Matthew is part of a Family Study looking at obesity and diabetes in children and the connection of these two. Once a year shortly after his birthday he and I goes in for tests of some assort, as well during the first and fifth year Marietta also has tests done. Each year they do measurement and such and I have to fill out a piles of questionaires about our diet. This year he also had a bone density test as well as a couple other tests and some blood work.
So here we are back in August after Matthew's 3rd birthday. For the bone density test he had to lay completely still while the scanner went over him a few times. He was extremely cooperative and we had no issues at all.
I can't remember what this test was about, she did some measurements and then hooked him up to this machine for a couple minutes. He was rather fascinated by it but lay still.
And then the blood work. I have never been one to bother with using EMLA patches/cream before blood work or procedures. This is mostly because we are a family with small veins and they always have trouble finding a vein so I would never know where to put a patch in the first place. On this day they used a different type of cream which they said was more effective since the EMLA cream constricts the veins making it harder to get them (oh ya, so it really would never work on us) but this one is suppose to enlarge the veins making it easier. I figured it wouldn't hurt if they wanted to apply a bit of cream .... but as I guessed, they couldn't get a good vein and in the end had to go to a non-cream spot anyways.
Matthew took along his favourite teddy Mac (short for McMaster). He got Mac last year when he went for the appointment after his 2nd birthday. Mac became Matthew's buddy and has gone to many places with Matthew, including to OR to have his arm fixed just like Matthew's after Matthew broke his wrist. Each year he gets a teddy at his appointment ... well this year they had another Mac for him. We told them it was okay, Matthew already had one, but Matthew wanted another Mac and they insisted he take it. So now we have Mic (Mc from McMaster) and Mac (which is what everyone calls McMaster).
As you can all imagine, trips to McMaster are filled with memories. I actually enjoy going, it's a bit of a therapy, even if the place has changed a lot in the past 3 years and so much is different from our time there. I can't explain why I like to go. It doesn't make me sad, it just makes me think. It brings back all that has happened and makes it more realistic again. So often I can look at pictures and I can talk about what happened, I can vividly remember it all like it just happened and yet I feel like "did that really all happen? that seems like sooo long ago?" or "it seems like a dream" I think only those who have "lived" in the hospital for many days, weeks, months or over many years, can relate to how someone actually misses that life. It sounds crazy but at first I missed it, it wasn't just James' second home, it was also my second home. I had met people and made connections there, it had become a way of life for me. Would I ever want to do it again or wish it on someone ... of course not, but I still missed it.
When we have to go to McMaster time is taken to revisit the Children's area and the areas familiar to us. Too bad many aren't so familiar because of the remodelling and updating, but I am glad that it is being updated. 3C is still the same and that is where we spent the majority of our time. It's amazing that we still bump into people that remember us, whether it's doctors, therapists, nurses or cleaning staff.
Marietta had commented on how this was James' hospital. Those words struck Matthew and stuck with him. When we arrived in the Children's area to have a look around (Marietta had not been back since the renos had been done) Matthew kepts looking for James and asking for him. I could not figure out at first what triggered this, until I remembered how Marietta had said it was James' Hospital. Matthew is fully aware that James is his brother and whenever he hears the name James he will say "James' is my brother". He recognizes James in pictures and knows that specific items in our home belonged to James. Matthew checked out several rooms and asked if James was in there. It took me a bit to get him to understand that James was at this hospital when he was sick but that he is no longer here. Matthew does know that James' is in heaven, but all these things he knows about James' are not realistic to him. I wonder what was going on in his head and whether he thought he was going to finally meet this brother James' that he always hears about. What I have noticed is that ever since our trip to the hospital James became more real to Matthew. He talks about James regularly making me realize that we also must talk about him regularly for Matthew to have picked up so much about this special brother he had. I have heard him call James on the (play) phone and he has asked for James to come over. Since Matthew really doesn't understand death or heaven he also doesn't really understand what it means that James is in heaven. I am so thankful that while Matthew has never truly met James he has met him through us.
Back to our Mac visit. When we arrived at the Children's area they were just about to begin a clown/magician act and Marietta wanted to stay to watch. Matthew was interested for a few minutes and then decided the ride-on cars were more fun, so while Marietta watch the act I watch Matthew ride around and had a few chats with familia people I ran into.
This is a pretty neat car that I'm sure James would have loved and would have quickly mastered. No feet required (altho Matthew did find it quicker if he just used his feet, but with time he would have gotten the hang of it), you make it go by turning the steering wheel back and forth.
My heart always goes out to the children and their families who are in the hospitals. It's always hard to understand why some must suffer and others go through life so oblivious to sickness and hardship. When I see a sick child I see not only the child but the whole family and I feel for what that family is going through. Holidays and long weekends often remind me of the hospital since we spent several of those in hospital. I still struggle with a guilty feeling that I can go on with my life and have fun or do stuff with my family on a holiday while the hospital remains full of sick children (or adults) and families affected by this. I know I can't put my life on hold to mourn what others are going through, and I would never want anyone to have done that for us, but I also know how it feels to be inside those walls when everyone else is outside of them going on with their life. I suppose my prespective also comes from a chronic illness prespective versus a one-time corrective or helpful surgery. And yet I must remind myself of how thankful we can be for the healthcare and medical care that we have in this country, without it where would these children (adults) be? I thank God time and again for allowing us to live in this country where we can receive such wonderful care (don't get me wrong, I'm fully aware of the issues within our healthcare system), what a blessing it is.