Days Like These

Yesterday was Tuesday.  It wasn’t a full moon but it may as well have been.   

  • MG, our front office manager, won’t be in this morning.  Her mother passed away, the last of her living family members.   

  • RC, our newest medical assistant, called in sick this morning.  Coincidentally she was discovered to have been filling our patient’s narcotics for herself.  Police came to visit our office in order for our staff to identify her.  

  • E, our receptionist up front had left to do some Xmas shopping at lunch, at our local mall.  She headed back to her car when she was due to return to work but her car wasn’t there.  Someone had stollen it.  Taken it across the mall.  Stripped it of everything of value, which sadly included all of her Xmas presents in the trunk.  


Later that evening, Maycee woke up from her late nap.  She got up to come to the dinner table, and was saying her leg hurt.  She limped to the table, she sat awkwardly through dinner.  We are used to hearing from Hadley that her belly hurts, to try get out of eating dinner, so we weren’t totally convinced by Maycee.  

And yet, on the other hand, she doesn’t fake things. 

I took a look at her upstairs before bath, she pointed to her thigh, said she thought she pulled a muscle.  I loved hearing that.  I knew she heard it from our beloved babysitter, Lauren, and it made me smile.  Because she didn’t know what it meant, and yet it sounded so natural for her to say.    I thought I felt some swollen lymph nodes in her groin area, and I noticed that her hip was the most symptomatic thing...and very consistently so.  

Baths, bedtime.  She limped to and from the bathroom.  Then limped into our room in the middle of the night.  And while she wouldn’t describe it to me as having pain, she was obviously uncomfortable.  Motrin kicked in after a half hour.  I was worried about her.  But no other fever...

The next morning, this morning, she was still limping.  I worked...two shoulder surgeries...and the first two shoulder surgeries that Doc had scheduled to operate on after his very own shoulder was operated on 2 weeks prior.  He needed my help.  Maycee was still without I didn’t feel too stressed.  

11:20 appointment was made with her pediatrician.  I made it there just in time.  Dr. Paik is wonderful.  She has a soothing voice.  She wears different shades of grey and tan every time we see her.  She is calming and thorough and sweet.  She agreed the hip was the concern.  Since Maycee had Hand Foot and Mouth Virus the week prior, she thought it was most likely Toxic Synovitis, but since it was a diagnosis of exclusion, she had to send us to the ER at Rady Chidlren’s Hospital in San Diego to have more worrisome things ruled out (SCFE, septic hip, Legg-Calve-Perthes).  During her exam of Maycee she said it a couple of times, “It is a diagnosis of exclusion”...looking at me with apologetic eyes; remorseful for the day in the ER that she knew we would be spending after we left her office. 

I have a great relationship with Dr. Paik.  I tried, for the longest time, to keep that I was a PA unbeknownst to her.  I liked just being Mom to my girls, not the mom who is a PA.  I don’t want to diagnose my girls.  These two roles of my life I like to keep separate.  And at the same time, I can not help but to combine them.  I believe that when Maycee had a swollen eye with a 105 fever, and out of fear from what I knew from school I started using terms like Orbital Cellulitis, was when I blew my cover.      

We left her office, we were going to grab some snacks from home and go pick up Hadley from Lauren, who nicely agreed to keep Boo a bit while I took May to the Dr.  But before I could tell May my plan, she started to cry in the back of the car.  She was in pain, I was sure, scared about going to the hospital.  What’s wrong, May?  Are you okay?  I want to go pick up my sister, are we going to go get Hadley?  Oh.  Sweet girl.  She missed Hadley; she was kinda scared and wanted her sister.  

Without boring you with details of our ER visit...we spent from 2-7PM at the ER...pretty good, really!  Rich couldn’t be there until 430, I worried how I would do, alone, one 40# girl whom I probably needed to carry, and another 30# girl who would probably want to be carried because I was waking her up too early from her nap.  But I did it.  With a few comments seeking praise from them as I did it (“don’t forget to tell Daddy how strong Mommy is!”).  

We checked in.  “You’re a PA?  Where do you work?”.  Ummm, what?  How did you know that, I haven’t filled out my paper work yet?  Darned Dr. Paik had written it in big letters in the paperwork she faxed over!  Cover blown again, I couldn’t pretend to just be Mom.  But back to worrying...I worried about Hadley being partially-potty trained...but she didn’t ask to go into underwear after her nap, so I just kept her in her diaper, and it worked out okay...we didn’t seem to go backward like I feared we would there. May got through her XR fine, again, with me carrying 2 girls up and down the hallway. 

Rich was there before too long...and we stayed upbeat for May.  We didn’t talk about food, despite how hungry we all were, because May couldn’t eat until a final diagnosis was made; we played I Spy; we made balloons out of medical gloves and hit each other in the face with them.  Her blood work was hard for her.  But man she was so brave.  So brave.  Taking the IV catheter out was harder, because of the sticky tape...but we got through that too.  Final diagnosis was Toxic Synovitis.  It will go away on its own.  

But there is something about seeing your child limp around.  Something about trying to keep cool/calm/fun yet having all the worst case scenarios go through your head, despite feeling confident that she would seem much more sick with any of the other, worse, diagnoses.  

Something about tucking your girl into bed and propping a pillow under her knees because you know it takes some pressure off her hip...and the smile she gives in return to justify your thinking.  Something about them being able to say they have pain, point to where they have pain, and they know they can trust that we will handle it, comfort them, help them through it...even when we aren’t sure what we are doing, even when we’ve never gone through this before.  I’ll even admit I enjoyed being able to baby her a little bit.  Maybe because she isn’t a baby anymore. She’s so proud not to be a baby anymore.    


My life in these two days has me feeling a wide range of emotions.  While I have always felt so much comfort in the predictable, in routines, in patterns, in knowing things are where I put them last...I am finding that the uncertainty in life is what makes us really appreciate things.  It makes us remember what our beliefs are.  The routines are really just things to help us feel order when, really, we are in control of so very little.  

When you think you are getting to know someone, it may turn out that you really know nothing about them, that they might do what you never thought they were capable of; the deceit people are capable of; the stealing, the ability of one human to violate another; human kind vs. human not-so-kind; the reality of one of my fears, death, so present and real to people on a daily basis...and yet, I’m able to push it off another day/month/year; realizing that life really can change in one day, in one minute.  

I am so thankful.  So thankful.  That Maycee is okay.  That I get another day.  

 © Houseman 2013