If worry was an Olympic Sport

If worry was  an Olympic sport, I think I’d bring home the gold.  Before you even start reading, I apologize; I have a lot of time on my hands.

This is what I think it would look like if worrying was an Olympic sport.


Announcer Bob:  Well it’s looking to be a grey day out here on site in North Korea Jim.  I am excited to be hosting the Worrying Events here at the 2017 Summer Olympics in Geogjeong Stadium.  I think we might be in for a close battle today.

Jim:  That’s right Bob.  We’ve got some serious contenders out here today.  We are going to start the events this morning with the 1600 metre Worrying Relay.  These guys have been training hard for the last three years.  There is a lots of anticipation about today’s event. 

Bob: That’s right Jim – we have teams from North Korea, Canada, the USA, Sweden, and Russia.  They all seem really concerned, so it should be a good show.  There were rumours that Russia might be banned as they were using a special blend of hallucinogens to induce anxiety, but blood tests were taken and they have been cleared to participate.  What do you think Jim – do you have a favourite going into this relay. 

Jim:  I don’t know Bob – this could be a tight race.  The North Koreans always seem to have a great look of concern, but let’s see if they can maintain that level of anxiety for the length of the race. Rumor has it that government officials are waiting to see if they place and if not, the consequences could be pretty dire for them, so that kind of anxiety is only going to help their game.  The US has always performed rather weakly in this event, but today they  are running with an all immigrant team, so they’ve got reason to worry.  Wait a minute – I think their starter has a Hilary tattoo on his arm…this could be a game-changer for the US.  The whole team is looking really intense.  The Canadians have been quiet about their contenders, but they say they have a heavyweight that they are excited to introduce to the Olympic field – we’ll see what that’s all about.  Nobody really knows why Sweden is here..what…is there an IKEA store closing or something!…(obnoxious laughter). 

Bob:  (chortling) Right you are Jim – oh – wait….there goes the starter gun.  Wow – that is a great start.  The Russians have started strong followed by the US who generally seem quite agitated.  The Canadians are quickly picking up momentum with their rookie teammate quickly building speed.  The North Koreans keep looking behind them, which is really slowing them down.  It seems they got a little gun shy from the starter pistol.  You think they would train for that – hey Jim.  The Swedes – well where are the Swedes Jim – maybe they are trying to assemble a 400 piece table because they are definitely not in this race.  They are running like they are out for a Sunday jog – what is up with that? 

Jim:  Wow Bob – this is really a close race Bob….no wait….the Canadian girl is gaining ground…look at her pace.  I have never seen that level of intense worry on a contender.  Can she maintain it for the burden pass off.  Let’s see….here she comes….wait a minute…what just happened Bob?

Bob:  I don’t know Jim – she didn’t pass burden…and she yelled something to her teammates as she ran by.  I have no idea what she said.  Can we get a close up Jim?

Jim:  It looks like she’s saying “It’s today pie nice hotties.”..whatever that means???  Crazy Canadians – they’re friendly, but they don’t always make sense.  

Bob:  Right you are Jimbo, but they do have some good coffee.   But I don’t know if that is what she said – that doesn’t seem to make sense.  Let’s slow-mo that shot………can we get the mic in?……….  I think she said “It’s ok guys – I got this!”  Wow – imagine that – after all that team  training and she refuses to share the burden with her team.  But look at her pace – this is spectacular!


Ok….that’s enough.  That was just plain old getting out of hand.  I think you get the point though. πŸ™‚

I am a chronic worrier…it is my fuel…it’s what I do best.  I’ve been an excellent worrier since I was a child – it’s how I roll;  it might be my super-power.  It’s not that I just sit in a chair and worry; I think I am a rather proactive worrier.  I once called the rehab hospital at home to question them on whether Ben would be able to drive on his own one day or whether I would need to enrol him in an adapted program because he has a hard time doing a shoulder check.  Anyways, they were like “ummmm….I’m pretty sure you don’t need to worry about this yet because your son is…..let’s see here….ONE YEAR OLD!   To which I replied “ummmm- I just finished talking to my banker about RESPs, and nobody thinks that’s crazy – and that’s happening later than the driving thing”.   Anyways, even though they were super friendly, they told me I should probably check back in about 10 years.  If I find out later that there’s a 15 year waiting list I will FREAK OUT!

Anyways, it seems like Ben’s surgery will likely happen on Monday, which will allow me a lot of productive worrying opportunities over the weekend.  Anyways, we have a good idea what to expect from the surgery; although nothing is ever written in stone.  I trust our team to take care of Ben.  I’ve always brought Benjamin into the O.R. to hold him while they put him to sleep in Edmonton, but it is not necessarily the norm here.  I think they are worried that people will get all emotional and crazy and just make things worse for the kids and weird for the team.  I had to talk to Child Life here who sent a letter to Child Life there stating that I seem normal and will not likely freak out on the day of surgery.  The decision rests with the anesthesiologist.  So, I had a chance to meet with one of the anesthesiologists today, so I had to spend most of the appointment trying to pretend I was super  normal, so she will let me in the O.R. to help Ben get his IV in. I think she had a hint of my insanity when I casually suggested that she might have good results if she used a grade 3 video laryngoscope, but then I quickly backed off and pretended I was normal.  I think I may have passed the test – we’ll see Monday.

Benjamin is doing well; he is healthy and strong, but he will miss his halo.  I am trying to come up with a less invasive version of it, and when I do I will market it to 4-8 year old superheroes and I will make BILLIONS!   I’m also working on a more portable one that kids can wear in the parks.  Seriously, who doesn’t want to fly.  Hello Dragon’s Den….I’m coming!

Ben’s x-rays this week hadn’t moved much, so it is time to do this I guess.  We have been having some problems with his ears, but they are not infected, so we can see what happens after the surgery.  The ENT at MCH says the right ear canal is partially collapsed, and the left is severely collapsed, but we are not sure if that is the case or if it is because his canals are so crazy small.  Anyways, that is not a priority for now.  Thanks again for everyone’s kind comments and support.


I’m Gonna Catch a Leprechaun

I have been super busy building my leprechaun trap.  We put all kinds of things in it to get the leprechauns to come, and when they do they are gonna climb up my rainbow ladder (because they love colors and ladders). When they try to grab all my gold and green and blue coins in it, they are gonna fall in the hole and I will get to see them.  The nurses decorated the nursing station for me after they saw my leprechaun trap.  They said they were going to make it very comfortable for leprechauns here, so they wouldn’t be afraid to hang out here.  Now I just have to wait.

Pajama Party

Imagine this conversation:

Karen (to accountant)  Hi there – I’ve printed out all my profit and loss statements for last year.  I wasn’t sure if this was the balance sheet you were looking for.   Does that look right to you?  Do you think I need to include the receipts for the new computer software I’ve been running?

Accountant: Ummmm…are you wearing pajamas? (looking disdainfully at my fuzzy pajamas with coloured clouds all over them with the words “sweet dreams” everywhere).

Karen:  Yeah – ummmm….do you think I might be audited if I have too many healthcare receipts?

Accountant:  I think you have some drool on your face.

Yeah…so kind of weird right.  However MOST of my professional conversations these days  involve a group of doctors and nurses (completely dressed I might add) discussing important issues while I’m trying to look somewhat respectable wearing my sweet dreams fuzzy pajamas and wiping drool off the side of my cheek.   To compensate, I try to look extra intelligent and thoughtful, which is difficult because I really haven’t had to think much since I’ve been here, so it’s like not using your legs for five weeks then trying to sprint all of a sudden.  It’s not pretty.

So now I have started setting my alarm for 6:22, so I can at least throw on some clothes and run a brush through my hair before they arrive.  This works sometimes, but it seems the team has an internal sense of awareness when you are ready for them and when you are not (much like a waitress asking how everything is when your mouth is full), so usually the days I am up bright eyed and bushy tailed they don’t show up til later.  Other times, I come out of the bathroom brushing my teeth to find 8 people standing in my room waiting for me.  It’s terrifying!!!  Is ninja training part of the general course requirements for medical personnel?  How can so many people move so quietly.  With bad conversation skills, tacky pajamas, and awkward gasps of terror, you might think I am not impressing anyone here, but YOU ARE WRONG!!!  Read on my friends!

My responsibilities around here have tripled (that’s right – tripled!), which is obviously quite exhausting.  (In other words, I now have three responsibilities.)  I have been put in charge of decorating the playroom for St. Patrick’s Day, which, for the record, is a HUGE responsibility because St. Patrick’s Day in Montreal is ginormous (I think) – they have a huge parade and everything.  Obviously they wouldn’t pass on this type of responsibility to just anyone.  My second responsibility is that I am the only one allowed to make adjustments to Ben’s bed besides the professional traction bed adjuster.  This is a huge responsibility and requires a specialized key to do so.  I am the only one to hold the key on the weekends.  I have attached a picture of the “key” below.  It’s obviously a complex technical tool.  The third and final  responsibility I have undertaken here is Ben’s “pin care”.  Yeah… – I know what you’re thinking and YOU ARE RIGHT!!!  That’s fancy nurse speak for “we’ll teach you how to clean the screws on your kids head”, to which I replied “why in the name of St. Peter would you ever think I was capable of that” to which they laugh.  ????  Give me strength!!!  Now when they come in I say “what now – you need me to scrub in for surgery?”  Having said that, I do have to say that I think Ben might have the cleanest screws on the planet – yay me!!!


The Key

Anyways, as far as medical stuff goes, nothing is really going on these days.  I will check back towards the end of the week to give you an update, but we are not anticipating anything new over the next few weeks.  Thanks for checking in with us.  We so appreciate all of everyone’s kind words and thoughts.

Beyond Language

I am always amazed at the instant connection hospital parents have with each other.  It is a connection that goes beyond culture, language, and class.  One of the volunteer jobs that I have at my local hospital is peer mentoring.  This job entails the volunteers (hospital parents) to go and orient new parents to the hospital and basically check in with them and make sure they aren’t having nervous breakdowns and such.  As experienced nervous breakdownees, we are generally pretty good people to have these conversations with and parents usually like talking to us because we “get it”.

One day I went into a patient’s room and saw a mother sitting there while her son was sleeping.  “Hi” I said quietly.  “How’s it going”.  I introduced myself and then went into my blah, blah, blah routine about who I am and why I am there.  It was obvious when I walked into the room that we were from two different cultures, and to be honest I wasn’t even sure she spoke English.  She was pretty cold to put it mildly.  I forget what she said, but I know it wasn’t ‘how lovely to meet you!”  She was not interested in talking to me.  I stood in the doorway thinking…hmmm….should I continue here or should I get a latte?  Then I thought….I’m pretty sure Frosty here isn’t braiding hair with the nurses at night and giggling over Breaking Bad, so I decided to stay.

I looked around the room and noticed a back brace in the corner.  I still wasn’t getting the impression that she spoke English (well), so I pointed at the brace and at her son and asked ‘scoliosis’ while charading out crooked spine and fused neck (which is a lot trickier than you might think without making it look like someone just died).  She nodded, and I pointed to myself and then gestured baby and my unique scoliosis sign again.  She raised her eyebrows, so I repeated the gesture, then I added a “my baby is as big as my thigh now” gesture.  (As I am typing this, I realize how ridiculous this sounds – kind of like the whole tatonka thing from Dances with Wolves –  but I promise you it flowed pretty well at the time).  Anyways, I ended up spending about an hour an a half with her that day talking broken English and charades.  I’m pretty sure if we had a few more days we would have been giggling and braiding each others hair as well.  When I left, we hugged like old friends.

I find that connection here as well.  We all feel closely connected.  We “get it” when we see another parent sleepless after a long night.  We “get it” when we see the exhausted fear in a parent’s face following their child’s surgery.  We “get it” when we see a parent ready to lose their mind over a child who has whined for hours on end.  Often this “getting it” doesn’t require words.  There was a family across from me a few weeks ago.  We smiled when we passed in the hall, but they didn’t speak English, and I couldn’t speak their language.  After about 5 days, I was watching the dad who seemed to deflate and crumple.  He had gone from looking like a business man to a homeless man.   Finally one day I charaded to him ‘you look so tired’.  He nodded.  I gestured him to follow me.  I went to a door and pointed to the sign that said parent sleep room and pointed to him and pretended to sleep.  He smiled and nodded.  He said 5 days – 10 hours sleep.  I wagged my finger and pointed again.   These wordless gestures are common here.  He laughed and said yes, yes!

There were times when Ben was hurting post-surgery and someone would pass me in the hall and put their hand on their heart in a way that said “I’m so sorry – I know how hard it is to see your child hurting”.  Other times, I will come into my room groggy after not sleeping well and find that someone put a Tim Horton’s coffee in my room.  Parents here get so much support from our friends and families back home, but we find the simplest ways to help and support each other here as well.

Anyways, the point of all this is – don’t ever play charades with me because I will obviously whoop your ass.  Ok…I’m just kidding (even though it really is true)…the real point is that sometimes it’s nice to not tell your story and just know that someone gets it.  I don’t think this connection is unique to just hospital parents, it could be cancer patients, children whose parents have Alzheimer’s, or immigrants coming from the same place.  It is nice to find your connection.

There has been no change in our plan yet, but there is ONE MAJOR CHANGE IN BEN”S LIFE!!!  He is currently experiencing his first loose tooth ever.  We spent most of the afternoon going to different floors to let them know.  There are great debates going on now on how much the tooth fairy gives to kids in hospitals.  I have to admit that I hate seeing wiggly teeth, but I am encouraging Ben to wiggle the heck out of it because if he doesn’t get it out by Monday, the anesthetist will be taking it out for him (he doesn’t know that).  So, wiggle away Ben!

I am attaching a Global News video link that they filmed here on Friday with some of our neighbors.

Global News – Shriners

**** Update ****Literally two minutes after I typed that, Ben noticed that his tooth was missing while he was eating.  WHAT?!?!!  It’s been an emotional day to say the least.  He’s dictated a note to the tooth fairy, so we’ll see if we can get granted some leeway here! 

Hospital Negotiations 101

Clinic Waiting Area – Shriner’s Hospital πŸ‡¨πŸ‡¦

Ben has never been a demanding kid.  He seems to take things as they come, but we have had to negotiate a few things with this hospital stay.   Anyways, this is Ben’s list of demands and my responses.

  1.  I only eat Kraft dinner at home – you know I don’t eat it at the hospital.    (No, I didn’t know that;  otherwise I wouldn’t have ordered it for you the last 20 times.  I will not order it for you any more.)
  2. I only eat pancakes in our land – not in Montreal.  (I also didn’t know that – same as above)
  3. I only like to eat pasta with meat sauce, mini burgers, grilled cheese sandwiches, and chicken nuggets here – I don’t want to try new stuff (really?  aren’t you bored?  I know I am! And besides that – the only reason you like mini burgers is because I made you try them…hmmmm   Are you sure you don’t want to try the shepherds pie?)
  4. I would like to eat dessert first (ya know what…if that’s what you want – go for it! – if I ever have screws in my head, I’m gonna eat desert first too)
  5. I don’t want to eat vegetables – they look funny here. (Hmmmm….ok…fine.  They do look a bit funny, so ok – you don’t have to eat them, but the SECOND we get home – we go back to the one bite rule!)
  6. I want to play lots of video games (ok, but for every game you play, you need to answer two spelling or sight words).
  7. I don’t want to do homework (Ummmm….wrong!  You have to do homework – good try though. The screws in the head thing will only get you so far.)

So, there you have it.  We have negotiated our way to this point, and it seems to be working.  Ben is happy, but he is also working hard.

The doctor had a look at Ben’s x-rays and said they were ok, but they were hoping to see more correction in his lower curve (he has two major curves – we were never expecting anything amazing from the upper curve, but we were definitely hoping to see more improvement below. Our current plan is to do X-rays again next Thursday.  If there is still not a lot of movement, we will still plan to do surgery the following Monday (March 13th).   If we do see improvement in that lower curve, we may extend our traction period and postpone the surgery for a little while.  So, we’ll see what happens I guess.    

Grandma and Ben’s big sister Alecia are out for the weekend, so Ben is a little excited (to put it mildly).  Should be a fun weekend!