That La Kid

wishin' an' hopin'!

levine children’s hospital

on November 28, 2012

I wrote Tom a note recounting our brief stay at Levine Children’s Hospital earlier this month.  I wrote it almost as soon as we got home because I didn’t want to risk forgetting things like I did when Bruce was born.  I’ve recounted his birth story with all the details more or less in tact, it just would have been nice to have the sheer emotion that we experienced in writing.

So, here are tidbits from a letter that I wrote Tom dated Friday, November 16.

Dear Tom,

Last weekend we noticed a little blister cropping up on Bruce’s hind parts.  It turned into a big zit and then a huge abscess.  I facebooked you at work and asked you to call his doctor.  You were able to get him an appointment the same day, Tuesday.

While we were waiting to see the doctor, we talked about the class that you had scheduled for that night.  You have cancelled a lot of classes, so I was saying that you really need to go.

The doctor came in and took a look at Bruce.  She was surprised at the size [of the abscess].  She said, “We need to drain it, culture it, and put him on antibiotics.”  She wanted to confer with another doctor just to make sure they were doing the right thing.

The other doctor agreed that the abscess was really big, and the baby was really small so she said, “We’re going to have to admit him.”  Guess you are not going to class after all.

My dad said that it’s really nice we have a children’s hospital in our city.  He’s so right.  Bruce was in room 10018.  We spent a lot of time waiting and trying to figure out how/when we’d take care of Jasmine and get clothes and dinner for ourselves.  You talked to Steven about looking after Jasmine.  His reply was short and sweet, “Absolutely.”  He went to our house and got her, then took her to his house to spend the night.  It was such a weight off our shoulders.  My hero.  We owe him big time.

It was weird to be in the hospital and not be the one in the bed, or the one getting the IV.  Bruce handled the whole thing really well.  He did not like having his arm straight.

We finally left the hospital around 10:30 pm.  I felt so weird.  The nurses are not babysitters.  We kept asking if it was okay to leave him, and the nurses assured us that they’d check on him.  Check on him?!  He’s 6 weeks old!  When he was born, security was so strict.  Who will make sure no one walks off with him?

I got him quiet, he fell asleep and we left.  We HAD to get back before midnight because after that we wouldn’t be allowed to feed him.  We made it back at 11:54.  Bruce’s nurse was in his room and had just fed him.  Another nurse popped in to check on him within minutes.  I guess what I forgot when I panicked about leaving our 6 week old infant is that he is a 6 week old infant.  He’s so cute and sweet.  Everyone loves him.  The nurses couldn’t get enough of that little guy.

Wednesday was really tough.  Bruce didn’t eat after midnight so that he could have surgery in the morning.  Well, he didn’t.  We waited, and waited, and waited.  People were apologizing all over the place, but we weren’t really bothered.  We knew they were doing the best they could.  I just felt bad for Bruce.  He was super-fussy, but no one thought he was.  They couldn’t believe how good he was being.  The nurses would come in, wake him up, make him cry, take his vitals, look at his butt and leave.  Then you and I would hold him and pace around the room singing “Zip-A-Dee-Doo-Dah” until he got calm and quiet again, usually just in time for another check on his vitals.

All things considered, he was a very good boy.

Should I send you to get lunch?  I know as soon as I do, they’ll come for Bruce.  I finally told you to go get lunch around 3.  A nurse that I didn’t recognize came in to take us to surgery.  Great.  We couldn’t wait for you, but ran into you by the elevators.  You brought the tray of food with us to the O.R. patient room.  We finally got to eat, but it had been a long time for Bruce!

They took him away from us at 3:15.  We went to the O.R. waiting room and Judge Judy was on tv.  There wasn’t really anywhere to sit.  Before we knew it, the doctor came into the waiting room and told us what a good little patient our son was.  He literally let out one little peep when they took the pacifier from him, but other that that he wasn’t fussy at all.  The doctor said, “Yeah, one whack with the hammer and he was out cold.”  He approved of our choice of pediatrician.  He said he’s a good friend of the guys who started Providence Pediatrics.  I liked him a lot, same kind of humor as Dr. Wolanski.  We asked how soon we could leave and he said, “Maybe today!”

None of us wasted any time.  Bruce woke up cranky in recovery, but downed 2 ounces of Pedialyte immediately, and then 2 more.  When we got up to his room, the nurses listened to his belly and said we could try formula.  Bruce impressed everyone with how quickly he bounced back.  We were all thrilled to see him eating.  They took out the IV – finally!  [I hate those things.]

We left the hospital around 8, dropped off his prescription at Walgreens and went to Nothing But Noodles for dinner.  Back to Walgreens, and FINALLY home sweet home between 9 and 9:30.  It felt amazing to sleep in our own house, in our own room, in our own beds.

It was such an incredible adventure.  Our kid is amazing.  Our marriage is rock-solid.  We’re going to be an awesome family.

All my love,

Wendy Woo

That’s where the letter ends.  We only spent one night at Levine Children’s Hospital.  I can’t imagine kids and parents that have to go through that for days or weeks.  There were 9 scheduled surgeries that day, and then they had to fit Bruce, and any other emergencies, in wherever they could.  It never occurred to me that there were kids in hospitals without terminal leukemia, you know?  When I was a kid, it was just Christmas special fodder.  There were kids, out there somewhere, that weren’t as fortunate as I was.  Almost imaginary, there are kids that can’t climb trees and build forts with the neighborhood boys because they are dying.  But that night it all became real.  For whatever reason, there are kids in hospitals that are suffering.  They’re not all dying.  Some of them are just there for one night, then they have their abscess drained and packed and they go home.  Some of them are just getting stuck 4 times trying to get the IV in their tiny little veins.  Some of them are just going for hours without food, can’t comprehend why.  Their eyes, glassy and exhausted from crying all freakin’ day, plead with their parents, “What is happening?! Feed me! Don’t you care about me?! I am SO HUNGRY!”

A volunteer came by and took a look at Bruce during what must have been a moment of severe despair for him.  He looked pretty pathetic with his tiny arm all taped up trying to keep that itty bitty IV in his itty bitty vein.  She said, “No one brought him a blanket?  We have lots of nice warm blankets.”  He had hospital blankets on him, he wasn’t, like, cold or anything.  She left the room and came back with a handmade blanket.

I tell you what, we hit the handmade blanket jackpot!  It is thick kelly green and white striped.  I couldn’t tell you whether it was knit or crochet.  I hope Bruce appreciates it someday as much as I do now.  There was a tag on the blanket that says “This item was handmade by Alla B———– [not sure about the last name, it’s handwritten] a member of Chai Hopes of the Levine Jewish Community Center.”  On the back it says, “In Honor of Jordan Schuler’s 13th Birthday.”  I was so moved thinking about some lady bent over a ball of yarn cooking up this beautiful little blanket to comfort Bruce during his one night at the hospital.  Maybe she was doing it for Jordan.  Maybe that’s what Jordan asked for instead of presents.  Maybe someone made Jordan a blanket once.  Maybe Jordan’s no longer with us, although I suspect that because it says “in honor” instead of “in memory” that he did survive whatever it was.  At any rate, it brought the three of us so much comfort.  I appreciate Jordan and Alla so much!

So, I thought I’d see what I can do about a blanket to replace the one we got.  I have a fleece blanket kit that I never put together.  It’s not nearly as nice as the one we received, but I think I am going to put that together and take it to the hospital.  I forget where it came from.  I think Glenn or Nathan bought it to throw over our couch when we got married, but didn’t realize that it still had to be made.  It’s different, I guess.  I imagine a lot of people knit or crochet to pass the time and then don’t know what to do with their finished projects.  Maybe they don’t have so many fleece blankets.  I might put a little tag on it that says, “Made by Bruce Lee La’s mommy, because she so appreciated the blankey from Alla and Jordan.”  Maybe Bruce wasn’t terminal, but he went through a lot in that one night and dammit, he earned himself a blanket!

Now I have fleece blanket making fever.  I have SO much to do, but I also want to make as many fleece blankets as I can.

I already wanted to do something this season for needy kids.  I want to teach Bruce the joy of doing for others.  I have been bugging Tom to let me do Angel Tree.  I wanted to do a WAHU stocking, but it’s had to get my hands on one since we live down here (FYI to any Newsplex folks, the information station at Fashion Square was clueless.  Maybe they’re not out yet, but I feel like if you partner with Fashion Sq., the info desk should have info on it.).  I wanted to do a shoebox for Operation Christmas Child but missed the deadline.  I want to do Toy Lift in Charlottesville, but we’ll be on our way to Florida that night.


Turns out, the hospital needs all that stuff!  I’m so excited!  I was going to put toiletries and/or art supplies in a shoebox for O.C.C., the hospital needs that, too!  I was going to take a Disney Animator’s Collection doll from Dad’s house to Toy Lift (okay, that’s DAD giving, not me… but I know he can spare a doll or two), the hospital can use that, too!  I was going to put together a WAHU stocking for a teenager, the hospital desperately needs that, too!

I am elated!

My Christmas Closet runneth over, you know?

I might still do Toy Lift and WAHU stockings, depending on whether or not I can get my hands on a stocking this weekend and whether or not Haley is able to infiltrate Dad’s fortress of Disney merchandise and shanghai a princess for a worthy cause.

I feel like my whole body is buzzing, like I can feel all the molecules spinning inside me.  I feel alive!  I feel awake!  I feel happy!  I feel enthusiastic!  I want to do good for this world!  I’m going to make some kid a blanket!  And his mommy will be so touched by the refuge of sweet thoughtfulness in the middle of the uncertainty of a night in the hospital that when she takes her (relatively) healthy baby home with his new blankey, she might decide to pay it forward, too!

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