A week or two ago I actually wrote out a post in my head, in real time, as I tried to sleep one night. Aren't you glad I didn't share that? Mice, trips to the bathroom, coughing, ....
To keep this one short, I'll focus on the last two days.
Yesterday Bob and I went to bed at 12:30am and got up at 6. We finished packing, took showers, and sprayed the house with IGR and sprinkled it with Diatamaceous Earth. I've seen a couple of fleas, and we want to nip that in the bud. Then we all got in the car and drove to Little Rock, where Riah had a Cardiology appointment. We'd been in the car about 20 minutes when we got the first cry for a bathroom. We stopped at McDonald's for a frappe and some water, so used their toilets. Then we were on the way for real.I'm sure we stopped again, but can't remember, and Bob is reading his schoolwork so I don't want to ask him. We made it to LR in good time, but needed to fill up the van and have lunch. We exited the interstate and drove past three gas stations that didn't have diesel. Then two more. Realizing that this strategy wasn't working very well for us, we first went to McDonald's to eat and use their free wi-fi. After many foiled attempts at searching, I finally found a website devoted to the lowest gas prices in a given town, and was able to pin down a station a few blocks away. It was the only place in the city with diesel, apparently. So we scarfed down our sandwiches, filled the van, and made it to the hospital just in time.
Riah and I went in, and Bob took the others back to the Central High School park. Riah weighed in (in kilos and centimeters, so I made no mental note of the numbers), did a quick EKG and then an ECHO (sonogram). Then we talked with the doctors. Riah's aorta has grown a tenth of a centimeter. His blood pressure is great, he's doing fine all around. But they still think surgery is imminent. They haven't got his record from the UK, so they are just going on what they've seen these two visits. They considered ordering an MRI, but since it is a lengthy process and wasn't an emergency, they thought it best to just schedule one for his next visit in 6 months. I was too brain-dead to think to ask what they could get from an MRI that they couldn't get from the ECHO, so I will have to call or do some research. I''d rather avoid the radiation if it's not absolutely necessary. The doctors both Indian and have pretty strong accents, but the first thing the younger one said was that Riah's accent had changed. He was speaking more properly 6 months ago. :-) Anyway, he told me the name of the surgery that they are considering, but I didn't catch it at all (will have to try to look that up, too). It involves replacing his aortic valve with his own pulmonary valve, and then putting in a transplanted pulmonary valve (from a cadaver or animal). When I heard that phrase my mind started reeling. The reason for this is that his own valve will grow with his body, but whatever is replaced won't, so every 10 years or so he'll have the pulmonary valve re-done, and it's easier to work on the pulmonary than on the aortic side of the heart. Either way, very freaky stuff. But we were left with instructions to keep him as normal; play and work as any other boy; no medications or other special care.
Bob came back to pick us up, and his knee was hurting, and it was hot. We tried to think of something to do, and were driving across the Arkansas River when we spotted a submarine! So we turned down to the riverside. The Maritime Museum was closed for weekdays, but we looked around for awhile anyway. After a thorough examination of the sub, the barges, the 2-man gun, the turtles and the snake, we were quite warm and thirsty. I suggested we head to the mall, where we could eat and walk around in the A/C, so off we went. After a bathroom stop I was shopping in Motherhood while Bob and the children played/rested in a seating area in the center walkway. Long story a little shorter, Elijah fell and hit his face on a coffee table, cutting himself just beside his right eye. The children all freaked out when they saw the blood, and William was afraid Elijah would die. As Bob went to "Guest services" to ask for a first aid kit, I got a Tylenol out of the diaper bag. Ella asked who was it for, and I rather sarcastically answered, "Who got hurt?" Elijah, not understanding my tone, tried to help me with my question. His answer? "William" was hurt. :-) Sweet boys, so concerned about each other. We cleaned and patched him as well as we could, and walked around a bit more before eating in the food court. When he started bleeding again, we headed out to stop at a drugstore for better bandages. By the time we got there Elijah was asleep again (he was asleep every time we stopped that day, so never did get a proper nap).
The shopping center with the drugstore had a playground, so we let the older children play while Elijah slept in the car. But it was still hot out, so that didn't last too long. Went back in the store for bottled water and ice cream. Then we went back to the river where we walked across a ridiculously tall bridge and watched the sun set. The big public park on the south side of the river was closed in preparation of a big even this weekend, so we had no facilities there. Anyway, about dark we headed back out of town, to our hotel in Conway.
We would have stayed on base, in a nice 2 bedroom hotel suite, but they were booked up. So we stayed at "America's Best Value Inn" at $50 per room. I only booked one room, as there was no policy about numbers or children or anything on their website. There were two queen beds, and lots of room on the floor. The beds weren't great, but I've certainly seen worse, and everything worked and was clean. The boys slept in their sleeping bags; the girls shared one bed, and Bob and I had the other. It took Elijah a little while to fall asleep, as he kept worrying that he'd miss a chance to eat. Every 2 minutes he'd pop up and say "finished sleeping!" But we finally all got our rest.
Today, we finally all woke up. We had breakfast in our room (cold cereal, plus some doughnuts from the hotel lobby). Bob got online and checked out his new class which starts today. He had to post a biography today, so he got that done before we left the hotel. Then we were free for the day. Still feeling parched from yesterday, our first stop was the grocery store for more water. I got a case this time. Then we drove up to the next town in time for lunch. We ate at Bonanza, which smelled nice and wasn't too expensive. But the buffet was severely limited, and most of the children didn't like most of what was on offer. We eventually got full and made a very circuitous route toward a marked highway, heading to Petit Jean Mountain state park.
On the mountain we stopped at several lookouts, the car museum, and the visitor center. After one lookout stop, Riah declared, "THIS is a vacation!" We all had a good time, and Bob is interested in going back in the Fall. It was nearly dinner time when we got back down the mountain, so we stopped in the next down to eat. We were getting pretty tired by then, so came straight on home (after just one more pit stop). Got home about 9, swept and vacuumed to clear the Diatamaceous earth. Then unpacked the car and headed for bed. Well, some of us - it's 11:22 now and Bob and I are still up for some reason. It does feel good to get that all of my mind.