The Ambulance

I had never before needed to call 911.  About two weeks ago the girl came down with something (most likely from some snotty kid at the community play place) and threw up after dinner.  She also had a fever.  I learned of the fever and barfing via text messages from the wife as I was enjoying pre-game beers before heading to the Avett Brothers concert in Minneapolis.  Seems like it's only when either the wife or I are out of town that the kids get sick.  Anyway, I texted back my condolences and didn't think much about it, assuming it was a typical "puking, fever, treat-with-Children's-Tylenol-for-a-few-days-and-everything-goes-back-to-normal" illness.  I returned home the following afternoon and the girl seemed OK.  The wife was administering the 4-6 hour medication cycle - give medicine, fever goes down, wait 4-6 hours for the fever to return, give medicine, fever goes down, etc.  Nothing different than what we'd previously experienced numerous times with both the boy and the girl.  However, on this occasion things would be different.

About two hours after putting her to bed, we heard the girl crying.  I went to her room to check what was the matter and arrived just in time to catch her refunded dinner in my hands.  After several years of practice and way too many loads of laundry run in the wee hours, I'm actually getting pretty good at this.  And it's really not as disgusting as you might think - generally more liquid than solid at this age.  The difficult part is not spilling any as you're hustling to the bathroom to get rid of it.  So the wife decided to stay with the girl in her room in case she got sick again.  I figured I'd wind down with some mindless TV and then hit the sack myself.  About 30 minutes later, I heard the wife calling my name.  I headed to the girl's room and found her convulsing in my wife's arms.  She was making a gagging noise, and at first I thought she might have the dry heaves.  I quickly realized that this was more serious, and while it seemed like an eternity, the seizure probably lasted for about a minute.  After she stopped shaking, the girl went completely limp and was unresponsive.  At this point the wife and I were both pretty freaked out and I called 911.

I must say that the 911 operator was very composed and helped to calm us down.  The first folks to arrive at the house (I'd guess between 5 and 10 minutes after the call - it's all a blur) were a couple of police officers, followed shortly thereafter by the paramedics.  Upon seeing the girl they weren't in a panic, so I was less worried about the situation.  The initial diagnosis was that the girl had a febrile seizure, which apparently happens at some point to approximately 5% of all children.  And normally they're not very serious, despite the fact that they scare the shit out of the parents.  They're caused by rapid body temperature changes (either up or down) associated with fevers.  The important thing is to make sure the child doesn't choke or fall off the bed during the event.  About 45 minutes later, the girl was still pretty out of if, although she occasionally opened her eyes and seemed to be aware that we were present.  The paramedics suggested taking her to the hospital to get checked out and confirm that nothing more serious was going on.  So I helped load the girl into the ambulance as the wife followed behind in our car and I stayed home with the boy (who thankfully slept through the entire ordeal).

A couple hours later, the wife returned home with the girl who was sleeping peacefully in her car seat.  The initial tests at the ER were all negative, but the wife was told to make a follow-up appointment with the doc to try to find the cause of the fever.  It turns out that the girl had a UTI and was prescribed an antibiotic.  By the way, I was shocked when the pharmacy informed me that the medicine cost $100 AFTER the insurance portion was covered and would have been $400 if we didn't have insurance (insert health care rant here).  I called the doc's office and asked if there was a suitable substitute and ended up with a different drug that cost $8.  Are you kidding me?!  Why would the doc prescribe the $100 drug in the first place??  I guess that's a topic for another blog.

So now almost two weeks later the girl is thankfully back to her old self.  While our experience wasn't technically an "emergency", I was pleased to see the kind of the response we could expect to receive in the event of a more serious situation.  I have to commend all the medical professionals involved for their quick response, competence, and calm, professional actions (minus the doc's original prescription) and now have an even greater respect for the folks whose jobs are to take care of people in trouble.


Forget the beer for now.  I need something a bit stronger.


The Sports

I like sports.  I love sports.  Playing, watching, listening to radio broadcasts, whatever.  I played organized baseball and hockey from the time I was 6 through high school.  Then in college I moved on to softball and less competitive men's league hockey.  Around the age of 12 I also started playing golf.  I still skate, but after a couple of major knee surgeries I've unfortunately had to "retire" from hockey and probably won't play softball again either.  After moving to Minnesota, the frequency of my golf outings has decreased dramatically (I've probably averaged 2 rounds per year over the last 8 years), but I still like to play.  As a matter of fact, last spring a few buddies and I and went to Myrtle Beach for a golf weekend and had so much fun we decided to make it an annual event.  Alas, the second annual trip, originally scheduled for this June, has been canceled due to to job schedule conflicts (sigh).

Sports buff that I am, I was thrilled when the boy was born, thinking about all the fun times we might have together at various sporting events (obviously I was also thrilled to have someone to eventually take over my household chores, vehicle maintenance, tax preparation, etc.).  Just like the countless high school, college, and professional games I attended over the years with my dad - scrimmages; regular season games; playoff games; the NHL All-Star Game; Eastern Michigan football games (mostly losses); baseball games at Tiger Stadium, Fenway Park, and Wrigley Field; hockey games at the Olympia, Joe Louis Arena, and Boston Garden; Wrestlemania III at the Pontiac Silverdome (I still can't believe Hulk Hogan body slammed Andre the Giant!!).  All of the dateless Saturday nights in high school watching Hockey Night in Canada on TV together.  Not to mention all of the games he watched me play, including those during his many years as my baseball coach.

So now the boy is at the age where he can watch sports with me and understand what's happening.  I've "encouraged" him to root for Michigan State (over the objections of the wife, whose siblings all attended the University of Michigan).  And I'm happy to report that he's definitely a State fan, although his indoctrination hasn't been overly difficult based on the performances of the two universities' athletic teams over the last few seasons.  The deciding factor may have been our attending the Spartans' exciting basketball victory over USC at the Metrodome during last year's run to the national championship game.

In addition to watching games, the wife and I are giving the boy opportunities to play various sports to see which ones he enjoys.  So far he has taken swimming and ice skating lessons and played in a kindergarten floor hockey league.  Next week he starts indoor soccer and this spring it will be tee ball.  If his skating skills develop, he should be ready for hockey next fall.  Regardless of whether or not he plays in a league, I'm planning to build a rink like this one in our back yard.  While I really hope he takes to hockey and will be at least a bit disappointed if he doesn't, I'm not going to force him.  It's up to the boy to decide in which sports he'd like to participate long term, if any.  I'm not going to raise another "Bred To Be A Superstar" Todd Marinovich:
He has never eaten a Big Mac or an Oreo or a Ding Dong. When he went to birthday parties as a kid, he would take his own cake and ice cream to avoid sugar and refined white flour. He would eat homemade catsup, prepared with honey. He did consume beef but not the kind injected with hormones. He ate only unprocessed dairy products. He teethed on frozen kidney. When Todd was one month old, Marv was already working on his son's physical conditioning. He stretched his hamstrings. Pushups were next. Marv invented a game in which Todd would try to lift a medicine ball onto a kitchen counter. Marv also put him on a balance beam. Both activities grew easier when Todd learned to walk. There was a football in Todd's crib from day one. "Not a real NFL ball," says Marv. "That would be sick; it was a stuffed ball."
I could never imagine saying this 20 years ago, but I won't even mind if he ends up being a soccer player.  My dislike for the sport was established during my time working for the city recreation department when I was in high school and college (which, for the record, is the best job I ever had or ever will have).  One of our responsibilities was to chalk the athletic fields, and just between you and me, I made the straightest lines out of the entire crew - no string necessary.  Chalking baseball fields is one thing.  However, soccer fields are another animal altogether.  Because they're so big, the chalker must be refilled several times to line an entire field.  It's great when your buddy is following you around with the truck to provide additional limestone.  It's a major pain in the ass when you're on your own - chalk until chalker is empty, walk back to truck, drive truck to chalker, fill up chalker, chalk until chalker is empty, walk back to truck, drive truck to chalker, fill up chalker, etc.  It was very monotonous.  It didn't help that those little soccer twerps always littered the sidelines with orange peels during the games.  The garbage cans were right there!  Anyway, all of us on the field crew HATED soccer.  In the years since then I have grown to appreciate and even enjoy watching soccer on occasion (but not as much as curling).  I believe the tide turned when I was working in Paris and got sucked into the European championship euphoria with my French, Belgian, German, Spanish, and Dutch colleagues.  Europe is soccer (or football as they say) crazy, and it was really a fun atmosphere watching the games at bars after work despite having to put up with the French cheering for "Les Bleus" with their noses held high in the air.  Between my Euro 2000 experience and watching the last few World Cup tournaments, my disdain for soccer has subsided.  I'm actually somewhat looking forward to the next World Cup that will take place this summer.

Anyway, I do understand that there's more to life than sports.  The boy is free to pursue whatever extracurricular activities he desires, and I will fully support whatever he wants to do (unless he takes up ice dancing).  And if the boy ends up sports averse, there's always the girl to fall back on.  It looks like she's shaping up to be either a goalie or a linebacker.


One time in college a roommate of mine attempted to brew his own beer.  He ended up producing a yeasty, brown concoction that, in my opinion, tasted less like beer and more like the results of leaving a loaf of bread in a bucket of water for way too long.  However, I and the rest of the roommates did our best to choke down the swill and told him how great it was (pretty sure we didn't ask for refills).  Ever since that episode I've been wary of trying to brew beer myself.  But with my recent renunciation of light beer and focus on tasty, craft beers, I'm considering giving this a shot.  Perhaps before going it alone I should spend a weekend at a brewery where they show you the ropes, as described in this New York Times article.  Looks like fun!