Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Spinal Tap Is More Than Just A Funny Movie

Last week was a rough one around here. My daughter Ashlenne was running a temperature of around 104.5 and had a heart rate of 155. If those just seem like random numbers to you, trust me, they are high. The scariest part though, was not how high they were, but that after hours in the emergency room the doctors couldn't get them to drop. Her blood pressure was spiking above 190. They ordered every test they could think of and quickly because she was in danger of going into cardiac arrest or having a stroke. I sat there, in that cold hospital room (why are hospitals so cold?), watching my daughters heart rate on the monitor. It seemed to be going impossibly fast. I took my own pulse and her heart was beating four times the rate my own was. As doctors came in and out of her room, a cold fear began settling in my stomach. Real fear. Not the kind where someone jumps out at you or you forget to pay the water bill so you have to rush down before they turn it off. But the kind of fear where you realize your whole life may be changing right before your eyes. Where you realize this child who you have nurtured and protected for eleven and a half years may be in the most dangerous situation of her life right in front of you and you can't do a thing to stop it.

I didn't cry though. Not because I'm an emotional rock. But because part of my brain kept saying, 'This isn't really happening.' Everything happened so fast that I barely had a chance to keep up physically, let alone emotionally.

One of the most difficult tests they did on her was the spinal tap. To do the spinal tap they sedated her enough so that she couldn't move but was fully conscious so she could listen to their instructions. Halfway through the insertion of a needle through the lumbar vertebrae of her back she began sobbing uncontrollably, begging for her Dad. Watching that just about broke me inside.

After hours of tests they finally diagnosed her with bacterial pneumonia. Scary words. But not as scary as bacterial meningitis.

All said and done, at the end of the experience we had been through -

Eight pounds lost (Ashlenne's).
Seven days in bed.
Six doctors visits.
Five missed days of school.
Four shots of rocefin.
Three IV's of antibiotics.
Three blood cultures.
Three chest x-rays.
Two emergency room visits.
Two strep cultures.
Two antibiotic prescriptions.
Two cardiac monitors.
And one spinal tap.

Oh, and countless tablets of ibuprofen and acetaminophen.

She is now back at school and the color has returned to her cheeks. She ran across the lawn last night without coughing. Still out of breath, but she could do it. Here's to doctors. Here's to nurses. Let's hear it for hospitals. Let's hear it for modern medicine. And let's hear it for still having my daughter around to hug and kiss because if this had happened in different time, I would probably be telling a different story. And you wouldn't be reading it on a blog either.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Banking With The Best And The Brightest

Hello blogosphere! How are you? As you may have noticed (or may not have noticed, I don't know how many people are still bothering to see if I am writing) I took a summer break from blogging. But I am back and in full force! So watch out world, here I come.

Last week my husband informed me of mistakes on our mortgage statement that he is able to access on the Internet. Something about payment reversal and the balance going up instead of down. Hmmm. I had not noticed that. I don't notice a lot of things though. My husband is what I would call hyper-vigilant about all things financial. He knows exactly what all the balances are on our mortgage and credit cards. As soon as that paycheck is direct deposited in our account he is typing away paying eBills as fast as he can and because he is nine hours ahead of us, all bills are usually paid when I wake up. He even has a spreadsheet with all the payments and balances that he keeps track of. I take a different approach. More of a 'eh' approach. What's my balance on my credit card? I don't know. When is it due every month? I don't know. How much do I owe the dentist for my root canal? I. Don't. Know. Needless to say, money isn't one of my favorite conversations to have with my husband. Recently, my credit card misplaced a $1,000.00 payment I made to them. My husband was furious. I called them, very relaxed. I knew they would find it. I didn't even realize for two weeks that they had lost it because the only time I look at my account is when it's time to pay them. There are so many other interesting things I could be doing.

I will let you in on a secret. The reason I am so, let us say laid back about bills is because I know Matt is on top of it. In fact, the more on top of it he is, the more laid back I become. It's a vicious cycle.

Back to the mortgage. Matt told me that I was going to have to go down to the local branch of the bank and talk to someone about the mistakes on our mortgage statement. Oh joy.Now I get to talk about bills and money to someone else. I arm myself with all pertinent information and trudge down to the local branch. Personal Banker Shawn could answer no questions for me so he said he would call the mortgage center and get back to me. Guess what? He never got back to me. That was just fine with me but it wasn't going to fly with my husband. I called and left a voice mail for him. Nothing. So I went down there, again. More excitement.

This is what I said when I went in there, "Hi. My husband, who is deployed, was looking at these records online and they don't seem to match up. He wanted me to come in and have someone explain to me what is going on so I can explain it to him." Personal Banker Shawn now said he could help me. Except when he looked at the records, he didn't know what was going on either. We called the mortgage center. Call Rep Sylvia answered and tried to explain the situation to Personal Banker Shawn while I sat and listened. Sylvia wasn't very helpful. After about 15 minutes of Shawn and I passing the phone back and forth so she could explain it to both of us we both pretended we got it and hung up.

Personal Banker Shawn - "So, did you understand what she said?"
Me - "Um, no."
Personal Banker Shawn - "Me either! It was like she was just saying words that didn't make any sense!"
Me - "Well, now I don't feel so bad because you work here and if you don't get it, then how the heck am I supposed to get it?!"
Personal Banker Shawn - "Well, we could always call back and see if we get a different person."
Me - "Go for it. I don't think I could be anymore confused than I am now."

We call the mortgage center again hoping we don't get unhelpful Call Rep Sylvia again. Lucky us, we got Call Rep Beth. Call Rep Beth was clear and helpful and took the time to explain to me and Personal Banker Shawn that what we saw on the Internet statement was not necessarily what was really happening with our account. She walked us through every line and explained every payment, all additional interest, and the payment reversal. Personal Banker Shawn and I went, "Oooohhhhh...." At the exact same time. We got it.

After we hung up with Call Rep Beth we both remarked how convoluted the whole page on the Internet was.

Personal Banker Shawn - "So! Do you get it? Anymore questions?"
Me - "I think I get it. Do you get it?"
Personal Banker Shawn - "I think I get it too. Sorry you had to come down here and go through all that. I would have gotten back to you but I never heard anything from them after you came in the first time."
Me - "Yeah, I thought you were ignoring me. I even left you a voice mail and never heard back."

Here is the point in the conversation where I realized that maybe I should have had someone other than Personal Banker Shawn helping me figure things out because this is what he said:

Personal Banker Shawn - "I have voice mail? Huh. Maybe that's what that little blinking red light on my phone means."
Me - "You mean you have messages from last week just floating around out there in voice mail land?"
Personal Banker Shawn - "Actually, probably longer than that because it's been blinking for about a year."

I start laughing so hard that no noise is coming out.

Personal Banker Shawn - "What? Is that bad? What's so funny?"
Me - "Absolutely nothing."  But in my head I am thinking this bank is run by people who have the intelligence of chimps.

Personal Banker Shawn - "Well, that was a lot of calling, explaining, and hassle just to be told that we weren't seeing everything that is going on."
Me - "Yeah. Why don't they just put all the information on the page so you don't have to call and get it explained to you?"
Personal Banker Shawn - "Why don't you and I start a bank where what you see on the Internet is what is really happening with your mortgage?"
Me - "Let's do it. Except, everything will be face to face because you have already proven you can't handle voice mail."
Personal Banker Shawn - Hysterical laughing.

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