Saturday, March 3, 2012

Today someone thought I was a grandma. I did not punch her. I'm just as surprised as you are.

Dude and I have been feeling poorly.

I, of course, have the mange on my face.
Dude has a respiratory infection.

We've been to the clinics and the ER a few times, and neither of us has slept or eaten much. I ended up getting so dehydrated that I brought on a migraine. Dude, meanwhile, has developed a cough that went from old man smoker cough, to a sound akin to breathing through a wet sponge. When I brought him to the ER for the second time in as many days, a very sweet intake nurse was filling out paperwork and assessing his vitals.

"Any health conditions?" she asked as she filled out the form with Dude's name.

"Well, he had significant prenatal crystal meth exposure, and a low birth weight." I volunteered.

"Okay. And you were here yesterday?"

"Yep, but I had to bring him back. I can't use my best judgement - he's not my kid, so whenever I have a concern, I need to have a professional make the call."

She stopped writing for a second. "What do you mean, he's not yours?"

"He's my foster child." I explained.

"Oh. You're not mom?"

I looked down at the very round, very Asian baby in my lap. "Uh, no. I also didn't do crystal meth when I was pregnant." I was horrified.

"It's more common than you think." she replied, as though I was being incredibly naive and narrow-minded.

She went back to writing, and I sat there, with my mouth agape. I mean, I know I haven't slept much lately, and maybe I'm not as sharp as usual, but if I was working intake and a woman showed up at the hospital holding a baby of a completely different race, explaining that the baby was exposed to crystal meth in utero, I would not draw the automatic conclusion that she was the biological mother. At the very least, I would ask a few more questions. But that is very narrow-minded of me, I guess.

But regardless of our relationship, and my alleged drug abuse, Dude and I were a team. We paced back and forth in the room they put us in - a private room with a real door instead of a privacy curtain, and a toilet and sink. We had ourselves a suite! Dude fussed and cried and then slept, only to wake up and go back to fussing and crying again. Every so often we did a breathing treatment, got a shot, or talked to one of the ER staff. They admitted Dude sometime around midnight. He and I spent a glorious night few hours sleeping in the ER's palatial isolation room suite - until 2am when they woke us up, got us out of bed, made us walk to the pediatrics unit, stripped Dude naked and changed him into a diaper that was too small, forgot to secure both diaper tabs, and then lay him down - whereupon he immediately had a huge blowout and poop ended up everywhere. I paged the nurse, we changed Dude and the bed, and I started bagging up the last of his clothes. I had nothing else for him to wear. The kid was going to have to go home naked.

It was now 3am, I was cold and tired and hungry, Dude was pissed, and both of us wanted to be left alone. Alas it was not to be - time after time, a staff member's arrival was signaled by turning on the overhead light. This was made worse by the fact that 50% of the time, they were looking for the patient that had been moved out of the room overnight. So not only did they wake us up by turning on the light, they then called out the wrong name, and looked confused when they pulled back the curtain and found the two of us blinking sleepily.

As dawn rose and light began to glow through the blinds, Dude and I were wide awake, watching a marathon presentation of a show about realtors with million dollar listings in LA. We were entranced. The estates! The cars! The cat fights!

Suddenly, the door swung open and another of the countless tiny Filipino nurses on the floor came in. Side note: I am not being racist - We were seen by 6 or 7 nurses on the pediatric floor - one of them was not Filipino. I don't know why so many of the nurses are Filipino, I don't do the hiring at our hospital - all I can tell you is that a lot of the staff is made up of tiny Filipino ladies. It is very strange, and sometimes I feel like I am actually in a hospital in another country. At 5'8" I tower over much of the staff, and only understand about 3/4 of what they say to me. Unless I am coming out of anesthesia, or they are wearing a mask, in which case I understand practically nothing.

"Oooooh, goood marning!" she said cheerfully. "Are you grandma?"

Please god, tell me I am not understanding what she just said. Because it sounded an awful lot like- "............uh. No. Not grandma."

"Oooooooh, okay. So, when you give bath?"

"When do I what?" I was so stunned by the grandma bit, I wasn't really paying attention to anything that came after that.

"What time you give baby bath?" She repeated herself slowly and loudly, because clearly I was an idiot. And a grandparent. Us old people get confused a lot. You have to talk real slow and loud for us to understand.

"I didn't give him a-"

"Noooooooo." She gave me a big fake smile. Because I was so stupid. And she was humoring me, you see.
"At home. What time you usually give bath at home?"

"Oh, um, it depends. Sometimes at night, but lately it's been in the morning before we leave." I left out the "for his visitations because otherwise his father sniffs him and then reports me for not cleaning his neck well enough" part because, frankly, I didn't want to get into it. Did she just call me grandma?

"Ooooooh. That's good! No bath at night, don't get head wet. That when baby get sick!"

"That when.... what?"

"Give bath at night, it too cold, baby get sick then."

I sat there with my mouth hanging open. What the hell was going on? I reached over to the bedtable, trying to find my glasses so I could examine her ID more closely. This was a nurse? What kind of nurse? What kind of school teaches nurses to avoiding bathing children at night so they don't get sick? Was I in the twilight zone? Or Candid Camera? Did a medical professional just come in my hospital room, call me grandma and then tell me not to get my baby's head wet at night? DID THIS REALLY JUST HAPPEN?

Or maybe it's just the crystal meth talking. Gosh, it's hard to keep these things straight.

(We did get released later that morning, and continue our recovery at home with a nebulizer. And hair dye. These gray hairs are obviously confusing people.)


Caroline said...

I SO needed a good laugh today! Thank you! This is the first time I have read your blog but I will be following. I am a humor addict!

Anonymous said...

Love it! I bet you weren't laughing at the time but I promise, I needed to dry my tears - hilarious recount of your visit!Keep 'em coming! Hope Dude recovers fully!
Best wishes from a real Grandma - and proud of it!!! :o)