After several bad days (and nights) for Twinkle, The Wrench and I decided it was time to call down to the Hospital to see if they had any ideas. A flurry of phone calls ensued, and then this afternoon, the last one brought the words that still make me cringe, even after all these years:
"You need to come back to the Hospital".
Inside I am screaming; we were just there, just 6 weeks ago. On the outside, I wait for the appointment time and date. The Nurse and I make small talk while the computer churns, and she tries to find where they can fit us in. This is their busy time of the year; all the parents want the kids to get their annual checkups, or have surgery during the summer when they don't have to miss any school. I tell the Nurse that we will see them on Wednesday, at 1:00 pm.
I hate afternoon appointments. Get done at the Hospital too late in the day, and you wind up back at the hotel for another "lovely" evening. Get done by 3:00 pm, and if you are lucky, you can be home by midnight. This time, it doesn't sound too promising - the Doctor wants a whole new set of diagnostic x-rays. Plus we have to spend time at O&P (Orthotics & Prosthetics). The Nurse tells me to plan on having dinner in Hospital City on Wednesday. Mental note to self: tell the Transportation staff at our local Shriners Temple that we will need a hotel room for two nights, instead of the usual one.
We have been going to the Hospital since Twinkle was a baby. It is a long and tiring trip, and she makes it every time like a champ. She doesn't mind going at all; you would think that we would have to drag her there, kicking and screaming. When she was four years old, she told us that she likes to go, because she knows that all of the doctors and nurses are just trying to help her pain go away. Amazing kid.
So, here I am again, going over the master list that I have been keeping, refining, for more than a decade now. Not much preparation is actually required; I learned years ago to keep a set of bags packed with everything we need except clothing and prescriptions. The Wrench keeps the minivan in traveling condition all the time; it's ready to go. A fast trip to the grocery store, or The Big W-M will take care of the snacks. Load the wheelchair, the suitcase, the laptop, the ice chest. Gas and ice on the way out of town. We'll be off and running.
It is eight hours driving time, door-to-door. Twink & I will go it alone - Daddy/The Wrench has to go to work. We will have to stop every 90 minutes or so; two hours is the maximum "seat time" that Twinkle can endure without getting stiff, which causes more pain. We make this run so often that we know every place to stop along the way - there are familiar faces and places for the entire 400 mile route.
We will leave on Tuesday, and drive to Hospital City. Hospital on Wednesday, and (hopefully) drive home Wednesday.
Exhaustion on Thursday.