And now, a short break

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.

30 Responses to “And now, a short break”

  • Jill Peterson says:

    If you have to do the liquid medicine again, put the dropper to the side of his mouth, almost under his tongue. That way he doesn’t taste it at all until it’s most of the way down, and the back taste buds are much weaker. It also decreases the amount he can spit out; the cheek is made to keep stuff in – and by the time stuff gets past the “thrust” part of the tongue it’s much more difficult to do so. Good luck!

  • Paula Polglase says:

    Hi! My name is Paula Harahan Polglase – WHSH class of ’92. Katy O’Brien forwarded me your blog – because I’ve lived this!!! My HUGE, active – really, plays every sport – awesome 13 year old broke his femur when he was 2!. Spica cast – awful! So much of your story is exactly like mine – put him to sleep after the break, went to a wedding, questioned about abuse (though not severely).

    The first 7 days are the worst. I had a tummy sleeper who had to switch to back – horrible. Horrible. I was also pregnant so it was very hard for me to pick Zach up and move him. Also the smell of the cast that makes you want to vomit – imagine that when you’re pregnant :) He was the oldest – you’re very lucky that you have other kids around to amuse him!

    Some things that helped:
    1) In addition to the size 1 & 6 diapers, nurse recommended that we buy a premie diaper. Take the premie one and make into a kind of diaper condom to put around the penis, then put the #1 tucked in, the #6 tucked out. Till we did this, even with the #1 he was getting pee on the cast…then the smell. Well, you know.
    2) The pediatric ward took him out of the hospital in a wagon, not a wheelchair – so we went and got a wagon. Tried to take him out for a walk one or two times a day in that.
    3) Cargo car seat wasn’t available to us 11 years ago – so after about week two of going nowhere, we ventured out once a week – no seat belt. We’d take the wagon and go somewhere – anywhere.
    4) Take help from anyone who offers. Figure it all comes out to equal in the end. :)
    5) Keep a 3 ring binder of every single correspondence from the hospital – this is not a bill, this is a bill, a letter, etc. It’s all sooo confusing otherwise.
    6) TV is your friend. Until this happened I don’t know that my 2 year old had even sat down for two min to watch tv. Best advice I got was that TV was there to help, I could always wean him back off of TV, which is so true.
    7) By about week 4 we could turn him on his ‘tummy’ in the cast for playtime for a while. By week 6 he could drag himself around a little even!
    8) Try Febreze on the cast. It’s just disgusting though. We begged after 3 weeks for a new one – and NO.
    9) We set up a cradle (we had an old fashioned one) where he ate. Just like in the wagon we propped him up with pillows enough so he was sitting. Put the tray from the high chair right across his “lap.” This was after several tries of ‘sitting’ him on our laps to eat. Should have wrapped the kid in plastic to keep the food from going down the cast – sooo gross.
    9) When the cast comes off he will be HAIRY where the cast was – like gorilla hairy. It was shocking! Told it was really normal!!!!
    10) 2 year olds are remarkably resilient – we were told to take it so slow when he got out of the cast – he was running within about 3 days. And – this is no joke – a week later he fell and broke the other leg (just the tibia)….. but that’s another story :)

    Email me if you want to commiserate!
    GOOD LUCK! It will all be over soon!!!!!

    • chrisjones says:

      Thank you so much for coming and commenting. We’re going to use the Febreze suggestion, I can tell you. And we’ve used the TV a lot. He loves Word World and Dinosaur Train, and fortunately he absolutely adores basketball, because we watch a lot of that at our house. I don’t think weaning him off TV will be a problem, because he gets out of the cast just as the weather makes it possible to go outside and ride wiggle cars and jump on the trampoline.

      Not that that doesn’t come with its own set of troubles, but what the heck.

      Come back and see us here any time. I’ll try to keep things routinely updated.

  • The wagon idea’s a great one. I have one if you don’t. Now if only it would stop snowing…

    • chrisjones says:

      We have a little Radio Flyer wagon, but what we really need is a bigger one, like the ones they have at Primary, you know the plastic ones with the higher sides? He’d fit into one of those well, but we don’t have one.

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