austin_dern (austin_dern) wrote,

You can see in the future of a thousand years

My niece has a cleft palette. This was not a surprise to my sister-in-law and her husband; they knew it well before the adoption went through. It was just one of those things for which she would need surgery possibly several times in her life. One of the lingering chores from after the adoption would be to have her evaluated for, and then undergo, the first surgery, preferably several months after she'd arrived so she would have time to adjust. Her parents felt the time had been enough for her to adjust, and set the surgery for Wednesday as my phone arrived but went undelivered.

Everyone had sent their good wishes, of course, and the surgery was as successful as could be hoped. The surgeon thought it went without a hitch and that she shouldn't need any kind of follow-up until she's reached about age seven, maybe five years from now, and has had the chance to grow substantially more. This is not to say that she was back home: she would have to stay in the hospital --- not quite coincidentally, although not with conscious design, the same hospital in which I was born --- for at minimum three days, and longer if there were complications. Furthermore she has to wear bandages around her hands thick enough to keep her from putting her hands in her mouth for at minimum three weeks. (She's still in this period.)

But the immediate issue was that she needed to be in the hospital, albeit in the cheery side of the children's ward. And this required my sister-in-law to be with her, because my brother can not watch over anyone in hospital. He can barely go to one himself. He once passed out and was unconscious for at least twenty minutes while text-messaging from his office with someone else describing having had a blood sample taken earlier that day. (He was working then the same place I am now, which shows the company's relaxed attitudes regarding employee consciousness.) He couldn't trade off supervision chores with his wife, no matter what. I cast no moral judgement here; nobody can control what makes them nauseated, but it presented a practical problem.

Namely, after 24 hours of watching a squirmy, anxious, curious two-year-old who'd just undergone surgery and was learning to cope with mitten-hands she couldn't know where merely temporary, my sister-in-law was going crazy. My father had gone up, the previous day and on Thursday to visit and lend moral support, but the more the better. And so my father called me asking me to come visit --- sure, happily --- and maybe stop somewhere on the way up to get some toys which might distract a squirmy, anxious, curious two-year-old.

Of course I would. But since I can be as self-centered as anyone I realized the implications: I'd probably lose my chance to exercise that evening, and if there were any problems or complications with my new phone I would not have time to get it sorted out before flying. Oh, and also there was editing into shape my humor piece for the week. I could get that word length about right while still at work, anyway, even if I lost the couple hours between composing and editing which make my worse writing tics stand out to me.

And, say, where could I buy toys for a two-year-old along the way up to visit?

Trivia: The Brush Electric Compan installed its first high-voltage arc lamps along Broadway in Manhattan --- which would give the street the nickname ``the Great White Way'' --- at the end of 1880, between 14th and 34th streets. Source: Empires of Light: Edison, Tesla, Westinghouse, and the Race to Electrify the World, Jill Jonnes.

Currently Reading: Opening Pitch: Professional Baseball's Inaugural Season, 1871, Warren N Wilbert.


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