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June 17, 2009


I am at Texas Children's tonight as Jordan gets his MRI done. I don't know if I will finish this before he gets out, if I do, that's a good thing because it means he was very still and the test wasn't the full hour they have predicted.

I am reminded of many things as I sit in this waiting room in Texas Children's tonight. Here they are:

  • I am reminded how grateful I am that I have a job that allows me the flexibility to bring my son down here during the middle of the week for this test.

  • I am reminded that anytime I have a scheduled appointment that involves bringing my husband, other than maybe say an appointment to get my oil changed or some other manly appointment, I should give him a departure time a half hour earlier than what it is. I should know this after almost 20 years. My plan was to leave at 4:30 due to traffic (see further down). At 4:28 he started to shave. I was okay with that, really, I was. But, he cut himself shaving and started to bleed. Badly. As we drove down here to the hospital, with blood on his shirt and 2 huge pieces of toilet paper crammed up his nose to catch the bleeding, I thought, well, it's okay. Hospitals are used to people walking in with blood and Kleenex stuffed up their nostrils. It doesn't matter that we are going to a children's hospital, and my child looks fine but my husband will be hemorrhaging and need a crash cart, at least we will be at the hospital. Fortunately, there was so much traffic, we had more than enough time for the bleeding to stop and the tissue finally came out, I believe, right as the valet approached.

  • I am reminded that I should never, ever, ever try again to come to the Medical Center for any reason at this time of day. Here's the deal. Most people know that Southerners, especially Texans, are extremely friendly. But something happens to those of us who live in big southern cities when we start to drive. We morph from friendly "hi ya'll" type people, to raging, crazed maniacs. The closer it is to 5 pm or 8 am, the worse we become. We can shake your hand and pray with you on Sunday. But come rush hour, that hand shake becomes a hand gesture. Until we get to our destination and get out of the car. And then we will tell the parking attendant 'Howdy!' like we didn't just try to run over, drag down and curse out ten people on the way there. Driving in the medical center at this time of day requires the driving skills of Mario Andretti, the navigational skills of the crazy people who try to climb Mount Everest, the patience of Job (which none of us have) and the hand gestures of..well..pick your favorite. Never again. I will be here at 6 am before I try to be here at 6 pm again.

  • I am reminded that the staff at Texas Children's is remarkable. This is our second visit and I am no less impressed than the first visit. We got lost looking for the MRI lab and in less than 30 seconds, at least 5 people asked us if we were lost, and the last lady, who was clearly getting off work, and God bless her about to get into that traffic, actually walked us all the way down here. Maybe she doesn't turn into a beast in the traffic because she sure was nice. (But we are sneaky like that when it comes to being friendly versus being in traffic...you never know.)

  • I am reminded that I am incredibly grateful to have health insurance. Our portion for this MRI was $500 which was 20% of the cost. For many people, this test would have been out of reach. I can think of a million ways to spend $500 (i.e a Kate Spade purse, several pairs of cute shoes, a spa day...I could go on...)But none of them come close to the value of spending $500 on this child. I would spend $5 million if needed.

  • I am reminded that while we are down here tonight for a medical test on my 11 year old, all around me in this building are children who are extremely sick, many of whom I am quite sure have some sort of terminal or severe illness. Juvenile Arthritis, Spondyloarthritis (couldn't they come up with something easier to spell?) is nothing compared to what some of these children are facing. As I sit in the waiting room, the kids (who look to be about 6 to 11 in age range) look scared and nervous, regardless of Hannah Montana playing on the TV. The moms look like they are nervously holding it together at best. Their eyes say it all.

  • I am reminded about what the first words were that the pediatric rheumatologist said to me after examining Jordan: "Well, you don't have leukemia or lymphoma, and I was looking for that." Nope, we are not here for cancer or kidney disease or liver disease or a brain tumor. We are here for something that is livable and manageable and means many more days of football, swimming, and leaving my house a mess all summer. I'll take it.

  • I am reminded that as a parent, we must always, always be an advocate for our children's health care, because no one-not even your trusted pediatrician-will do it for you. Jordan was tested for the flu and mono at least 5 times. I knew that my son didn't have the flu or mono the same way I know that when I ask him if he's brushed his teeth the first time, the first answer is always a fib, the same way that I know that he needs help with math but loves to write, the same way I knew there wasn't an 800 lb gorilla in my living room. After the third round of flu and mono testing, I started my own research and the light went off that Robert has a family history of arthritis. As soon as I read the symptoms I knew what we were looking at. But as much as I insisted, the pediatrician resisted. Finally, she said to me, we will test him for arthritis "if it will make you feel better." I am not mad at her really-arthritis in children is rare, and his version is even more rare. But doctors need to understand that mother's know their children and to listen to them. And if the doctors won't listen, then the mom needs to find a doctor who will listen.

  • I am reminded that we all have a plan for our lives and a journey we must travel and this is Jordan's journey. It might not be fun or easy on some days. But it could be worse, much worse.

  • Lastly, I am reminded that, well, I have to go home soon hopefully. Through that traffic and the pseudo-friendly southern drivers and the hand gestures. But, my husband's nose is not bleeding any more, the toilet paper is out of his nose thank goodness. And I'm taking my son home with me instead of leaving him here as I know some parents are doing tonight.

We can deal with traffic, no problem, and we will deal with arthritis (I didn't even try to spell it that time.)

And I can make hand gestures just as good as the rest of them.

But the gesture I'll make tonight will be with my hands put together in thankfullness, and not what I know you were thinking.


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