Monday, October 8, 2012

Maddie Saves The Day…And Her Dad’s Life

This past weekend, my daughter impressed me more than I could have ever imagined when she saved Tom’s life. 

I left on Saturday for a girl’s weekend with my roommates from college.  We all met up at Illinois State  for Homecoming and set out for a night of bar hopping and pretending we could still drink like fish, despite the fact we are mommies in their mid-30s. We started at the bar we spent most of our time at in college and indulged in some 32-ounce beers in Homecoming souvenir cups and fried cheeseballs.  I’m pretty sure that 15 years ago I would not have been so jazzed about the souvenir cup part, but I suppose that just shows how much I’ve matured over the years. We topped off the night at LaBamba for some burritos as big as our heads to soak up the liquor the cheeseballs didn’t take care of.

In the morning, despite the fact I had gone to bed at 3 a.m., I was wide-awake at 6:30 a.m.  Go figure, even when I had the chance to sleep without a little munchkin jumping in my bed, my body had other plans.  Of course, within a half-hour, all the other girls’ internal clocks kicked in and we were all up.  We spent the morning lounging in our beds and chitchatting about our kids, our husbands and life in general.  I had just gotten done telling them about Tom and his diabetes and my concerns about his sugars going low, especially when he was home alone with the kids.

I waited a while to call home and at 8:30 decided it was time to check in and make sure everything was okay.  Tom answered his cell phone just before it went to voicemail and his voice sounded muffled.  I thought he said he was wrestling Colin, but he continued to slur his words and wouldn’t stop babbling.  I realized his sugars were low and I started screaming into the phone.  My girlfriends realized something was wrong and their conversation ceased.  I kept yelling to have him put Maddie on the phone or hoped that Maddie would hear me and grab the phone from Tom.  Finally I heard her voice on the other line and she was crying.  She said,  “Daddy won’t wake up!  I can’t get him to wake up!”  We have taught her about Tom’s diabetes and how to tell if he is low and that when he is, she needs to get him juice.  Most times there is juice right next to our bed.  She said she tried to give him juice and he wouldn’t take it.  My first thought was the image of my poor baby trying to force juice on him.  I’ve been in that position myself and it is the most helpless feeling when he is so low he refuses to drink it.  I also knew that he must be really low at that point and I had to act fast otherwise he would die.

I hung up with Maddie and my first thought was to call my neighbors to get there to help her out.  I knew they could get there faster than the paramedics or Tom’s parents not only for Tom’s sake, but for the kids.  Lord knows how long they had been up with Tom in that condition.  Thank God we are close with our neighbors and they know our garage code and about Tom’s diabetes.

I was shaking uncontrollably and couldn’t remember how to dial my phone or my neighbor’s name.  My friends were asking me a ton of questions hoping to help me somehow, but once I was able to access my contacts and call my neighbor I knew it would only be a matter of minutes that help would arrive.  I made sure Lisa brought her husband because Tom is hard to handle when he is low.  He can also get aggressive and I have had to literally wrestle him to get sugar in him several times.

I immediately called Tom’s cell phone back and Maddie answered.  I explained that Richie and Lisa would be coming in the house to help her and not to be afraid.  I was amazed at how calm she was on the other line and within seconds I heard my neighbors voices and I felt at least a less helpless and worried.  I could hear Richie, but he didn’t know I was on the phone so I started shouting, “Someone pick up the phone!!!”  He heard me and then saw it on the nightstand and grabbed it.  I started giving him specific instructions on what he needed to do.  I knew pouring a bottle of Gatorade down his throat while he’s laying in bed incapacitated was next to impossible. I instructed him to go downstairs into the pantry and get the applesauce that comes in a pouch making it easy to squeeze into his mouth.  I told him to tell Maddie he needed “Applesauce Juicies” and she would know what he meant.  My neighbors told me after the fact that the whole time they were trying to find what they needed and figure out what to do beyond my instructions over the phone, Maddie was a rock and remained very clear, focused and helpful.  The only time she lost it and cried was when I got off the phone with her to call the neighbors. She thought I had hung up on her.

I remained on the other line waiting for Richie to get a combination of applesauce jucies and Capri Sun into Tom, unsure of whether or not any of it was getting into his mouth.  Richie mentioned it was getting all over our sheets and I told him not to worry, just save his life.  It felt like forever listening for some sign that Tom was coming to.  Normally once he gets at least a little sugar in him, he starts to come around enough to sit up and drink the juice and aid in the process.  Even after twenty minutes, I heard no sign that he was improving.  I wasn’t sure if I should call 911, but I knew that as long as they kept putting sugar in him, he would come around at some point.  Then I started questioning whether or not there was something else happening to him.  His voice was so garbled, slurred and muffled when I had first called, I wondered if perhaps he was having a stroke or heart attack or something?  I felt so helpless knowing I was 2 ½ hours away and couldn’t do anything to get to my family.  At one point I was standing there in my pajamas putting my shoes on thinking I should just leave, but realized that was pointless.

Meanwhile, Lisa was tending to the kids and trying to distract them.  She thought Colin might still be sleeping, until he emerged from my bedroom waving his Star Wars Light Saber.  He proceeded to sit on Lisa’s lap downstairs where he farted on her several times. Clearly, he was there purely there for moral support and comic relief.

It wasn’t for at least another ten minutes that I heard Tom’s “real voice” in the background and could finally take a sigh of relief.  I spoke to him just long enough to hear him say, “I’m okay,” and heard him call Maddie over so he could comfort her.  At that point, I could finally shift out of damage control mode and let out the emotions I had been holding in.  All I could do was cry and tell him how much I love him. He got off the phone relatively quickly, but I knew that he needed to gather himself and finish coming out of his low.  He called me back within a half hour and we were both emotional after the whole experience. 

This has happened several times in the past and in a handful of times, I’ve had to call 911.  We used to have a Glucagon shot, but Tom had instructed me not to use it on him because he swings when he’s low. He was worried he could hurt me or the needle could break off in his leg or if he hit me while I had it in my hand it could end up my eye or any other host of issues.  Even when I called 911 a few years back, the first thing they asked me before they gave him the shot was whether or not he was known to get violent when he’s low.  Tom’s friend used to pick him up on Friday morning and they would carpool to work together.  He had just pulled up in the midst of the chaos and the paramedics used him to help hold him down while they gave him the shot.  They figured it would be better for Tom to see someone he knew when he came to rather than three strange men in his bedroom.  

We've taught Maddie to call 911 in an emergency and she told us that she was about to call 911, but couldn’t find a cordless phone upstairs and couldn’t reach the one in the kitchen.  I think it is safe to say our guardian angels were working overtime. By the grace of God,  I decided to call at that time and with the help of my superhero daughter and really awesome neighbors they took care of my children and saved my husband’s life.  I think it is important to note this is the same neighbor who helped me break into my house last week.

Needless to say, when I got home I squeezed my husband and kids tight and we took Maddie to Toys R Us to pick out a toy.  Of course, Colin scored a toy too since he kept his cool through the situation despite the fact he was lighting it up on poor Lisa’s lap.  I don't think I will be leaving on any overnight trips any time soon, we have located all the stray cordless phones and put them on the chargers and reviewed how to call 911 on both the home phone and our iPhones.  In addition, we don't ever plan on ever moving out of our commune/neighborhood because the relationship with our neighbors isn't very easy to come by.  I was even able to get over the fact that they had to kick dirty laundry on my bedroom floor out of the way in the process.

In the end, I am just so grateful that my daughter inherited my grace under pressure and that the real “Homecoming” was when I arrived home and everyone was alive and well. 

Breaking and Entering

I don’t mean to offend any blondes out there, but I am pretty sure that I was a blonde in a former life.

While I know plenty of intelligent, well put-together, organized blondes, as of late I seem to be fitting the stereotype that is exactly the opposite of those attributes.  I know I have established that I am always late, my mind has gone to mush and I am a general scatterbrain who is usually running in about 15 directions all at once.  However, this week proved to be one of the more “gold banner” weeks in my little mini-tornado of a world.

It all started with our return from Disney World.  I was exhausted, beat up, and quite frankly a little depressed and disconnected from “the real world.”  As much fun as we had on our trip, it really was nowhere near relaxing. We decided to stay in a house like we did two years ago, since the kids are still pretty young and the house meant we could actually put them to bed at a reasonable time, have some downtime ourselves and not have to tiptoe around a hotel room. While there are many benefits to all the extra space, pool in the backyard, having the in-laws stay with us who could occupy the children for awhile, staying in a rental meant I still had to do four things we can all agree should be avoided while on vacation: cook, clean, do laundry and grocery shop.

To add to my depression upon returning home, a week before we left we had to put down our beloved dog, Kira.  She was fourteen and had a large cancerous tumor on her front leg.  We were concerned about her taking a turn for the worse or passing while we were gone.  You can’t buy your neighbors enough Target gift cards to make up for your dog dying while they took care of it.  So, as soon as we got home I packed up the kids and headed to the shelter.  We ended up adopting a sweet Lab Mix named, “Brownie.”  Maddie ended up renaming her “Daisy.”  She quickly adjusted to our family despite a few accidents in the house and a major case of separation anxiety from yours truly.

The first day we got her, we spent some time outside introducing her to the neighbors.  However, we still hadn’t introduced her to our cat, Tuna.  I had to teach cycle class that evening and figured I could just put up a gate to keep Daisy in the kitchen and living room areas.  Within 5 minutes she had jumped the gate and run upstairs.  I was running out of time and decided to just put her in the garage.  Of course, she kept running back in the house and once I would get her out there, the kids would run out and then she would run in and so-on and so-on.

I finally got her in the garage and the kids in the house and we were off to they gym.  As I was driving there I realized I still had on my fuzzy Sketcher mules, which are pretty much slippers that are acceptable to wear in public.  Normally this wouldn’t be an issue since I wear cycle shoes for class, but my cycle bag was conveniently located on top of my washer at home.  I didn’t have enough time to go back home so I just had to forge on.  I texted Tom and asked if he could bring my shoes to the gym when he got home.  Of course, Tom is not a member of the gym I work at and he wasn’t able to come into the gym to give them to me.  Therefore, I had to explain to my class that my world had been turned upside down by my new K9 friend and that in an effort to get out of the house, I not only forgot to change my shoes, but grab my bag with my cycle shoes.  Luckily my giant clodhoppers still fit in the cages on my spin bike, but my feet were on fire and I had to exit class for about 2 minutes to run and grab my shoes from Tom who was at the front of the building. 

I was so embarrassed and could just hear all the rules and standards that are expected of group fitness instructors running through my head…Be prepared, be on time, every class, every time.  I guess I should be thankful that we are also expected to be entertaining, and I think I achieved that by how ridiculous I appeared.

So, I survived that debacle only to wake up the next day feeling a sinus infection setting in.  I suppose the combination of travel, exhaustion, wiping my own kids’ snot and collecting the germs and bacteria of everyone in the Magic Kingdom did me in.  I was able to get some anti-biotics, but it took a good three days to stop feeling like a Mac truck had hit me.  I survived teaching again on Tuesday night, two classes on Wednesday morning and the general rigmarole of schlepping two kids in and out of the gym, to school, to hockey, etc. etc.  I also learned that Zyrtec is my new best friend and was able to pop one before I taught my Saturday morning class.  Tom is responsible for taking Maddie to skating while I teach on Saturday morning and after forgetting to leave him the car seats the week before, so he made sure he grabbed them the night before.

This week, I got to class, was getting set up and began class only to have my phone ring five minutes into class.  Unfortunately, I use my iPhone for my soundtrack and his call interrupted my music.  Despite my efforts to ignore his call and text him that I was teaching, he kept calling.  Then, I got worried.  I had images of someone with a gaping wound, broken bone or that one of them had escaped and backed the car down the driveway.  I finally answered only to find out that I had Maddie’s figure skates in the trunk of my car.  I was completely mortified that I had to have this hushed conversation with my husband while on stage in front of my class of 30 cyclist.  I shook it off, made a joke of it, and carried on with a smile.  Inside I was beating myself up for not putting my phone on airplane mode, or not remembering the skate bag in my trunk of for not expressing to Tom how important it is NOT to call me during class.

Flash forward to Tuesday.  I got Maddie to the bus and then decided to take advantage of a beautiful fall day and take Colin for a run in the jogging stroller.  We were still putting Daisy in the garage to avoid any accidents in the house, but the day before she had managed to push the door into the house open and was roaming the house when I returned home.  This time, I locked the door to the garage and then exited out the front door, which I locked behind me.  As soon as I closed the door, each door in the house flashed through my head.  I was locked out.  I ran around to the back of the house to see if the backdoor was unlocked, but after absentmindedly forgetting to lock it in the past and getting my hand slapped, I have become diligent about locking it when I leave the house. 

I decided that I would just go for my run and think about my options.  I’m all about multi-tasking.  I came to the conclusion that if one of our windows was unlocked, preferably on the first floor, I could pop the screen out and push the window up and climb in the window.  I had two things going for me, our garage has a keypad and I had access to tools and I had my cell phone with me, so if all else failed I could call a neighbor or locksmith.

I got home and as luck would have it, the front window was unlocked.  The only problem is I couldn’t pop the screen out on my own.  I called my next-door neighbor hoping he hadn’t left for work yet and he didn’t answer.  A few seconds later I saw his garage door open and he was pulling out.  I grabbed him and explained my predicament.  He knows me pretty well and has witness several of my bubble-head moves like leaving my iPod on the back of my car only to come home and find out that it had fallen off in the street in front of our house when I pulled out and I ran it over, smashing it into pieces. 

He tried popping the screen out only to find it popped inward making it difficult to remove.  He finally asked if it was OK to just cut the screen itself.  My first question was, how much will it cost to replace?  He said if he was careful, he could put it right back in himself, otherwise it would only be a few dollars to replace.  I gave him the green light and within five minutes Colin and I were climbing in the front window.  It was the highlight of Colin’s day.  I also realized that no one has a spare key to our house and I don’t even know if a key to the door from the garage to the house or the back door even exists. 

I’m wondering how I can avoid such chaos in my life.  Are other moms as crazed as I am or is there something seriously wrong with me?  I keep waiting for all the smarts I lost when I had kids to return or for my luck to change and neither seems to be happening to me.  I thought about perhaps taking up meditation so that I can work to center myself each day before I get started.  I thought that this might help me stay on track better, roll with the punches better, remember things when I leave the house and stay more sane in general.  Of course, mediation requires even more coordinating, organization and peace and quiet.  It really is a vicious cycle.

I was really beating myself up over my shortcomings when my friend sent me an article that put everything into perspective for me. The link is below for those of you interested or who have time to look at it after reading this. Turns out I’m not the only one and most, if not all moms struggle to keep it together, especially those that work. Furthermore, our society certainly doesn’t make it any easier on us. Now, I know that my job teaching group fitness is not a full time job and isn’t like I am a high ranking executive, but it requires the same principles as any job, be on time, be present and focused and be prepared.  I have a hard enough time getting to my job, let a lone being focused and prepared!  No matter how much prep work I do planning out my classes, picking out music or choreographing routines, somehow life always gets in the way.

I did feel better after reading the article and it gave me vindication that I’m not crazy. 

Now, don’t get me wrong, this does not mean that I am going to stop trying to get my act together.  I am not going to just throw my hands up and say, “Screw it? I’m a mom and if I’m late, it’s not my fault.”  I take full responsibility for my actions, but I also need to cut myself some slack sometimes and give myself permission to be imperfect otherwise I will go nuts and I won’t have to worry about making it to my cycle class on time, I’ll be locked up in an institution.  I also need to realize that some things are just out of my control and no matter how hard I try, the odds aren’t always in my favor especially when I am dealing with two young children and a third child named Tom.

Today I walked into Colin’s preschool and one if the teachers stopped me and said she had something for me in the office.  I asked it was good or bad and she said that I overpaid for the field trip and they owed me $2.  Turns out for once my ditziness worked in my favor.

I think this little photo I found on Facebook says it all and is something all us moms have to remember. 

Nobody is perfect and all we can do is keep improving day after day.  At the end of the day, I guess I should be glad that my absent mindedness hasn’t caused any major harm, like forgetting a kid at home or getting into car accident racing to get somewhere on time…knock on wood.