26 03 2007

Last night was another sleepless night. Annabelle was having a tough time sleeping when I was finally able to put her to bed, so I figured we’d be in for another rough night from the get-go.  Asleep around 9 pm, Annabelle was very tired and curled into her normal position: knees tucked to her chest, as she slept on her stomach with her stuffed puppy in her left arm for comfort. She is always cute when she sleeps like this. Eliana went to bed about the same time.

I hit the sack only a few minutes after them (as I usually wake up at 5am to exercise nowadays). It was an especially busy weekend for us with Eliana’s birthday party, as well as another day of running errands. Around midnight, I heard the familiar sound of Annabelle’s crying. Her mom was already up trying to get some work done, and was trying to calm her down. Annabelle was particularly cranky this evening, and then we noticed that she was wheezing. I would rub her back for a little relief, but that was temporary. It seemed that she had some extra stuff in her lung because she could not get rid of the wheezing. She was also having a tough time breathing. I was still more than half alseep when all this was taking place, when I had to remind Annabelle’s mom that there is a 24 hour hotline that we can call for a nurse who can help us find some relief for Annabelle.

The nurse was paged, and the phone rang but 5 minutes later. After being as descriptive as possible at 12:30am, we were informed that we should take Annabelle into the Emergency Room.  I somehow found the energy to wake up and get enough clothes on to take her in myself, with only a couple hours sleep.

Having heard about and encountering hospital emergency rooms myself, I was not looking forward to the typical 5 hour wait times to be seen by an ER doctor. I decided also to head to the ER with a pediatric doctor: Desert Banner.  I was amazed upon arrival, the girl at the front desk quickly started asking questions and began entering my information into the computer. The inital physican could hardly get a question in, she was so fast. I was pleased so far. After another few minutes, when all info was gathered, and some diagnostic questions were answered, I was sent to the child waiting area. I was ready to wait at least an hour before even talking to a doctor. I sat down and quickly noticed the doctor who asked the questions pass by and enter the pediatic unit. Only 60 seconds later did someone return to grant us entry. I was shocked, a little embarrassed that we were able to get priority over some of the other cases in the ER. I don’t think the other cases involved a baby girl with breathing problems though.

Annabelle was still asleep through more questions and remained asleep until we had to get her weight.  This second round of questions were more thurough; but being the computer nerd I am, I was also half paying attention to their computer setup and the application they use to enter patient data. She was so tired that she even slept through a rectal temperature reading (she’s going to not like me telling everyone this when she gets older). After another 20 minutes of diagnostic questioning and data entry, we were finally shown to our little area of the ER. The time was now 1:30am.

Normally when you go to an urgent care situation, the one main indicator the medical staff focuses on is your pulse. Since Annabelle wasn’t having heart problems and didn’t have any major trauma, it didn’t make sense to focus on that as the main indicator. Instead, I found them using a measure of oxygen stauration in the blood: SpO2. I quickly learned that readings above 92 were considered good. 100 percent was the goal. When we arrived, Annabelle was in the low 90s, and dipped down to as low as 85. She was visibly distressed when this number was below 90, and she was struggling to breathe at 85. It was heart-breaking. I thought that no baby should have to struggle just to breathe; and it made it all the worse that mine was having so much trouble.

The next 6 hours consisted of as much sleeping as possible, with interruptions every 45 minutes or so.  The first couple of inturruptions came to get some vital stats: BP, Temperature, etc.  The second time people came by, they brought a bunch of clear tubes. They hooked them up to the oxygen line behind the bed and turned on the air. The contents of the staging container started to ionize, and out came a mist resembling that of a humidifier turned on full blast. Annabelle was asleep, and her SpO2 was at 91. After 10 minutes of this treatment, her oxygen saturation reading was 98. It got to 100 for a bit, and stayed above 97 for a while. Being the sleepy dad, I tried to sleep on the little upright chairs they had, and was successful in getting a few minutes of sleep until they came again. This time the doctor examined her and confirmed that she had some wheezing in her chest even after the breathing treatment. He ordered up an IV with some antibiotic medication.

The IV was painful for Annabelle.  Annabelle was sound asleep when two nice nurses came in to insert the IV. One was mostly there to hold her down. Without being too overbearing, the second nurse held firmly on Annabelle’s left arm while the other nurse made a fist with her hand, and also held that tightly. At the same time they inserted the IV, they were to draw blood.  After all the procedures I’ve witnessed first hand, I know for a fact I was not cut out to be a doctor, but I have also been able to keep my balance in check as certain things happen. I was still uneasy about seeing Annabelle go though all the pain of having a little tube inserted into the back of her hand. It was funny, however, to see her with a splint and lots of tape so that it would stay there undisturbed. It was now about 3:30am.

A little while later, heard some rumbling, and this big machine was painted with a dinosaur facade. It’s name was SAMI. It was a portable X-ray machine. Annabelle needed her chest examined to exactly determine her diagnosis. She was asleep for this as well. She even slept though our moving her on her side. And as quickly as SAMI rolled in, it quietly rolled away with the answer to our question: what’s wrong with Annabelle.

By this time, I was getting a sore neck sitting in the chair (not to mention a sore behind). I decided it would be better if I grabbed some bed space with Annabelle to prevent my own bodily injuries. It was while we were both lying in bed, me grabbing her to help keep her warm covered in thin hospital blankets that I felt a bond between both of us. This was an experience both of us shared together with only each other. We both had our view of the events, and it was a hard experience for both of us.

After another hour, it was time for another breathing treatment. It was now about 5:30 am; my normal breakfast time. Needless to say, I was hungry. I think Annabelle was hungry as well because she was crying. I think she was also getting tired of the ER, and she was really getting annoyed at the IV. She was to the point of knawing off the tourniquet with her teeth. Her efforts were futile. After her second breathing treatment, we tried to catch some more sleep, but by now, we were both getting a little cranky, still tired, and hungry. It was another hour before the doctor came back with a diagnosis: Pneumonia.

We were handed a prescription, a compressor that will help dispense her medication, and some paperwork. It was 7:30am by the time we left the ER. The sun was shining. It was also warmer outside than in the ER. Leaving the ER was a relief for both of us. Annabelle was quite pleased as I carried her in the car seat. She was feeling better after some medicine and breathing treatment, and it showed. She laughing on the way out to the car. She was doing other cute things and saying cute words, but I can’t even remember what they were because I was so tired.

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Happy Brithday Eliana

25 03 2007

Today is Eliana’s 3rd birthday. Yesterday, we held her birthday party at the Desert Breeze Park Railroad in Chandler. It was the most perfect day to have a birthday party in the park.  The festivities could have been handled a little better, but over all,  I think everyone left with a smile on their face with a memorable afternoon riding on the train and the carousel.

Three Years old. From my perspective, it’s been three years and 9 months since I’ve been a parent and had 100 times less responsibility than I do now. Three years ago, today, we were in the hospital, waiting for a new life to enter our world and bring with it all the joys, highs and lows of being responsible for this new life. The last three years have been crazy to say the least. As a family, we’ve gone through a few things that were difficult at the time, but now, we are a stronger family for it. The year I had to spend traveling between Tucson and Phoenix was tough, but the overall benefit to my family has been positive as we have more doors of opportunity available to us now than before.

The next three years will be filled with many more firsts such as her first day of school. The last three years went by so fast, it reminds me that these are the times we should pay attention to her (and her sister) the most, and cherish the time we have them at this age because they do grow so fast. The other bit of reflection that comes with her birthday is my own age. This year, I will be turning 30. I will be able to reuse that number 3 candle from her birthday cake, but I will also be reaching my own milestone of sorts. Not only do they grow fast, but I will as well. At the exact same rate, no doubt. We’ll all grow up together.

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And so it Ends…

20 03 2007

As quickly as it started, it has come to and end. I’m referring to Annabelle’s enrollment in daycare. It was a golden age for our family in that we were all more relaxed (well, everyone except for Annabelle). When we all spent time together on the weekends, it was time of sheer joy.  We all wanted to enjoy each other’s time.
But, alas, it was not meant to be.  For one thing, having two children in daycare is roughly the same cost as a house payment. For another, Annabelle seems to be more fragile than Eliana and as such, she was having a hard time adjusting to a whole day away from her mother. Annabelle has also developed a Hernia, and is scheduled to have it fixed.  With all the stress on her little body, that is not good for her hernia.

So, until we can figure out a better solution, for now we have decided to pull her out and let her mom take care of her again. She really enjoyed her first day of being back alone with her mom because her mom told me she was happy and excited to go everywhere with her all day. 

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Being a Parent

14 03 2007

I always thought growing up that I would be a better parent to my kids than mine were to me.  Not that I had a bad childhood or anything. Only that I want take the good things my parents did, and improve them, and hopefully learn from the bad things, and try not to repeat them. My wife and I are in complete agreement on this particular issue. We both know that childhood has it’s joys and regrets. There are things I wish I could have done, and things I wish I didn’t do. My kids, no matter how much I try, will have these same feelings about certain parts of their childhood as they grow older.

I have been faced with these thoughts over the past few days as certain events have occurred, and I find myself correcting my own poor reaction.  I try to instill some respect amongst my kids for me and their mom by applying discipline. If I tell Eliana to do something, and she doesn’t do it, then she knows the punishment (usually some bad girl points).  This evening, while a little amusing, is not the reaction I wanted out of her. I asked her to clean the upstairs playroom because there were toys all over the floor. I know that she didn’t make all of the mess and I have seen her younger sister do most of the damage. Most of the time I acknowledge to Eliana that she did not make the mess, but she would get “good girl points” if she helped to clean them up.  She usually complies, as she did this evening.  But, as I told her to put some clothing to the laundry basket, she went to another room (where the laundry basket was) where her mom was sitting there playing with her sister. She heard Eliana say “Daddy gets bad girl points”.  I heard some of this too.  As I walked in the room, I stood tall and intimidating, and asked her what she said. She started to say it, when she slowly stopped mid-sentence, and slowly walked, then ran back to the other room to resume her cleaning. I was laughing on the inside the whole time, but I could only show the face of an angry parent. I can’t show weakness because she will get the wrong message. But the fact that she was bad mouthing me, maybe even jokingly, hit home. I don’t want her to have some hidden resentment of me.  As I realized this, I sat down, and called for her. I gave her a big hug and played for a few minutes. This is my self-correction mode, I guess, trying to make up for something I feel I did wrong.

I am finding it more and more difficult to be tough and firm, yet friendly and fatherly. That is the balance that I strive for, and I hope I can reach it before she resents me altogether.

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Another Busy Weekend

11 03 2007

This past weekend has been a busy one for us. First, there was the Chandler Ostrich Festival, then there was the parade the following day. And in case that wasn’t enough action, we took a trip to downtown Phoenix to check out the festivies at the Korean Festival.

The trip to the Chandler Ostrich Festival was somewhat of a last minute thing. I was very exicted about seeing the hot air balloons being inflated at night. I was also curious about attending an ostrich race or two. We made in time for everything! The first stop of the night was to catch the ostrich race. There were several races: 3 ostrich races, a camel race and some activities for the kids. My kids didn’t seem all that interested mostly becaus they are pretty young, and the action was short with long breaks in between. I had a good time watching people fall off the ostriches and getting some neat pictures.

Soon after the ostrich races were done for the day, we found the pig races. Those were slightly more fast paced, and the MC was quite funny, with a weird tennessee drawl (imitated, of course). Fast and furious, these races kept the kids’ attention for a little longer. My wife and I still had a good time listening to bad jokes, and watching pigs run for an oreo cookie.

We had some time after the pig races to catch a bite. I wanted to get an ostrich burger, but our cash on had was severly limited, and one burger would not have fed everyone. We found a place that sold a bowl of noodles. It was much more greasy than we are used to eating. So, in looking for a place for all of us to sit down and eat at, I spotted a table off in the distance with enough space. After we sat down, I spotted a guy riding one of those old style bikes with the large wheel. I didn’t know it at the time, but he was a clown in a kids show that was only a few feet from where we ate. We couldn’t have timed it better. The kids actually sat down and watched the clowns do their show. We were in shock. But it was great to see the kids having a good time without us providing the entertainment.

Next, was a visit to the balloon glowing. It was great to see some hot air balloons close up. Seeing them at night was a sight to see. We were close enough to the flames to feel the intense heat that is generated by the torches. Eliana and Annabelle were surprised by one torch and clung to us for safety. We were amused by their reaction because we knew they weren’t in any danger. I took several great pictures of the glowing, and some that weren’t so great, but I am pleased that I was able to capture the lights so well.

On the way out of the carnival we stopped at the animal zoo and let Eliana ride a pony. We passed through the rides area just to make sure that we didn’t miss something. We saw the carnival rides and decided that we weren’t missing too much. Maybe we we’re getting older, but those rides just don’t seem all that great…but, when the kids are old enough to want to try them, I will more than likely let them go, not only because they will probably go even if I say no, but because I want them to have a good time. That, after all, is what it’s all about.

More Surgery

9 03 2007

This past Christmas Day (2006), I went to change Annabelle’s diaper when I was amazed to see a large lump in a spot where there should be any large lumps.  This wasn’t some little red spot indicating diaper rash. This was a huge lump. It wasn’t red, and it didn’t seem to bother Annabelle. We toughed it lightly, and she didn’t seem to mind. We paged an on-call nurse to see what we should do, and we were told to see the doctor as soon as we could, but she would be OK until then. The lump went down before the next diaper change, but we were still worried. When we finally got to see the doctor, we were told this was a benign kind of thing that sometimes happens in baby girls. Lymph nodes sometimes swell, and cause no real harm. We thought it would go away soon enough.  Although, we were never able to show the doctor any evidence of the “bubble”, we thought that it would go away as she approached her first birthday.

Fast forward 2 months later: Annabelle still had the lump swelling come and go. We asked the doctor about this problem, and were assured it was a lymph node thing, and it would go away. We began to be unsure about this diagnosis, especially as we could never quite time our doctor visits correctly so that she would be swelling when she saw him in the office.  So, my low tek solution to the problem was to take a picture of it when it was swelling.  That way, the doctor can have more information to make a better diagnosis. So, a couple weeks ago, we took a picture of her swelling and showed it to the doctor. New diagnosis: Hernia.

Today, we saw the doctor who will be performing the surgery on Annabelle, and we needed to have a consultation. We showed her the picture we had taken (which she complemented us highly on) and immediately responded “Yeap, that’s a hernia”.

So, in the next couple of weeks, Annabelle will have her turn in the hospital repairing some muscle tissue in her lower abdomen.  I find it weird that both of my kids have had medical conditions that could eventually lead to some major problems if left untreated. Eliana’s heart problem has not revealed itself since her treatment, and we hope it stays that way. I only hope that Annabelle’s surgery and recovery are less stressful and painful than Eliana’s doctor visits were.

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6 03 2007

I’ve had this blog up for a about a year now, and I’ve got all kinds of great family history saved for posterity, and for when my kids grow up. The problem is the world we live in now is not the safest place, and I struggle with the safety of my family on a daily basis. I also recently read this article on the internet about other parents blogging about the same things as I am, and think that I should now start to at least safe guard some of the pictures of my kids from future prying eyes.

So, as such, I would like everyone who likes to keep up with my kids to get an account on and add me as a contact. I will be adding as many family members as I can shortly and sending invitations.

Please understand my reasons for this, and help to keep my kids (and yours) safe!

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