Summer fun smacked by surgeries, fractures

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We live where people like to vacation. That can be a huge advantage major when life happens and sours summertime plans.

Summer fun in the Wilson household generally consists of sprinklers, beach visits and more than a few treks to Silverwood. My wife and I have four children, ages 2-8, so the kiddie rides get plenty of play when Team Wilson visits the park.

We also utilize summertime to visit family, see a baseball game or two (Minnesota Twins games preferred, but the Seattle Mariners will do in a pinch), and visit the ocean. A few notorious days in late June derailed those plans this year.

First up, some unexpected dental work… a lot of dental work. Nothing against dentists, but dang, even with insurance your little teeth tools are expensive. Yes, technically, it is our fault for not flossing more, but geez, we’ll be paying that work off for several months.

Then, on a trip to Silverwood, my wife felt a little queasy after a spin on the Krazy Koaster. Though advertised as a children’s ride, this thing can rattle your brain, so she initially didn’t take her stomach ache too seriously. She powered through the rest of the afternoon, riding elephants and hollowed-out logs, and tried to explain the concept of lines and “waiting” to a raving toddler who doesn’t like to communicate with traditional words.

Her stomach ache continued to get worse, and she spent most of the ride home hunched over in pain. In fact, I’d never seen her in so much pain, and I saw her endure labor contractions before her epidurals kicked in with each of our children’s births.

The pain began to move into her lower right quadrant. As a perennial hypochondriac, I immediately recognized the symptoms of appendicitis. The appendix, as many of you know, is a worthless organ, and sometimes it gets inflamed and needs to be surgically removed. It’s a relatively routine issue, but if it ruptures before surgery it can cause serious problems.

My wife generally takes the Sleep Approach to most pain. As in, “I’ll just go to bed and hope it goes away in the morning.” It didn’t work this time. I asked her pain on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the worst pain ever, and she said 13. I told her to please use the 1-10 scale properly, and she justifiably threatened my life.

So she heads to the ER and of course her appendix is jacked. She’s scheduled for an appendectomy in the wee hours of the morning. My mom comes over to the house to watch the kids, and I spend Sunday with my wife in the best place in the world - Infectious Disease Land, aka the hospital. Yes, my wife had the worse deal, but consider the fact she received potent pain medication and then got to sleep during the surgery, whereas I had to spend several hours dodging coughs and fluid bags at the Valley Hospital.

Her surgery goes well, and she spends a few hours recovering in a shared hospital room. We both think her elderly roommate is nice enough, but the lady’s boyfriend of 30+ years aggressively snorts snot up his nose and barks Spokane-area driving directions to nobody in particular. He also kept peeking around the curtain to try and talk to me, and listen, dude, there’s a curtain. Let’s respect the curtain.

We head home early Sunday evening. My wife feels like garbage, obviously, and will require at least a couple of weeks off from work to recover at home. Surgery sucks, as her doctor even mentioned before we left the hospital. Not a great way to start a summer of fun.

When we walked through the door at home, I see my oldest daughter on the couch in tears while clenching her hand with a bloody rag. Apparently just before we arrived home, she dropped a brick on her left pointer finger while playing in the neighbor’s front yard.

Bricks aren’t toys, kids. Add some force and they can break bones and do serious damage, regardless of what you might see happen to Daniel Stern in “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York.”

Back to the finger - it looks bloody and disgusting and it’s obviously broken, so I take her to the urgent care at about 8:30 p.m. I hadn’t really slept since my wife first went to the ER the previous night, so it was a bit of a hazy drive.

My daughter, though sweet, smart and mostly level-headed, becomes a bit of a lunatic at the doctor’s office. Once she went in to get a flu vaccine, the nasal spray version, only to discover that she had to get a traditional injection. She leaped off the exam table and ran screaming through the hallway of the doctor’s office. That’s an extreme case, but it’s always eventful with her. Anyway, she’s freaking out the entire ride over to urgent care.

Her panic attacks make my panic attacks look like meditation breathing.

To her credit, once we went to the exam room, my daughter talked through her nerves, took some deep calming breaths and made it through the various examinations like a champ. She brought her little stuffed monkey along with her, and she pulls the tail to make it play a lullaby whenever she feels nervous. She’s had the monkey since she was an infant, and oh my God, being a parent is full of these warm, heart-melting moments, but God forbid if we ever lose that monkey.

She gets a few X-rays (her monkey too) and after some wound cleaning and wrapping from the nurse, we’re finally heading back home. Big shout-out to Kootenai Urgent Care for some excellent care and for making a very nervous little girl feel better.

My daughter ended up with a fractured finger, but after seeing a specialist it looks like she’ll avoid surgery on it. She’ll be stuck in a finger brace for several weeks though, which means no waterpark or swimming until August.

Sometimes these unexpected and very expensive weekends happen. We are lucky to have pretty good insurance, but the out-of-pocket costs for dental work, an appendectomy and a fractured finger will be forcing us to stay home a little more this summer. No ocean visit. Probably no baseball game (unless you count the Spokane Indians), and both my wife and daughter will be limited in their activities for a few more weeks.

I’m not a big fan of the word “stay-cation,” mostly because it’s a made up word created to make people feel better about not going on real vacations. Still, if there’s an ideal location to apply the term, the Inland Northwest would rank right up there with the best. It may not be what we planned, but we’re all together and surrounded by plenty of opportunities for fun. At least until the next broken bone.

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