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Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Right candle… wrong place!

Last night was the first night of Hanukah… meaning that only one candle is lit (aside from the shamash). This makes it fairly hard to screw up the count (don’t ask… I manage to get mixed up at some point during the holiday nearly every year).

However, this year, fate intervened and almost kept us from lighting the first candle at all!

While I was at work yesterday afternoon, Zahava called to tell me that Ariella was going on two days with the same nasty headache… she also had a fever and had thrown up a couple of times.

Within the hour she called back to tell me that our pediatrician suspected meningitis and felt that she needed to be evaluated at the hospital in order to determine if it was viral or bacterial.

For those of you who didn’t go to medical school, bacterial is the one that can be life threatening… and viral is just a painful few days that will pass of its own accord. Unfortunately, even if the symptoms are presenting classically as viral meningitis, many health professionals want to absolutely rule out bacterial… and the only way to do that is by performing a Lumbar Puncture (L.P. in E.R. speak).

So, a friend drove Zahava and Ariella to the Hospital in Jerusalem, and I quickly left work in Beer Sheva to meet them there.

During the hour-and-a-half drive to Jerusalem I went back and forth between making rash promises to G-d and trying to get the title of that ‘80s cult movie; “This is Spinal Tap” out of my head. Clearly I’m not your ideal ‘go to’ guy in a crisis.

By the time I got to the Hospital, Zahava and Ari were the next in line to be seen in the Pediatric Emergency room… and within minutes a team of doctors and nurses had taken a full medical history and had hooked my baby (I don’t give a crap that she’s almost 11 dammit!) up to an I.V. drip.

Most of my biggest worries (aside from her actual medical condition) were assuaged within minutes of arriving. First and foremost I didn’t want my baby girl to be poked and prodded by a bunch of scary strangers in a scary big city hospital. I also was sad that she would miss the first night of Hanukah.

I shouldn’t have worried too much though, because the doctors and nurses were beyond wonderful. They all had that disarming, kid-friendly quality that puts both parents and kids instantly at ease. They also maintained (IMHO) the perfect balance between keeping Ariella informed of what was going on and not giving her too close a look at the serious stuff.

I was also delighted to see that the first night of Hanukah was not going to be a total wash out. A group of teenagers wandered the corridors singing Hanukah songs and people kept appearing with packages of candy and boxes of fresh sufganiot (traditional donuts filled with jelly, caramel or chocolate and sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar) for kids and parents alike! For the second time since going on my diet I allowed myself a lapse… a caramel-filled sufganiya actually called me by name… what could I do???

Each of the nurse’s stations had menoras and boxes of candles for anyone who wanted to light. Between medical exams and infusions of sugar, we went over and lit the first candle on the menorah. We recited the blessings and sang ‘hanerot halalu…’ amidst the groups of excited children who somehow managed to forget they were sick.

For those who have never visited a Pediatric ward (and, health professionals aside, I hope you never get the opportunity) there is something achingly sad about the décor. Everywhere you look there are pictures and murals of fish and lambs and puppies and kittens. There are toys and activities and eye-catching splashes of primary colors no matter where a child might chance to look.

But any adult understands this is all smoke and mirrors… slight-of-hand whose only purpose is to distract sick children from the deadly serious business of trying to keep them from dying.

Within a short time we got the bad news that, indeed, Ariella was going to have to have an L.P. While we were all in the exam room preparing for the procedure, we were also told that Ariella would have to stay overnight for observation.

While Zahava and I were discussing the fact that it made the most sense for me to stay and for her to take the car and go home to look after Yonah and Gilad, the nurse (who was holding Ariella in a bear hug) turned to us and said that since she also lived in Efrat she would be happy to drive Zahava home.

With the L.P. completed (Ariella was a real trooper) and her blood and spinal fluid samples sent off to the lab, Zahava and the nurse left Ari and me to settle in for the night. The combination of a headache, her I.V., the constant voices, bells and other hospital noises, and being in a strange bed meant Ari was up for most of the night (and therefore so was I).

At 8:00 the on-going and off-going medical staff made their rounds and we were given the results of the tests (everything negative!) and told we would be discharged in a few minutes.

The pediatrician in charge of the morning shift was the one to do the final exam and prepare Ari for discharge. In the course of the chitchat he asked about our pediatrician and it turned out they were good friends. As if to provide proof, he produced an invitation to our pediatrician’s daughter’s wedding from among his stack of paperwork.

If we weren’t already getting first class treatment (which we were), this new revelation cleared the way for a super-dooper express discharge. He didn’t even wait for the nurse to take out the I.V…. with a practiced flourish he did it himself!

We’re all home now and the patient is resting comfortably. I made a big pot of chicken soup for us to enjoy on this nippy December day and there is a movie marathon scheduled for later this afternoon.

While the fisrts night of Hanukah 2004 was certainly now what we would have planned, the odd locale for its 'celebration' has indelibly marked this Hanukah as one to remember.  In years to come when I look back on this Hanukah, I will always think of it as 'right candle... wrong place'.

Shame221_1_4

Posted by David Bogner on December 8, 2004 | Permalink

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I am so glad to hear Ariella and you are all feeling better! What an awful experience. We went through something similar with Matthew when he was only 2 years old - Billy had to hold him perfectly still for the spinal tap while the poor kid was screaming...
Hope the rest of Chanuka is uneventful and happy for you all!

Posted by: Lisa | Dec 8, 2004 5:54:46 PM

It sounds like Ari was as brave as a Maccabee. I'm glad to hear she is home safe and sound. Do you ever value being at home with your kids after something like this. I'm sure it brought you and Ari closer together. Did they not put her to sleep for the L.P.? There are always special people that work in Pediatrics, we've met some people that we will remember for the rest of our lives because of things they have done.

Posted by: David | Dec 8, 2004 5:56:16 PM

Glad to hear that she is ok and doing better. Nothing like your children to teach you the meaning of fear.

Chag samayach.

Posted by: Jack | Dec 8, 2004 5:59:10 PM

there is nothing to say but thank G-D

Posted by: dave | Dec 8, 2004 6:34:01 PM

Dave - I happened to 'run into Zahava' online at dinner time (U.S.) time last night as she had just gotten back from the hospital, and I heard all about this upsetting event. I came into work this morning anxiously looking forward to her e-mail reassuring us that Ari would be ok. And it was there! yay!

I also knew (and mentioned last night) that this was gonna make a great blog entry! I just didn't expect it so fast! ;) Figured that you & Ari would be resting today.

Glad my eldest niece is doing ok... love and kisses to you all.

Posted by: val | Dec 8, 2004 6:36:43 PM

Oh! I am so happy she is ok!
I am all teared up tho just thinking about her little self getting all the tests, and spending the night in the hospital.
Aren't our children so resliant ..while we are such emotional wimps.
Happy Hanukah to all!

Posted by: lisa | Dec 8, 2004 7:15:14 PM

I'm delighted to hear Ariella's on the road to recovery. Refuah sheleimah!

Ben

PS We may have to drink a le'chaim...

Posted by: Ben | Dec 8, 2004 8:42:55 PM

What an awful experience for you and Zahava and poor Ariella, but I am very glad to hear that she's okay and doing better.

I hope that the remaining days of Hanukah (or, as I deliberately mispronounce it when wishing it to my oldest and dearest friend - "cha-NOO-kah". What? I'm a shiksa!) are far brighter and happier.

*huge hugs to the entire Bogner clan*

Posted by: Carol | Dec 8, 2004 9:04:55 PM

David your posts strike a cord every single time! I always, always read them carefully through word by word, and usually with a big smile on my face :-). Hope your girl gets well soon.

Posted by: Hatshepsut | Dec 9, 2004 2:02:52 AM

DAVID- you had me all worked up, fearing a positive Dx of meningitis! EEEK.

What a relief. And what a wonderful thing that, in spite of the hospital visit, you all got to celebrate. You were definitely blessed with a wonderful staff at the hospital.

Happy (belated) Hanukah!

Posted by: Lachlan | Dec 9, 2004 2:43:38 AM

Yikes. Terrifying. Thank Heavens she's OK. Lumbar punctures are no fun; she's a tough girl.

I have no idea how pediatricians do their work. I completely lose all objectivity and reason when my little ones get sick. I hope you and Zahava are back to some semblence of calm.

A great miracle happenned there, and a little one for Ari.

Posted by: Doctor Bean | Dec 9, 2004 8:44:21 AM

So sorry to read about your daughter being ill. I am sure it was very rough on all of you. We've had similar scares with our children, and I know what it's like. Glad to hear that everything turned out ok. Happy Chanukah to you and your family!

Posted by: Gail | Dec 9, 2004 10:24:22 PM

David,

I'm guessing you were at my hospital. why didn't you call me?? I was there, I would have come down and visited y'all. I saw those same teenagers heading in to the hospital with all those donuts just as I was leaving.

If god forbid, you ever have to be at the hospital again, please call me on my cell.
I haven't blogged in a few days (midterms) and hence didn't see this posting until now.

Posted by: Noa | Dec 10, 2004 11:33:10 AM

Hi David,

I have somehow lost Zahava's email address and was not only hoping to get through to you here, but also was checking the kids' photos, as I often do. I was so concerned to read about Ariella's experience at the hospital, and am so glad that she is now back to her bubbly, happy self. Please send hugs to Ari for me...and save a few for Gili, and little Yonah. It was also great to see pics of the Rappoports visit, as well as the Yasgurs! Tell Zahava to email me!
Best Regards...Terry :)

Posted by: "Morah" Terry | Dec 16, 2004 6:20:23 AM

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