When we left our story, our hero Patrick was recovering from a successful line placement surgery and the disorienting effects of anesthesia. (Poor kid could barely walk.) His daddy took the role of protector, as Patrick had no balance and no impulse control and could not be left alone. His mommy made a mad scramble to pack his many suitcases for a much-needed and definitely hard-earned vacation.
Brian is not the easiest person to buy presents for. His computer geek taste is both technically complex and often expensive. And it’s rare that he doesn’t already have most anything he needs. I have a gift for screwing up gifts to him, too, by either telling him what he’s getting or inadvertently buying the wrong things. At Christmas, I was somewhat stumped until my mind landed on one idea that he really wanted and never would dream that he could have…. a trip to Denver to visit his brother and attend a Colorado Avalanche hockey game.
The last time we were in Denver, we were newlyweds. We were scheduled to go for Thanksgiving 2 years ago but, well, ended up flying Patrick home from Michigan that day instead.
So – when Patrick’s line was obviously not working, I got in touch with his GI and explained that we had tickets purchased for a quick family vacation. His response was “Well, then let’s get that line fixed tomorrow so you can still go.” And that’s how we ended up packing for vacation and recovering from surgery the same day.
Thankfully, Brian had booked an afternoon flight. That gave us the morning to get things ready while still taking care of Patrick’s needs. He was still feeling a bit impulsive and when I asked him if he wanted to go bye-bye on a plane, he ended up standing at the door throwing a tantrum, crying “bye-bye pay” over and over again. Yup, still tired and grumpy, too.
But he was a great sport in the airport. Things were quiet there and we breezed through security. (As much as you can do with patdowns and bag searches that come from traveling with IV’s.) We got to the gate early and I let him wander a bit to try to get him tired enough to rest during the flight. He loved wandering the terminal watching planes and trucks out the window and visiting with anyone who’d make eye contact with him.
We arrived in Denver in the early afternoon. I’m sure we were quite the sight with our 4 suitcases, 2 computer bags, diaper bag, stroller, TPN backpack and Patrick making our way to the rental car. The funny thing about travelling as a family this way is that no one expects us to know what we’re doing. Security is always surprised to find that we are so savvy about the procedure and rules. And you should have seen the look on the rental car agent’s face when we asked to be dropped at the Club member’s stop. But I digress.
We made it to Brian’s brother John’s house on time for dinner. Patrick was thrilled that the owner at Qdoba was willing to throw in a free tortilla just for him. We ate, and then we sat around and watched Short Circuit and caught up a bit. John bounced Patrick head first on the footrest of the recliner, and Patrick was in heaven.
The next morning, Patrick was wide awake at 6:30 a.m, despite having been up till nearly 10 p.m. the night before and despite the fact that he was still white as a ghost. Thankfully, though, after breakfast he was ready to sleep again. We had a luxurious nap that day! We slept well into the afternoon! All the work to get to Denver was worth it just for that nap.
We did eventually get up and got to John’s house with just a little time before his daughters got home from school. They are 8 and 10. We thought a cooking lesson might be fun so we took them to the grocery store and got all of the ingredients for our very fancy nachos. Then we came back and taught them all about cutting peppers and tomatoes. The end result was quite yummy.
John’s oldest daughter provided that evening’s entertainment. She was doing a dance in her school’s talent show. So we all piled into the van and headed to the show. As we pulled away from the curb, John’s youngest announced: “I can’t find my tooth!” I guess she’s knocked a loose tooth on the seatbelt on the way into the car and it had come out. We never did find it. Good thing the tooth fairy doesn’t charge a recovery fee.
The talent show was a packed house. My goodness was this a production! But I found myself really enjoying myself as I watched a bunch of elementary school kids singing and dancing to a bunch of Taylor Swift songs (among others). John’s daughter was number 18 of 36 some odd performances. She came on an hour and a half into the show, did a great job, and then we bailed. Patrick was doing his best to be brave and cheer along, but even he could only take so much.
Brian went out with John that night to meet some of his friends. (His brother is a very talented computer security expert and the computer geek crowd often only emerges at night.. Fear of sunlight perhaps? Oh wait, that’s vampires.)
But, the next day, Patrick was up again at 6:30. No early nap was offered, though. We had bigger plans. John’s family came down to go swimming in the hotel pool.
Now, technically you shouldn’t swim with a central line… or 3 days after surgery, for that matter. But we didn’t want Patrick to be completely left out. So, we did what any good parent would do. We covered all his gauze dressings with tegaderm, put an aquaguard on top of that, wrapped him in Glad Press n Seal wrap, and took him to the pool.
We did enforce two rules. His tubes and bag needed to stay out of the water, and he wasn’t allowed to be submerged above his belly button.
At first, he pretty uncertain about what we were doing. After all, I don’t even fill baths deeper than his belly… And he’s only been in a swimming pool once before in his life. But, quickly he warmed up to it.
I taught him that he could lean back and kick his feet and the water would splash.. And he was sold! That was about the most fun we could possibly have offered. And then, we showed him that we could go under the water for a few seconds and then pop up,and he was laughing so hard he could barely control himself. He learned the word “again” asking for us to repeat this trick. We swam till his little lips turned blue and his shirt was soaked from splashing.
We’d planned our swimming adventure knowing that Patrick’s surgical dressings needed to be changed for a regular central line dressing. So, after we dried off quickly, we got out the supplies and made John’s family assist with the dressing change. (Their job was mostly just to entertain Patrick.)
Then, I discovered a pinhole sized leak in Patrick’s curly tubing. This is a disposable piece and I had a spare, so I just changed out the tube, but we spent the rest of the day watching for signs of infection or problems, just in case some pool water had made it into his line. No worries, though. He was ok.
That night was the long-awaited hockey game. I said my goodbyes early because we’d decided not to try to take Patrick to the game. He struggles in our small arena with the noise and the game didn’t even start till 8.
Brian tells me that the Avs were creamed this game. Still, he enjoyed the game. A good dose of NHL for my die-hard hockey fan.
Meanwhile, Patrick and I stayed behind and did laundry and packed… well, that’s what I did at least. Patrick ran around the room undoing my work and signing and saying “Play, play, play” whenever I asked him if he wanted to go to bed.
And then, too quickly, it was time to go home. Sunday morning, we finished packing up the room. We had some time to spare, so we drove down to the Denver temple, then went back to the airport.
We were pretty nervous about going through security at an unknown airport, but our organization paid off and it was one of our smoothest screenings yet. The wait for the flight was easier this time – there were moving walkways in the terminal that Patrick ran on for the entire wait. Then, once on the plane, Patrick fell asleep at takeoff and slept till right before we landed.
A lot of people would think we’re nuts for taking off on vacation in spite of all we went through at the start of last week. But, as I’ve said before, Patrick has taught us the importance of making the best out of every opportunity. It can sometimes take more work and it often doesn’t go as planned, but when all is said and done, it is well worth all the work we put into making these memories as a family. And I can’t think of a better way to have caught up on our rest.