The Story of a Yellow Jacket, an Ambulance Ride, and Uber

April 27, 2016

What a long, strange trip it was…

Here I am, catching a little cat nap in my favorite comfie chair when I was awoken from my dreamlike slumber by what felt like Tinkerbelle jabbing me with a mini fire poke in my tush!  I jumped up, still groggy but frantically searching for the source of my discomfort to find no Tinkerbelle in my living room.  After running to the mirror to inspect and see that I was in deed attacked by something, I went back to the living room with my glasses on and my senses in tack.  Imagine my surprise when I discover the source of my discomfort was not Tinkerbelle and her mini fire poker but rather an angry yellow jacket!

I was sitting stinging my bum… so how the heck did he get there anyway? The odds are just as likely that Tinkerbelle would be the culprit.

Being a self-respecting Southern girl, I have had more than my fair share of bee stings so initially I was annoyed more than anything.  That is, until I started to display signs of an allergic reaction.  (More odds… what are the odds of developing a dangerous allergic reaction to bee stings at middle age?)  I was petrified to sit back in a the same chair so I perched a first on the fireplace hearth, and then on a thoroughly inspected leather chair to monitor my symptoms.  I called the Nurse Line and they suggested I call my doctor.  Of course, my doctor does not return emergency pages between midnight and 8 o’clock in the morning.  So, when my tongue started to swell and my doctor’s office had yet to return my call, I knew it was time to go to the emergency room.

With spouse away on business and a heart rate through the roof I made the call to 911 and requested my very first ambulance ride with Fairfax County Fire and Rescue Department.  I must say, it was quite an experience and one for which I am eternally grateful.

Between the time I called 911 and EMS arrived on the scene, my tongue grew so large I could hardly speak.  Thankfully, I had an efficient team led by Lieutenant Mark run an IV, give me medicine, check my heart, pulse and other vitals all the while driving me across town to Virginia Hospital Center.  A side benefit to coming in an ambulance, you go right to a room and bypass the waiting room completely!

Once Lieutenant Mark briefed my awesome nurse Abbie, the team at VHC took over and saved the day.  The doctor checked me out, gave me lots of shots, prescriptions, an epi-pen, and after only 3.5 hours I was ready to head home.  Not a bad stay in an ER if you ask me.

Except… I came by ambulance.  So, with my hubby away and the rock star nanny keeping the little one company I downloaded the Uber ap and Ubered home!  He was waiting for me out front by the time they were done discharging me.  Who knew it could be so easy?  And aside from the fact the car was a “smoking permitted”, it was cleaner than any taxi I have ever been in and it cost 25% less!

What a night of firsts! You really cannot make this stuff up! If wordpress did hashtags, #StrangerThanFiction would be an appropriate one here!

PS.  When I told Jellybean what happened while she was sleeping, she was miffed that she did not get to go on an ambulance ride with me!  The joys of being young!

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Dental Fun

July 28, 2012
Examining the Instruments

Checking out the dentist’s gadgets

This week marked yet another first for little Jellybean as we went for her very first appointment with the dentist.  She embraced the visit like everything else she does in life, with gusto!  From the moment we walked in the office of Alexandria Children’s Dentistry she was ready for prime time! She started by finding the play area that was designated “just for kids” and happily played a computer game with another unsuspecting toddler.

When we were called back, she reluctantly left her new friend and skipped back into the inner sanctum of the dentist’s office. Much to my surprise, instead of being ushered into a tiny little room with a big chair and scary torture gadgets, we were led into a wide open room with toys and puppets on the walls, two dental chairs, and a nice view of the skyline. There was another little girl a few years older than Jellybean sporting a pair of cool sunglasses and relaxing in the other chair but before they could bond over the dental experience our hygienist came out and introduced JB to all of the instruments they would be using for her teeth cleaning.

Wait!  Did she say teeth cleaning?! Mommy was a bit shocked. Honestly, I do not know what I expected on her first visit to the dentist: an introduction to dental health, tooth brushing lessons, a little exam but a full-scale cleaning?  On a not yet three year-old? Metal things poking in her mouth, loud noises whirling around her head, yucky tasting stuff in her mouth, and having to keep her mouth open for so long with a vacuum in there…I was terrified for her!  Furthermore, I did not want to traumatize my child to the point she would refuse to ever set foot in a doctor’s office again!

Teeth Cleaning

Getting all of her little teeth cleaned

The hygienist did a great job of re-assuring me that everything would be okay and if JB appeared uncomfortable she would skip the cleaning part of the visit and move right onto dental education. I could live with this arrangement; I just had to be brave for my little Jellybean.

While I entertained her with a horse puppet, the hygienist got everything set up and JB got comfy in her chair with her own cool pair of pink sunglasses!  As she got her teeth cleaned she held Mommy’s hand and watched everything that was going on around her with complete fascination and not once did she flinch!

Once her teeth were cleaned she then got a demonstration on proper teeth cleaning with the help of an alligator and a huge toothbrush.  Never one to let me relax for too long, we all jumped for the toothbrush when she began using her own teeth to show how she brushed her teeth at home!

Finally, Dr. Angela came out for the finale and examined her teeth, counted them all, and gave another pep talk on the importance of taking care of her teeth.

An A+ for Jellybean!

Look Mommy! Pink sunglasses and a matching mirror too!

Then, in what seemed like a blink of an eye, we were done!

My girl handled the visit like a pro! I would like to flatter myself into thinking it was my calming presence but I have to give credit to Dr. Angela and her staff – they did a fabulous job walking her through the entire process so she would know what to expect and not be afraid. Honestly, I felt a bit like Grover at the end of “The Monster at the End of This Book” when he said “and you were so scared”.

At the end of the visit she got an A+, a cool new toothbrush, a bouncy ball, a Mickey Mouse sticker, AND a cool princess prize!  What a great visit and another awesome first for Jellybean!


Bilirubin – Part Two

October 18, 2009

As inconsolable as we were, we pulled it together and got our daughter prepared for phototherapy treatment. Essentially phototherapy or “bili-lights”, is similar to a miniature tanning bed with blue lights. They remove everything but the baby’s diaper, place her in the bassinet/tanning bed, and put a little blind fold over her eyes to protect from retinal damage. Being that the baby is only a few days old and is used to a soft, warm environment, not a plastic tanning bed you can expect quite a bit of fussing and crying. I really do not know who took it worse, us or the baby.

Bili lights
It really was terrible to watch her in the bassinet under those eerie blue lights. Bless her heart; she was miserable and so were we. As we watched our darling daughter so many emotions went running through our hearts and minds. One moment we were on the natural high of “parenthood at last” and the next we were crashing down with the crisis of abnormally high bilirubin levels.

I cried, Russ cried, and JB cried. We were quite the trio. JB hated the little blind fold over her eyes and kept pulling it off. We adjusted her Cindy Who hat to cover her eyes and then put on the blind fold but, being the clever child she is, she figured out how to scoot around in the bassinet in just the perfect way to inch the hat and the blind fold off. Russ was super dad and kept an all night vigil over her to make sure her eyes remained covered and protected through the night.

After sixteen hours of phototherapy we were rewarded with the news that her bilirubin blood test showed her level had dropped to 11.4 and there did not appear to be any lingering damage. Thank God!

Being brand new parents and never having heard of this before, we took the news rather hard. We found out a lot of information after the fact; the most comforting being that, while our child’s level was higher than most, many babies with lower levels have to endure the baby tanning bed. Had we known this earlier it probably would have taken away a large part of the angst we felt over her treatment. Another piece of information we found comforting after the fact was that while we were told levels over 20 could cause deafness, cerebral palsy, or other forms of brain damage, the greatest risk is not until the levels pass 25. The gap between 17.2 and 25 would have been so much more comforting than the gap between 17.2 and 20!

Another thing I wish we had known earlier on was the kind of jaundice she had. At the peak of the crisis I was devastated to find out she had what they call “breastfeeding jaundice” which can occur when a breastfeeding baby is not getting enough breast milk because of difficulty with breastfeeding or because the mother’s milk is not in yet. As a result of the caesarean, my milk was slow coming in and the amount of milk was significantly less than it would have been had we had a vaginal birth. Had we known about the strong possibility of any type of jaundice problem sooner we probably would have supplemented with formula from the beginning.

Thankfully for all of us the first and second crisis of parenthood turned out well for all involved. Let’s hope we fare as well when she reaches her teen years!


Bilirubin – Part One

September 27, 2009

Not three days into parenthood we learned a new bad word: bilirubin.

Bilirubin, previously referred to as hematoidin, is produced by the normal breakdown of red blood cells. Typically it is processed through the liver and exits the body through the intestines. Since newborns a) have a higher turn-over of red blood cells than adults and b) have livers that are not yet fully developed they oftentimes have bilirubin levels that build up faster than their livers can process the bilirubin out of their little bodies.

This results in a condition we have all heard of at least once, jaundice. The jaundice in and of itself is not a bad thing and is rather common in newborns. What is frightening is when the jaundice spreads the entire way through the body, even turning the whites of the eyes yellow. This is indicative of much higher than normal bilirubin levels. In the case of our little bundle of joy her bilirubin level started out a bit high (12.4) and we began supplementing breastfeeding with formula for twelve straight hours in an effort to save her from having to spend time under the bili-lights. I say we but super dad Russ took on the lion’s share of the task of waking her up and getting her to down her Enfamil. We were rewarded for our efforts the next morning by a noticeable evening out of her skin tone and a bilirubin level of 11.2. Phew. We were out of the danger zone and to say we were relieved would be an understatement.

In an effort to keep us on the teeter totter of excitement, the afternoon proved to be quite dramatic, as a nurse thankfully noticed her skin tone looked yellower than it should and ordered another bilirubin test. It turns out her bilirubin level had shot up to 17.2! 😮

How could this be? Less than twelve hours previously we were told her levels had gone down and would not be going up. We were told our daughter was perfectly fine and now her levels were less than three points below the level where deafness, cerebral palsy, and other forms of brain damage have been reported. We were petrified, angry, and inconsolable. Thank heavens Dr. Williams (one of my OBs) was in the room when the nurse brought us the news and was able to help us gain perspective and get a pediatrician down to answer questions but it provided little help to us in the overall scheme of things.

As inconsolable as we were, we pulled it together and got our daughter prepared for phototherapy treatment.