5.20.2013

Accompanied Minors Only

Sitting on the edge of your seat awaiting the resolution to the "You can't have your kids here!" confrontation? Me, too!

Last Tuesday, after spending the morning cleaning up 2-year-old vomit thanks to a visit from the Vomit Fairy, I took my overly bleached self over to have labs drawn and meet with several of the parties involved in what would ultimately be a resolution to me and my little delinquents in the oncology building. It wasn't just about me bringing my kids into the building for labs, but the outcome of everyone who brings children to the building - be it a patient or a caregiver or some weirdo who thinks bringing kids to a place like that is fun.

Don't worry, the behavior of the clearly child-loathing administrator was also addressed, and I think a passive apology was offered for the way in which she approached me, and accused me of things that did not apply.

I will start by saying my rage had since returned to that special little pocket I keep it in before we walked into this meeting. Kyle's presence there was nice, but unnecessarily needed to contain me. In his presence, I am civil and try not to crush people with my intellect. Especially people whose salaries are paid by the bills I incur while willingly making myself very sick every other week.

The biggest of pictures boils down to this. The oncology center is seeking a national certification that requires no child under the age of 12 be allowed in the "clinical" areas of the building, or be unsupervised. By clinical areas, they are referring to what Merrick knows as the "off limits" tile floors. Tile floors = sterile environments = clinical areas = no kids. Simple enough that even my 5-year-old knows the rules and follows them.

This certification is something they've apparently wanted, and me standing for 2 hours in a crowded hallway with my calm and contained children just reminded everyone it was time to start the discussion and get the ball rolling. I know that though I am not the cause of these changes, my presence there that day was probably the catalyst to a discussion that was long overdue in the management of that facility.

As far as my personal 12-and-under crowd being unsupervised, I'll admit to strapping the one that doesn't speak English yet to the stroller, handing him my iPhone, and telling Merrick to not take candy from strangers. In the past, when having labs drawn, awaiting results, or getting a shot, I've always been within eye sight of my unattended (extremely well behaved) children. I am there, I can see them, they know what my evil death glare means, but they are technically unattended by their mother who sits 5 feet away in a "clinical area." Because my children are trustworthy in small doses, I've never had any issues leaving them in such close proximity. They literally sit there and stare into their Apple products like a bunch of drugged up patients of Nurse Ratchet.

So the bigger picture is that in a few short weeks, in following with this national certification they are chasing, I won't be able to take the boys with me for my labs. I can bring them into the building, but they must wait with a responsible adult that I probably should know in advance. I briefly considered paying the first person I saw sitting on a bench, knowing there was a good chance that same person would be sitting on the same bench when I walked out.

This brings me to another point that was made, and one I never considered. Speaking from the clinical side, should something medically urgent happen to me while I'm there having labs drawn, what are they suppose to do with my kids? What would happen to my kids if they needed to get all crazy and call 911 on me? How could they survive the 15 minutes alone with my kids until either their father, a grandparent, or a friend could show up?

And while they were busy pondering that question, I secretly wondered what would happen if I passed out at Target over some amazing deal. Who would watch my kids then? Will I soon be banned from taking them into Target, too, just in case I have a medical emergency and no responsible adult can step up and sit with my kids until back up arrives?

There were other reasonable and rational thoughts and scenarios passed around. Some sounded logical, and some sounded illogical to someone with a compromised immune system who spent the morning cleaning up vomit. But in the end, because of no fault of my own, it's going to require more effort, time, and stress on my part to get through the next 10 rounds of treatment.

Ultimately, I'll be driving to a facility that is 30 minutes farther away to better suit the childcare we have available to us. I'll have to drop my kids off with the plethora of friends willing to watch them, drive to the oncology building, spend 20 minutes getting my labs done, drive and pick my kids up, and drive the 45 minutes home. So at the very least, what would normally take less than 45 minutes door-to-door, is now going to take me 2-and-a-half hours at the very least.

Does it suck? Sure. Do I really have a choice? No.

In the mean time, I sat back in my recliner last Wednesday and watched someone bring a girl far younger than 12 into the very crowded infusion room - the very room that has a large sign stating: "No Children Allowed." And I wanted to stand up and scream and point and yell "RULE BREAKER!" Why didn't someone actually breaking the rules get called out? Why did it have to be innocent me who follows the rules to their finer points? But as so often is the case with rules and policies, you can't single out the one, so you have to apply it to the many.

After a morning of vomit, excessive laundry, lots of bleach, labs, shots and a meeting, I had the wonderful privilege of being rear ended while pulling into my driveway (literally) by a young fellow in his hot little BMW. He was in such a hurry to get home that he had no choice but to tailgate me turn-for-turn for that final mile as I drove. I was even kind enough to elongate the pressing of my breaks as I approached our house and use my blinker to turn into the driveway; but apparently it wasn't enough.

You see, he had just had "such a long day and just wanted to get home." I didn't bother to tell him what my day consisted of, though I so badly wanted to help put what he was considering a rough day into perspective. I knew my aged wisdom would fall on youthful, unreceptive ears. I just smiled and told him to be grateful it was minor, be grateful I didn't have my kids in the car, be grateful his airbags didn't deploy, and be grateful he wasn't having to deal with this on the side of the freeway in the rain.

So I may be groveling all the way to my next appointment for labs, but I will try to remember that I, too, must be grateful; grateful that thought we must make a pain-in-the-ass change to our course, it can be made on smooth seas with all the help we have surrounding us.

Almost home.











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