Thursday, April 30, 2009

A Mother’s Day letter to a great man

I don’t know how many millions of small and large decisions have to be made in just the proper order and carried out in just the right way to save a life. It is a miracle and I have been blessed to witness it. We are supposed to write letters to our mothers when Mother’s Day draws near however, this is a letter FROM a mother. A very, very grateful mother. I write it in an open forum to express to as many people as I can how very humbled and appreciative I am for having Alex with me today.

It has been one year and 5 months since I sat in PICU, looking at my beautiful son, lying in a bed, unconscious, with most his hair shaved off, tubes down his throat, coming from his hands, his heart, his arms, monitors on every side and a shunt sticking out of a hole cut in his skull to drain fluid from his brain. I still tear up as I write this.

When the vein burst in Alex’s head and we rushed him to the nearest hospital, they put us in an examining room. No doctor came in. Alex had no sight in one eye and was in and out of consciousness. His pain was unfathomable and they could not even get a temperature because he was panting, shaking and sweating so badly. Besides a couple of nurses, the only one who made it into the room was a guy with a computer and a credit card machine to collect my $100 emergency room co-pay. After an hour I was beside myself and told them we were leaving. A nurse took pity and found a doctor. Then, and this is the only cliché that fits, all hell broke loose.

Al was whisked off to a CAT scan followed by a trip to the Red Room a staging area used for severe cases to be prepped for transfer to the nearest trauma center. At one point I counted seventeen people working on my son. I couldn’t even see him on the table through all the bodies. The look on everyone’s faces was between desperation and pity.

After the ambulance ride to hospital #2, the gurney Alex was on was ripped away from me and the next thing I knew he was given an operation to relieve the pressure on his brain. He remained unconscious when I saw him again. The next day Dr. Nagib came over from his hospital to consult on the case.

What can I say about you doctor Nagib.

Maybe I should just repeat the words I heard over and over from surgeons, nurses, anesthesiologists and many others, “If it was my child, he is the only surgeon I would let touch them.” You were understanding and very clear on the severity of the situation. We decided to move Alex to hospitals #3 and 4. It was the best decision I have ever made in my life.

I am grateful to everyone who prayed for, and worked so hard to save Alex, but I have a special place in my heart for you Dr. Nagib. Through each surgery that different teams performed you were so clear and calm as you informed us of each hurdle Alex had to face. A few people had told me you did not have the best bedside manner. I beg to differ. The day you performed the surgery to remove the dead vein tissue it was an excruciating wait. After hours of surgery passed I could see from the information screen that Alex was in post-op and my heart was in my throat. You came into the waiting room with the biggest and brightest smile on your face. That was all the bedside manner I needed. You saved my son.

I suspect this seems like a long time to wait to say how eternally grateful I am, but the feelings have been so deep that no words seemed enough. All I can say is…Alex turns 13 in May. Thank you.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Secret identities

I am always curious about nicknames. Those identities you've gained through the years that only people who know you well can truly understand.

For example: one of the kid's at my son Nick's childcare is called "Stink". I assume the worse.

Over the years, I have had the luxury of having more personalities than Sybil. Quite a few of theses characters were paired with friends who also assumed false names just for the fun of it. Here are a few of the aliases I have gone by:
  • TIGER (given to me by my father and my first and favorite name)
  • TOOTS PICKLE (from my cousins - when we were kids we all gave each other fruit and vegetable names. This is ironic because my son Nick is currently known as Nicky Pickle)
  • SUE-EEEE! (from my brother who thought it was fun to torture me with a pig call name. I've tried to block this name from my memory but my psyche has permanent damage)
  • SUSABELLE (from my dear friend Patti's mom during our college days. I am still called by this name by the entire Richard family)
  • BECKY SUE BELLE JESSIE JO MAE BOB (again college, again with my friend Patti who was known as Patti-Poo-Pie-Poo-Poo-Pie-Poo)
  • Part of a fictitious girl band called SLEEZE AND THE WRYTHETTES (also college, also with Patti and with Barb. I was one of the Wrythettes)
  • MAMA ONI (with my now departed sweet friend Chris who was Papa Oni. This family was based on the Farkels of Laugh In fame. Papa and I had many, many children)
  • BETTY (counterpart to Bill who is my friend Steve. We met doing summer stock theater)
  • BEA (counterpart to Howard who is my charming friend Tommy. We met at college and were reunited touring in children's theater)
  • KATE (for Katherine Hepburn - during my serious acting days)
  • DAGO CHICK (part of a four person national acting tour that included Spence, Jewfish and Macho Chick - a.k.a Jeff, Bob and Maria)
  • LA-QUICHE-A (part of a current duo with my crazy bud Lisa who is Om-Letta)
  • And of course - SB (given to me by dear Joanne, the original SB)

If I have forgotten anyone of my names, please feel free to send them to me or to one of my personalities listed above. :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Junior High Sucks

I dedicate this blog to my son, Alex, who this very day spent over 6 1/2 hours in one of the roughest, most judgemental, confusing, challenging and altogether frustrating places on earth - Junior High School.

It has been a while since I have written about the SB code of ethics and nothing displays those ethics better than our advice to our children on surviving junior high. Now we don't sugar coat much here in SB-land. No matter how you slice matter how prepared you think you are for matter if it is a 2-year or 3-year stint...the plain and simple fact is...

Junior High Sucks.

I may have mentioned in a previous blog the terror I experienced going from a small, Catholic grade school to a large, public junior high. Talk about being thrown to the wolves! I went from wearing uniforms and attending church every morning to wearing anything I wanted and being allowed to pick some of my own classes - hey wait, I guess it wasn't all bad.

The worst part of JH is how it seems to hit at the time of your life when you are most insecure and your hormones are making all the decisions for you. It is also time when you are expected to make the all-important decision on your school social grouping. You know: jock, nerd, invisible, druggie, brain, slut, etc. Being an SB my whole life I was a bit rebellious of this plot to be labeled. I discovered that a good sense of self deprecating humor allowed me to mingle amongst all the tribes without really joining any.

When my son started JH last fall I told him it is a time in your life you just sort of endure. Like hitting puberty - it is inevitable. My son has already managed to get in a fight and punch a bully, break his leg, discover acne, get sent to an after school study class to catch up on algebra and meet a girl. Not bad for his first year. I learned the other day that the main activity on the long bus ride to school was comparing the amount of armpit hair each kid had acquired. I guess some of the girls are in the lead. Ahhhh progress.

So for those of us who have made it through junior high relatively unscathed I want to applaud you. And for those who are in the throes of learning to shower in groups and stand endlessly staring at each other at school dances - I feel your pain.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

A Good Chick Flick can do the Trick

The following blog is meant for women only (and possibly a few of my very close gay men friends).

There was some sort of harmonic convergence tonight as I discovered that more than one of my dear friends of the female persuasion was able to have a reduced testosterone environment for a few hours and release a few antsy hormones by watching a chick flick.

Chick flicks (CFs) are one of the few places women can let their eggs hang out. Crying is almost mandatory as is laughing like a banshee. Food of the non-dieting variety is a must and no one leaves without having shared one extremely personal story with their fellow chick flick viewer.

Tonight we indulged in the classic CF - "Steel Magnolia's". I have personally watched this movie at least 20 times and never fail sobbing like 2 year old each time I see it. My dear friend Lisa, who had somehow made it this far in life having never see it, was almost comatose by the end. Mission Accomplished.

Another CF that is in the same emotional league as Magnolias is "The Joy Luck Club". Kleenex brand tissues owes much of their success as a product to multiple screenings of this tear-jerker.

For the uninitiated I will share some of my other CF favorites. Not all are meant to make you cry uncontrollably. Some are just so romantic you get utterly depressed for not finding anything like that in real life. Again, Mission Accomplished.
  • Pride and Prejudice - Keira Knightly version
  • Return to Me
  • Hope Floats
  • Shall We Dance
  • While You Were Sleeping
  • Fried Green Tomatoes
  • Dirty Dancing
  • Murphy's Romance
  • Moonstruck
  • Chocolat
  • Under the Tuscan Sun
  • Something to Talk About]
  • Beauty Shop
  • Where the Heart Is
  • French Kiss
  • Like Water from Chocolate]
  • Twilight
  • Quigley Down Under
  • Crossing Delancy
  • Parenthood
So, all you woman and SBs out there, if you have a night where you can truly let the estrogen run wild I'd suggest going to my list here and sitting down to watch one of these with a close friend or two. Poor some wine, have something salty and the tissues are on me.