After yesterday's long series of challenges, today was actually blissfully uneventful. I woke up reasonably early, while Sara and Ben were still asleep in the next hotel room over, and went out to get some breakfast and evaluate the road conditions. Things looked substantially better than the night before. Even though it was still below freezing, the combination of direct sunlight and moving traffic had already melted most of the ice from the lanes of travel on the main highway. By 11am when everyone was up and ready for travel, you could hardly tell the roads had been treacherous the night before. There were still a few small ice patches, particularly on the bridges, but for the most part the roads were clear and traffic was flowing normally.
It really was a simple enough plan. Ben was scheduled for a consult with the doctor on Thursday morning in Birmingham, AL and then surgery on Friday. The drive from Orlando to Birmingham should have taken 9-10 hours with breaks along the way. I had a hearty breakfast, knowing that I would be driving all day, and then went to pick up Ben and Sara. After some wrangling to get Ben out the door we were on our way north by 10:30. Smooth sailing!
Five months ago Ben got sick. Well, he was sick before that but not visibly so; it was five months ago that he wound up in the hospital with non-stop vomiting. Since then it has been multiple hospital stays, three endoscopic procedures, and months of waiting. Today we leave for Birmingham, Alabama to see a specialist. Friday Ben will have major abdominal surgery to remove part or all of his pancreas, and to transplant the islets into his liver.
I really don't have much to write about this week, except to talk about the wait. Ben has been back to school, today is his seventh consecutive school day. After being out for so long (basically from June of 2013 until January of 2014, so effectively seven full months) he is not performing well. He is physically able to make it through the day, but he steadfastly refuses to do any work. Some of that may be him being physically uncomfortable and worn out from the ongoing pancreatitis. Most of it, though, is just him being smart and cunning enough to pretend not to understand what his teachers ask of him. Tasks that he could easily complete in the classroom last spring he now pretends are insurmountable puzzles. He'll play "no habla englais" in one moment, and then when he thinks nobody is looking he will be visibly satisfied with his deception. He's not a dumb kid. But he is still miserable most of the time, with only tiny reserves of energy.
Any parent knows that having children means that you will spend a certain amount of time dealing frequently with all of the various liquids and solids that will erupt from your child's body, often without warning. You know it is coming, you prepare yourself, and you spend the first couple of years handling it as gracefully as possible until you can get your little bundle of joy potty trained. It's an oogy couple of years, that gets offset by all of the magical milestones (and truth be told, also gets minimized by your near-perpetual sleep deprivation). So when Ben was born in 1993 I was completely aware that I would be spending the mid-90's dealing with a reasonable amount of poop. I never imagined that eighteen years later my son's poop would still be dominating my life.