One day Anni was twirling and singing one of her original compositions.
"It's my gift!" she declared.
Dizzy, she fell with spectacular gracelessness.
Laying on her back on the tile floor she began flapping her arms and legs
as if she were making a snow angel.
"Falling down is also a gift!" says she.

Monday, December 19, 2005

next time with a marching band

They took Annika back to the OR early this morning. Because she is on the ventilator, it was a regular parade out of the PICU. She was wheeled down the halls in her new airbed, which is larger than a regular hospital bed and steers with the precision of an 18-wheeler on flat tires riding a mudslide, followed by an anesthesiologist squeezing a little bag to push breaths into her, while trailing her double I.V. pole flashing lights and beeping joyously, while Dr. Superina brought up the rear like the grand marshall. Because it was so early, and the night before so long (Annika started kicking like a Rockette every few hours to see if maybe she could shake off the sedation), I had not yet had a shower. But Jörg had at least brought me a large coffee, bless his caffeine-bearing heart. After abandoning the parade at the doors of the OR, I ran back to the room to retrieve the cup left behind. Her room, emptied of her bed and the various I.V. pumps, looked so spacious and open. But the ventilator was still there and soldiering on, puffing its breaths without benefit of lungs to receive them. It was a bit sad, all that useless breathing. Jörg and I sat in the surgical waiting room together, watching the clock and catching bits of cell-phone conversations. One tall woman wearing the kind of corduroy skirt that only looks good on the blessedly svelte, was making lots of calls and repeating the same information over and over, losing none of the stunned tone of disbelief with each repetition. Knowing the hospital as well as we do, it was clear that her daughter was going up to short stay after her surgery, which meant she might even go home this evening. Funny to realize how far we have come, when the prospect of weeks of intubation and an open abdomen doesn't even elicit that tone of shock in our voices anymore. When the tall woman called her own home, she followed up her usual recitation of the medical facts with a barrage of questions of her own. "How are the twins?" she asked. She nodded her head eagerly as she listened to the reply. "What time did they get up this morning?" A few seconds later she repeated more insistly, "But what time did they get up this morning?" I knew what she meant. Not knowing such basic facts as the time your own children awake in the morning is a strange feeling, made even stranger when the surgical waiting room of a children's hospital is an alien environment. We were practically in home territory, though, and less worried than we'd been many other times in that room. My old rocker had been moved into the waiting room, and I settled into its familiar seat. It was the rocker that was brought into Annika's hospital room before her transplants, and we spent many hours in that chair together. I gave a silent thought for Lauren, the little girl commemorated on the plaque adorning the chair, whose loved ones hope we remember to cherish each moment of life. Barely an hour later, she was back out again. The sutures in her bowel had held together, and the infection was showing improvement. Altogether, nothing but good news. Still, the surgeon told us that the earliest she will be extubated is sometime next week, assuming she continues to improve at the current rate. And he estimates it will take about 2-3 weeks for her abdomen to be closed. So patience is the name of the game around here. The return parade was even more jovial. I suppose there was relief that Annika, with her abdomen so often hiding unexpected (and frequently unpleasant) surprises, was showing nothing but improvement. After finally getting a shower and lunch, I headed to the hospital lobby for a coffee. Rounding the corner I saw that the hospital had set up Santa Claus, complete with a red throne and elves. He was surrounded by wiggly children, all murmuring, "Santa!" and eyeing the presents he was handing out to each child. They were all so excited and happy, and (wouldn't you know it?) I started to cry. I can pretend that Christmas will happen in February this year, but the rest of the world is carrying on with the usual calendar. As I entered our PICU room again, my emotions back in check, Jörg stood up and announced he was going downstairs to get some hot chocolate from the cafe. "OK, but there's a Santa down there," I warned him. He looked at me quizzically, clearing not understanding what I meant. A little embarrassed, I explained, "He made me cry." "Santa made you cry?" I nodded, beginning to realize that perhaps my warning was a bit unnecessary for someone not awash in PMS hormones. Jörg cocked his head and gave me a concerned look, "Do I need to beat him up?"


Anonymous Robyn, mom to Emma said...

How come you can write almost every post so that it makes me laugh and cry at the same time?

Thankful prayers that Annika had no hidden surprises for the doctors.

And more thankful prayers for husbands who bring coffee.

12/19/2005 6:00 PM  
Anonymous Christi Thompson said...

I have been waiting all day for your post..i find myself wraped up in your stories,my son caden has BA. he has yet to be transplanted.I have prayed all day for your little annie. My heart just hurts for you and your family,I guess I sit here crying thinking..what if that was my Caden..I do sit here crying now thinking of you and your little frankie..I have 2 other children also and it's so hard when your heart wants to be in two places at once.Caden has spent many many days in the hospital this past year and even though he was never critical..I know how long those days can be..prayers for your sweet little one..Christi & Caden (cth_1976)your class friends

12/19/2005 6:10 PM  
Blogger halloweenlover said...

I'm so glad to hear good news about Anni. Phew. Perhaps all the bloggers can come to you and we'll throw a makeup Christmas, complete with Santa.

I hope these next few days pass very very quickly and Annika is extubated and healing faster than you can imagine.

12/19/2005 6:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think that you should consider writting a book while you are stuck in our tiny PICU room. You are a very gifted writter and your "rockette" comment at 3 am forced me to crack a smile trying to remind Anni to "try not to wiggle." I am very pleased with the good news of your day and am looking forward to sharing a new playlist I made for later this week. Take care and see you tomorrow. Your nurse, Genny

12/19/2005 6:59 PM  
Blogger Phantom Scribbler said...

Genny is right. You are an extraordinarily gifted writer, Moreena. Thank you for allowing us to trail behind you on these journeys down hospital hallways with you.

12/19/2005 7:35 PM  
Anonymous Tammy, mom to Janna said...

So glad for the good news on Annika's day at a time. I hope you have found a lot of "tunes" to listen to from everyone.

12/19/2005 7:37 PM  
Anonymous peripateticpolarbear said...

Moreena, you are the absolute best. You're living in a layer of hell that most of us have never and will never visit and yet you continue to entertain all of us with your wit and comedic timing. I feel guilty for laughing!

12/19/2005 7:45 PM  
Blogger liz said...

I always come too late to say something original, everyone else has said it so well.

I'm up for a make-up Christmas when you are all home again.

12/19/2005 8:24 PM  
Blogger Rev Dr Mom said...

What everyone else are an incredible writer, and an incredible mom. And I hope when Anni is all better, you get a very long vacation someplace quiet and peaceful.

Hoping the news continues to be good.

12/19/2005 8:36 PM  
Anonymous Mary M - LiverMom to Kaitlyn age 10 - tx 9/05 said...

I am so glad to hear things went well this am. My prayers continue to be with Annika and your family.
Many blessings to you all.

And yes, I must agree with the others you are a very talented writer

12/19/2005 8:44 PM  
Anonymous Mary Lee said...

Life going on for others really hit home for me. We have been home from our long five months in and out (mostly in) the hospital for about a month now. I try each and every day to realize that we are the others for whom life is going on. You will be soon, too.

Re your excellent writing skills, I have just assumed that is what you teach at the university.

12/19/2005 9:03 PM  
Blogger susan said...

How good to read good news...and what everyone else said about your writing and the gift it is to be with you, in a fashion, through all this. And Jorg (sorry, don't know how to make an umlaut in the comment box) has a nice sense of humor under pressure, too.

12/19/2005 9:05 PM  
Anonymous Crystal said...


I am so happy to read good news- keep up the good work, Annika!!!
I definitely understand the crying at Santa, and what a great husband to bring coffee and offer to beat up the red-suited guy in the same day!@ :-)


12/19/2005 9:34 PM  
Anonymous Joanna said...

Hi Moreena
Glad to hear nothing new reared it's ugly head in the OR today and you are starting to slowly move forward. The days and nights must be extremely long for you however but there is nothing else to do being the loving mum you are. I sent a parcel today, I hope the post at this time of year doesn't hold it up too long and that it might help in a tiny way. You had every right to cry today. I tried to avoid taking Jessie to see her friends perform in their preschool holiday sing because I knew I would get upset. She is not going to preschool until spring to avoid the horrible viruses that go around. But you know, who am I to keep her from that and she had a lovely time, I think. I would have prob cried even if she had been taking part because as we know every little thing is a miracle with our kids. It's not ideal I know but Christmas will wait for your Annika,

12/19/2005 9:56 PM  
Anonymous Rowan said...

Relieved and happy that all news appears to be positive. You sound much more upbeat, too.

I have to tell you that my husband, Chris wanted to let you know that Jorg is just his kind of guy. As I was reading this post aloud to him, and had just gotten to the part where Santa made you cry, Chris piped up with, "I'll kick his ass!" I could barely finish the rest because I was giggling over the protective similarities of our husbands. Jorg; however, is a bit less brash.

I hope that tomorrow only shows more improvement. We're all thinking of you throughout the day and sending love and strength.

12/20/2005 1:14 AM  
Anonymous Kim - mom to Sami and Kyle said...

I am so happy to hear that the surgery went quickly and well on Monday! Yeah for some good news! Annika is a strong, brave little girl and her will, will prevail. Go Annika! I am keeping you in my daily prayers.

12/20/2005 6:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh I was going to say the same thing as Robyn! I don't know you but I love reading your posts! I am praying for Annika and hope that your christmas in February is an awesome one.

12/20/2005 6:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm with Robyn, almost every post brings smiles and tears. Big smiles this morning to hear the infection is responding and that the stitches held. Tears to think of you all delaying Christmas. But, Christas IS family and a February Christmas will be quite wonderful.

I hold you all close to my heart and continue prayers for this long ordeal. I'll be so glad when *our* Anni is awake. So thankful her little body is healing - but somehow that does not surprise me at all.


12/20/2005 6:52 AM  
Blogger Kathryn said...

Moreena, you will probably never realise how many people are hanging on your every post.We've been praying for Annika at Morning and Evening prayer at my church for a while now, and lots of people who don't actually come at those times stop me to ask how "That brave little girl with the amazing mum" is doing.
Glad there were no fresh surprises in this installment...I'm sorry it sounds as if she'll be stuck with the ventilator till next week, but hope she'll not be too bothered by that (or you and Jorg either)
My love and prayers for you all

12/20/2005 6:52 AM  
Anonymous Beanie Baby said...

Oh yay! I'm so happy that you had a good surgery. What a relief!

12/20/2005 7:39 AM  
Blogger ccw said...

So happy to hear that it was a day of good news.

I love your husband! Anyone willing to beat up Santa to make you feel better is a great partner.

12/20/2005 7:41 AM  
Blogger angela marie said...

Those men of ours. They are perfect, aren't they?

I'm so glad that Anni is doing a little better. Thank you for sharing this delicate part of your life with us. Yes, it makes those of us with healthy children more thankful, but it also connects us to 'strangers' in a bond that SHOULD be formed.

12/20/2005 8:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thanks for your update ...glad that Annika is now closed and apparently on a slow heal..thats good news! Patience for, a couple more weeks of healing...that must seem like forever. Prayers for her healing...and your sanity!

Second on that book writing comment.

12/20/2005 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Lauren said...

Moreena, my family has a Santa costume that I can bring down when you guys have Christmas in February (or whenever it is). I can find a guy friend to play that part, too! I'd love to help you celebrate!

12/20/2005 9:08 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

Am I the only one thinking that a Jorg vs. Santa cage match would make great pay-per-view?

12/20/2005 9:37 AM  
Blogger Shelli said...

That damn mean Santa. Didn't he know you were worried about your surgically abused, sedated, breathing-challenged daughter. I'm still watching for every post and wishing you and your family the best. Send very good thoughts Annika's way.

12/20/2005 10:02 AM  
Blogger Running2Ks said...

I'm so sorry about that Santa--thank God for your husband and his help and humor.

Fingers crossed and prayers that Anni improves and all can progress soon.

12/20/2005 11:34 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Some of you will already know more than others about surgery. But it's important to learn as much as possible about it. So, the more information you can lay your hands on, the better it is.

8/07/2007 3:29 AM  

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