It’s World Juggler’s Day

WARNING: If you have any aversion to bodily functions DO NOT READ TODAY’S POST!

It peeves me to say this but I can’t juggle. I cannot control the direction and speed of any three items simultaneously. I’ve tried. My step-dad is an excellent juggler and in my wanting to be just like him I asked him to teach me. But I never caught on.

This certainly runs over into my daily life, this not being able to juggle. I try but my mind cannot handle more than one thing at a time. I think in today’s world this is called ADD.

Wait. I guess I have done a little juggling in the past. I don’t know how successful I was, but I did have to juggle. During Ben’s illness I was juggling a bowling ball, a water balloon and a chainsaw. The bowling ball was my emotional state, the water balloon was my newborn infant that needed her mother, and the chainsaw was Ben’s cancer that demanded everything I had – and didn’t have.

Now that I think of it, I can recall a specific day that I tried to juggle these three items. It’s funny now when I look back on it, but my emotional state then nearly pushed me off the cliff.

September, 2004. We were at Children’s Hospital. Ben was one week into his bone marrow transplant. He had just finished his introductory chemo, which is designed to kill everything in him. The way it was explained to us was that they had to kill him in order to save him. Okie Dokie. Process THAT without completely shutting down! Anyway, he had just finished his last round of chemo before they reintroduced the new stem cells. He was technically having a “day of rest” before taking the next step. We were in strict isolation, meaning he could not leave the room until his new stem cells found their way into his bones and started making new red and white blood cells as well as platelets (this is where I wished I would have paid more attention in science class).

When we initially met with the bone marrow transplant (BMT) team, they advised us to find alternate care for Madeline. She was five months old at the time. Up until then she had been able to stay with us on the oncology unit, mainly because I was breast feeding her. In a transplant scenario, there is no set time of when the patient will begin to recover. The average kiddo is in transplant for three months. Ben’s was a bit different so they didn’t expect him to need three months to recover but there was just no way of knowing how long it would take (ultimately, we were in there for 31 days). So, not wanting to be away from Madeline for any length of time, we asked that Madeline be able to stay in the room with us. She would have to follow the same precautions, meaning that she wouldn’t get to leave the unit until Ben was discharged. So, we buckled down for the duration.

Honestly, Madeline was the perfect age for this scenario. She was strong enough to sit in an exer-saucer yet not fully interested in crawling around. Ben slept in his hospital bed and Madeline and I slept on the couch (the first few days of Ben’s transplant, Matt had a sinus infection and was not allowed in the room with us). When we woke up each morning, I placed Madeline in her exer-saucer, gave her some toys, and tended to Ben.

This particular morning was very quiet. Ben was finished with chemo and the transplant would take place the following day. Since he wasn’t receiving any meds that day we didn’t have many doctors or nurses stopping by. He was sound asleep and Madeline was content in her exer-saucer. I decided to pop in a Pilates DVD that I had brought along – just in case I had the opportunity to “relax”. I was about 10 minutes into it when Ben shot up in his bed, pointing at his mouth and crying. I knew this was his “warning” that he was about to throw up. I grabbed the yellow pan and quickly ran over to him. I can’t even explain what it was that came out of him except that it was green and challenged my own gag reflexes. From behind me, Madeline started crying. I was patting Ben’s bald head as he was throwing up, attempting not to throw up myself, and trying to soothe Madeline with my “calming” voice over my shoulder. “I’ll be right there, baby. Right after your brother stops puking up this green bile and I get myself under control.” Right.

Ben threw up for several minutes. I kept having to turn my head to try to stop gagging, which was the point where I tried to soothe Madeline. Cue circus music. Once Ben was finished I put the pan on the floor by his bed (we had to save everything for the nurses to document… eeewwww.) Whew. One thing down. This is when I turned to find Madeline, in her exer-saucer, covered in poop. Evidently, she had pooped about the same time that Ben had started to throw up. Several minutes later, it was all over her and her footed pajamas, all over the exer-saucer, just all over everything. My gag reflexes went into overdrive. Circus music gets louder.

I picked Madeline up – *gross* – and started to clean up poo. Developmentally, she was not at a point where I could put her down, so I had to hold her the entire time I was trying to clean everything up. The exer-saucer would have to be dismantled. Right in the middle of this, Ben shot up in bed again, pointing at his mouth. Oh no. With his immune system compromised, there was no way I could take Poopy Madeline anywhere near him. I tried to fling another yellow pan at him without much luck. That’s when I stepped into the first yellow pan that was sitting on the floor. With my bare feet. Holding a poopy daughter. Watching my son throw up more of the same that was covering my feet.

I’m done. There will be no more circus music. No more juggling. Done. I’ve gone over the edge. I dropped the ball. I’m never doing Pilates again.

A nurse walked in about that time, and with a quick assessment of the situation, took over with Ben. I cleaned up Poopy Madeline and her exer-saucer. I got around to cleaning up myself after having a mini-mental breakdown.

I think with continued therapy for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder I can once again try Pilates. But I don’t know that I’ll ever be able to juggle again.

More tomorrow. 🙂

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