Wednesday, May 6 2020

nurses, zoom calls, and portillo's



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Dear Journal,

Good morning, everyone! Happy Wednesday. I hope you’re all feeling good, and finding time to enjoy the beautiful day. This morning, thanks to a hot shower, a hot cup of hospital coffee, and the first underwear change I’ve had since Monday, I’m feeling human again and ready to rejoin the outside world.

Miles is doing really well. For his first day on earth, he has hit the ground running. He’s eating heartily, the bruises on his face our clearing up, and he continues to demonstrate a toughness that I’ve only seen elsewhere in his mother. Miles seems reluctant to cry. In fact, the loudest sound he’s made so far has been a bowel movements, which have been spectacular and disgusting in its own right.

Sip. We’re eager to get home today. Not that I really have anything to complain about right now, but I’m starting to feel a little cooped up - especially with the extra COVID rules which dictate that I cannot even run to the car without getting a new visitor sticker and my temperature checked.

We had a wonderful day yesterday. In the late morning, I sat up in my groovy corner futon to find both Miles and Marissa soundly asleep. I took the morning to write, I went for a brisk walk around the hospital room, and caught up on my Dutch lessons. I was even considering doing some exercise - I paused my usual home workout regiment this week, and while the burst of physical activity would be kind of exhilarating, I decided that it just wasn’t worth the risk of waking everyone. And let’s be honest, doing push-ups in the corner of a hospital room is a real meat head thing to do.

Instead, as long as I had my computer out, I decided to work on some code. I happily worked the morning away, chasing down bugs in my summer slackbot project (check out reckerbot issue tracker if you’d like to follow along, or even pitch in).

As I was furiously typing away, Marissa began to stir. I stood up on the chair to get a wide angle shot of the room, hoping to capture the moment while everyone was still asleep, but Marissa caught me and cracked a smile.

“How did you sleep? How are you feeling?” I asked. Marissa stretched and rolled over to her side. “Momma is hungry,” she laughed.

I ordered Marissa a pizza from downstairs with the hospital phone. A nurse knocked, and entered the room to check on us.

The nurses have been wonderful. Knowledgeable, polite, friendly, and a genuine joy to be around. Talking with the nurses has made me realize how much I have missed talking to other human beings in the same room as me.

It’s also fascinating to get to know each nurse, and hear how they cope and adapt to the hectic work schedule. Some nurses embrace the night time hours. Some nurses try to return to regular hours in between shifts. “It’s really dumb,” laughed our nurse Kenzie, “but when I’m off the clock I try to go back to normal. Otherwise I feel like I’m missing so much.”

Last night’s nurse Whitney chatted with us in our room early this morning just before her shift ended. She said she was looking forward to getting home and sleeping the day away with her golden retriever and her chui-weenie - that’s a chihuahua and weener dog mix. “I hope it rains today,” she chuckled, bleakly looking out the window. “So I have an easier time getting to sleep.”

“Do you want to finish my pizza?” asked Marissa, handing me a plate. She had left two slices of pepperoni pizza for me. I swallowed the two slices of greasy pepperoni pizza dutifully, like I was taking medicine. As soon as the pizza hit my stomach, I felt a strong nap coming on.

“Do you mind if I shut my eyes for a while,” I said to Marissa, yawning.

“Go for it,” she smiled.

After sleeping the afternoon away, I joined Marissa in bed. She was trying to get Miles to eat. Most of the day, he seemed more interesting in just sleeping, and our nurse Dorothy diagnosed that he may have swallowed some fluid during the birth that was upsetting his stomach. He would later prove her right, releasing a vigorous, almost simulatenous pee, poop, and spit-up. “Miles Recker, the exfiltration machine,” laughed Marissa.

As I sat beside Marissa, we did some Zoom calls, first checking in on Rodney. When we called him, he was busy chasing the family cat around the Skarlupka house.

“Do you want to see your baby brother?” I asked into the phone. Rodney turned to face us attentively. I slowly moved the camera over to Miles’ face. I heard Rodney shout into the phone speaker. “Oh! It’s my baby brother! Hi Miles!” he said, sounding so grown up in that moment.

“That was really nice of them to watch Rodney,” said Marissa after we hung up. “It looks like chaos over there.”

“Yeah it looks nuts,” I replied. “But I think Heath is having fun. I get the sense he likes having a boy around for a change - I like how they were kind of egging each other on.”

Next we called Marissa’s family. It was fun hearing a wave of ooh and aah’s as I held the phone to Miles’ face.

Just before our last call, Marissa put in an order for Portillo’s. While we waited for our food, we joined the usual Tuesday evening Recker family quarantine conference call. More ooh and ahh’s and thoughtful, appreciated words.

Our food arrived, so I suited up in my mask and shoes and made my way down to the lobby. It felt so good to leave our room and go for a walk, even a short one to pick up food from a delivery person. I met the driver in the front of the hospital, then re entered through the front revolving doors. The security guard approached me.

“Sorry, gotta screen you again,” he laughed. “I know you just stepped outside to grab food, but it’s the rules.”

“No don’t worry about it, I don’t mind,” I replied. “It’s kind of nice to have an errand right now.”

“Have you come into contact with anyone who was recently diagnosed with COVID-19?” he asked. I shook my head.

“Have you come into contact with anyone who was told to self-isolate for possible COVID-19?” he asked. I shook my head. Next, I patiently held still while he scanned my forehead for a temperature reading.

“OK, let me get you a new sticker,” he said, turning to the computer. I handed him my old time-sensitive badge, which over time and developed a little red STOP sign on the corner.

“OK, enjoy your food,” he said waving me by.

Marissa and I crawled into bed together and ate Portillo’s. I put on The Last Dance on my laptop. It was a good night.

Thanks for stopping by today. And thank you for all the wishes, prayers, and nice words you left us yesterday. It was really special.