Wed. October 22, 1986—Cabrillo Marina
A fresh beginning and a fresh hand. A new book, and a new style of writing. (Except this pen is seemingly against the idea.)
There – re-inked, now let’s try again. [I was using a nib tipped calligraphy pen dipped in India ink.]
Anyway, I’m learning calligraphy – the proper letter forms. It’s very difficult to switch from my own style to formal, but I will and the only way is to practice, practice, practice – and we can tell, I have a long way to go. Anyway, back to our story…
Nikki, my daughter, is 15-months-old now. She had her cleft palate surgery last Oct. 2nd—It was awful! That poor little pumpkin so worried when we got to the hospital that morning. She cried and cried. She couldn’t eat anything since midnight the night before and they didn’t even take her into surgery till almost 10:30! It was so hard to keep from crying myself. [But I maintained a chipper and cheerful front.] We arrived at the hospital at 7:30.
They had us waiting in a cozy little room with a TV so we could be alone together and try to keep our poor baby calm, she wasn’t.
When they finally took her away, I didn’t cry [but I wanted too!].
Alex [her dad] and I sat quietly in our little room for a few more minutes then went for breakfast in the coffee shop. We had a long wait ahead of us.
Well breakfast and coffee went down fast, and well—with a few [more]hours to wait, finding things to do to occupy us was difficult.
I seemed to be more anxious than Alex – we went quickly through the gift shop then back to the waiting room. Alex was able to sit still, but I could not—I paced the “short stay” surgery there at Long Beach Memorial at great length. [Oh, a pun!]
Finally at 1:45, Dr. Hickman, the plastic surgeon, came in, “Nikki is doing fine, but her surgery was much more difficult than expected.”
They had to draw so much skin (tissue) that he had to leave a tiny hole, which, he said, “May grow over. If not, and we won’t know till then, it could be repaired at the age of four.” He told us we would be able to see her in recovery in about 30 minutes.
“Okay, just as long as she’s okay,” [was my reply].
Now this was a really anxious time – and after watching every god-dammed soap opera between the pacing, we still sat there for another hour and a half. Finally we heard, “Will the parents of Nikki Palumbo please come to the main desk.”
We were sent to recovery – pediatric recovery was way in the back – there must have been 200 or more people in there “recovering” in a warehouse-like room. [It was enormous!]
We finally made it back to Miss P. She looked awful—such a shock [to see her]—she was on her tummy, pale as pale can be, blood running from her nose, and a black string hung from her mouth that was sewn to her tongue to keep it from flopping back. She looked drugged [duh].
The nurses seemed caring, calm and confident she was doing well. It was difficult to keep composed but we stroked her hair and reassured her mommy and daddy were there. The nurse gave her some Demerol to knock her out and we wheeled her upstairs to her room.
That kid’s a fighter. As the drugs wore off, she became worse and worse, she screamed and cried constantly, although who could blame her? So she was kept drugged most of the time.
I felt so sorry for her. She had to wear arm splints [to keep her hands away from her mouth], which didn’t help her disposition one bit. Her mouth hurt, and she was mad.
She lay there in a prone position (she had to lay on her tummy those first couple days so any blood or oozing wouldn’t choke her) staring at us with a look like, “I’ll get you for this. I’m remembering all your faces.” She was scary. [I had forgotten about this.. she really was scary; a classic case of "if looks could kill!"
Alex and I were wrecks. We felt helpless. We couldn’t pick her up to cuddle or reassure her (she was not the cuddle and reassuring kind anyway). We just sat close by her, talked to her and held her little hand.
The next day, Friday, we got some apple juice in her (she had to take a lot of clear fluids so we could take the I.V. out. She took a little about once an hour, but not enough to sustain her. Poor kid must have been starving – she wasn’t sick, there was nothing wrong with her tummy other than it was empty! Alex and I took turns eating where she couldn’t see. [It was miserable.]
Saturday she was beginning to get her strength back; she kept getting out of the arm splints and managed to pull out the I.V. The nurses left it out, thank God.
Nikki hated the nurses; she’d throw a fit if one so much as looked at her—just taking her temp under her little arm was a fight.
On Sunday, all she wanted to do was leave. She kept crying and pointing toward the door. Well she got her way this time—she got to go home! She also got to have formula from a cup; she liked that [much better] instead of that nasty syringe we used to squirt the juice in to her mouth with. The formula helped fill her tummy.
[End of entry.]
Nikki obviously survived that traumatic event, and did have subsequent surgery to repair the hole when she was 10. She is happy and healthy but still worries a lot.
Hmm.. I wonder if she still holds the grudges against those poor nurses?