Grandma Passed Away and JSL is sick

Yesterday, JSL felt warm. We checked his temperature and it was high. We gave him Motrin and Tylenol but that didn’t take his fever down. Worried about another febrile seizure, we prepared to take him to Urgent Care. We were almost ready to go when the phone rang. It was my parents. Now, my parents don’t observe Shabbat as much as I do, but they *NEVER* call during Shabbat. The minute I saw their number come up on the caller ID, I knew it was bad news.

[thumb id=703]B got on the phone and talked with them. They told her that they were sitting down eating lunch with my grandmother when she said she wasn’t feeling well. She took another bite, then began to shake. My mother took her hand and she passed away. My parents called 911 but my grandmother was already gone by that point. Besides, she had a DNR. The fire department and ambulance left, but the police officer remained with them. My parents called the funeral home, but they refused to come get the body. They said that the coroner had to declare her dead and get the body. The coroner, however, refused to declare her dead and said her doctor had to do it. He was on vacation so they had trouble reaching her. This continued on for hours (hours that my father had to sit with the dead body of his mother in his house) until they got the doctor on the phone. The doctor declared her dead. The coroner said that the funeral home needed to pick up the body. When the funeral home still tried to insist that the coroner needed to get the body, the police officer got on the phone and ordered them to pick up the body.

Grandma was my last surviving grandparent. She was 94 years old, so she had a nice, long life. I have many great memories of her growing up. I’ve also taken it upon myself to collect the hundreds of photographs that she left behind and scan them in so that everyone in the family can have copies. (I’ll probably use a service like Scan My Photos.)

We finally did get to Urgent Care and found out that JSL has an ear infection. We got him antibiotics but even that, along with Motrin and Tylenol (dosed out every 2 hours last night), didn’t get his fever to drop. As it stands now, the funeral will be on Monday morning so I’m leaving today. B, JSL, and NHL will go to stay with B’s parents while I’m gone. I’m not entirely comfortable leaving them with JSL sick like this, but I also don’t want to miss my grandmother’s funeral. Hopefully, JSL will feel better by the time I get back on Tuesday.

The Scariest Moments of My Life

If being a parent has taught me anything, it’s that your scariest moments in life will always involve your children.  Thinking back to my pre-parent/pre-married days, my scariest moments involved asking a girl out.  It seemed scary at the time, but it was nothing compared to my children’s Top Four (listed below in chronological order):

1.  NHL’s Febrile Seizure:  It was July 2004.  We had just moved into our new house and we were one month away from NHL’s first birthday.  We were supposed to visit my grandmother downstate, but the weekend was *NOT* going well.  B’s beloved cockatoo, Moose, had taken ill suddenly and passed away literally in her arms.  We stayed up late that night digging a grave for him and B was understandably distraught, so we cancelled our trip.  In hindsight, it was a good thing.

NHL was playing on the floor like he usually did.  I picked him up and happened to brush my hand across his forehead.  It was burning hot.  I remember getting the feeling that, if I didn’t remove my hand from his head, it would be burnt.  Yes, he was burning up so much it triggered my "fire hot" response!  We took his temp and it was 103 (if memory serves).  We called the doctor and he said to strip him, give him Motrin and Tylenol, and put him in a lukewarm tub.  We did all that.  While I sponged lukewarm water on his body, B went off to find a towel.  I felt NHL’s forehead again and felt it get very hot, very fast.  I called for B and she came in.  He looked up at her, but there was no recognition in his eyes.  Then his eyes rolled back and his head slumped backwards.  I quickly lifted him out of the tub and SCARY MOMENT #1 began.

NHL was lifeless in my arms.  I seriously thought he was dead.  He began to turn blue as we put him on our bed.  Then he began to twitch.  B frantically called 911.  I felt useless.  There was my baby in front of me in serious trouble and I couldn’t do anything to help.  I searched my memory for something, ANYTHING that I could do.  I remembered something about not letting them swallow their tongue.  (Yes, now I know this can’t happen, but I didn’t know at the time.)  I pried his clenched jaws open and tried to move his tongue out.

By the time the emergency personnel came, NHL had started breathing again, though he wasn’t conscious.  We got into the ambulance and headed to the hospital, B in back with NHL, me in the front.  Hearing NHL scream bloody murder never sounded so good.  It turned out that he had Koksaki virus.  That caused the fever which triggered the febrile seizure.  That night B passed out from the sheer exhaustion of the weekend’s events, but I couldn’t sleep.  I’d look down at NHL sleeping next to us and could feel myself getting more anxious every time his fever went up and less anxious every time it went down.  Luckily, after a few days, his fever broke and he was ok.

2.  JSL’s First Febrile Seizure:  One night, last February, after NHL was asleep, we noticed that JSL was running a fever.  We called the doctor and B’s parents.  They got in first and the doctor recommended the same course of action that he did the night of NHL’s seizure.  I objected to the tub since that’s when NHL seized, but I was reassured that it would help his fever.  Nevertheless, I insisted that B have a towel at the ready and not stray from the tub.

JSL went in the tub and after some time splashing, my worst fears came true and SCARY MOMENT #2 began.  JSL began to seize.  We picked him up, but he decided to one up his brother.  Instead of turning blue, like NHL, he turned grey.  He also stopped breathing (like NHL did), but didn’t start breathing again on his own.  As my mother-in-law did rescue breaths on him, I ran from the front door (looking for the already-called-for-ambulance) and the bedroom where JSL lay.  My father-in-law offered to look out the door for me.  He meant well but he didn’t seem to understand.  I needed to *DO* something.  Even if that something was completely useless.  If I wasn’t doing something, then I’d be just staring at my baby’s lifeless body and I couldn’t take that at the moment.

Finally, JSL started breathing again and the emergency personnel came.  They took JSL to the hospital.  I followed in my car with my mother-in-law.  My father-in-law stayed at our house to look after the still-sleeping NHL.  We spent the entire night in the ER.  Literally.  At around 4am we were given a room at the pediatric ward.  They didn’t know what was wrong and wanted to keep him under observation.  It worried them that he didn’t begin breathing again on his own.  For the next 4 days, that room was B and JSL’s home.  Finally, an ear infection showed itself and could be treated.

3. JSL’s Fall:  JSL has had a lot of self-inflicted head injuries.  Whether it be him trying to head-butt someone/something, or just trying to run faster than he can, he seems to have a bullseye on his forehead.  This usually results in a gooseegg, a short screaming session, and then another daring-do JSL run.  This December 2008 night, though, was different.  We were at B’s parent’s house with a bunch of her family.  Dinner had already been eaten and we were playing for a bit before dessert.  JSL was running after B’s father with only socks on his feet.  They ran into the kitchen and we heard a loud klunk!  B’s father came in carrying JSL and said he went up in the air and hit the back of his head.  (This Charlie Brown and the Football.)

He cried for me so I tried to soothe him.  That didn’t work.  So we figured that dessert would be a good distraction.  He refused chocolate.  Now we knew something was definitely up.  SCARY MOMENT #3 was about to begin.  B’s grandmother mentioned that JSL looked pale and then, as the rest of us concurred, he spaced out.  Seriously spaced out.  We took him into the kitchen, kept NHL occupied in the family room with the TV, and called 911.  Tons of emergency workers came out of the snow outside and filled up my in-law’s house.  As they prepared to take JSL to the hospital, B slipped on a wet bootprint and jammed her hand.  It wasn’t serious, but it’d hurt her for some time to come.

B and JSL went in the ambulence while I went in the car.  As I pulled out, and the ambulence pulled away, a neighbor of my in-laws stopped me to ask what was going on.  I quickly told her but then excused myself because the ambulence was getting away.  The ambulence wound through a bunch of side streets and I did my best to keep up.  Did I mention that it had just snowed?  No?  Well, it did.  The roads were really slick and I was afraid that I’d wind up slamming into a parked car while trying to follow the ambulence.

By the time I got to the hospital and got in to see B and JSL, JSL was finally alert.  They examined him and determined that his fall had given him a concussion.  After awhile, he was walking around the ER both to our delight (he’s ok!) and fright (he’s wearing socks on slick tile flooring!!!).

4.  JSL’s Second Seizure:  This one is probably my scariest moment ever for the simple facts that it: Happened only a few days ago (Saturday night) and involved choking which scares me to death.  We had bought a new bike and helmet for NHL and were trying the helment on to see if it was too small.  (It is.)  While we were doing this, JSL was playing on the floor about 2 feet away.  Suddenly JSL leaned forward and grunted.  I first thought he was pooping.  He hadn’t gone all day and could be constipated.  Then, B realized that he wasn’t pooping.  "He’s CHOKING!" She shouted.  Queue SCARY MOMENT #4!  I ran off to get a phone while B did the heimlich manuver and administered back blows.  We had no idea what he could be choking on, but whatever it was wasn’t coming out.  I called 911 and told them my child was choking.  JSL wasn’t responding and was quickly turning blue.

NHL, spared from the previous JSL scares by sleep or TV, was a full witness to this one.  He saw his little brother go limp and lifeless.  He saw JSL foam at the mouth.  He saw Mommy and Daddy panic as JSL wouldn’t respond.  He saw Mommy try to pry open JSL’s mouth to work her fingers inside.  She managed to do it, but then he clamped down again, trapping her fingers in his mouth.

I opened the door and looked out for the ambulence.  No sign of them.  From experience, I knew they were less than 5 minutes away, but suddenly 5 minutes seemed like an eternity.  Finally, I heard a siren.  I ran inside to tell B that the police were here.  NHL ran to the door and shouted at the officer:  "He’s here!  He’s here!  My little brother’s right there!"  The officer didn’t seem to do much to help, but luckily the emergency room personell came soon after.  They flooded the room and I was quickly pushed away from B and JSL by the crowd.  I put NHL on the couch to get him out of the way.

In a display of 5 year old coping mechanism, NHL shifted from being worried about his brother’s well-being to being upset that he couldn’t see the TV.  Then, after B’s parents arrived and were getting him ready to go to their house, he began crying.  He was upset that he’d miss Hebrew school tomorrow!  5 year old coping again.  Your mind can’t handle the big issue so focus on a small one.

B’s father took NHL to his house while B’s mother and I went to the hospital.  By this point, we knew he wasn’t choking.  After all, he would have been unconscious long before the first responders showed up.  In hind-sight, the seizure signs were all there:  Clenched jaw, convulsions (though seizing up muscles, not twitching which threw us), foaming at the mouth, etc.  Our only question was whether this was a febrile seizure (he didn’t seem sick before) or due to some head injury (see SCARY MOMENT #3).

At the hospital, we got our answer.  They took JSL’s temperature and it was 103.5.  That pointed to a febrile seizure.  They listened to his chest and looked in his ears but couldn’t figure out why he had a fever.  After some prompting, they looked in his mouth, but didn’t find anything.  They also didn’t do any blood tests.  Instead, they gave JSL some Motrin and sent us on our way.  Rest assured that an angry phone call is planned.

That’s the end of SCARY MOMENT #4, but not the end of the story.  For the rest of the story, head on over to B’s blog and read: 13 Months later – the nightmare returns, Two febrile seizures in less than 30 hours, and Spring FEVER update.

My Grandmother: A Life In Photos

Last week at this time, I was getting on board an airplane and heading down to see my parents and grandmother.  My grandmother, who turned 94 years old in October, isn’t doing that well.  Her memory has been going for some time, but lately she’s had other issues as well.  Conflicting reports from my parents either had her as heading downhill or at death’s door.  B and I decided that I should head down there to say goodbye as it might be the last time I get to see her.  The boys didn’t come because: 1) I didn’t want them to see great-grandma like that and 2) We didn’t want to pull NHL from school.  B stayed home with the boys, so I was on my own.

After seeing her in person, I don’t think she’s quite at death’s door, but she does seem to be giving up.  All she wants to do is sit and sleep.  I roped her into one game of backgammon but her only real contribution was rolling the dice.  About the only time that my "real grandmother" emerged was when I showed her some videos of the boys that I brought with me.  She smiled and laughed.  My father and I spoke about getting webcams set up so the boys could talk with Bubbe and Grandpa, but perhaps it would be theraputic if they were able to talk with Great-Grandma as well.  Something to think about.

While visiting, I got the chance to see a series of old photos of my grandmother’s.  My mother was trying to decide who to disburse them to when grandma passes away and I decided that they should first be scanned.  The scanned versions could be distributed to all of the kids/grandkids via CD or DVD (depending on how many photos there are).  This way, everyone gets all of the photos even though not everyone gets all of the prints.  My mother and I quickly went through the photos and organized them based on importance.  Photos of my grandparents and father/uncle while they were young got the highest importance.  Photos of me, my sister, or my cousins while they were young were the lowest.

When I went home, I took the 6 highest priority photos with me and scanned them in.  Here they are, along with a photo of my grandmother at her 94th birthday party and a photo of her from this past weekend.

Weight Loss Tips

A few years back, I went on a Weight Watchers-style diet and lost 75 pounds. Over time, I relaxed my rules and the weight slowly snuck back on. Not all of it, mind you. Still 30 pounds got back in. I would go back on the diet here and there but would never stick with it the way I stuck with it originally. One of the big differences between my initial success and my subsequent failures was that my wife wasn’t dieting with me. When we did it initially, we would support one another. When I tried losing the weight on my own, I failed. Now, we’re both on the diet again, however, and so I think I should be able to shave off 20 pounds before I head to Disney World in May.

Here are some of the lessons I learned from my inital successful diet:

  • Support – This is a big one. It could take the form of an online group, an in-person meeting, or family members helping out. Having your spouse onboard is a big help. If your spouse regularly goes off and buys a dozen donuts while you’re trying to shed the pounds you will break your diet no matter how good your willpower is. And no, this isn’t an implication that B did anything to purposefully make me break my diet. However, when she was dieting with me, we could watch each other’s backs. One of us could be strong when the other’s willpower was tested.
  • Drink Water – You’d be surprised how often you misinterpret your body’s “I’m thirsty” signal as “I’m hungry.” So drink plenty of water.
  • Eat On Small Plates – Perception is a powerful thing. There have been studies where people were shown a movie and given large or small containers of popcorn. Some popcorn was stale and some wasn’t. The people with the large containers routinely ate more popcorn than the people with the small containers – even when the popcorn was stale. If you put a plate in front of yourself your body will think that you are eating more than if you put the same amount of food on a much bigger plate.
  • Learn Proper Portion Sizes – The average “American portion” is about three to four times what a real portion is. If you go to a restaurant and order pasta, you’ll be given about 4 portions of it. Don’t be afraid to save leftovers for later. Read nutrition labels to figure out how much a portion is and weight/measure your food.
  • Read Nutrition Labels – Yes, I just said this, but it bears repeating. I can’t tell you how many times something sounded good to me until I saw the nutritional information. And watch that “Number of Servings Per Container” number. Some packs that appear to be single serving will actually report numbers based on two servings. Like anyone is going to open a snack bag of chips and only eat half.
  • Find Healthy Alternatives – Replace that fat and calorie filled bowl of ice cream with a small bowl of fat free frozen yogurt. Look for low fat, high fiber breads instead of plain white bread.
  • Allow Yourself Some Indulgences In Moderation – If you feel cheated on your diet, you *WILL* cheat. So plan on some indulgences. If you like chocolate, Hershey’s Kisses are a great way to get that chocolate fix. I like popping one in my mouth and letting it dissolve without chewing for maximum chocolate-fix satisfaction. If you like pizza, have a slice every couple of weeks. Just don’t indulge too often or with too much quantity.
  • Set Goals, Sub-Goals, and Reward Yourself – It’s nice that you want to lose 20 pounds, but don’t think about it in one huge chunk. Think about losing five pounds. When you reach the five pound mark, give yourself a small treat (cookie, slice of pizza, etc) and then focus on the next five pounds. This way you won’t be discouraged that it is taking you forever to reach your goal. You’ll be able to reach your (smaller) goal more often and boost your self-confidence.
  • You Will Hit Plateaus – Don’t be discouraged if you hit a plateau. It’s inevitable. Don’t be discouraged when it happens. Just keep at it and eventually the plateau will break. Remember, even if you aren’t losing weight, at least you aren’t gaining weight. And if you do gain a pound or two, don’t stress out about it. Some fluctuations are inevitable as you attempt to shed the pounds.

What weight loss tips do you have? How successful have you been in shedding unwanted pounds?

Five Simple Rules For My Sons

I was just reading BuckDaddy‘s 2024 Rules for My Daughter and thought it would be a good idea to compose a set of rules for my sons when they turn 18.  So here goes (in no particular order):

Learn to be self-sufficiant.

Before college, I was reliant on my parents for everything.  My mother did my laundry, cooked my meals, and cleaned the house.  I contributed little to nothing as my mother took the entire burden on herself.  Once I moved off to college, I started cooking and cleaning for myself.  I even did my own laundry.  After college, I moved back in with my parents for a bit.  Looking back, one of my big regrets is that I didn’t do enough to help out around the house.  My mother offered to do my laundry and I accepted the offer.  Pretty soon, I was back to being reliant on them for everything.  (With the exception that this time I had a job and my own car.)

B and I aren’t going to model our household after my parents’ house.  I’m not going to come home from work, sit down on the couch, and ask when dinner’s going to be ready.  In fact, I’m the one who does most of the cooking.  I honestly enjoy trying new recipes out.  As our boys get older, they will share in the household chores.  It will better prepare them for when they live on their own or with their future girlfriends and/or wives.

Treat others the way you want to be treated.

This is something I’m constantly telling NHL now.  He’ll push someone or grab JSL’s neck.  When I stop him, I ask him whether he would like it if someone did that to him.  Of course, he answers that he wouldn’t.  I’ve found in life that you should always treat people the way that you would want to be treated.  Sometimes, it isn’t easy.  People can be rude and cruel at times.  During those times, it is even more important to stay civil and treat those people nicely.  This doesn’t mean that you need to let people walk all over you, but you can be cordial while you hold your ground.

Follow your traditions.

Your heritage is a very important thing.  Because we are Jewish, there are certain traditions that we follow.  We go to temple during Jewish holidays.  We celebrate Chanukah and not Christmas.  And, because I’m more traditional, we keep Kosher in the home.  (We’ll bring in non-Kosher foods, but we eat them using paper dishes and plastic utensils.)  To me, following your religious traditions is very important.  I will leave it to my boys just how much they will follow them.  They might go to Temple every day for morning minyan, might only attend on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, or anywhere in between.  It’s their choice.  About the only thing that would disappoint me would be if they decided to follow another religion’s traditions.  This leads to…

Respect the traditions of others.

Just because you follow your traditions, doesn’t mean you need to put down or make fun of the traditions of others.  In some ways, this falls under "Treat others the way you want to be treated," but I feel it’s important enough to be separate.  Just because your religion is the right path for you, it doesn’t mean that it is the right path for everyone.  You should never force your religious beliefs onto others.  Finally, even if a person’s traditions seem strange to you, don’t make fun of you.  After all, some of your traditions likely seem strange to others.

Strive to leave this world a little better than it was before you.

Like the last rule, this could be grouped under "Treat others the way you want to be treated." It means doing something to help those less fortunate than you.  It means so much more than that, though.  Striving to leave the world a little better means generally acting like a good citizen.  If you have trash, don’t just toss it in the street.  Instead, wait until a garbage can can be used.  If you are done with a shopping cart, don’t just leave it in the middle of the parking lot where it could roll into other cars.  Instead, put it in the cart corral.  Don’t make a mess and just assume that someone else will clean it up for you.

I think if everyone followed those five simple rules, the world would be a better place.

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