Friday, September 12, 2008

My Favorite Man

There is a very special man in my life whom I never talk about. His name (for the purposes of this blog) is Michael. Michael is the son of some really close friends of the family. His mom is the sister I always had and never wanted. (Seriously, I feel the same about her as I do my sister that I grew up with.) For the purposes of this blog we'll call her Michelle. (The reason for fake names is that she's extremely paranoid about the internet and doesn't want me to use real names. This paranoia is also why you'll never see pictures of this part of my family.)

Michelle has 2 older children from a previous marriage, both of whom I'm allowed to talk about all I want. (They're old enough to make that decision for themselves and they don't have that paranoia.) Michael was a late(r) in life surprise. Michelle's the boyfriend (now husband) had been told that he was unable to father children, so imagine their surprise when they got the news. So now her kids are 19, 17 (18 in November) and 3. Although I love all 3 children, Michael has a special place in my heart.

The day that Michael was born I went to the hospital and sat there and held him for about 3 hours. Ever since that day that child has had me wrapped around his little finger, and he knows it. If Michael wants a treat he'll come ask me. If he wants somebody to play with, I'm the one he looks for. There was a new couple at our church that confided in me that they'd been attending the church for a few weeks before they figured out that Michael's not my son. In fact, they only figured it out when they heard him call me "Uncle Jamie". (Don't ask, he's a little confused about titles, but I think it's cute.)

A couple days ago my mom was talking to Michelle on the phone, so I had her ask if Michael could come play. I had been missing him and I thought that Michelle could use the break. When Michael got here I was in the process of making soup for my mom, so he had me put him in his spot, and he helped me cook. (Michael and I have been cooking together since he was 1.) He put the carrots in the soup, and helped me stir. At one point he looked at me and started asking for something, but I couldn't understand him. I took him into the living room and had him repeat it to his mom, but she didn't have a clue either. Finally my mom told me that he wanted the garlic. Michelle was amazed that he even knew what garlic was, since she doesn't let him cook at home. (Quick tip: put an appropriate amount of spice into a small bowl and let the kid dump that in. About a year ago I had some eggs that taught me that lesson in a way that I'll never forget.)

Pretty soon we were done making soup, but we weren't ready to be done cooking. So I grabbed a cake mix out of the cupboard and we baked a cake together. Cakes mixes are great at his age because they go together quick, but you still get to crack eggs. (Just a tip: crack the egg into a separate bowl, that way it's easier to pick the shell out.) Michael surprised me with his egg cracking expertise, there was no shell to pick out. We took turns mixing the batter, but I couldn't convince the boy to try licking the spoon. Strange child.

Once the cake was in the oven Michael was ready to play for a while. He wanted to go out back, but needed an adult to go with him. Because Michael's developed a habit of referring to himself in the first person we've been making a point of trying to get him to use the word I. So when he came to me and said, "Michael needs to play outside." I told him to say, "I need to play outside. That's when the child gave me a funny look and said, "Uncle Jamie needs to play outside." I gave up and just went out back with him. On the way he stopped and kicked his mom out of the house. He definitely does not have separation anxiety issues.

We got done playing in the backyard just in time to pull the cake out of the oven. That's when Micchael decided to go visit Uncle Moo-Moo (Donny). Out to the garage he went, where he climbed up in my chair and settled in for a visit with his uncle. Of course Donny immediately switched the Tv over to cartoons for the kid, and then started looking for the candy that I had told him earlier not to give to Michael. (By this time we'd already had a popsicle, since he knows that I always have some in my freezer for him.)

When Michael finally got done visiting with Uncle Moo-Moo he decided that he wanted to cook some more. Since we had made a lemon cake earlier, I decided that a lemon icing would be a good thing. I put Michael up on the counter and grabbed a bag of powdered sugar. I turned to grab the milk, and when I turned back to where Michael was, he had poured powdered sugar in a frying pan that was sitting on the stove. That would have been a lot less messy if there hadn't been a thin layer of oil on the bottom of the pan. So we got the icing started, and I realized that I needed more powdered sugar. This wasn't a problem, since my grandma keeps a big plastic tub of it on the buffet. There's also a big plastic tub of flour over there, so when I opened the tub up I tasted the contents to be sure that I had the right thing. Michael saw this and asked if he could taste too. Since I knew he would be going home soon I saw no harm in this and let him. I then got him a small measuring cup and got him busy scooping sugar into the bowl for me. He also got a lesson in how to work a Kitchen Aid mixer. (The first lesson being never, ever stick your hand in the bowl.) Of course, by the end of our icing making he had given up all pretense of putting sugar in the bowl, and was simply sitting there eating straight powdered sugar and telling me how good it was.

We iced the cake, something else that I realized he had never done before. I had handed him the knife (a butterknife) so that he could do it before I learned this important tidbit. He got a lesson in why using the knife to gouge out chunks of cake is not the accepted norm for icing a cake. It was my turn to do the icing again when I had to teach him why randomely sticking your fingers into the cake to make holes also is not the accepted norm for icing a cake.

When Michelle came to pick Michael up she got a wired little boy and a cake for their dessert that night. We had a ball.

Monday, September 08, 2008

Monterey, part 3 (the conclusion)

The same day as surgery was Donny's birthday. My mom had made me promise that I would do something with Donny for his birthday, but I still really wanted to see her. We went back to the hospital to check on her, but she kicked us out and told us to go celebrate. We went back to the motel to decide what to do.

Donny finally decided that he'd rather get some baseball cards and a baseball card magazine than go out and celebrate, so we headed to WalMart. I have to admit to being relieved, since I really didn't want to go out either. I ended up buying a big jug of orange juice while we were at the store. We then went back to our room and I laid in bed and drank orage juice. (Anybody who knows me knows that this is a bad sign, since I hate orange juice, but crave it like mad when I'm sick.) I drank almost half a gallon of ornge juice before I finally passed out. The day had finally caught up with me.

The next few days were spent visiting my mom in the morning, going to the room for a nap in the afternoon, and then back to the hospital in the evening. For the first couple of days mom did really good. She was progressing as expected and all seemed to be well, she was due to be discharged from the hospital on Thursday.

Thursday morning my mom started having severe pain. It was in her lower right abdomen, and the cramps were worse than giving birth to a 10 pound baby. (Yes, I was huge.) Because of the placement the doctor was baffled as to what the cause could be. He decided to give it a day and see how she was doing. In the meantime though she was recieving 4mg of morphine by IV every 1/2 hour, along with her liquuid lortab. They finally figured out that if they gave her both medications at the same time she'd actually get the pain controlled enough to sleep for a little while.

On Friday morning I arrived at the hospital at 7:00 a.m. to make sure that I didn't miss seeing the doctor. He talked to my mom and when she told him that the pain wasn't getting any better he decided to run a few more tests. He did a urine test looking for a UTI. He tested the stuff coming out of the drainage tube in her stomach to make sure that there wasn't too much of something in it, I can't remember what he was looking for now. And he ordered a CT scan to see if they could see the problem that way.

Around lunchtime the hospital called the doctor at his office and gave him the results of all the tests that had been run. He hopped in his car and drove across town to come deal with the problem immediately. Apparently mom's drainage tube had slipped down and that was the cause of all the pain. The doctor came in and removed himself because he wanted to be sure that removing it really did alleviate the pain. My mom said that immediately she felt better. She still had the soreness expected after surgery, but nothing like before.

Mom was kept one more night in the hospital, just to make sure that all was well again, and then she was finally allowed to come home. Even with all the pain she still says that it's worth it.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Monterey, part 2

Tuesday morning, 5:00 a.m. my alarm goes off. Since it was the alarm on my cell phone it sounded like a phone ringing. I was expecting this, so I thought nothing of it. Donny and my grandma, on the other hand, were both scared. Apparently they thought that somebody was calling us, and at that time of the morning phone calls are never good news.

Grandma and I both got up and dressed, and we were off. Mom was to arrive at the hospital at 6:00 a.m., and we wanted to meet her there. As we were pulling into the parking lot I realized that since I had left my cell phone with Donny I had no way to know where to find my parents. My solution was to drive around the parking lot looking for their car, and then use that entrance. I was hoping for signs leading to the surgical waiting room once we got inside.

That hospital has a big circular drive thing that leads to the main doors, and as we were going through it we happened to see my parents through a window. I zipped back around the drive, put the car in park and jumped out. By the time that I got in the front doors I managed to get a glimpse of my parents turning a corner. I went running after them, but they had a good start. I finally started hollering down the hallway to get my dad's attention. Of course, he just glanced back, and kept right on going. He figured if I followed him I'd find them. He had no clue that I was illegally parked and desperately trying to get back to my car. I finally hollered out that I had no clue where he was going. He turned and told me that they were there, so I turned and ran the other way. As I got to the front door I ran into my grandma, who had just made it inside. I pointed her in the right direction, and then went out to my car that was hanging open with the engine running.

After I parked I went in and the waiting began. Only one person was allowed in with my mom at that point, so we sat in the waiting room and tried to entertain ourselves. My dad finally came out and let us know that mom was showering with some special soap and then we could go see her. So then it was time to wait and try to entertain mom.

About 7:45 mom went to surgery, and we all decided to go to the cafe for some breakfast. Except the cafe doesn't open until 8:30. We sat and waited. We waited and sat. Somewhere in there we finally got some breakfast. Around 11:00 the doctor came out and let us know that surgery had been successful. He said that he was able to do it laproscopically, but because of her weight he had to use more pressure than he had thought would be required. Of course I didn't think to ask him to explain that remark, but I'm guessing that he's referring to the air that they had to put in her abdomen to make it possible to work in there. We were told that she'd be in recovery for about 2 hours and then she would go to her room, and that we couldn't see her until she got to her room. I suggested that we all go back to my motel room to wait, and we could have sandwiches for lunch while we were there. My dad didn't want to leave the hospital though, so it was just our family friend that was there and myself who went back.

Around 1:00 we went to see my mom and she looked pretty good.Some other friends of the family were there to see my mom, so her room was pretty full, and I couldn't really get over by her to see her though. I ended up taking their 3 year old son out to see the fishies (in the fountain in the main lobby) and try to let things settle down. I went back to my mom's room to return the kid and try to see my mom. Within 60 seconds of arriving at her room my dad handed me his cell phone and said that I needed to call my sister back. It was suggested that if I went to the seating area around the corner I might be able to hear better. As I hung up the phone from talking to my sister Donny came and found me to let me know that he was tired and needed to go back to the motel. So I finally got close enough to kiss my mom, and we left.

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Monterey, part 1

Monday morning I did the last minute packing and loaded up the car. I then told my grandma that it was time to go and went to get Donny. I got him to quit worrying about senseless stuff and get in the car, and then I got in and we waited for my grandma to come out. And we waited. And we waited. I finally went in to see what the holdup was and found her sitting in her chair doing a puzzle. Apparently, she had seen the extra ice chest that Donny had gotten out and figured that we weren't ready since everything wasn't out yet. So I got her in the car and we took off.

We got about a haslf hour down the road before stopping for breakfast. I got grandma inside and seated at the table, and there was no Donny. He was still out at the car, for reasons that I still don't understand. I finally got him inside and we were able to have a good breakfast.

We got to the hotel around noon and I swore that I would never travel with both Donny and my grandma again. (She took her hearing aids out so that she wouldn't have to listen to him, so he got louder. She still couldn't understand what he said, so he made me repeat it. They get along great, and they love to harass each other, but I don't want to be a part of it.) I unloaded the car and got the 3 icechests arranged.

Before going over it had been decided that Monday night the family would all have dinner together. Because my mom had to take some medicine to clean her out for surgery the next day it was decided that dinner would be a picnic in my parents room. We arrived and I grabbed the bin that had all the non-perishable food in it. I lug it into my parents room and my mom tells me that she's feeling better so we're going to a park instead. So I lug the bin back out to the car and make sure that mny dad understands that a long hike to the picnic table is not a good idea. My dad had looked on the computer and saw that there was a park across the street, and the picture even showed a picnic table. We drive around to where the park is supposed to be, to find a smally grassy strip on the side of the road with a picnic table. It was not all it was cracked up to be, so we dicide to go somewhere else. After following my dad around Monterey for a half hour (listenin to Donny whine about needing a bathroom the whole time) he finally finds a little park and stops. It was lovely, with lots of families with toddlers and preschool age children bringing their kids there to play. We settled in and had a great time.

After dinner we needed to go to my grandma's bank, and I wanted to find the hospital while it was still light out, so that there would be no problems in the morning. I had my dad look the bank up on his computer, and he gave me directions and an address. I then had him give me directions to the hospital, and we were on our way. I decided to go to the hospital first, and then we'd swing by the bank on our way back to the motel. Driving down the freeway I started looking for the exit that I had been told to take. I saw the name of the street that I remebered from the map and so I got off the freeway. I found it a little odd that there was no sign saying that there was a hospital at this exit, but I thought that I migh have missed it. That was just a fleeting thought though, because I wasn't all the way down the exit when I realized that I'd made a mistake. I wanted exit 399A and this was exit 399C. Oops. So i went to the shopping center that was right there and turned around to get back on the freeway and try again. The only problem was that there was no on ramp going the way that I wanted to go. Of course, right after you go under the freeway there the road turns into a winding mountain road with no good place to turn around. So now we're driving through the foothills, no idea where we are or where we're going, when I realize that the road has become a road that I recognize the name of. I still don't know where we are or where we're going, but I've gained a llittle confidence that if I stay on that road we'll get unlost eventually. And we did. When we found the freeway again Donny wouldn't let me try again at finding the hospital. Instead we went to the bank and then to the motel. We needed to get to bed early because we had to get before the sun the next day.