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.

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!

Changing up my New England trips

This bridge over the Hudson River is one of my favorites on my New England drives.

When I cross this bridge on my New England road trips I know I’m close to MA.

When I started making frequent trips to New England, the dates I would visit were mostly random and didn’t usually coincide with any particular events. That all changed after I attended my first Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness pow-wow and realized I wanted to attend as many as I could. To that end, I’ve planned my trips around the dates of the MCNAA pow-wows for the past two years and I continued that tradition this spring with the Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow, their first pow-wow of the year. It was after that most recent trip that I realized it was past time to change things up a bit.

As usual for my most recent trip, I drove out on a Wednesday, stayed in a hotel up in Seabrook, NH, stocked up on a few groceries from Market Basket, visited Newburyport and Amesbury and took a day trip into Boston. I’d told the friend I’d known the longest from New England, and who was one of the main reasons for my first trip out that way, that I wanted to see them and they said they wanted to see me too. It had been a year since we saw each other and I thought a brief chat and a hug wasn’t too much to ask.

Unfortunately, when it came down to it my friend made excuses for why they couldn’t see me and we never saw each other. Although I tried to shrug it off at the time, it hurt my feelings and made me realize it was time for a change.

As it turned out, I did get my chat and my hug during that last trip, just not as I’d expected. I gave one of the MCNAA Board members a ride home after helping out Friday before the pow-wow and she and I had a nice chat while navigating the stop-and-go Memorial Day traffic. I received several hugs from familiar friends at the pow-wow and an especially tight one from Harry the Hawk, one of my favorite pow-wow dancers. So despite the hurt caused by someone I had called friend, the universe reminded me that I am a valued friend to others.

In the spirit of change and taking a different path, the main reason for my upcoming New England trip is to volunteer at and attend the MCNAA Summer Moon Pow-wow in Danvers, MA. I won’t be making any trips up to New Hampshire, northern MA or into Boston, not that there’s really time anyway. I will be heading out Thursday evening instead of Wednesday morning because I watch my girls for my ex Thursday and don’t want to miss time with them. Plus, heading out in the evening should help me miss a lot of the usual traffic I encounter in MA.

My hotel is a less than 10-minute drive from the pow-wow location at Endicott Park, which will be a welcome change from having to drive down from Seabrook, NH. I’ve never stayed in Danvers, only visited there for pow-wows so I’ll have to learn a completely new area, but I’m sure it will be good for me. It’s past time I explore more of Massachusetts than just the few specific locations I’ve visited and I’m sure I’ll have plenty of interesting experiences just like always. I’ll probably get all sorts of lost too…just like usual. 😉

Another Whirlwind Tour of New England

 

Massachusetts hills by JulieAnn Corbin

Tomorrow morning I head to New England once again and I’m so looking forward to it! Last time I visited was at the end of March/beginning of April and I had the misfortune of driving through an unexpected snowstorm on the way home. As it’s now May and very summer-like, I do hope that won’t be happening again!

As usual, I’ll be cramming a lot into my visits and it’s all of my own choice. My days in Upstate New York are relatively predictable, but I don’t consider that a bad thing as I’m quite happy and never bored. However, driving out to southern New Hampshire/northern Massachusetts offers me new, interesting adventures not possible where I live. I’ll be spending a day in Boston, hopefully visiting Newburyport and Amesbury, helping set up for the Massachusetts Center for Native American Awareness Spring Planting Moon Pow-wow in Marshfield, MA and attending the event on Saturday. I love visiting with my friends from the MCNAA, helping out however I can and dancing in the circle. I’m sure I’ll have a wonderful time!

One thing that surprises most people about my road trips is that I actually enjoy the drive out. The drive home always feels a bit longer, but on the drive out, I love watching the scenery change as I move east across New York State and enter the tall hills/mountains of western Massachusetts. I always know I’m getting closer to MA when the hills grow taller and the road becomes more winding. There are some who don’t do well in thruway/interstate traffic, but I’ve become accustomed to it and I set my cruise at a safe, reasonable speed.

So tomorrow morning after my girls get on the bus and head to school and I’ve dropped Jazzmin at the doggy hotel, I’ll be stopping at Dunkin Donuts to grab my usual large coffee and breakfast sandwich before hitting the thruway east. Look out, New England, here comes another whirlwind tour by yours truly! 😉

 

Another New England Adventure Awaits!

 

Wampanoag post at Plymoth Museum

Informational sign at Plymouth Museum

As I don’t have my daughters for the upcoming school break, I’ll be heading to New England Wednesday morning on another adventure! It will most likely by my last trip out that way until next year so I plan on make the most of it.

My plans include attending The National Day of Mourning in Plymouth, MA, heading into Boston for a day and attending the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Annual Inter-Tribal Potluck Social. While I’ve visited Boston several times, this will be my first time attending the two Native American events. I’m eager to partake in these new experiences and further expand my knowledge and understanding. I urge anyone in the area to attend one or both events as everyone is welcome.

It was only a few months ago that I uncovered my own Native American ancestry and I’m constantly working on learning more about the culture that was kept secret in my family for generations. To that end and to acknowledge what this time of year means to Native Americans, I started reading The Mourning Road to Thanksgiving by Larry Spotted Crow Mann last week. I saw Larry Spotted Crow Mann at the very first pow wow I attended at UMAss Amherst in Spring of 2014 and I found him to be a very engaging storyteller. Although I’m only a few chapters into the book, I’m finding it very educational and interesting and I feel it’s something that everyone should read to help learn the truth about this time of year.

I am a solo traveler and to some, the idea of being alone in a hotel room during this time of year might not appeal, but as my days will be quite full of new and exciting experiences, I’m sure I’ll happily collapse into bed every night I’m there. I’ve been making these road trips out to New England since November of 2011 and while I didn’t know during the first trip that it would become a regular thing for me, I’m very happy that it has and I look forward to every single one with the same excitement of my very first trip!

 

 

Lost truths of history

Image courtesy of NativeVillage.org

Last year I learned the truth of Thanksgiving for the first time. The truth of Thanksgiving bares almost no resemblance to the “fairy tale” I was taught in elementary school. What I learned and what they still teach children today does not properly honor the Wampanoags, the Native American people who aided the Pilgrims of Plymouth. This lack of knowledge about the true story of this American “holiday” has to be corrected.

I do not believe that my words can do the true history justice so I implore you to read the articles I have linked. Then you too will know one of the many lost and mis-told truths of history regarding Native Americans. The more education there is about the true past, the better everyone’s future will be.

How Do Native Americans Really Feel About Thanksgiving?

Exploring Thanksgiving History in Massachusetts

Do American Indians Celebrate Thanksgiving?

Captured: 1614 – New Exhibit Focuses on Wampanoag Story

THANKSGIVING: THE NATIONAL DAY OF MOURNING

Thanksgiving: A National Day of Mourning for Indians