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January 24, 2009

It’s been a surreal week. My daughter spent Monday in Intensive Care after being rushed to the ER in the early hours because she couldn’t breathe. The drive to the hospital was the most terrifying fifteen minutes of my life. Eva was panicking because she couldn’t get any air, the streets were snowy and ice-covered. She later told me, in a straight-forward, five-year-old way, that she had thought she was dying: “When people can’t breathe they die. And I couldn’t breathe.” At the time, I thought the same thing. I thought I would be too late, that I’d arrive at the hospital to find her still and silent in the back seat. At the ER, doctors and nurses stabilized Eva with epinephrine breathing treatments and intravenous steroids and then moved her to the Pediatric Intensive Care Ward. Once there, she got her choice of DVDs, a room service menu, and stuffed animals. She was breathing easier by that point: “Hospitals are fun, aren’t they Daddy?” They kept her overnight to make sure she continued to breathe properly, and sent her home mid-morning Tuesday.

Ian ran a fever of 103 or so for much of the week as well. So all four of us were together on Tuesday, wrapped in blankets on the couch to watch Obama’s inauguration. The feeling of hopefulness, because Eva was home and breathing and because we have elected a leader who seems to embody most of my own values, was very powerful. Plus Aretha Franklin’s hat was bold and in the house. I felt weepy and proud, the latter something I haven’t felt about my government in nearly a decade.

The rest of the week was spent catching up with what I missed while I was out of work Monday and Tuesday. Behind in classes, behind in administrative work. But everything is in a little more focus now. Perspective is everything.

Today, we are actually having a weekend. Nothing planned, no pressing projects. It’s too cold to go outside, and the four foot snow drifts glitter magnificently outside the dining room windows. I’m trying to write a sestina about a dead starlet, part of a series of poems inspired by the old Universal horror films. Helen Chandler played Mina in Tod Browning’s 1931 Dracula, and quickly thereafter faded into obscurity, alcoholism, and a series of bad marriages and sanitarium stays. She led a hard and relatively brief life, and I’m hoping to serve her well in this poem. It’s much harder than I had expected, but it’s a fine thing to spend a day like today making the attempt.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. January 24, 2009 5:49 pm

    I’d like to read your sestina when it’s done.

  2. January 26, 2009 11:16 am

    I’ve been in that same scenario a few times – rushing to the hospital with Connor gasping for breath in the back seat. A non-breathing kid shoots you right to the top of the triage list at the ER. I’m SO GLAD to hear everyone’s recovering.

  3. jamieridenhour permalink*
    January 26, 2009 1:40 pm

    Thanks, Michele. It was dead scary. It’s something I’m happy to not do again. Ever.

  4. Melissa Johnson permalink
    January 26, 2009 6:08 pm

    I’m very glad to hear Eva is okay. You’re a hero for getting her there despite your own fear and the weather.

    I would also like to read the sestina. I’m writing sonnets these days. Currently, my focus is drunken poets.

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