Saturday, November 27, 2010


I don't think I needed a wakeup call to remind me that I am thankful.  But I got one anyway.

It came in the form of a pain in Clementine's abdomen.  Right at McBurney's point.  You know, the point that is one-third of the distance from the anterior superior iliac spine to the umbilicus.  The point where the appendix is often found.  Pain at this point is known as McBurney's sign and it says, "this thing could blow."

I didn't know that at the time.  But I did get an inkling that she was really not well when we left the doctor's office en route to the ER and Clementine had to lie down in a curb-edged weed patch in the parking lot, and she lay there retching as I told Mike I had to go, could he come home and stay with Evelyn and Greta while I took Clem to the ER?  I went by the house to drop off a turkey I had in the trunk of the car and to pick up a Kindle with audio books for Clem to listen to.  I am not sure this showed awesome judgment, but The Dark Is Rising distracted Clem quite a bit during the 7 hours from when we arrived at the hospital until they wheeled her off into the operating room.

My mom was in town for Thanksgiving so she came and picked up the girls and took them off to my sister's house to play with their cousins while Mike joined us at the hospital.

The worst part of Clem's ordeal was the ultrasound.  When that was over Clem got her own tiny room in the ER with a huge mural full of hidden pictures.  My girl is so tough she said, "This mural really keeps my mind off the pain."  The pain was getting worse, though.  The first doc we saw at the ER came by and said, "How is Clementine doing?"

"Her pain is a lot worse in the last 15 minutes."

Now, you are probably expecting her to say, "I'll get her some medication," or perhaps, "She'll be going to surgery soon," or even "Poor girl."  What she actually said was "Awesome!"

Which, I have to say, cracked me up.  I don't know whether she was happy to have her diagnosis confirmed or whether she was happy that it still hurt which meant it hadn't ruptured. 

The nurse came by with a shot of morphine (I am grateful for heparin locks, for the people who painted the murals, for all of the nurses and doctors at Children's Hospital, for morphine, for unexpected laughter).

Clem had an open appendectomy.  Initially I hoped she'd have a laproscopic one, but I'm cured of that now.  Yay open appendectomy. 

The day after her surgery Clem had so many visitors they couldn't all come to her room.  I am so grateful for all our friends and family--so many offered to help with Ev and Greta, came by to see Clem or emailed her with good wishes.  She felt very loved.  Our queen for the day had to receive her visitors in the cafeteria.  Her gran popped over to the gift shop and came back with puzzles and origami paper and other entertainments and Clem spent a couple hours enjoying the company of friends and cousins.

Clem was on a ward with 8 beds separated by curtains.  On the other side of those curtains was all kinds of pain and sorrow.  A boy screaming from the pain of a procedure, a baby who cried and cried--the parents were so exhausted they left, the girl next to Clem whom no one ever visited, who bellowed "Nurse!" all night long, the unbearably cute and chatty toddler with a brain tumor.

Clem got to go home on Wednesday, before Thanksgiving.  As we were packing up a boy staggered by screaming from the pain of the gas in his stomach from the laproscopic surgery.  I heard the girl next to Clem tell nurses she couldn't go to her grandmother's for a day or two while she recovered.  She'd have to go back to her group home.  The toddler with the brain tumor was riding a Little Tykes car around the nurse's station.

How thankful I am for family and friends and a home and even acute appendicitis.  Clem will be none the worse for the wear in a few weeks.  And we'll go on, forgetting, thankfully, how thin is the curtain separating us from the world's woes.


Laurel Coates said...

So sorry you had to go through this! But glad everyone is ok. Perspective is everything, isn't it? Happy Thanksgiving!

Carolyn said...

Oh. My. What a wake up call. Glad that everything turned out okay and that Clementine is home and on the mend. How much warning did you have before you suspected appendicitis? (And thank goodness this didn't happen during your recent camping trip!)

Anonymous said...

Alex had an emergency appendectomy when she was 7. It was tougher on me for sure. I still remember her being so tiny in that big bed... Glad that all went well for Clem! Tell her to keep on healing! said...

What a story. And so eloquently spoken. I'm glad it all worked out, but what a reminder, indeed an alarming one. Clem is strong.

Karen said...

What a beautiful, beautiful post. You are right, we do have a lot to be thankful for.

Very glad your tough, wonderful girl is going to be okay.

Susan said...

Laurel, perspective is, indeed, everything. Thank you!

Carolyn, I suspected appendicitis, or at least, the possibility crossed my mind as soon as she pointed to that area, but I didn't believe it was the appendix until during the ultrasound...otherwise I might have let the turkey rot in the trunk.

Amanda? Poor Alex! So little. Clem has recovered her bounce now.

Kristin, thank you! Clem is so strong and a little too tough for her own good. She kept rating her pain low on the 1-10 scale, which made it seem less likely that it was appendicitis.

Karen, thank you, she's galloping around saying, "Is ice skating a contact sport?" "Can I climb a tree?"

patricia said...

I'm behind on blogging and didn't see this until now. Poor Clem! Poor you and Mike! I'm not sure if this sort of thing is harder on the kid or the parent. It must be good to know how well she can handle that sort of pain.

Your last line really got me. So poignant.