We got to visit the ER for the fifth time in 12 months yesterday. Joyous. Mario went to bed on Tuesday night complaining that his lower abdomen hurt. He could not sit up without pain. If he turned to his left side, it does not hurt as bad. I felt around his lower abdomen to see if I could feel a hernia. I did not feel anything protruding so I rubbed his head and told him to try to get a good night of sleep. He brushed my hand away complaining that it really hurt and asking if he could skip school on Wednesday if it still hurt in the morning. The kid will do anything not to go to school. I left it that we would see in the am.
He woke up on Wednesday morning with the same pain. He could not sit directly up and his right side hurt to the touch. Luckily, Jon was home for the day so Mario could stay with him. Jon took him to the doctor’s office at 2:30, and called me at 3:30 to tell me that they were on their way to the emergency room. The doctor had checked out Mario and believed there was a “moderate risk” that he had appendicitis or a hernia. I met the boys in the ER at 4:30. They were still in the waiting room.

I walked to the check-in line with Mario to get a visitor badge. Mario wanted to cut in front of the three families before us but I held him back. As we stood in line, a mother approached us from behind. Her daughter was laying in a wagon. I said hello and she began to talk with me about her crazy drive to the hospital. I waved at her daughter and asked her name. The mother informed me that her daughter was diagnosed with cancer at seven weeks old. She was now almost 2 years old and cancer-free. But, she had lingering issues and that evening she couldn’t stop throwing up. The mother leaned down and pulled the covers over her daughter as she began to cough. She smiled at Mario and commented “at least she is loving the wagon ride.” 

Being a parent is rough. Seeing your child in pain and hurt is even rougher. I can’t imagine how hard it must’ve been for that mother to see her child through cancer starting at seven weeks old; yet, here she was with a smile on her face and iron-clad perseverance on her sleeve. Throughout the evening, as I started to get irritated at our wait-time, I thought about that little girl and her mom. How many times have they visited the hospital in two years? How many times was the mom scared her child may die? How many times did the girl get poked with needles? I told Mario what I was thinking so that he would hopefully take some time to ponder how other children were facing tough battles and empathize with their situation. 

They called us back to the room around 5 o’clock. We sat in the room for an hour and a half before the resident doctor appeared. Poor Mario got another female doctor – he was so embarrassed at having to be checked over by a female. After looking him over, she was also concerned about appendicitis, and ordered an ultrasound. Mario started to get nervous thinking about an operation if he had appendicitis. 

What if they take out the wrong Organ when they operate?” “What if they make me lose too much blood?” 

He was really working himself up and it took all our might to calm him down. We turned on “Outrageous Science” and watched all sorts of amazing science experiments being performed. The show calmed him down a bit.

Someone eventually came to take us to the ultrasound room. Boy, did that bring back memories. I thought about being pregnant with Maria and Mario and watching their little bodies on the screen. Pure joy. 

We headed back to the room after the ultrasound and waited, and waited, and waited. We continued to watch our science program. And then, the doctor showed up. Good results. No sign of appendicitis and no sign of a hernia. She opined that it was likely a pulled abdominal muscle that was causing him the pain. Mario was at once relieved but also a little bummed out, I think. I have a feeling he was hoping to tell his friends that he would need surgery (but somehow magically without actually having to get the surgery). You can’t have it both ways, bud.

As we waited for the discharge papers, Mario asked if he could not go to school again on Thursday. I asked him what reason he had to not go to school? He responded that he needed to rest his abdominal muscles. This kid. 

I told him that if he wanted to sleep in we would take him to school late because we were getting out of the ER so late. He responded that he may just sleep in until 3 in the afternoon for the first time ever in his life. Very cute, he is. Very cute.

Skippin’ Football Sunday

The family woke up on Saturday and got working on cleaning our rooms.  It caused much heartburn in Maria on Saturday night – she worried that she would be bored cleaning her room.  “How can I make it fun, mom?” 

“I used to listen to music and dance around my room while I cleaned,” I told her.

A while later, she headed to her room to go to bed.  Jon and I were sitting downstairs when we heard Justin Bieber’s voice coming from upstairs.  A few minutes later we heard crying.  Jon went upstairs to see what was wrong.  Maria stood in her room with tears down her cheeks and told Jon “I am trying what mom told me to do but it isn’t working.  I am still not having fun.”  Poor thing….

That is why when we woke up on Sunday morning, I jumped out of bed and made cleaning fun!  I smiled and laughed and skipped around as I helped Maria pick up her room.  Mario jumped right in, too, picking up barbies and folding clothes.  Maria picked up a book here or there, made her bed and then moved on to getting dressed.  She is going to be one that takes two hours to clean her room on Saturday morning.  When we moved to Mario’s room, he lost interest in cleaning.  He was more concerned about jumping off his loft bed and doing kick stands around his room.  Maria helped me check the clothes on his floor to determine whether they were too little for him anymore and if they were dirty.  He somehow still does not understand where the laundry basket is located. 

Maria and Alana outside of the hospital with the flying pig

After cleaning, we got ready for the day.  Jon scooped up Mario under his wing, and headed to Dover, Ohio to visit Big Mario and Vicki for a day of pasta and wrestling.  I scooped up the Maria and Alana and headed to Cincinnati to visit my grandma in the hospital and to play at Aunt Julie’s house.  We listened to Big Time Rush for most of the ride and then colored pictures for grandma.  The kids were anxious to see grandma – I think they were more anxious to see “sick” people and the devices and instrumentalities of the hospital.  Neither of them remember a hospital.  They peered at the people in the hall and in the beds entranced by the fragility of life.  When they got to grandma’s room, they greeted her skeptically not quite sure if they should get near her.  As time went on, they got better at engaging with her eventually singing Christmas songs to her and talking to her about school.  Alana must have sung her 10 religious songs that she learned in Catholic school.  When Grandma asked Maria to sing a song, Maria belted out Jingle Bells!  My grandma looked at me and said “you need to get Maria in Sunday school.”  

After grandma’s, I took the girls to a delicious bagel shop in Blue Ash.  I grew up on these bagels and cream cheese.  They are fabulous.  We got toasted bagels with a load of cream cheese and sat at the bar.  Heaven.  Next, we headed to Julie’s to see her dogs and visit Grandma Lolo.  The girls LOVE to walk Julie’s dogs because they are just right for them.  Both are maybe 25 pounds and do not pull on their leashes.  They allow the girls to drag them anywhere.  A win-win situation for all. 

I went back to the hospital to be with grandma. We had a pleasant conversation about her friends, card parties, and needing solitude.  Us Menkedick brood all have that solitude gene in common – we need alone time to be our best.  We picked it up from grandma, I learned. When I returned to Julie’s house, the girls were downstairs listening to records on a Fisher Price record player.  Yes, records!  Maria was amazed at the looks of the record player, laughing at how I used to have to listen to music on such an antiquated device!

We hopped in the car to head back to Columbus.  Alana’s parents are much more strict than Jon and I and wanted Alana home by 7:30 since it was a school night.  We raced up I-71 in order to hit McDonald’s Playland for ten minutes (it has become a staple with each Cincy trip).  We got Alana home 1 minute late and proceeded to Orange Leaf for a frozen yogurt treat before bed. 

Mario walking up the long hill.

The boys met up with us at the house – they were exhausted from four-wheeling and wrestling all day.  Little Mario also decided that he was old enough to walk up the long hill from Mario’s shop to Mario’s house all by himself.  He got tired of waiting for Jon to finish his conversation with Big Mario and informed Jon that he was big enough to take the trek himself.  Jon agreed, not sure if he would make it or not.  But that boy has determination and will when he needs it and he made it.  

We all gave each other kisses hello, got in our pjs and headed to our beds – no time to watch football on this jam-packed Sunday….