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Children and Sudden Illness
Reaction to September 11, 2001
September 2, 2002

September 2, 2002

I'm going back to bed for the rest of the month. According to my horoscope, Sept. 2 is supposed to be one of my best days. Well, so far today, I've managed to make a valiant effort in ripping my left ear in two and now I have six stitches holding it all back together. According to the nice doctor whose nimble fingers did the work, I exposed the cartilage and everything.

It was pure, unadulterated carelessness, but I would rather hurt myself than hurt someone else by being careless, and I would rather me hurt me than be angry at someone else for being stupid, if you understand me.

I have new shelves that I put up to see how they'll look. Then I decided to finish painting that wall, so I took down the shelves, but left the brackets. You know the kind with the little point at the end so the shelf doesn't fall off? Yeh. Them. So I got my paint and my brush and a thing to sit on while I painted the stone outlines, and I bent over and sat down--and caught my ear on the little point of the bracket.

I'm not terribly lightweight, nor horribly heavy--about 173 pounds--and all that weight was headed for the seat and there was no stopping it. Do you know when you injure your ear like that, you can *hear* it ripping? It's one of the most horrible things I have ever heard in my life.

I stood up, put my hand to my ear, realized it was torn and walked out of the room and down the hall to the living room. I put the paint brush on my computer table, grabbed two tissues, jammed them against my ear and went outside to the fella who just happened to be here this morning doing my yardwork. I gave in and hired someone, you see.

He looked at me, standing there with the tissues pressed to my head. I asked if he could drive me down to the doctor's office--no thought of its being a holiday today. We got there, and the door was locked, but the receptionist saw me with the tissues and let me in. This is *not* my doctor, by the way, but the only one right here in my village.

Bless his heart, he was in doing paperwork and took me right away instead of sending me to the doctor on call. He's an extremely decent human being, believes in alternate therapies (his brother does ear acupuncture), and often refers people to me for back pain, headaches and such.

I told him I had engaged in a little self-mutilation as a bid for sympathy and attention. He laughed, had a good look at my ear and told me the cartilage was exposed. I said I didn't like doing things half-way and he said, "Well, you certainly didn't go half-way with this."

Six stitches and antibiotic powder later and I'm home again. I might even take a pic to show you. Heh. However, if this is one of my best days, I'm going back to bed for the rest of the month.

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Children and Sudden Illness

Have you ever had one of your children come down with something that you dismissed at first as inconsequential, only to have it turn frightening? I had this very thing happen recently. I live in an area that suffers a huge lack of doctors. The few who are around have patient loads of 2500 and more and none are taking new patients. The family doctor I did have, left three years ago and I haven't been able to find another. Fortunately, I am generally in good health, as are my children. So sudden illness is cause for alarm. Here is what happened.

My youngest child, a girl of nine whom I share with my ex-spouse on a fifty-fifty basis, came home from school yesterday, complaining of a minor earache, which progressed in intensity as the evening wore on. My first thought was that it was from the swimming lesson she had had that morning. She probably had water caught deep in her ear and it wasn't coming out. That can hurt like a son-of-a-gun.

We tried all sorts of tricks to get the water out of her ear. She dangled her head off the couch, kicked her foot, shook her head side to side. We tried warm salt water to see if we could lure the trapped water out. She decided to try a hot bath, which she said worked a little, but she could still feel something in there.

At last, having given her children's acetaminophen for the pain, I sent her to bed. Checking on her at my bedtime, I found she had trickles of water coming from her ear, but then we realized the trickles were a very pale pink. That wasn't a good sign, but the pink was so faint that I wasn't terribly worried. Not enough to take her out at night in my car, which is old and sometimes unreliable, for the 75 km (45-50 miles) drive to the nearest Emergency Room.

Morning brought red threads in the pink, though, and I began to worry. I couldn't help but think of a friend of hers, aged 10, who collapsed at school last September 13, bleeding from her ears, and who died that same day of a brain aneurysm. I kept telling myself that my daughter had no headache, no other symptoms, but fear is so irrational and it wants to undermine you at every step. I squashed it down, and called a local doctor.

His secretary/receptionist gave me the name of the doctor on call and said that she had a walk-in clinic today. I bundled up my daughter into the car, which only gave me a few moments of mild alarm, and off we went. Bless the doctors with walk-in clinics.

The examination showed an infection in both ears. It had come up suddenly and without warning. Apparently, it's going around right now. The left eardrum had ruptured, the doctor thought, and probably resealed itself since she couldn't see any holes. My daughter is now on antibiotics for the infection and acetaminophen for her fever and should be fully recovered in a few days. I am relieved more than I can say, because, although I would never show her, I was scared for a few moments. Deeply scared. And maybe longer than a few moments. Now, I am just glad that it turned out as well as it did.

Life is good again.

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Aftermath 9/12/2001Back to Top

This may be somewhat rambling: thoughts are tumbling and I will write each down as I manage to seize it long enough for it to make sense.

Yesterday, I went into a chat room of writers that I have known online for over two years. One woman there asked us all to pray for her brother's safety; he had been supposed to fly from Boston to L.A. She did not know which airline, nor which flight number. Moments later, she discovered his flight was #175, which had not yet been announced--and then came the news that yes, Flight 175 was one of the four. In fact, it was the second into the Trade Center. I can only imagine how she feels to see those shots over and over, of the plane flying into and through the tower, knowing her brother's last moments were full of terror. I know how I feel, watching it myself, and I ache for the innocent passengers, for the people in the tower, sitting at their desks, seeing this huge thing hurtling at them.

I listened to the radio this morning, and heard the mother of a young man named Mark Bingham, who had been on Flight 93--the one that crashed outside Pittsburgh. He called her on his cell phone to tell her he loved her and the rest of his family, and that his plane had been hijacked. She told him they loved him too.

Barbara Olson also had the presence of mind to call her husband to tell him that men with knives and boxcutters had taken over the plane she was on and herded the passengers and crew to the rear of the plane. A short time later, that plane hit the Pentagon.

A flight attendant used a cell phone to call and tell what was happening. She was able to give the seat number of one of the terrorists, which means that the name the ticket was sold to (whether real or fake) is available. This gives the first tiny clue, and I can't express my admiration for this young woman's courage and presence of mind.

Yesterday was the UN's International Day of Peace, intended to kick off a decade of peace around the world. Tell me this is a coincidence.

I saw the flag at McDonald's, in Digby, Nova Scotia, at half-staff this morning. (Half-mast is for ships; half-staff is on land) I thought it a lovely gesture of respect.

I have seen news and heard reports of Canadians responding from coast to coast. In Halifax, some citizens went to the airport to claim stranded travelers with children. They brought them to their homes so that the little ones would have a decent place to sleep. Schools are closed all across Hants county so that they may be used as places of refuge for the thousands of travelers whose planes came to Halifax airport. Apparently, 60 or so transAtlantic flights were diverted here.

People are waiting for two and three hours in the major Canadian cities to donate blood. Volunteer doctors, nurses and other health care people are standing by to take in wounded from NY, and in some cases, are already heading south to help.

I see that a small group has committed great evil. I see that millions are responding with greater good.

I am afraid for thousands of Arab, Muslim, Palestinian, Israeli, middle Eastern people across Canada and the US who will bear the brunt of the anger of the ignorant. Somewhere, a four year old will be beaten senseless because he is Arab--not because he trained the terrorists, nor because he had anything to do with it--but just because he is one of "them". It is purest bullshit supreme to react so...but some people will. I grieve for the stupidity of the human race.

I hope that the good in the world will override the stupidity. I pray those responsible will be uncovered and punished. I pray those caught in the middle will go unharmed.

I pray we all recover from the horror of this. My love and blessings to you all.

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