Not the vacation we planned – Part 2

View from BCH by JulieAnn Corbin

View from Jaycie’s hospital room at Boston Children’s Hospital

Upon learning that Jaycie would need to be transported via ambulance to Boston Children’s Hospital from Beverly Hospital, the steel reinforcements around my emotions began to crumble. Whenever Jordan and I were at the hospital, I would help Jaycie with whatever she needed.  This included helping her use the bathroom, cleaning her up, making sure she drank water, keeping her warm with sheets or blankets, switching DVDs, brushing her hair, asking for and giving her pain meds (she was in pain but dislikes medicine so she’d never ask) and so on. I’m her mother and it’s what I do and I knew the nurses deserved a break and were busy with other patients.

I’d stayed strong, calm and caring throughout the entire experience because I knew I had to be a rock for my girls, but it was an exhausting experience overall and took its toll. Learning that Jaycie needed more care than Beverly Hospital could provide weakened my walls temporarily. I had to go into the hospital room’s bathroom to cry for a bit because it was becoming too overwhelming. When I called my ex-husband/the girls’ father to tell him about Jaycie being moved, I started crying when I was leaving the message. I really wish I hadn’t done that because he’s the last person I want to appear “weak” to, but I couldn’t help it.

I managed to suck it up and compose myself by the time Jaycie was taken to the ambulance by the friendly ambulance drivers. She seemed unconcerned by the whole thing as I think by that point, she was too exhausted to care or really know what was going on. Jordan and I said goodbye to Jaycie and then went out to my car to find the best route to Boston Children’s Hospital. The ambulance drivers reassured us that we didn’t need to follow right behind them, in fact they encouraged us not to and as they’d be dealing with heavy traffic into Boston, so we didn’t need to rush too much. As it was after dinner and neither of us had eaten since lunch, I drove to the closest Dunkin Donuts for some food. Jordan ate her donut in the restaurant but I took my bagel sandwich to go since I wanted to get on the road to the hospital.

I’m going to dedicate an entire separate blog post or two to my oldest daughter Jordan because she was such an immense help and amazing co-pilot throughout the entire situation with Jaycie. An example of this was how she broke off and handed me pieces of the bagel sandwich as I drove into Boston. The bagel was hard to tear up so I’d get pieces of just bagel, or bagel and cheese or some bacon and at one point, just a chunk of egg. Even so, I got food in my while managing to navigate and that would have been much harder without Jordan’s help! Jordan really is a wonderful 14 year old young woman and although I’m her mother and I’m biased, I think anyone that meets her would agree.

When Jordan and I arrived at Boston Children’s Hospital, we managed to find the correct parking garage and park in the first empty spot I found. We then crossed the street to the hospital and discovered that the entrance was under construction so we had to walk a rather long way around to get to the doors. We got the appropriate temporary badges, found the Emergency Room entrance and were taken immediately back to Jaycie who lay waiting in one of the Emergency area rooms. Although the room was small, it had a door that closed and helped keep the noise out. Jaycie was happy to see us and seemed tired but otherwise the same as she had been.

A couple doctors and nurses came to speak to us once we arrived and explained the situation and I was immediately reassured and calmed by their obvious understanding and knowledge of her condition. They were extremely friendly and willing to answer questions and I realized that we were exactly where we were meant to be. Shortly after we arrived, Jaycie being Jaycie asked if I could turn the TV on. As the TV was hung directly on the wall above where we were sitting, I hadn’t even known it was there, but Jaycie certainly didn’t miss it! I found the remote, turned the TV on and found Disney for her and then Jaycie was content to watch TV until her room upstairs was ready.

I believe we sat in the Emergency Room for around an hour or less before they came to take Jaycie upstairs to her room. It was after 10pm by that point. We were all tired but my girls were troopers and I was back to being a rock so we were hanging in there. A very friendly male nurse came to wheel Jaycie upstairs and I was surprised to learn we were on the 10th floor in one of the new wings called 10 Northwest. We went down so many hallways I was certain I’d get lost trying to navigate, but fortunately Jordan has a better sense of direction than I do.

When we reached Jaycie’s private room, I was surprised to find that it was bigger than my living room! Mind you, my house is rather small, but I didn’t know that private hospital rooms that large even existed. She had a TV, mini fridge, table with a couple chairs and a sofa bed by the window with a rather nice view of the city. The flat screen TV was huge and of course Jaycie wanted it turned on almost immediately. The evening nurse came and spoke to us for a bit and reassured us that Jaycie would be fine overnight when I told her we’d be going back to the hotel to sleep. Jaycie seemed as happy as she could be considering the discomfort she was in and she even smiled a little while watching TV. Confident that Jaycie would fall asleep soon and that the nurses would take great care of her, Jordan and I left her for the night.

To be continued…

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Not the vacation we planned – Part 1

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Outside of Beverly Hospital

The vacation with my girls this summer was supposed to be full of fun adventures/misadventures, but instead, it was spent in emergency rooms and hospitals.

My youngest daughter wasn’t feeling well over the weekend she spent with her father, but we just thought it was a stomach bug. She started to feel a bit better Monday night and said she wanted to go on the trip Tuesday, so we hit the road Tuesday morning. She was a bit tired and slow moving on the drive but she ate some food and seemed in decent spirits.

We arrived at our queen “suite” Tuesday evening after a long day of driving and were disappointed by the size and layout of the room. That’s a story for another day though as I’m still trying to resolve the issue with Hilton. That night when Jaycie went to the bathroom she cried and complained of right side pain. That was the first time she’d specified a region of pain and I didn’t take it as a good sign.

The next morning, Wednesday, I decided to take her to an urgent care near the hotel. The doctor at urgent care couldn’t help her because they didn’t have the right equipment so they sent us to the emergency room at Beverly Hospital. She’d become dehydrated over the weekend with her father and I’d been having her drink as much as possible since I picked her up Sunday, but as soon as she got into an emergency room, the nurse could tell she was still dehydrated and started her on IV liquids. Jaycie cried getting the IV put in and my oldest daughter and I almost started crying too because we hated seeing her in pain and scared. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the last time Jaycie would be in such a state.

The doctors at Beverly Hospital decided to do an ultrasound to see if they could find the cause of her pain and when that produced inconclusive results, they admitted her to the hospital for observation. The doctors and nurses were all very nice and Jaycie went into a nice private room upstairs. Once she was settled in, Jordan and I went back to the hotel to sleep because we were exhausted. I told my family and close friends about what was going on and they offered their support and well wishes, which meant the world to me.

The next day at the hospital, Thursday, the doctors said they didn’t think that she would require surgery for whatever the issue was, so they said she could start eating normal food again. I ordered her food she would normally like but she didn’t want to eat any of it and only ate a few bites of breakfast, lunch and dinner because I insisted she needed to eat to get better.

Throughout the entire hospital experience, the one thing that helped Jaycie was having a TV with a DVD player in her room. She watched several movies and that kept her spirits up and her mind off her discomfort. Jordan read her books and I distracted myself with Warcraft to pass the time as we waited for doctors and nurses to figure out what was wrong with Jaycie and how to make her better.

Jordan and I went back to the hotel to sleep Thursday night and when we came back Friday morning, the doctor said she was concerned that Jaycie wasn’t improving as they’d hoped. They’d thought she had a uti or some sort of intestinal bug, but as she had been on antibiotics since getting into the emergency room and still wasn’t improving, they began to wonder if it was something else, like appendicitis.

I’d wondered if it was appendicitis from the moment she complained of right side pain but the doctors hadn’t wanted to do a CT scan due to the radiation until they’d exhausted other options. They did an x-ray on Jaycie Friday afternoon and when that showed fluid where it didn’t belong, they decided it was time for a CT scan.

Almost the entire time that Jaycie’s abdomen hurt, she was also complaining of right shoulder pain and my oldest friend kept insisting Jaycie should get a CT scan because her son had right shoulder pain associated with his ruptured appendix. As it turned out, she was right that it had to do with Jaycie’s appendix as the CT scan revealed perforated appendicitis with abscesses.

Beverly Hospital didn’t have the capabilities to treat Jaycie’s condition so they informed me that they’d be moving her to Boston Children’s Hospital via ambulance that Friday night. I’d been holding it together pretty well until then but learning that they had to move my daughter to a different hospital made me think it was something even more serious than I realized and I started to crumble a bit.

As this has turned into an epic novel of a blog post, I will continue it another day.

Daughter, friend and amazing young woman

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My oldest daughter, Jordan, turned 14 today and for whatever reason, 14 feels years older than 13. This September she’ll be going into 9th grade, high school, and although she hasn’t said it, I think she’s nervous about that.

When I gave birth to Jordan 14 years ago, I was blessed to become a mother for the first time and feel all the love that comes with such a role. Jordan has been changing my life in positive ways ever since.

I’m not sure how I became the mother of a young woman as I still feel like a teenager myself most days, but Jordan has surpassed everything I’d accomplished when I was her age. She has a creative spirit, kind heart, good soul and determination to do wonderful things for the world.

Jordan inherited my love of reading and writing but she’s taken it to another level. She’s often reading more than one book at a time and that’s something I can’t do without becoming confused. As her big birthday present this year, I bought and built her a bookshelf for her bedroom and she was so happy to see it! She’s filled almost two whole shelves with her books already and I added two more books to her collection as the rest of my gift to her.

Among the books she’s been reading lately is the first book I wrote in my fantasy series. I wrote it long before she was born and haven’t reread it in many years so I’ve been learning a lot as she’s reading it. The fact that she not only finds it readable but is truly enjoying the story fills me with happiness and hope that I may still be published someday. She’s already pointed out things I need to fix and made me rethink some of my chapters and I am so grateful for her help!

Jordan and I are two sides of the same coin and have been since the day she was born. We have great conversations and are friends along with being mother and daughter. We challenge each other’s thinking sometimes, bounce ideas off each other and yes, we butt heads sometimes because we’re so similar. Nonetheless, she is an amazing 14 year old young woman and I’m grateful and bewildered every day that such a daughter calls me Mom.

Upcoming Massachusetts Adventures of the Triumphant Trio!

Boston trip by JulieAnn Corbin

My daughters and I at Long Wharf, Boston, 2014

Next Tuesday, my daughters and I hitting the road and heading to Massachusetts for our annual summer vacation. The triumphant trio rides again! The past two summers we stayed in cottages on Plum Island because I love the ocean. As my girls love the pool more than the ocean, I decided we’d stay in a nice hotel with a pool for this year’s trip. I chose a Homewood Suites by Hilton because of their lovely looking accommodations with kitchenettes, ideal location, daily hot breakfasts, evening socials and of course, the pool.

We’ll be closer to Boston and Salem this trip but we’ll still head up to the North Shore area of Massachusetts to enjoy our favorite areas there. We’re going to take a whale watching tour that heads out of Newburyport, visit downtown Amesbury and Cider Hill Farm, and head into Boston for a day like we always do. We haven’t gone on a whale watch in several years and the one we took out of Boston last time was full of interesting adventures that didn’t exactly equal fun.

tired girls by JulieAnn Corbin

How the girls looked heading back from the Boston Whale watch. Jordan wasn’t crying, just tired. Lol.

Aside from that, I have no set plans. I want to take the girls into Salem, MA because I’ve been there twice in October, but never during the summer. The girls have never been to Salem and I figure visiting in summer will be less “spooky” than visiting in October. I’d also like to take them to Plymouth, but I’m not sure if that will happen, it depends on how much energy we have.

I love these vacations with my daughters because it’s the only time I get to have an entire uninterrupted week with them. I share custody 50/50 with their father and while I’ve grown to like my alone time, I always miss my girls when I don’t have them. My daughters are the best part of my life and nothing will ever be more important than them. I love them more than words and I love being a mother.

My girls and I always have interesting and unforgettable adventures on our vacations. We retell stories from years ago that still make us laugh. Laughing is definitely something we do quite often when we’re together. We’re all happy and at ease when we’re together and as this is a vacation and I don’t plan on working, I won’t feel as conflicted as I do when we’re home. To say that I’ve been looking forward to this trip since I booked it in February is an understatement!

Although my girls don’t enjoy the driving out part as much as I do, we still have fun when we’re on the road. I’m up front as the pilot while they watch DVDs, write, color or read in the back seats. I do periodically have to tell them to “stop touching each other” but it’s in a joking way because they get along extremely well for sisters that are four years apart in age. Jordan is turning 14 the day before our trip and she’s a younger version of my sarcastic self so we tend to banter when we’re together. Jaycie is 10 and like me in her lack of tidiness and her love of daydreaming, so I’m sure she’ll be telling me interesting things and random facts she read in a book months ago.

It’s hard to believe that the time of our trip is almost here, but I know that time moves along whether we want it to or not. I’m going to cherish every moment of our vacation just as I do every moment with my girls and I look forward to the upcoming Massachusetts adventures/misadventures of the triumphant trio!

New month, new possibilities

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It’s hard to believe it’s August already! It seems like it was just 4th of July when I was out mowing my lawn back before lack of rain fried the grass. July was certainly a busy, productive month and I have a feeling August will be similar.

I got an early start to this first day of August when Jazzmin came into my room at 4 a.m. I’ve been a light sleeper since I had babies and as Jazz usually sleeps in the girls room, it was unusual for her to be in mine. I heard her footsteps into my room and her wagging tail whacking my hamper and was then fully awake. I figured she had to go outside and I was right.

When I took Jazzmin out in the pre-dawn darkness, the air was thick with fog and the grass and dirt were damp beneath my feet. I’m not certain if it rained again or if it was just the excessive humidity but the wetness felt wonderful on my bare feet. Along with the moisture in the air, I also felt a change in the air. It wasn’t weather-related, it was just a feeling I had. A feeling that August is going to be full of positive changes and new opportunities.

I went back to bed after taking Jazzmin out and she settled on the floor between the girls’ beds like she usually does. When I woke again a few hours later that feeling of positive impending changes and opportunities remained.

The girls and I had to do some running around today and while doing so, I saw four hawks, a great blue heron and my first monarch butterfly of the year. All very positive signs! I believe that the universe was reaffirming the feelings from the morning darkness with Jazzmin and I’m curious to see what new adventures August brings.