I'm literally working on 15 non-contiguous minutes of sleep since 5:30 yesterday morning, so I'm just gonna bullet point and pray that this makes sense. Aiming for the screen in the middle, as it were. I promise photos and videos when we get back home and have had a chance to rest. Meanwhile ...
- Woke to snow covered ground and temps in the low twenties Wednesday morning. Oh, sweet, creamy Jesus, nothing says "road trip" like ice-slicked roads and the world's worst drivers. (Seriously, Delaware? That whole tax-free shopping thing? Well, I for one would gladly pay a few percent in sales tax if you promise to use the money to teach your citizens how to drive, m'kay?)
- Trip was fairly uneventful save for some slight weirdness in the men's room at Denny's (pee break number 3) where some guy was asleep and snoring in the stall.
- Speaking of snoring, it finally occurred to me what Sandi's snoring reminds me of: an 18-wheeler gently swerving onto the rumble strips. If you slowed it down it would sound like "nyugugugugugug." She even glances off the guard rail with a "brupfffshissssssshhhhhhhh." Her highway sounds and the ebb and flo of my CPAP last night made an odd rhythm section that would have been at home in a yet unwritten Tom Waits "trucking up the coast" song. Diamond on My Windshield. Truckers in the Sand. Whatever. Did I mention I haven't slept in days?
- Also passed a store owned by 2 brothers (can't remember the name) on Rt. 29 that offered guns, gun cleaning, a gun range, gun safes, gun accessories, ammo (both factory and reloads), targets, fireworks and cold soda. Couldn't help wonder what it was like living next to those brothers as kids. Mom, have you seen the dog? Not another one!
- The kids watched 2 whole movies on the way down and still had time to pretend to play Go Fish without cards (Thomas: "Got any penguins?" Ethan: "No." Thomas: "Ethan, you're supposed to say 'yes.'" Ethan: "Yes." Thomas: "DAMMIT!" It occurs to me that I never understood that game.)
- We made it to Charlottesville about an hour ahead of time. What a beautiful town! Of course most of the UVA kids look like they're trying to get back at their rich parents. Look At This Fucking Hipster would die and think they'd gone to heaven. Whatever. I come from the generation that brought you the Achy Breaky hair, so I am in no place to point a glamorous finger. Still, I can't help but thinking of Clarice Starling, wondering in which buildings she had classes.
- Ethan had his hearing test, then we met the man. Dr. Brad is everything we'd hoped for and more. You can see the smart wafting off him like hot on a desert highway. Ethan liked him instantly. Dr. Brad explained what would happen during surgery: he'll make the incision, drill through to the middle ear creating the canal, fashion an ear drum from some cartilage behind the ear, then take a skin graft from the upper arm to line the newly formed canal. He says that often the only post-op pain kids experience is from the skin graft. After everything's in place, he'll pack the ear and send Ethan to recovery.
- We decided that Thomas' voice should be the first voice Ethan hears with his new ear. Thomas is practicing.
- After our consultation we had to go to the pre-surgery area. When we arrived we were handed a 4-page questionnaire to fill out. Had to wait 2 hours just to hand that paperwork to some woman who sounded just like Paula Dean, y'all. 2 hours. In a waiting room. With 2 young boys who have been awake and moving since 5:30 that morning. And all the TVs had Glenn Beck on. God help me.
- I promised to take the kids to the pool, so when we got back to the hotel we got changed and took a dip. I opted for the hot tub. I may opt for it again tonight if the cosmos align. Just me and Thomas since Sandi's staying with Eth tonight.
- The restaurant at the hotel apologized for having no food. We ordered out. Ate dinner at about 8, which could explain why none of us slept well.
- This morning's free coffee was worth every penny.
- Up at 4:30 this morning to check Ethan in at 6.
- Ethan was observably freaked out this morning. He wanted to get changed back into his clothes and leave. He wouldn't take the liquid they offered to "take the edge off" and make anesthetizing that much easier. So Sandi had to get dressed in scrubs and go with him into the OR where they pumped chocolate-scented anesthesia through a mask. Sandi was pretty upset when she came back. That was the last time either of us will see him until his surgery is complete.
- We grabbed a little breakfast and have since set up shop in the waiting area (think People of Walmart, only fatter). Bill O'Reilly is on. Jesus, am I glad I didn't wear my Democracy Now! t-shirt or bring the book I'm reading: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins. Saw quite a few rebel flags on the way here. Yeah, no.
- Thomas and I walked back to the hotel for pooping privacy and a little Imagination Movers. Ethan should be out of surgery between 11:30 and 12:30. Dr. Brad will send update messages to us throughout the morning, and assures us that he'll have a really clear idea of what kind of result we can expect when the surgery's over. Honestly, I've never worried less about another human being's competency in my life. I am a little sad that I didn't get to meet Ronnie Bean on this trip, but we've left messages with co-workers.
Ronnie: If you still read this, thanks so much for everything. So sorry we missed you. Maybe next week on our follow-up visit?
So now it's back to the hospital to oversee Thomas' homework and dream of warmer, hearinger days. But before I go I want to thank ALL of you who have sent your messages of support and good wishes. I'm not kidding when I say that we can feel the vibes, so please keep them coming. Love to you all.
"Daddy, I got you something from the store. *fart* Hee hee." -- Ethan