When 90% is all you get
I had neither shaved nor showered in 48 hours and the doctor who looked like John Grisham was telling me how he was going to stick a two-inch needle into my newborn’s spinal column.
Dr. Grisham moved quickly through the risks–blood, pain, paralysis.
“Ninety percent of the time, there’s not a problem,” he said.
An hour before, I’d been on my way to take a shower when the phone rang. Our pediatrician was on the line. A blood culture that had been taken during an ER visit over the weekend (see this post for how that happened) had come back with signs of infection. The early results were too vague to interpret, but whatever the infection was required immediate “get your ass to the hospital now” attention.
We live in a fairly advanced society. My phone can tell me how the number of pesos to the dollar in Argentina. My car radio can pick up radio stations from all over the country. Astronauts can drink their own urine. Dr. Grisham, however, had to stick a needle in my son’s spine to make sure he wasn’t about to die. This is how my day began.
The day ends with me collecting the older boy from some very generous and thoughtful friends and bringing him home to sleep in his own bed for the night. Meanwhile, my wife is sitting next to our younger son at the Children’s Hospital while he endures an IV and other wires and tubes. The Dad and older son half of the fairly has it pretty damned easy by comparison.
The reasonable part of me grasps the likelihood that all of this is largely a precautionary measure. That reasonable part can distract himself with silly little things that happen throughout the day. For instance, I reached for my pocket twice this afternoon. I did it once when the wheel chair guy dropped the wife and baby off in the room and then again when the food guy delivered the turkey loaf and vegetable medley. Why? Well, I was going to tip them, of course.
Indeed, the reasonable part of me feels like Dos will be out of the hospital by the earliest prediction (Wednesday). But there’s a wiggy part–that unshowered, unshaven, frazzled guy–who wanted to look Dr. Grisham in the face and say, “Ninety percent of the time? Ninety percent? You can take your ninety percent and shove it right…”
I didn’t, of course, because I’m a reasonable guy, an unflinching optimist, and dad who understands you don’t piss off Dr. Grisham when he’s getting ready to put a needle in your son’s spine.
To those who have already asked, I feel pretty confident this is all going to turn out just fine. Thanks for your concern and well-wishes. After spending just one day in the Children’s Hospital, I know what scared parenting looks like. That hospital has parents in it who have been there for months. Those are the folks who have it tough.