Don't F*%& With The Pancreas (Blogisode Nine)

Thank God it's Friday!  Here's an odd thing about that expression for all of you non-theater people out there, TGIF does not apply to my line of work.  While you 9-to-5ers are out having a dirty martini and kicking up your heels, us theater gypsies are starting the hardest part of our week, usually doing 5 show weekends (one show Friday, two shows Saturday and Sunday) and often there is rehearsal on Friday afternoon.  So basically our Friday is like your Wednesday.  Hump day.

So, happy TGIF to the 9-5 crowd!

Happy Hump Day, theater friends!

Happy Hump Day, theater friends!

Happy hump day to the theater folks!

Well, now, that sounds just terrible.

This blogisode is brought to you by double entendres.

We left off with a super cliff hanger, Rob was slowly recovering and begging for diet coke, but there was a sudden downturn at home.

So, to clarify the timeline, Rob checked into the Lenox Hill Hospital and Hotel on Sunday afternoon.  By Monday he'd been moved from the ER to a semi-private ICU room on 6th floor.  The majority of my Monday was spent talking on the phone with anyone with the last name Meffe or Wheatley, trying to see who could clear out their schedule and come to New York to help.

Mr. Meffe, we'd like to talk to you about your condition.

Mr. Meffe, we'd like to talk to you about your condition.

At this point we knew it was looking like a week in the hospital, and I'd pretty much cashed in all my chips with baby sitters and friends.  I needed 24 hour a day help at home to take care of the kids while I stayed at the hospital as much as possible to monitor Rob.  Funny thing, it seemed that almost every time they shot him up with Dilaudid (thank you, Creason and others for the spelling) someone really important would walk in and want to have a detailed and serious conversation about his condition--and drugged up Rob would smile and nod like he understood what they were saying even though they looked like a dancing pink hippo.  It's kind of like the hospital version of when you are in a restaurant and the waiter comes over to check on you just as you take a huge bite of salad.

Let me tell you something about the week prior to Memorial Day that you probably already know (but I am going to reiterate).  Take out your day-planner or your iCalender or your blackberry and get ready.  Now, look at your schedule for the week before Memorial Day.  See how busy it is?  Do you see Graduations and graduation parties?  Do you see end of school field trips?  Do you see unexpected projects suddenly due at work because everyone is cramming things in before the holiday weekend?

Right.  Everyone is busy on that particular week, with unmovable commitments.  It was rough and I came as close as I ever came to really, really losing my shit (sorry to curse, but I tried every other word and that one rings the truest).

But just then, just as I almost totally lose my mind, I get the blessed phone call that changed it all.

Maryday. Queen caretaker.

Maryday. Queen caretaker.

Maryday (VanOver) Wheatley, my very best friend since college and the woman who married my brother and now has my same last name, called to say that she was coming.  Just like that.  It was a Herculean effort on her part, and let me explain what that meant for her and her family:

1)  Her daughters who are in kindergarten and fourth grade would miss the last few days of school and all the end of school parties.

2) She would have to rent a car because her car was in the shop, and rent it for an undetermined period of time.

3) She would have to pack and leave immediately because it is an 11 hour drive.

I have to explain why Maryday would be willing to do this and why I would accept without feeling so guilty I could spit.  In 2002, Maryday's daughter Gwendolyn was diagnosed with Leukemia when she was 18 months old.  Over the course of Gwendolyn's treatment I packed up and went to Cincinnati for weeks at a time to help Maryday and my brother.  Charlotte and I would hop in the car (Charlotte was four) and I at one point I even enrolled her in pre-school in Cincinnati, living with my parents and supporting Maryday in any way that I could.  There wasn't a lot that I could do--but I could be there.  I didn't expect her to do it--but I was thrilled she offered and I took her up on it.  She's my Gayle, as Oprah would say.

By the way, Gwendolyn is a lovely and healthy 10-year-old now and has been cancer free for many years.

Gwendolyn today.

Gwendolyn today.

So anyway, I fell asleep Monday night around 2am, knowing that in a matter of hours, Maryday and the girls would be leaving for the 11 hour drive from Cincinnati to New York.  Brynn was sleeping on a slowly deflating air mattress in Charlotte's room.  Beatrix was asleep and fine in her bed.

Until 3:45am.

I woke up to crying and screaming from Beatrix's room that she needed a "pot", which is Beatrix's way of telling me that she was going to throw up.  You have never, ever seen a 43 year old woman move faster than I did in those moments.  I was in the kitchen getting a pot and into Beatrix's room faster than you can say "Mommy doesn't want to have to wash sheets on top of everything else".

Beatrix did not throw up, but she was burning with fever.

Oh. No.

I took her temperature with one of those shoot the kid in the ear thermometers and it was 103.  Beatrix, on top of being sick a lot (she really does get sick a lot, and she runs a high fever) is also a bit phobic about medicine.  And by phobic I mean she screams and cries and throws up if you give it to her.  So......the only way to get it in her and have it STAY in her, is to give it in teeny-tiny microscopic droplets every 15 minutes or so.  Which she screams about every time.  And this wakes up Charlotte, who then becomes scared because now Beatrix has a 103 fever AND Daddy is in the hospital.

I get the medicine in her and at about 5:15am or so, I manage to get her cooled off and back to sleep.  I'm not sure that I went back to sleep at all--I got up at 7:30 and got Charlotte to school.  Then I called Maryday and delayed her trip, because I didn't know what Beatrix had, and all I could picture was Maryday in my little New York City apartment with four sick kids.  Seriously, it was getting to be like a Dickens novel.

I have to tell you that I had Beatrix's pediatrician on the phone probably the very second her key hit the lock of her office, and I told her everything that was going on, and in way to much detail.  She tried to keep up.  "Wait, slow down, who has pancreatitis?  Beatrix?  Oh, no, Rob.  Okay.  Who had leukemia?"  The poor woman listened to all my woes as I begged her to prescribe a magic potion that would make everyone healthy and have life go back to normal.  Instead she said, "There is a virus going around an antibiotic won't do anything for it."

Of course.

I called Maryday and told her what was going on.  I told her not to come until Beatrix was better.  I had Amy Rogers sit with Rob.  I held a feverish Beatrix.  And then I did what I do when all else fails.

I called my mother.

I still look to my mother for advice.

I still look to my mother for advice.

My mom is great because she really doesn't give out advice.  In fact (I think I covered this in the last blog series) the last real advice she'd given me was to have Beatrix.  What that means is that when my mother speaks, I listen.  Today, 4 years after giving the get pregnant advice, my mother gave me advice to answer my "what should I do....?  what should I do...?" woes, even while she was totally swamped at her full time job.

She said, "Sharon, just let Maryday and the girls come.  Don't worry about Beatrix, she'll be fine, and no one takes care of a sick child better than Maryday.  You need her."

Right.  That was right.

I called Maryday back and told her what my mother had said, and she told me she'd just gotten off the phone with her mother, who had said exactly the same thing.  She packed and picked up the rental car, picked up the kids half way through the second-to-last school day, and hit the road for New York.

I cried with relief.  Maryday was coming!!!  Hooray!!!! I had to hope, in some minute way, that even though I would have 4 children in my apartment--one of them sick with a relentless 103-104 temperature-things would get easier.

I'm not sure "easier" is the best word to use to describe how the rest of the week went.