Monday, October 17, 2011

Cincinnati. We'll make you love where you're from! Also titled: Mr. Darcy comes to Cincinnati!

I am writing this after having a week to recouperate from my two weeks in Cincinnati. Lily's is now back at school and doing great. Before it becomes a distant memory I thought I'd record my trip so I can always remember it.

First of all, I don't know what I would have done without help there. My sister Christina met me and Lily and Hope in Cinci and stayed there until Friday with me. Husband flew in Tuesday night and left with Hope after the surgery Thursday. So after that it was just me and Lily for almost ten days.

I am so grateful for the hospital and Dr. Pena and all the surgical team and nurses. Our stay at the hospital was great. Every single person that crossed our path was so friendly and caring and professional. While I was there I googled Dr. Pena and found out that he had a child years ago born with malformation and after his son's death at just 4 years old his passion became to study anorectal malformations and surgery.

So years later he would invent a procedure that has now become THE procedure for repairing anorectal malformations. It's call the pull-through procedure at Cincinnati Children's Hospital but everywhere else in the world it's called The Pena Procedure. Daniel and I are so grateful that our little Lily was in the hands of the world's best anorectal surgeon. After living with her malformation for 10 years, she has finally gotten the care she needed.

My sisters and the staff at Cincinnati Children's Hospital all warned me that I might have trouble at the hospital by myself all those days and nights. I figured I'd be fine because I am a pretty independent girl. Plus, I was excited about having Lily all to myself and the bonding that would hopefully take place!

Lily couldn't eat or drink for 10 days after the surgery (she had a PICC line supplying her nutrition) so I had to leave the room for all my meals. At first I was fearful to leave Lily by herself. I wondered if she would cry and be scared. I skipped meals in the beginning just to put it off. Finally I told her that I would be back in a few minutes and if she would be ok. A big smile came over her face like Christmas morning. Of course! Why didn't I know my little independent Lily would love it!! When I came back after eating she informed me that while i was gone she had "push a wed button and got nurse to bring me colors and change pull-up!" Lily is a self-made girl! Can you imagine her as an adult?

We had a lot of special times. We colored a lot, we made arts and crafts, we watched Blue's Clues, we played on the iPad and iPhone, and we snuggled at night in the awesome hospital bed. She got so familiar with the place I feared she would come home and demand a reclining bed and a red nurse button to bring toys!!!

We had been told to prepare for 7-10 days in the hospital. On the eighth day we were surprised that we were being discharged! Which sounded great, but we had to be back after the weekend for an xray. So we needed to find a place to stay for 3 nights.

Problem #1: where to stay in Cincinnati. Guest Services helped me get reservations at a hotel about 15 minutes from downtown. I purposefully wanted to get out a bit because when we stayed at the Westin downtown before the surgery with Christina it seemed a bit deserted downtown at night. Later a nurse told me that this in deed the case and I just always like to stay where the people are. Safety in numbers, right?

Problem #2: getting around Cincinnati. We had ridden in complimentary taxis to and from the hospital the four days we were there before the surgery. While we are grateful for the service, the taxis were not always the cleanest or shall I say, most professional. in fact, I don't like riding in taxis at all. My life in a strangers hands.

And to top it all off, in my excitement about going to a new city (I love to travel) I googled all about Cincinnati. One of the first things that popped up when googling downtown Cincinnati is bed bugs! Yikes. They were ranked number one in the nation last year! Next, I learned that there is a neighborhood called Over The Rhine that is one of the oldest most historic neighborhoods in America. However, it is also one of, if not the most dangerous neighborhoods in America for murders. Great. Lovely. And that was the exact path our taxis took to get us from the Westin to the hospital twice a day! Needless to say, I was on guard. My dad taught me to be wise and cautious. And every day I found myself hearing his words in my head saying, "Amy, use your head. Don't act stupid."

The day we got discharged was one of the most stressful days of my life. Me and Lily took a scary taxi to the rental car center downtown. Once we got the keys we had to walk half a block to a dim lit parking garage to find the car. It was me, my little girl, and our pink suitcases. Sitting ducks I thought. We had to walk down two ramps in the parking garage to the very bottom and then to the very back of the garage to find our car. There was not a soul in the garage, yet a good amount of cars. Ugh. I cannot tell you how fearful I was but I just knew once I got in that car I'd feel safe. And we did.

We drove north of downtown and went to Target to get noodles to cook in the microwave! It was good to be free. We drove to our hotel. The second I pulled in I heard my dad say leave. As I was pulling around to the back to park I told myself that I was acting like a spoiled girl and that the hotel was fine for a night and we could look for a safer feeling one the next day. Me and Lily get in our room, make noodles, and play.

Lily is so imaginative. She can have fun anywhere. She loves to play hospital now, of course! I think she would be a great nurse one day!

I spent a lot of time texting Husband about how much I miss him. The time apart has been hard for us and we were really sad. Just three more days and we could be reunited. Back home my sister Chantel and my mom and Husband's parents and Adri had been helping out with the other four kids for the past two weeks. It was time for mama to be home!

Then all of a sudden a gentle knock at my door at 10:00 p.m. Stunned I turn towards the door and stare. And then the door opens slowly. I think, "You have got to be kidding me." You see when I was younger someone tried to break into the room me and my sisters were staying in. Thankfully my big strong burly hunk of a dad was in the adjoining room and heard it and grabbed his gun and took off after the person. They were slamming the door into the latch trying to break in. SInce that day more than 20 years ago, every time I stay in a hotel I strategically place heavy furniture in front of the door. And then I place a fragile object teetering on the edge that in case someone open the door in the middle of the night the object will crash to the floor and wake us up! Brilliant, I know!

This night I had a wimpy coffee table and the microwave on guard. I hadn't yet selected my fragile choice item since we weren't in bed yet. Of course I had the latch on, so that is what stopped the person from getting in. My coffee table and microwave did not. They were pushed as far as they could before the latch stopped him.

I quickly called Husband. I couldn't believe I was telling him someone tried to enter my room! I could barely speak I was so scared. After the loud rap music in the taxi to the scary rental parking garage to this, my nerves were shot. I had officially lost it. Call the white van to pick me up I thought!

Husband came out in full force and called the front desk pretending to be in the room with me. He was mad. My sisters who were already concerned about me (because they are precious and love me and know it had been a tough almost two weeks away from my other kids) were mad. I felt all alone and trapped.

Lily watches as I cry (yet she has not "gotten" the understanding of compassion yet) but just continues to play hospital. I guess she just thinks I'm sad and missing everyone. I try to hold myself together but the stress has mounted and the dam has broke! I wish my daddy was there with his gun! I wish my husband was there! I wish ANYONE I KNOW WAS THERE!!! I then move (which I can barely budge) the hefty sofa bed in front of the door. From then on Lily and I had to crawl over it to get into the bathroom (Lily still is clueless but she thinks its fun). We sleep with the lights on. Well, Lily sleeps with the mask on that she found in the hotel bathroom as a gift. I stay up watching Kicking and Screaming (my sister thought it would relieve some stress) and praying all night. To top the evening off, I cannot find my keys to the rental...anywhere! I just ask God if He could please not let anyone steal the car in the night I would feel so special!

Husband buys a ticket and flys out early that next morning. Lily and I check out early next morning after waking up at sunrise (my sister googled it and told me when) and finding my car keys had been turned in to the front desk! Thank you Lord! I spoke to the manager about how the security officer the night before had told me that it was the maintenance man entering my room to make some repairs. When I had asked if that was normal to enter an occupied room at 10pm to make repairs the security officer told me yes. The manager told me that was not true. After a lengthy conversation with the manager me and Lily sped away to the airport to receive Prince Charming.

We got there two hours early. When I saw Husband walk out of security it was like he was in slow motion and everything around him was blurred out as he sparkled with pixie dust. It was like Mr. Darcy walking across the field to Miss Bennett on that foggy morning to declare his love! It was like I was the damsel in distress saved in the nick of time from peril! I was in love all over again!!!

That weekend it was like me and Husband were on our second honeymoon. Except we had a Chinese kid! I felt safe and happy and loved and lucky to be married to him. If ever he had doubted my need for him before (I am very independent), he knew now that I fall apart when he's not around for too long!

Husband stayed the next two nights and we all flew home Monday afternoon. Lily has recovered perfectly and easily.

Cincinnati has many great things. First...the Children's Hospital! Top notch!!! Second...the zoo. Loved it. Third, it renewed my passion and need for Husband! Watch out! Fourth, it made me so thankful for Tulsa! Fifth, the sweet potato pie at the hospital cafeteria is dreamy!

Let me end by saying, if you are reading this and you are from Cincinnati and you are offended and you love your hometown, feel free to offer me advice for my next trip (we have a follow up coming up).

I am just thankful that surgery three out of four is complete! And we can rest for a while. Rest....ha. Not really. But I love my life. I love my kids. And I love my Husband, my hero!


Karate Mom said...

Hi! I'm Lisa, a friend of Dave and Julie Heritage. (She sent me to your blog because I'm a blog addict!)I've been reading here for a couple of months, but I've never commented. I had to comment today to say that OH MY GOODNESS, I literally clapped my hand to my mouth when I got to the part about the door opening and read the rest of the post with my heart pounding! YIKES!
Also, I grinned when you described your husband arriving in slo-mo like Mr. Darcy! How romantic!

Anonymous said...

Renee - LOVE this post! I have been sick, so have time to read up a little. Husbands are wonderful, aren't they? My hero took care of the house & the two girls while I was ill in bed the last day. Hooray for Mr. Darcy! ;) Love you guys. Glad all went well. Kimberly :)

Christa @ said...

Wow. I knew this had happened and I had been praying for you, but I had no idea of the details!! Sooooo thankful that God protected you.
And that He gave you a Mr. Darcy. :)
Love you.