Sunday, June 23, 2013

Story by Lindsay for Suzanne Collins Part 1 of 3 (4 Chapters)

Dear Miss Collins,

The next 3 posts are a story that my 14 year old daughter, Lindsay, wrote about Cato.  She knows it needs work and that the transitions could be better and fleshed out more.  She also can't decide on a title for the book.  Do you have a suggestion?  I, and everyone who's read it, thinks it is quite good and we are very proud.

She is honoured that you have said you would read it.  She also LOVES the "Underland Chronicles".  She read those books first.

Thank you again

Part 1 of 3

Chapter 1  "Don't leave me"
"Morning cupcake" Cato's voice rings in my ear. "morning warrior" I say as I open my eyes, he is sitting at the foot of my bed holding my reaping dress folded on his lap. "I will be downstairs honey" he whispers as he hands me the dress and kisses me on my cheek. I get dressed quickly and braid my hair into a bun on the top of my head. I brush on some light pink blush and some lipgloss then I skip downstairs. My parents are cooking breakfast and Cato is sitting at the table. "You look beautiful" he says to me, he stands up and lifts me off my feet into a hug. I squeal and he lets me down. My parents smile at each other, "breakfast is ready" my mother calls out. We sit at the table and eat quickly. After we are dismissed we walk around district two holding hands. "Are you really going to do it?" I ask him. "I have to, I have to bring pride to our district" he replies. "but what if you don't make it out?"  I ask "what if some tribute from… twelve or something surprises you?" I continue. He laughs "that won't happen" he says "but what if--" "No, shadow I will win for you" he says "I love you" he continues "when I come back I want you to be my wife" he gets down on one knee with a ring, it's beautiful, gold with rubies and obsidian gems. "Yes, I love you so much Cato" I say crying a little "now I really don't want you to volunteer" I cry out as he hugs me tight "alright" he whispers "I won't" OUr lips find each other as he slips the ring on my finger. 

Chapter 2 "You're not alone"
We head to the reaping, my arms start to tremble, Cato looks over and notices, he grabs my hand. "Everything is going to be ok boo boo bear" he whispers gently. As always his dazzling eyes startle me. My hands find his face and absentmindedly my thumb traces his lips as I whisper back "as long as I have you." We sign in at the justice building and before we part ways to our separate sides is lips find mine. We separate slowly as we whisper in sync "I love you" I let out a giggle and look down he cups my chin and brings my eyes to meet his once more "see you soon" he whispers we finally part our eyes lingering on each other as we do so. The reaping begins, the film seems to go on forever so I tune it out. I think about what life will be like once I marry Cato. "Shadow Karrington" my name blasts over the speakers, all the images of the wedding vanish. I have been reaped. "NOOO" my cousin Clove crys out "I volunteer" she says firmly and steps out of the crowd. "Go Shadow" she says and walks forward I attempt to grab her arm but the peacekeepers are already upon her and bringing her up to the stage. How could today get any worse? "Whats your name dear?" our escort asks her. "Clove" she says firmly. "Now for the boys" the escort calls out, I hold my breath "Jaxyn Hawkes" the name rings out through the square "I volunteer as tribute" I look to the boy that spoke. I had recognized the lice but didn't want to believe it. 

It was Cato.

Chapter 3 "Final Farewells"
I burst into the room and run into cat's arms, "you promised" I cry he hugs me and holds me close. "I know" I pauses "I wasn't going to let Clove go in alone" he comforts me. "But only one comes out Cato, either way I lose one of you" I cry burying my in his arm "I love you so much Cato" I murmur "I love you too Shadow" he replies, our lips find each other for a while and then I am dragged out of the room "times up" the peacekeepers say to me "I love you" I scream the door slams shut just in time for me to hear "I love you more" escape from Cato's lips, I calm down a little bit "I love you most" I whisper knowing he can't hear me anymore. Next I am taken into Cloves room, I hug her "you didn't have to volunteer for me" I tell her "Yes I did Shadow" she murmurs "Well, thanks" I cry into her shoulder "I will make sure he gets out for you" she tells me "I promise." "But I don't want to lose you either" I cry. "I know, but you deserve Cato" she sees the ring on my engagement finger "Oh no Shadow, I'm so sorry" she hugs me tighter, I cry harder. The doors burst open "Goodbye Clove" I yell "Goodbye Shadow" she waves as the doors slam in my face. I collapse on the floor at the peacekeepers feet. My life is over.

Chapter 4 "Torn"
I sit at home watching the live stream of the train ride to the capitol my eyes stays on the District two car the whole time, it's about 4:00 am but I stay in the same position my eyes staring blankly at the car not bothering to move. I fiddle with my ring, I can't move. My soul is torn…


Story by Lindsay for Suzanne Collins Part 3 of 3 (4 Chapters)

Part 3 of 3

Chapter 1 "A new beginning"
I don't know what to do with myself anymore. I can't live with myself. I should have stopped him, I should have made him promise not to volunteer. Maybe it would have been better if we didn't live in two. I sit curled up in a ball on the couch in front of the TV. I watched his interview over and over again. "Do you have a special girl back home?" Ceaser's question burned in my mind "Yes." The response was simple then he paused "My fiancee" I shudder at the words "WEll then lets make sure you get home to her" Ceaser reassures him "yes, I am prepared, vicious I'm ready to go" his voice sounds. Or not, I can't help but think. "Honey you need to get up sooner or later" my mom tells me. I get up and shake myself off. I hesitantly switch the TV off. I will never love again, but I need to find a new beginning soon. 

Chapter 2 "The Victory Tour"
"Please welcome the victors of the 74th annual hunger games" I brace myself "Katniss and Peeta" They step out onstage, there are two shrines set up, one for Cato and one for Clove. "Will the families of the deceased please step forward and stand at your relatives shrine." Effies voice booms out, I step forward. Our family goes its separate ways and I move forward slowly and stand in between both shrines. "Which one is your family dear?" Effie asks me, I guess I look lost. "They are both my family" I say a tear forming at my cheek. "How?" she asks. "My cousin" I choke out the words "and my" I pause "fiancee" I choke out hardly audible. "Oh ok dear" she says simply. Katniss and Peeta give a speech and then we watch a recap of their win.I choke all over again and turn away from the screen. I can't watch this anymore. Soon Katniss and Peeta leave and the "show" is done. I stay by the shrines. First I visit Cloves "I miss youz' I say sadly I slowly open the coffin and see her lifeless form "I love you" I whisper and shut the lid. I move to Cato's shrine. I cry my eyes out "I love you" I say, "I love you more" I hear his voice in my head "I love you most" I slowly open the coffin his body was torn apart by mutts, so there was no body in the coffin. Instead his engagement ring sat on the satin lining. My heart breaks, I pick it up and slip it in my pocket. The lid slams shut and I sink down next t the coffin crying. I just can't do it. 

Chapter 3 "an understanding"
"I'm sorry" I hear the words and look up to the voice that spoke. It belonged to Katniss. "I am truly very sorry" She says again "You look like you would have been an amazing couple" she says "Thanks" I manage to choke out. "I know you probably hate me" she starts "No" I say "You did it for love and family" I say "I understand" I choke wiping my tears. She nods and pats my shoulder "Goodbye--" she pauses "Shadow" I finish for her "Goodbye Shadow" "Goodbye Katniss" I say and look down. 

We have an understanding.

Chapter 4 "Nobody There"
"Good morning cupcake" I hear his voice and smile "morning warrior" I whisper.                              My eyes flutter open. But there is
                                        Nobody There.

   I hear the canon  in my head and my heart breaks all over again, I will                                                NEVER be the same.
                                          -The End-

Story by Lindsay's for Suzanne Collins Part 2 of 3 (4 Chapters)

Part 2 of 3

Chapter 1 "A new hope"
I sit watching waiting for five a clock, so the scores are live. "What time is it?" I ask my mother "4:59" I tense up, one minute left. "Welcome Panem to the scores" I hear Ceaser's voice on the TV and sit bolt upright my eyes glued to the screen. I sit restlessly through district one. "From district 2, Clove, with a score of nine" I hear his voice as it pauses "and from district two, Cato, with a score of" he pauses again "Ten" I flip out and start jumping on the couch, tuning out the TV. I have a new hope. Then I hear it "with a score of eleven" I turn to the screen just in time to see the face of the girl from twelve fading off the screen, i collapse on the couch, my suspicions were confirmed, an outline district…

an eleven.

Chapter 2 "The games begin"
"from now on two tributes can be crowned if both originate from the same district" Ceaser's voice erupts on the speakers, my focus turns to the screen, it shows Cato and Clove hugging and laughing like total idiots "Wooohooo" Cato screams, he pulls off his ring and hoists it in the air "Shadow we're coming home!" he yells I start laughing, Cato and Clove could both come home. I might get to marry Cato after all, my life isn't over, its not. "I love you Shadow" Cato yells into the cameras "I love you more" I ill to the screen, "I love you most" Cato finishes, he knows me to well. 

Chapter 3 "Gone with the girl"
I watch in dismay as Clove traces Katniss's face with her knife, talking on and on, I didn't want to see my cousin become a murderer, but I couldn't control her. Her voice became louder talking about the young girl that dyed. Rue. She'd attract attention soon, I saw the boy from eleven running up and I screamed. He picked up Clove and demanded to know about Rue, if she killed her, why she said her name. She screamed Cato's name and the boy slammed her into the tree, her body collapsed on the ground. *BOOM* "NOOOOOO" I cry out my mother and father come rushing in. "She's gone" I cry my parents comfort me as I cry, she is gone.

Chapter 4 "The last breath"
My hands tremble as I watch the fight with anticipation, Cato's sword spears Thresh's heart and he falls, now all he needs to do is kill Katniss and Peeta and then he can come home to me and we can live a happy life *BOOM* Thresh's canon. Then I hear the mutts, howling mutated dogs, Cato runs and climbs the cornucopia waiting for the mutts to chase Katniss and Peeta to him they arrive and the rest flys by, then it happens. Katniss shoots Cato's hand and he falls to the mutts below him, they start ripping at his flesh and I start balling my eyes out, I scream, he screams, he's being tortueed. Katniss takes pity on him and shoots him.

As he takes his final breath… part of my soul dies with him.


-end of part 2- 

Sunday, April 8, 2012

It's been a couple of months...

and I can't believe I haven't written anything!  Life has a way of becoming a whirlwind that scoops you up, twists you around, then dumps you on the ground when you least expect it!

Having started to revisit our experiences with Charlotte, I didn't realize I was going to release years of pent up emotions and stress.  Everyone told me how well I was handling it, how strong I was...I thought I was handling it well too.  Crying when I needed too, venting when I needed too, yelling when I needed too...but I guess it wasn't enough.  I suppose, if I hadn't repressed some of the emotions and stress, I wouldn't have survived it.  The human spirit/mind is an amazing thing.  Now that Charlotte is healthy, happy and safe, I am now able to relax and let things go.  Starting to revisit and write this blog pulled out the cork!  The emotional spillage is starting to affect me physically, and not in a good way.

If I'm being honest, the last few years I have been in a lumpy state.  Not wanting to do anything above and beyond just surviving.  Knowing that I have to cook and do laundry, do things for the kids, for myself.  But I've just been existing, not living.  I may be depressed, I may be lazy, but I'm not being my true authentic self.  I think it's because I just don't have the energy.  I know in my head I have to tackle the projects that need doing, go to bed earlier and get a good nights sleep, eat better...but I don't have the energy.  I'm using all my energy to help others, that I'm not leaving anything for me.

It all came to a head in the most inappropriate time.  It was the day of the girls Spring Show.  The big Ballet show put on every year by the dance school.  Charlotte was excited to be a blue bird, Lindsay was so happy to be a mini-lead for an adorable bunch of 3 year olds for the first time ever, and getting to perform her first piece as a Vimy Student.  The growth she has shown since starting the Professional Dance Program, and was excited to be dancing in both shows.  As the president of the parents committee, I was helping all day, coordinating volunteers and making sure everything was going well, AND making sure my girls were ready and, with Gord's help, there on time.  I was running around all day, making sure I drank lots of water and eating when I needed too.  I thrive on stuff like this and really enjoy it.  But, I was happy that I was going to be able to sit and watch the evening performance that Lindsay was in.

I was happily seated in the audience, getting to watch the show.  The lights dimmed and the show began.  I noticed that my heart started to race and I had a super hot flush come over my entire body.  Then, as I kept checking my pulse, I started having slight pains in my chest, arms and shoulder.  Nausea started and my heart rate kept increasing.  "This can't be a heart attack" I thought as I was relaxed and calm.  "Could it be anxiety?"  No, cause I'm relaxed and calm.  "But I've never felt like this before, and in women of my age, heart attacks can be identical to heart attacks."  Well, I left the show at a perfect opportunity, then went to the green room.  I phoned 911 and Health Link and my friend took me to the hospital.

I don't want to relive that night anymore but to say that it wasn't a heart attack, but it scared me silly.  I am currently wearing a 2 week Heart Event Monitor and have an appointment for an Echo and meeting with a cardiologist on April 19.  I think it was an anxiety/stress release, as my astute friend pointed out, but I don't want to rule out anything heart related, as I have had heart palpitations in the past.  With our family history its best to not take anything lightly.

It's amazing what the human body is capable off.  What we can endure. But we can't be blind to what stress and emotions can do to us.  It is so important to let our feelings out, whatever way feels comfortable. And not to worry what others think of us.

I am currently reading "Carly's Voice".  A book written by Arthur Fleischmann, Carly's father.  She is a girl with Severe Autism who is now an advocate for those with Autism.  She has found her voice through the wonders of technology.  She is showing us that they are in their, they just struggle to come out.  I am reading things with tears streaming down my face as I relate to their families struggles.  Yes Charlotte is verbal, yes she can communicate, yes she is relatively normal.  But she's not.  Her brain is wired differently and we struggle, well I struggle, everyday to figure out what is best for her.  If I'm giving here everything she needs or failing miserably.  Once I am done the book, I think I will have to write them a thank you note for sharing such a personal story with the world.  This book is touching me in ways I never though possible and letting more of the emotions to spill out through my tears.  I think it is a MUST READ for everyone! "Carly's Voice"

Happy Easter to all

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Media blitz at the Stollery ER Expansion Opening

WOW, what a crazy day yesterday was.  I figured there would be media at the Stollery ER Opening, but had no idea it would be so crazy.  How do people in the public eye do it?  All those cameras, people asking you questions from every direction, requests for interviews coming one after the other.  I'll say it again WOW!  I must also say, meeting the premier was a crazy experience!
Charlotte yawning hee hee

We were asked to be a part of this extremely important event because I had the privilege of being apart of the group that helped redesign the waiting area and triage for the new ER.  I am apart of the Family Centred Care Network at the hospital, and, being a designer by trade, have an added bonus of being able to understand two sides of the table: I speak architect and family.  It was a beautiful experience, having all sides work together to come up with something that will work for our families and help make the scary experience of coming to the hospital a little less scary.  Between the architects (Dialog), the staff at all levels (Management and front line) and myself (with input from the Network and our working group of 2 other family members) I think we created a space that all of Edmonton, and Canada, can be proud.
Goofing around in on of the procedure rooms
People always ask me why it is so important to give my time to the hospital.  That's easy: They saved Charlotte's life and its my way of giving back; of hopefully making the way a little bit easier for those families coming behind us; to help ease, somewhat, the burdens of those families going through what we did.  I watched a great episode of "A Spoonful of Paolo" where he did a surprise make-over for a breast cancer survivor.  She was saying how we shouldn't ask "Why", but "What For".  This is my what for.

In public, I'm pretty good at telling our story without getting too emotional.  I can get misty, maybe a frog in my throat, but I never cry.  I'm talking the ugly cry.  Well today, I did.  All it takes is Charlotte, without any prompting, amidst all those flashbulbs and questions, to sit up on the bed in one of the new treatment rooms in the ER, put hand to heart and say "I want to thank the Stollery, because without the hospital, I wouldn't be here"...

CTV Edmonton piece

Global Edmonton piece

CBC Edmonton piece

Edmonton Sun

Edmonton Journal
Story & Video (click tabs to see):

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Peeling back the layers of the biggest onion “depressing” my soul – Part 2

Warning:  This is part 2 of a series of 4-6 posts that are going to be long, emotional and potentially be laced with swear words, as I’m looking at a really tough time in my life.  It’s hard, but I feel I need to do it…Here is Part 2 …

We THOUGHT we had prepared for the worst, but had no idea how bad “the worst” could get…

So 2 weeks after we came home, we were preparing to go back into the hospital – December 17, 2002.  Charlotte was going to have her first surgery and we should be home in time for Christmas.  Like I said at the end of Part 1, Charlotte had other plans.

The day before her surgery was scheduled we went into the pre-admission clinic to find out our surgery time, talk with the anesthesiologist and get all our instructions.  We even spoke with the chief doctor in charge of the PICU.  He was concerned about her breathing so suggested we do a Bronchoscopy as well as the Diaphragmatic plication to check for signs of aspiration.  He was worried that she was also swallowing food into her lungs and maybe that was contributing to her very fast breathing.  They sent us for blood work, but the lab didn’t want to take it as her oxygen tank ran out and they didn’t want to have any issues.  They assured me they would take some before the surgery and it would be fine.  We went home to prepare for our early call and try and get a good nights sleep.

We got up early that morning and Gord, Charlotte and I drove into the hospital.  It was pitch black outside and I remember feeling so nervous.  I knew she was in excellent hands, but you should never have to be taking your child into the hospital for surgery.  She was in good sprits, smiling through her big bright smile, even with the tube taped to her cheek.  When we arrived, they put her in the little green hospital gown and we got to carry down to the OR when our names were called.  I remember talking to her surgeon, with his dark brown hair and sexy voice (even in crisis I’m not blind or dead), asking our last few questions and then handing her off.  He explained that she would be taken to PICU after her surgery because they were a little concerned about her breathing and just wanted to take that extra precaution.  After I handed her off (which is one of THE WORST FEELINGS in the world), Gord and I settled in for the long wait.

We had a tour of the PICU and settled in to wait.  When they brought her by and into the unit we weren’t even sure it was Charlotte.  There were so many tubes and machines.  Of course we had to wait until they got her settled to be able to go into the unit and the entire time it felt as thought my heart was in my throat.  When they let us into the unit I wasn’t truly prepared for what I saw, my sweet little girl surrounded by tubes and machines.  Hard to look at but I had to document everything and was encouraged to take pictures.  I strongly recommend this, as, while difficult to look back on, we shouldn’t forget the hard times but accept them and move on.  These pictures are forever seared into my memory, and it’s easier to let them go from your mind when you are able to actually hold them.  The surgeon told us that the surgery went well and that there were some signs that she was aspirating (swallowing into her lungs), and that they noticed a 4:1 shunt.  A what?!?  Basically, 4 times the amount of blood was going to her lungs.  Hmmmmm…  Anyway, they were a little concerned about her breathing but tried to remove her breathing tub – extubate her.  She seemed to do well, but the RT’s thought she was breathing fast.  I said that was normal for her.  They thought she was struggling so they tried c-pap.  It worked for a while but then alarms started to go off and people started coming in.  They told me to step back as they had to re-intubate her as her lung had collapsed.  Watching a bunch of medical professionals putting a tube down your baby’s throat, not something I recommend.  By this time I was by myself as Gord had to go home to be with Lindsay.  The doctors offered a parent room to me so I could stay close that night.

The next few weeks were a true roller coaster.  We tried to extubate her again, and it failed and the doctors were perplexed as to why.  Her chest x-rays showed “wet” lungs and they didn’t know the cause.  Again, most of the doctors around us were concerned about her heart and thought that this was some of the cause, but Cardiology still insisted that it had to be something else.  It did get to the point where I trusted the staff and didn’t feel the need to stay at the hospital; thankfully we were only a 20-minute drive away.  I started going to the hospital early in the morning and coming home for supper.  Sort of like a job.  Because she was so young, Charlotte had to be knocked out on drugs most of the time, with her hands secured, so she wouldn’t pull out the tubing.  The doctors suggested a lung biopsy to see what was going on with her lungs, and a Cardiac catheterization, to get a better picture of the ASD. 

Of course, by this time, we had to accept the fact that Charlotte wasn’t going to spend her first Christmas at home.  The lung biopsy was scheduled for Christmas Eve, and the Cath for early in the New Year.  I worked hard at getting Christmas ready when I had the time, and settling into a new normal.  The doctors were very helpful and always there to answer questions I had.  I started listening more and more to my gut instincts as I noticed I was right about things more often then not when it came to Charlotte and how she would react to things.  I stood my ground insisting that Charlotte still get breast milk at whatever mixture we could and became known as the breast milk Nazi.   God help you if you spilt any.  I worked hard for that milk and wanted every drop to get into Charlotte’s stomach.  Her feeding tube was changed to an NJ tube that goes past her stomach and into the small bowel, to help reduce the reflux.

The lung biopsy was successful and the doctor said her lung looked good.  It would take a while for the sample to be reviewed by a pathologist. Christmas was as good as it could have been with one child in hospital.  Lindsay was thrilled that Santa visited Charlotte in PICU (we have a polaroid as proof) and that he left her another special present at the end of Charlotte’s bed.  After Christmas we tried to extubate Charlotte again.  It seemed to work.  The only problem was she was showing signs of morphine withdrawal.  Shaking, foaming at the mouth – not pretty.  The doctors slowed down the morphine wean and we got ready to move to the floor, but on ICE – an intermediate care environment on a regular unit - 4 patients in one room with 2 nurses in the room all the time.  We were all excited because this was one step closer to going home.  It turned into a hair closer as charlotte only lasted on the ward for about 6 hours.  She was successfully taken upstairs and Grandma came with Lindsay to visit.  Grandma said she’d stay so I could take Lindsay home.  Because there would be a nurse in the room with Charlotte the entire time, I decided to stay home.  Then about 2 hours after I got home, I got a call from Grandma telling me they had to call a code blue on her and she was re-intubated and taken down to PICU.  A flood of tears and nausea came over me, as I had to tell Gord what had happened and rush back to the hospital.  He decided to stay with Lindsay, as we didn’t have anyone to watch her.  I spent the night at the hospital again as the doctors tried to figure out what had gone wrong.  She was working way to hard to breath, causing her lungs to collapse.  New Years Eve was not a celebration that year.  Charlotte was back in PICU and that night one of the young ladies we had gotten to know really well in our first 3 week stay, passed away.  It’s amazing how many tears you can shed.  You think you’ve cried them all out and your body finds a way to make more.

Charlotte had her Cardiac Cath on the 2nd of January 2003, and it showed that the ASD was larger than originally thought when looking at the echo’s, but the pressures seemed within normal range, although on the high side.  The docs said that if she weren’t able to be successfully extubated, they would consider fixing her heart sooner.  They usually don’t have to operate on kids with ASD’s until they are around age 5, allowing them to grow and get bigger.  Well we were able to extubate her, with a slower morphine wean, and a whole lot of luck and were transferred, to the ward again, on Jan 5, 2003.

**Before I go any further into the story, I wanted to say that this was the time that I made some AMAZING friends during this journey.  Friends that I know I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without.  They have become my rocks and those that can understand 100% what it was like for me and my family to go and continue to go, on this adventure.  I have refrained from using names other than those in my immediate family out of respect, but I think you know who you are – KC, SW, SE – You will be my family FOREVER!**

It was nice to be up on the ward, seeing kids that were not as sick, able to hold Charlotte more and play with her.  She was more alert and started smiling again.  But the next month wasn’t a walk in the park.  She was originally on ICE, then moved to a regular room.  Our first day in a dual room and she coughed out her Central Line – blood everywhere!  Thankfully she was done her morphine wean and it was scheduled to come out that day.  I guess she really wanted that thing out of her neck.  But we weren’t in that room for long.  I had left to go pick Lindsay up and bring her to the hospital for a visit.  We walk into the unit and there is a whole bunch of people in the hallway outside Charlotte’s room.  My heart sank.  One of the nurses took Lindsay to the “space ship” so an RT could explain to me that Charlotte de-sated (oxygen levels dropped into the 60s, should be above 93) again, but she didn’t need to be re-intubated.  But they have moved her to ICE.  Talk about a roller coaster!  We were put into the bed by the window, which was nice, but I knew that this was one of the beds that our friend had been in.    Often times I would catch Charlotte looking up at the ceiling above her bed and get a very intent look in those eyes of hers and then smile.  Hmmmm…

One of my most vivid memories came one day when I was down in the cafeteria having lunch in the hospital cafeteria with some of my friends I had made while in hospital.  We were having a great time as all our little kidlets were stable and we were able to get a much-needed break.  Then the dreaded code bells went off.  It’s this sound that comes over the PA system that, to this day, gives me the chills.  We all froze, then the dreaded announcement.  “Pediatric Code Blue- 4C4, Pediatric Code Blue, 4C4”.  We all bolted, I ran up the stairs to the 2nd floor and nearly had a code blue myself, then went to the elevator.  I joined my friends on the elevator and we were all looking at each other with panic.  It could have been any of the kids.  No talking, just a mother’s fear in each of our eyes.  A very powerful expression I can tell you.  When those doors opened, I was the first out the gate, running to the unit…Nurses saying “It’s not Charlotte, she’s fine.  It’s not Charlotte.”  All at once you’re hit with conflicting emotions, pure joy that it’s not your own child, and pure sadness, because you know the family & the child in crisis.  Thankfully, the child survived, but I will never forget that moment.  As I’m typing this the scenes are playing in my head like an old 8mm film reel, no sound, but I can feel every emotion.  Not as strong, but enough to make these posts so extra hard to write.

The problem was, Charlotte wasn’t getting any better.  She still wasn’t gaining much weight, and she seemed to be getting more and more dependent on the oxygen.  We even had to change it from the kind that just blows in your direction, to the nasal prongs.  Our pediatrician was at a loss, we even switched to more volume, less caloric, pure breast milk feeds because I had an instinct that she would do better with that.  We didn’t have enough time to truly test that theory because she went in for another major surgery.  Our pediatrician felt she was going into the early stages of congestive heart failure and that her heart needed to be fixed NOW.  She presented our case to the Cardiac Grand Rounds – all the cardiologists and cardiac surgeons from The Stollery and a few other centers in Western Canada who meet via video conferencing.  It was decided that they would fix her heart under the condition that they don’t think it’s the cause of her breathing difficulties, and it may be hard to wean her off the ventilator again.  Gord and I both felt we had to do something, and with the encouragement of our pediatrician, we said yes to the surgery.  Grand Rounds was the Tuesday, her surgery was  that Friday.

I slept in a lazy-boy chair the night before, in preparation for the next morning as she was first case.  Gord said he’d get there before she went into surgery. I remember the nurses bathing her and getting her ready, putting her in a clean little green nighty and walking beside her stretcher down to the OR.  Both Gord and I gowning up to go into the waiting bay with her, then the nurse coming out to wheel her away.  The surgery took a little longer than we were told but we weren’t too panicked.  When the surgeon came to tell us about how it went, while she was getting all set up in PICU, he said the hole was a lot bigger than even the Cath showed, about the size of a loonie – enormous considering your heart is the size of your fist.  She was an 8lb baby!  He also said he managed to repair it by sewing it together, not graft or plastic disc was required.

This time we weren’t as shocked when we went in to see her as we had seen it before.  She had one of the nurses we had gotten to know during her previous PICU stay and knew she was in good hands.  The PICU docs said they were going to be a little cautious in extubating her as her lungs still looked wet and with her prior history they wanted to be sure.  We agreed.  She looked healthier than the last time she had had surgery and I felt a calm like, things will get better now. 

We also knew the night nurse that was taking care of Charlotte and she was very stable, so the nurses encouraged us to go home and get a good nights rest, maybe even go on a date.  We did, we went to see “The Lord of the Rings – Two Towers”  As the previews started, Gord leaned over to me and said “Charlotte just had open heart surgery this morning.  Should we really be here?”  and I replied “If it was her first surgery, then yes it would be weird, but we know she’s in the best place, in the best hands and we have our phones.  We’ll call as soon as the movie is done.”  We really enjoyed the movie and had a great night, all things considered.  It was a good thing too as all hell was going to break lose, and we had no idea what was coming.

Stay tuned for “Peeling back the layers of the biggest onion “depressing” my soul - Part 3”

Monday, January 16, 2012

What's happening in society and schools today is maddening!

I have to take a break in my 4 part series to post these thoughts.  I just watched Anderson and his show today he had cast members from Toddlers & Tiaras and a BRAVE young girl and her mother, and I have to say a few words about it.

I’m not going to get into Toddler’s & Tiaras and what I think, because I am not going to waste my time and energy on this subject.  Depending on your audience, talking about this and expressing your views can be like flogging a dead horse.  What I do want to talk about is the young girl and her mother.

This young girl, I believe she is 14 (missed that part) was BRUTALLY ATTACKED in her Biology class, during an exam, by at least 2 other girls.  Her attackers accused her of making a comment about one of them, and when she said she wasn’t talking about them, and didn’t say it, they pounced.  The video is horrific, brutal and it took 7 MINUTES FOR SOMEONE TO STOP THE FIGHT!  WHAT?!?!?!?  There are so many things to say about this.

  1. Why did it take 7 minutes for someone to step in?  Well you could ask why a fellow student videotaped it and didn’t stop it.  He said he feels so guilty about it and would gladly take the 2 days suspension for stepping in and stopping the fight
  2. Why would you get suspended for stopping a fight?  That makes absolutely no sense at all.  Can someone please explain it to me?
  3. Apparently there are panic buttons in the classrooms and the teacher pushed it.  The Security Guards came but they needed to wait for back up as it took a few people to get these girls off of her.  Why do schools need security guards?  Isn’t this sending the wrong kind of message to the students of the school.   I don’t remember having security guards at my school.
  4. Other than pushing the panic button, why didn’t the teacher do anything?  Try to step in, get some of the bigger boys in the class to help, go get another teacher from an adjacent classroom?  Are we that afraid of getting sued for some reason that we forget to do the right thing?  Are we so concerned about ourselves that we can’t step in and help a 14 year old from getting viciously attacked by more than one other person?
  5.  Why did those girls feel the need to be so violent?  They didn’t know this girl?  What is going on in their lives for them to act this way.   This makes me very sad.
This young girl is so brave because she has gone back to her school to show people that she is strong and not going to let this bring her down.  Also she is speaking publicly about it with her mother’s support and guidance.  I applaud this young woman and her mother for being strong and setting a good example for not hiding, but sickened by the fact it happened at all and wasn’t stopped sooner.  This just another example that society and the education in North America are broken and need to be fixed.

Rant over, thanks for reading