No pun intended.
Gabriel didn’t sleep much at all the first night home. He doesn’t sleep on his back, and he’s been sleeping in a crib for the last two years, so now that he’s downstairs on the couch and sleeping spreadeagled on his back, it’s not particularly conducive to rest. Someone has to be there for him, which at night usually means Jeanette or myself. Since Gabriel didn’t sleep, neither did we. Well, okay, one of us didn’t. One of us slept down on the couch with Gabriel, or on the Luv Sac that Kevin and Dianna Field brought us, God bless them and their posterity forever, and the other got to sleep in bed.
Mostly, Jeanette takes the night shift, because she’s tougher than I am. She says it’s because I work all day, and she can take a nap, and this is a great attempt at spinning the situation, but we both know she’s full of it. She’s not going to take any nap. My work is mostly sedentary. I’m actually the guy that should be taking the hard shift at night, but I can’t do it. She can get 4 or 5 hours of often-interrupted sleep and still be fresh and productive the next day. Me? No. Not so much.
So Jeanette didn’t sleep much the first couple days, then I spelled her and that night Gabriel slept 4 hours straight for the first time. Karma, that’s what it is.
Mundanities. Gabriel was on heavy Lortab for the first couple of days, and he hated it intensely. It tastes so bitter that you can’t hide it in juice or milk, so he has to take it straight. The only way to get him to do that is for one person to hold him down, pinning his arms and squeezing his mouth open, and the other person squirts the stuff in his mouth and blows on his face, which causes and involuntary swallow. And then he screams. And then you can let him go. It’s fun for the whole family. We ‘ve gotten good at it, but the first couple times, dang, that was one sticky mess for nothing.
After the first couple days, though, somewhat out of fatigue, we stopped giving him Lortab and just gave him periodic doses of Motrin and Tylenol – DO NOT GIVE LORTAB AND TYLENOL TOGETHER (Lortab contains acetaminophen already) – because those tasted okay and could be hidden in juice. After four days, we stopped that, even, and for the last three days he’s been drug free, except last night, when he wouldn’t settle down at night so we Lortabbed him again. Today, so far, he’s been great.
He can’t move around, so toys have to be brought to him. He throws them, then cannot reach them. Anyone have solutions to this? Or is this just one of those things we have to deal with? We haven’t really got a lot of stationary toys.
He doesn’t eat. As in, he eats, but about half to a third of what he used to. Now I know he’s not expending a lot of energy, so that doesn’t worry us a lot, but I thought I’d mention it. He’ll eat candy and fruit, but not a lot of protein, and he drinks a lot. Which means, drumroll, that he pees.
The first couple of days, he didn’t poop. They told us this probably would happen because of the narcotics they gave him in the hospital. Then when he did, it hurt him. Be aware of that, those of you that are going to go through this. He still peed, though, and that’s a serious problem. He’s got a squarish hole in his fiberglass pants that allows a diaper to be affixed to him. I say “afffixed”, because the diaper next his skin is a size 1 crammed up into the hole to try to stop the pee from getting onto the padding of the cast. Then you wrap the whole thing up in a size six, which is too big ordinarily for Gwen, our nine year old.
But you can’t cover everything. It’s now been one week since he got the cast, and it stinks to high Heaven. I mean, it smells so bad that you can’t tell if he’s messed his diaper just by smelling. There is no way to wash the cast. Baking soda is our first attempt at stench control, and it’s not had much effect. We’ll try lemon oil tonight, but please, if you have suggestions, we’d love to hear them.
The rest of him smells, too. We can’t wash him. Moving him a lot hurts, so we try not to do it, except to pick him up every couple of days to change his shirt and clean all the crumbs out from under his spot. We’ll pretty soon have to washcloth him over all the area we can get to, but that’s not very much, and I fear what will have happened is that a full four-course meal will have gone down the top of his cast, which is belled outward to give his torso some movement capability. In a couple weeks, I bet we can hang him by the bar between his knees and let some of that stuff fall out, but he’s still tender, so that’s not an option now.
But people, he’s doing really well. he plays with us, and we are having a great time inventing games to keep him occupied. Jeanette played hide and seek with him the other day. Gabriel would put J’s cell phone up to his eyes to cover them, then count one, two, thirteen, sixteen…ready! Jeanette puts a couch cushion up between them, and Gabriel pulls that down and yells “found you!” So if you can play hide-and-seek while lying in one spot on your back, then life is pretty good.
We can’t do much around the house, so we’re grateful for meals and vacuums and friends and all the rest. And Thursday, Nicholas took the first shift, and Jeanette and I slept in the same bed for the first time in a week. Small blessings, gratefully received.