Monday, May 11, 2009

A Reality Check

From an email I sent last Friday:


Last week, Leela had developed an abscess (bacterial infection) behind her throat wall under the base of the skull, where all the nerves and muscles attach to the spine. It inflamed her neck and shoulder muscles and they spasmed. Over three days it had progressed from what we thought was a slight neck sprain to the point where her head was locked down to one side, she was running a fever, and was in a massive amount of pain. Yesterday I took her to the doctor first thing in the AM and he sent me directly to the ER at Childrens Hospital.

After multiple tests, they figured out the abscess thing and did surgery to remove it around 7 last night. Because we and her doctor had originally thought it was a neck sprain and nothing more, the infection had time to spread and she needs to be hospitalized until it disappears from the surrounding tissue.

The good news is that -- unlike a lot of kids at Childrens -- the situation has a very high probability of a good resolution, and we were able to catch it before it occluded the carotid artery or her windpipe. Also, she's an extremely tough little girl, I thought so before this but after yesterday I'm convinced that she has the constitution of a Navy Seal.

Childrens Hospital is an extremely hard place for a parent to be, but the staff is amazing. We are so lucky to have them here in Seattle. I have been in a lot of emergency rooms and I know that it would have been much harder to get the kind of treatment and attention that Leela received at Childrens at any other hospital (holy run on sentences, batman). We're not sure how long she is going to need to be hospitalized, it depends on how quickly she can recover. Lopa spent the night last night, and we'll be trading off over the next couple of days.

Update: She is coming home today (Monday) after going into the ER on Friday. It's amazing how fast kids bounce back. She had a rough Saturday, she was in pain, constipated, and still fighting the infection. But on Sunday she was back to herself again, giggling, teasing me, and smiling.

Before this whole thing went down, I had a big 'todo' list for the week and weekend:

(1) finish up guest blog post for cloudera.
(2) assemble extracted data up to cloud via MapReduce.
(3) Go on 26 mile slow run
(4) mow lawn and attempt to fix waterfall.
(5) Play goalie for Pele's Nightmare on Friday night.
(6) Take Kiran to his lacrosse game.
(7) Celebrate Mothers day down at Seward park on bikes.
(8) refactor some old code using java concurrency lib goodies.

All of that got massively pre-empted, and as I sat in the ER looking at my little 5 year old daughter scream in pain, all of it really didn't matter anymore. The only thing that did matter was finding out what was wrong with her and fixing it. Fortunately the doctors were able to do just that, and through the weekend I was able to come up with a better todo list:

(1) be with my family and enjoy them.
(2) celebrate the little things in life.
(3) never take the people I love for granted.
(4) all that other stuff is gravy.

You would think that after watching my dad lose his battle with cancer 2 years ago that these priorities would be second nature, but that's not the way my mind works, I tend to 'glorify the mundane'. This past weekend was very hard, but at the same time it was a good reminder of what really matters.


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