Tag: Grasshopper

My Battle with a 3-Point Stag (Part 2): My Temporary Affair with Percocet

by on Nov.14, 2010, under health

For those who actually made it through the first part of this story, I both apologize for the longevity of this story and thank you for your endurance.  For those who checked out already, I have no apologies for you.  Go find something else to view on the internet until I write about something else (it’s my blog, I can write about whatever I want on it).  Anyway, without further ado, here is my week of recovery:

DAY 3:  My doctor had sent me home with prescriptions for Percocet (for pain) and Cipro (to prevent infection).  I was allowed to take between 4 and 8 pain relievers a day as needed, though even in the first day back I don’t think I exceeded 4.  I did find that the pain relievers were necessary as nothing felt very good around hour 6, but one every 6 hours kept me on track pretty well.  My wife did what she could to keep me comfy and the children at bay – even went so far as to pawn them off on my mother-in-law for the afternoon.  But truth be told the afternoon without them was kind of boring.

DAY 4:  This morning proved complex as once again the kids needed to be places around the same time that I needed to be about a half-hour away (the one downside of shopping for a better urologist in a better hospital).  If I could drive myself I probably would have, but once again we ended up in morning traffic and once again my wife had that aura of spontaneous combustion.  Ironically the office had no idea I was coming in, so I had to wait a bit before the doctor could come pull the centimeter wide tube from my back.  If I had brought my Percocet with me, I would have popped another as soon as I could because the spot where the tube was burned like hell for about 15 minutes afterward.  But by the time we made it home, not only did it feel better, I was in significantly less pain in general from that point forward (and no more bag strapped to my leg to drain every few hours).  Tonight, I retired to my own bed again.

DAY 5 – 7:  I’m lumping these days together because there was honestly little to report.  I spent most of the time either watching TV or playing board games with Grasshopper (he is off from pre-school Tuesdays & Thursdays and had an in-service day on Wednesday).  It was a pretty nice few days, though.  He loved the attention and I was happy to spend some one-on-one time with him that didn’t involve being tackled – there were a few close calls, but he was pretty good about it most of the time.

DAY 8:  This is the day that I finally would become free of all foreign objects – I came out of surgery with a tube sticking out of my back, a catheter (you know where), an IV line in my hand, and a stent running from my kidney to my bladder.  I left the hospital with 2 items removed and had the third item removed on Monday.  So only the stent remained.  I had the sobering discussion with my dad the night before about how they remove that now that the tube is gone.  My doctor told me the week before that it would only take about 30 seconds, but that they would be the scariest 30 seconds of my life.  It was not an understatement.  It was toe-curling.  I won’t go into great detail, but there was numbing gel, a scope and a water pump involved.  In the end I was somewhat shocked to see that the stent itself was only about 2 millimeters in diameter.  After about 20 minutes of physical recovery, I was able to sit and eat lunch without feeling like I was going to hurl.  On a positive note, I was able to kick my prescription pain meds and as a result my house arrest.

DAY 9 – 10:  These are the last days of freedom before I go back to my 9 to 5.  My wife has been making up for her week of caretaking by sequestering herself upstairs to do all the writing work she has fallen behind on.  So it is pretty much me and the kids.  I am doing my best to keep them entertained (much of the time on their own with me just mediating fights).  As a result, I have needed to resort to other drugs such as coffee and ibuprofen to maintain my sanity.  I’m sure the Percocet would be more effective, but that would tie me back to not leaving the house (which I cannot abide).

In the end, the surgery itself was hasher than I expected and the follow-up procedures sucked, but my recovery was much more comfortable than I anticipated.  Hopefully if I ever have to repeat the experience, it will be a long, long time from now (35 more years seems a logical expectation).  In the meantime, this journey is not completely over.  I have a follow-up in 6 weeks to review x-rays I have to get and the results of a 24-hour urinalysis I have to send out (I would never have guessed there were pee-by-mail services).  I’m sure the follow-up will come with a list of dietary recommendations that I will have to consider (though a lot of what I’ve read seems to suggest specific foods only play a small part in the puzzle).  I doubt I’ll be put on any on-going medications, but my dad will probably continue to try to talk me into taking celery and cherry extract pills (they seem to work wonders for his gout).  The only sure thing is that I will soon be generally back into my normal routine (which naturally involves some level of chaos).

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Dawn of a New Day

by on Sep.08, 2010, under family, parenthood

This week my wife received a rare gift – freedom.  For the first time in at least 4 years my wife had the benefit of time in a day without a kid in tow or a phone-call away from needing to be picked up.   You see when we discovered we were having a second child, it quickly became evident that daycare costs strongly outweighed the benefits of a second income (at least at the level of income we were accustomed to earning).  So my wife drew the short straw of being the stay-at-home parent and has subsisted at some level of harried-ness ever since (I could often gauge that level by how early in the day I’d get the IM asking when I’d be coming home – 5:00=relatively good day, 2:30=pick up gin on the way home).  But this week that all changed.  This week both children started a new school year – Cricket in first grade and Grasshopper in pre-school.

Tuesday was Cricket’s first day.  The night before seemed to require a number of pep talks due to nerves and fears over the changes to her routine (new teacher, new room, some new classmates).  After my wife’s pep talk seemed to leave her more skittish, I gave her a relate-able story from my own youth that got her not only out of her funk, but looking forward to school.  She was all set in the morning in her pink flowery outfit and sporting her new princess backpack (the pink fedora got nixed in favor of pigtails despite her pleading).  As a family we all walked to her school (it is only a few blocks away within our neighborhood), got her in the right line into the school, and made the trek back home where I hopped in the car and headed to work and my wife and Grasshopper got to some fun mommy-son time (probably involving sword-fighting).

Wednesday was Grasshopper’s first day.  Though his was somewhat abbreviated as it was an orientation day and he insisted that I be the one to go with him to it (good thing my office is fairly flexible about when I get in).  So he and I got to play in his new classroom with all his classmates and their moms.  Since it is the same pre-school that Cricket went to, several of the teachers and administrators came and fawned over him as the young male version of his sister (it won’t take them long to figure out how different they are from each other).  He played at almost every station in the room with the possible exception of the dress-up station (which I took with relief as I knew he would likely have put on a cape and possibly started to refer to himself as Captain Cockwarts – I have no explanation for this one, he seemed to just make up this persona this weekend).  At the end of the day, mommy came to pick him up so I could jet on to work from there.

So going forward, my wife will have Tuesdays and Thursdays with just Grasshopper, and the rest of the weekdays to herself until after lunch.  I’m sure she is already planning how these slots of time will be filled.  I’m also sure she is bittersweet about it as it is time she will miss spending with her babies (I almost said angels, but that would be grossly inaccurate).  I’m fairly certain that I won’t get nearly as many 2:30 pleas as to when I’ll be coming home, but I’d also be willing to bet I’ll get a lot more IMs from her before lunch (if I worked closer to home, maybe I’d go home for … lunch).  The point is that she will finally have a share of personal freedom in her life to do with as she pleases.  My calendar, however, already seems to be filling up with more items (e.g., back-to-school nights, parent events, taking the kids to YMCA classes).  Ah well.

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Everything Old Is New Again

by on Sep.07, 2010, under Entertainment

As my wife depicted brilliantly on her blog (, we took the kids to the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire this weekend.  It was quite the initiation for them.  Though truth be told, my visiting tenure there only dates back to the first time my wife took me with her family (back when we were still dating).  But she has been going sporadically since her teen years and it seemed like something the kids would enjoy (if not fully understand).

It turned out to be a fun time had by all and it couldn’t have been a better time to go.  The weather was just right for it, and it happened to be Children’s Fantasy Weekend.  So as we walked in the gates the kids were handed pirate treasure maps on which they were instructed to find several letter clues around the fairgrounds that would spell a password to get them some pirate treasure.  While the map was a tad confusing (it was nice of them to label all of the roads on the map, though it would have helped if there were also matching signs on the roads themselves), the kids managed to keep up with our meandering trek around the park and go excited every time they found a clue.  We took in some fun shows including the birds of prey demonstration, a human chess match, as well as a the jousting match at the end of the day.  Though despite my encouragement to try some authentic Renaissance fare, the kids opted for pizza for lunch.

Grasshopper soaked it all up like a kid in a candy store.  As we passed shops he would shout out “Look! A Harry Potter cape!” or “Look at that pirate skull!”  During a lull where my sister-in-law was waiting for the next glass-blowing demo and my son was decidedly too hyped up on lunch and excitement to be trusted in the vicinity of dozens of hanging glass bobbles, I took him away from the group for a father-son foray into a sword shop that was setup to look like a beached pirate ship.  Both on the way up the walk to the opening and through the entire tour around the store he couldn’t be more exhilarated.  He climbed on the cannons and pretended to fire them.  He sparred with another boy with some wooden practice swords.  He pointed out dozens of exciting decorations and items of interest.  And impressively managed to refrain from grabbing any of the real swords upon my explanations of the real dangers in doing so.  By the time the human chess match was underway in the late afternoon, he was petering out – he nearly fell asleep in my lap (most likely the occasional sword fighting in the match was all that was keeping him from conking out).  But he managed to get a second wind long enough for dinner and the joust (though he was dead asleep long before we arrived back home).

Cricket was equally sparkly-eyed over the events and scenery of the Faire.  Though much of her interest was targeted toward princess and fairy-related items (though she was also excited by dragons, swords, and pirates).  She wanted to see and try everything (including a turkey leg – I believe her uncle let her try some of his).  Being nearly 7, she was a little more understanding of the fact that the Faire was a depiction/dramatization of a period in history.  Though I’m sure her concepts of the history of humanity is very spotty at best (she finds it incredulous that there weren’t things like Wii and iPhones back when I was her age).  There wasn’t a shop in which she didn’t find something she wanted, though we did promise each of them one souvenir and so she was good about cataloging the things she liked so she could make her choice by the end of the day – she went with a princess hat (conical silky hat with frilly edges and streamers – I’ll take that over the $75 dresses and $40 parasols she had her eyes on earlier in the day).  Her brother opted for a small wooden sparring sword which took all of his might not to swing all over the place as we walked around the rest of the day.

If there was any complaints I could offer on the day, there would only be one small one:  this weekend was supposedly Children’s Fantasy weekend, and though there were disclaimers about the joust being graphic prior to the start of it, I really did not expect the level of violence that was displayed to an audience knowingly more heavily weighted with children than usual.  It started off as I’m accustomed to – the usual grandstanding hoopla that opens things up and gives the event personality and color.  Then the jousting commences, then the sword play, then some more talk as you think the bad knight is on the ropes and read to give up.  And then the bad guy claims to be secretly working for the King of Spain and an attack force moves in and explosions start up (even up to this point, though the booms are a bit loud, I’m still feeling this is all fairly family-friendly).  Then, to end the confrontation, the good knight, who has the bad knight on his knees after a stab to the gut, slices the bad knight’s throat and fake blood drools from his neck and spouts out of his mouth. Grasshopper’s point of view prevented him from seeing that particular bit, though I doubt he would have understood it to question it.  But Cricket, who was further down the bench near her grandparents got an eyeful of it.  When I asked her after what she thought of the joust, she commented that it was interesting, but she wasn’t sure why the guy spit out cherry juice at the end (I assume my in-laws threw that explanation out there right after the shock of the ending faded).  So I guess there is no particular harm done, and I can appreciate realistic drama and effects as much as the next guy (as a guy, I thought it was awesomely done), but I found it a little surprising given the theme of the weekend.

Anyway, it was a long day and everyone seemed to have a great time.  When they were asked what they favorite parts of the Faire were, the kids both stated that they liked the ship-swing ride and playing with the hula hoops (they’re kids – it’s all about engagement).  I’m sure that this is the start of a semi-regular tradition as I’m sure they’re going to want to go back over and over again.  And I don’t mind one bit.  To see the world of the past light up in a kid’s eyes like a new and exciting place brings a child-like gleam into my eye.

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Big Hearts, Short Sleeves

by on Sep.01, 2010, under family

It is interesting how much emotion can be conveyed with a small amount of words.  For instance, this morning as I was getting ready to leave the house I called up the stairs to everyone to let them know that I was leaving for work.  Each of my family members replied in turn in their own unique ways:

Grasshopper: BYE DADDY, I LOVE YOU!

Cricket: I belong to you, Daddy!

My wife: The money is on the table.

The last sounds odd out of context, though in truth there was no immediate conversational context to it – my wife and I just have a very down-to-earth relationship and have a knack for picking up random long-dead conversation threads and/or answering each others unasked questions.  But the tone of each response reflects much greater depth of the emotions behind them than the words themselves convey.  My kids are full of exuberant, idealistic affection for the father that they only see in passing in the morning and for a few hours in the evening. My wife, already in the trenches of dealing with getting the kids ready for the day, sticks with purposeful messaging (the love we share is known, implied, and not in need of constant reinforcement).

I can’t help but wonder sometimes, when in my own life the level of emotional openness and heightened expression that my kids seem to exude had faded.  What are the factors that delay or expedite this process?  When should I expect my daughter to transition from her current puppy-dog phase to something more similar to the cynical teen that I’m sure she might become?  Should I try to stave it off or just accept what comes?

The oddity of it is that it is so dissimilar to my own attitude I find myself sometimes wondering if we are really related.  I wouldn’t necessarily call myself cynical (though I certainly maintain a healthy level of cynicism), but I’m definitely a picture of nonchalance.  A perfect example of my cool under pressure demeanor is one that is often cited by my in-laws – usually around Thanksgiving.

The event in question happened during a Thanksgiving about a decade ago at my wife’s aunt’s house.  While my aunt-in-law and several other of the matriarchs of the family were buzzing about the kitchen and the majority of the men and children where engrossed in whatever football game happened to be on, I walked through the dining room to grab a snack from the kitchen island on the other end of it.  As I did so, I noticed that one of the drip candles that were on the table seemed to have dropped a piece of wick and as a result a circle of the tablecloth about two inches across had been charred and was slowly edging wider by some very low flames.  I calmly walked into the kitchen and asked my aunt-in-law “Aunt Ann, your table is on fire.  Do you have a pot holder I can borrow?” to which she responded with a flabbergasted “What!?”.  While she wended through the people in the kitchen to get to the dining room and see what I was referring to, I grabbed the first thing I could find to handle the task – a damp dishrag.  By the time I got back there, she and two of my wife’s cousins were watching the now soda-can diameter ring of fire in abject shock.  I skirted around them and patted the fire out with the dishrag, blew out the candles to avoid any possible recurrence, and grabbed a couple of sweet gherkins from the pickle tray and went about my business.    The rest of the ladies seemed to bustle about it for a while before the table was retrimmed and the commotion reformed in the kitchen where it previously resided.  Many of the men didn’t even seem to notice anything had happened.  But my aunt-in-law tells the story of it almost every year.

Anyway, I know that I am somewhat unique in my lack of excitability.  But there are times when I wish a little of it would rub off on my kids (and perhaps at moments my wife as well).  While I appreciate the positive end of their heightened emotional state, the negative side of it is rarely much fun.  Cricket is a picture of indecisiveness – she can easily waste a half-hour trying to decide whether pink or yellow shorts go better with the brown shirt she is wearing (and then throw on leprechaun socks).  Grasshopper will have a 20-minute stand off over not liking green beans (including throwing silverware and having a tantrum across the house) before finally eating a forkful and realizing he loves them.  The trouble with family drama seems to be the balance – keeping the levels of comedy and tragedy in line and not pegged at 11.

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Night Shade

by on Aug.17, 2010, under family

Last night as I’m kneeling on my son’s floor waiting for his stuffy sniffling to transition to the stuffy mouth-breathing of sleep, I found myself pondering the number of times I’ve found myself in such a position – apparently enough to know that neither sitting nor lying down would have left me in a comfortable state when I left.  These moments are much fewer than they’d been in the past; at times my wife and I practically took turns sleeping on his floor.  Now it is once a month on average at most.

Grasshopper’s sleeping woes have typically been just what one would expect from a toddler:  afraid to be alone, afraid of the dark, afraid of the sound of the washing machine on the other side of the wall.  In the past few months he had resorted often to sleeping on his floor claiming he was scared of his bed.  His bed, mind you, is a happy, plastic fire engine, so I wasn’t really clear of what there was to be afraid.  But it was easier to setup a couple of comforters on the floor as a mattress than to delve into the motivations of a 3 year-old, so we accommodated him and went about our activities.

For the past few weeks it had escalated to the point that his mattress sat on the floor for him to sleep on and I was close to sliding his fire engine bed out to the back yard as play furniture.  But as I contemplated this plan, I realized that I should really address the root problem rather than work around it (after all he was running out of floor space).  So I put his bed back together and we attempted a return to relative normalcy.  Of course, that very night as I attempt to settle the troops, he starts to get anxious and claims that he is scared.  So I ask what it is that he is afraid of.  As it turns out, he is afraid of a shadow that his night light makes on the wall as a result of a hump on the side of the bed along the wall.  So I grabbed something firm and rectangular, wedged it alongside the mattress to block the dip where the hump shadow was visible and – voila! – problem solved.  Unfortunately the object I grabbed was a picture frame which I didn’t realize actually had glass in it, so yesterday there was a clean-up issue.  But now the frame has been replaced with a blanket and a pillow and all is generally leveling out nicely … until allergies kick in.  It is always something.

Seeing the bedtime drama I still experience with Cricket, I know that the end is not yet in sight.  But it is at least getting easier to diffuse.  And soon I may never have to sleep anywhere but my bed … unless my wife has something to say about it.

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