you can see the rods sticking out a bit (our normal) …it has been that way since surgery. However, on one of the bumps was a tiny red dot…like a mosquito bite, but smaller…hardly visible to the human eye unless you’re paranoid…and ….well….a mom. (My hospital moms know this!!!) I knew in my heart that this wasn’t good. It kind of looks like a screw or something is trying to come from the inside out. I immediately took pictures and sent them to our amazing Nurse Practitioner who got back to us within the hour. We were told to put a doughnut around it and try to keep it from having any pressure against it.(Not that kind of doughtnut – but I put one of those – double chocolate – inside him just in case – he’s way too skinny, which is half of the problem – no Covid 15 for this turkey) Anyways, to make a long story short, I ran over to my girlfriend’s house and she and her hubby helped us get something rigged up…half doughnut/half mummy. Thank you Tara and Stuart! That was Tuesday.

So today – I spoke to our team in Montreal and it looks like we need to have surgery pretty quick. We will continue keeping the pressure off this spot as much as humanly possible – fingers crossed that it doesn’t come through as it makes things so much more difficult! We will continue using our doughnut/doughnut strategy – one on the outside to keep pressure off – one on the inside to put some fat in. At this point, it looks like some of our all-stars will be there for our surgery – our favourite surgeon and our equally favourite anesthesiologist. Team Benjamin is reassembling, and they are working on Operation Tiny Red Spot as we speak…it should be an adventure with all this COVID business. We will get more details early next week, but I imagine we will be in Montreal in the next few weeks.

Sidenote: As I look towards another hospital stay, I take the time to reflect that during our COVID lockdowns, every province in Canada deemed liquor stores to be an essential service…interesting…don’t you think. I believe I am one step closer to having pubs in our hospitals….I’m working on it, but this is (obviously) pressing evidence!!! I will try to do a better job of keeping everyone up-to-date. Cheers!

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7 thoughts on “Boy – it’s been a while! July 2, 2020

  1. I was about to message you. Thank you for the update. You sounds so exhausted!!!! Many prayers with you all. 🥰

  2. Stay safe. It’s a freaking crazy world out there now. Any chance you can drive to Montreal? I know that sounds crazy. I don’t trust the airlines these days. Or sweet talk your cousin, Jim into flying you although the gas bill might be $14K.

  3. All is good on our part…thanks for the update We wish you guys well on this next journey. Hopefully you can get your hands on Krispy Cream doughnuts, that ought to be good for fat contents 🙃

  4. Hey Karen, thanks for the update. Well, looks like I get to see you soon, while I like that, it’s to bad it’s for a surgery. These things happen, we’ll fix it!
    I’ve transferred to 6th floor, working in Quality, Evaluation, Performance, and Ethics (I’m all that stuff), new challenges for an old dog, I’m loving it. When you arrive in town, I’ll find you, prepare for hugs!! xoxoxox

  5. Whoa …. for those who think they have a ‘full plate’ we say, “full plate, you don’t know Full Plate until you’ve met Karen Gartner!”
    So glad Ben’s medical team is dealing with this issue ‘lickety split.’
    Ben you are such a little warrior and you will soon have another victory behind you!
    Karen, Congrats on completing your masters!
    Stay safe and lots of positive vibes are headed your way.
    Betty and Uncle Donatus

    1. Lol! I was sitting on my deck drinking a beer when I discovered Ben’s little red dot, so don’t feel too sorry for me! Love you guys!!! Jesse enjoyed his visit the other day!

  6. Oh my goodness, stay safe you two! So glad that you have Team Benjamin on your side! Big hugs to Ben and to you and the family! Congrats on the Masters; you and Deb are on the same stream. xo Aunty Sue

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