Friday, March 21, 2014

Three! (And still TV-free)

Avid followers of this blog (I reckon that would be about two or three... including family) would have noticed that I had disappeared for the whole of March before the last post (which, frankly speaking, was a video and hence, involved no real effort). Well, I was planning the big party. Xena turned THREE on 17 March, and only parents of 3-year-olds would know what a big deal that is. Around their third birthday, they are actually aware of what a birthday is, what a birthday party is, and want to be actively involved in the planning of the party ("I want a Tweety cake! No... I want a Hello Kitty cake! No... a Minnie Mouse cake!"). Her second birthday had been a disaster as it marked the beginning of her frequent hospitalisations. (She'd not been well so we'd just had a small gathering of about 12 at home. Just family and close friends. She cut her Nemo cake. Everyone wished her. We had food. She opened her presents. She was happy. And then she was hospitalised with severe bronchiolitis.)

And from then on, we were regulars at the hospital for the whole of 2013. In December last year, she was warded for a week just before Christmas. However, the one good thing that happened was that she underwent a bronchoscopy, while helped to clear her lungs, and surprisingly she did not have any of her episodes for all of January and February. Full attendance at school and all that. So there was this little lingering hope in my heart that perhaps this year would change things and that she could have the kind of grand third birthday party that she wanted. So we booked a restaurant, invited 75 people, ordered a gigantic Tweety cake (I told her she could have the Hello Kitty cake to cut at school, but there was to be no Minnie Mouse cake), wrapped 30 door gifts for the kids, blew 30 balloons the night before and were all set for the party on Sunday. Of course, the lovely haze decided to arrive (right after two months of drought -- a record for Singapore) and since she's in the high-risk group, I was constantly monitoring her blood oxygen level (I have a pulse oximeter at home). Thankfully, all was well.

The night before the party, she went to bed and was breathing comfortably. Viv was out getting dinner and I was working at my desk in the other room. However, I couldn't get rid of a nagging feeling and decided to check her blood oxygen level as she slept. To my utter shock, the oximeter showed 79. Anything below 95 indicates oxygen deprivation and I don't even want to go into the details of what severe oxygen deprivation can do to the brain. With my heart pounding wildly, I checked again and it was still hovering around 79-80. I gave her three puffs of Ventolin and started packing her hospital bag, when Viv got home. We decided to check again after some time to see if the Ventolin had made a difference, and have our dinner in the meantime. I realised I couldn't eat more than a spoonful. I just couldn't believe this was happening. The thing is that we're used to rushing her to hospital and seeing her warded, so that wasn't the big deal. The big deal was that this was happening again around her birthday. She had been so excited about her party and had been talking non-stop about it to anyone and everyone who cared to listen. The thought of her in hospital on yet another birthday, when she should be cutting her Tweety cake and having her grand party, was killing me. "This can't happen! Not now!" I screamed out. Viv had probably never seen me so agitated. He tried to calm me down, but I still couldn't get myself to eat. We checked her blood oxygen level again and it had risen only a little -- to about 83. So off we rushed to the Children's Emergency at KK hospital.

Saturday night is probably the worst night to go to the Emergency department because (1) all clinics are closed and (2) most children somehow seem to fall sick on weekend nights. Of course, the hospital was packed and there was even a sign saying that the average waiting time could be up to 2 hours. Barely three minutes from the time we entered the hospital, Xena was already on the oxygen mask. Once again, I salute KK hospital's efficiency.

By now, we recognise most of the doctors and nurses there, even though they are on rotation and not all are there all the time. Yes, that's the kind of KK frequent fliers we are. That's still okay. The sadder thing is that some of the doctors and nurses there recognise us! Sigh.

She was put on oxygen for about an hour, and also given some Prednisolone (it's a steroid that opens up your airways to help you breathe easier). The nurse said that Prednisolone was extremely bitter and asked me if she'd drink it from a cup or a syringe. We asked her to fill the syringe and hand it to Xena. The very surprised nurse did so, and as Viv and I smugly watched, Xena put the syringe in her mouth and pushed the plunger herself, not even flinching once. And then she thanked the nurse. These are the things that makes our frequent hospital visits so much more bearable. Seeing Xena take it all with so much grace and cheer, we have no reason to be otherwise. (Much later, I tasted a drop of her Prednisolone at home just to see if the nurse had exaggerated its bitterness. And... OMG waaak thooo!)

As we waited, we started thinking of what we'd need to do if she was indeed warded. Call up the guests to tell them the party was cancelled. Call up the restaurant to tell them we'll pay whatever the penalty for such a last-minute cancellation was. Call up the cake shop to tell them they could eat our lovely Tweety cake. No, I'm kidding! I was planning to get the cake to the hospital and have her cut it in her bed. And the good thing was that it was big enough to be shared by the entire ward, including the hospital staff, patients, and maybe even their relatives. You can see that I'd considerably calmed down and was quickly formulating the details of plan B. Of course, there was the lingering hope that for some reason, they'd let her go home latest by the morning and we'd still have the party.

And miraculously, her blood oxygen level elevated. They let her go home at 1 am. The party was supposed to start at 11:30 am. Viv excitedly started talking to her about it in the cab, when he noticed my death glare. "Nobody mentions birthday party," I growled. "Not till it actually happens."

So we got home and put her to bed. My stomach was protesting wildly by then, and I took out my refrigerated dinner which I felt I could stomach now. We got up early the next morning and started preparing. Everyone got dressed, decorations were packed, balloons tied together, Viv went to fetch the cake, and the entire time, no one said anything about a birthday party. It was hilarious on some levels.

And then, the rain came. After two months of dryness, there was rain. And it was not the gentle, pitter-patter kind of rain. It was the "I've finally arrived!" kind of rain. You could almost hear the collective cheer from the parched earth, the yellow grass, the thirsty trees, the dried up reservoirs, and the five million people of Singapore who had been waiting for two months. And then a dear friend sent me a text message, "Xena is indeed blessed. Her birthday has brought us rain."

And so, we had it all. The grand party. The 30 balloons. The birthday banner. The birthday dress. The 75 guests. The humongous Tweety cake. The butter chicken. The gobi manchurian. The gulab jamuns. The birthday wishes. The happy face of our happy little girl.

And though her blood oxygen level at the moment has gone down again to the borderline level and we're on standby to take her back to the hospital anytime, we're happy. She had her birthday party, you see, and that was our KPI for March.

At times I can't believe it. Xena is three. And yes, she's still TV-free. :)


Geomon said...

Heart of GOLD! I have to admit, when I started with your blog, I never knew what I would learn from it. Nothing is enough to describe the respect I have for both you and Viv. And even though I have never met Xena, I feel I have known her for as long as she's been there. My words are useless. Hope the rest of her birthdays are free of pain and bring much rain. Much love!

Yamini said...

You guys are just great! :) And I did think of Xena on the 17th! :) I've been coming here since then to check the updates too! :) Finally this post came up! :)

Belated Happy Birthday to Xena .Wishing her good health, and lots of happiness! :)

Anupama said...

Belated Birthday Wishes to Xena !! Wishing her tons of happiness and absolutely no health issues at all.

This is the first time I'm leaving a comment here. It is really commendable how you guys handle such situations, and reading your posts give me much needed strength to handle issues and the hope and belief that everything will be OK. I respect you both a lot, and Xena too, for the warrior princess that she is.

P.S - There are a lot more than 2 or 3 people who follow your posts :)

rageofacommonner said...

my prayers and best wishes to Xena ... I hope I get to read her 100th birthday celebration details as well .... everything will be fine and she would always spread cheer ...all my love to the sweet little girl

Divya said...

Our Xena is a fighter and may she be blessed with all happiness and good health forever and always!! Lots of love to her!

DeeJ said...

muah to the xena princy and belated wishes :)

I check your blog daily for updates dear!

??! said...

What can one say but ...


To the little warrior, and the big ones.

Subhash Chandra said...

How does she know Tweety/kitty and Minnie without TV?

Varsha said...

Perseverance for so long is very commendable! Makes me feel for all the things that I take for granted. Want to meet Xena and wish her personally, but until then, Happy birthday Dearie!

Nandini said...

<3 hugs to our best little warrior princess!

So is she still mostly food-free in addition to TV-free? Did she eat her cake?

Horizon said...

Birthday wishes to Xena. Hope she had a gr8 time

Arun said...

So did the little warrior princess just cut her cake, or did she eat it too? :)

I hope she's eating better now, or at least facing food with as much equanimity as prednisolone.

My best wishes to all of you!

Sayesha said...

Thank you! :)

Thank you! :)

Thanks for finally commenting, and your wishes. :)

Thank you! :)

Thank you. :)

Thanks! And apologies for the frequent disappearances! :(

Thank you. The big ones derive their strength from the little one. :)

Subhash Chandra,
She has a Tweety toy, a Hello Kitty scooter and a Minnie mouse pajama set.

Thank you. :)

Thanks! :) She's not as food-free as she used to be. She does eat a little bit at school with her friends, but at home it's still a war zone. She tasted a bit of her cake. :)

Thank you. :)

Thank you. :) She was definitely more interested in cutting the cake than eating it, but she did taste a bit of it. Unlike the cake at her 1st and 2nd birthdays, which she refused to touch. :/ Her eating has gotten slightly better, especially at school. Some days the teachers almost high-five me. :P

My Thoughts said...

Belated wishes to the little one and a sincere prayer for her good health.

Kanan said...

Happy belated birthday to dear Xena! So glad she could throw her own third birthday party the way she wished for. Here's to many more happy returns of the birthdays that she can throw herself the way she wants :)
God bless!

Neha said...

A very very happy birthday to your dear little girl!!! I am soooo happy she had her awesome bday party! Wish her lots and lots of good health and a happy life :)

Madhura Rao said...

Hi Sayesha...This is my first comment on this blog...but I have been an avid reader of your blog(considering i started reading blogs only about 6 months back!!)....somehow among all the blogs my sister linked me to read ,I found yours most true ....I have enjoyed going back to your first blogs one by one n have read them ...n everyday when I open my blog reading account I first check for your that goes to say you are eagerly awaited by many I think to put a smile on their lips a big thank you for that...n do take care of yourself so that you can take care of others...lots of good wishes always...

Anonymous said...

When you mentioned about the oxygen level dipping heartbeat increased...the lats thing i wanted to read in this post was that her bday could not be celebrated due to her ill health!! So So So happy for Xena and you guys...:) I wish her ALL THE VERY BEST for the coming years, may all her health problems go away to never come back again...:)

Btw, I am a HUGE fan of your blog. Its my favorite blog. You are an amazing person and reading your stories about raising Xena, inspires me. My daughter turned one on 20th....:)

Vidya Hemraj said...

Hugs >:D<! She looks like a little darling :-). All will be well. And rain in my eyes is always a sign of hope and good things ... may they roll :D.

Sri said...

Happy birthday to Xena!!

Hope she gets better soon!

Smitha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Smitha said...

Belated Bday wishes to Xena...and a big salute to you and Viv:-)...God Bless!
Follow ur blog regularly..though i dont comment as regularly.

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

Happy happy birthday to Xena!! can't believe she is 3 already!! so glad she got to celebrate with a party, well deserved.. :)

Porkodi (பொற்கொடி) said...

visiting your blog after quite a while.. and realized there are not that many "friends" posts from you in the recent times! like you know, back in the days you used to throw parties for friends, Pictionary, surprises all that stuff!! looks like Queen Xena has taken over all our lives entirely.. :D

Blooms And Bugs said...

I almost cried reading this post there was something so poignant and powerful about the way you described all the festivities and your disappointment at almost losing that one big day of her life. Having a 4 year old daughter, I understand what a big deal it is. My little one still talks about her third birthday when I made the decorations by hand...ordered a big pink cake for her, invited all the friends...I could imagine the sadness you must have felt. But I'm so glad that Xena made it back just in time and she looks so happy in those pics. I hope she is always this happy. And she has got her Mom's courage and grace..Kudos to you and Viv!

Anonymous said...

Belated birthday wishes to Xena. Wishing her beautiful health and happiness, always. :) :)

She is a warrior indeed.

And Yayy on No TV. :)

Alice said...

Happy Birthday Princess!

Much Love to you, Sayesha n V.

Pen my thoughts said...

Wow!happy 3rd birthday to Xena!I totally understand the hospital visits but kudos to u and ur hubby!u guys r absolutely doing a great job at it and keeping her tv free is too awesome!its so difficult in this world to be that way! My son turned 4 on 18th and we were running from doctor to doctor too!Between the tests,steroids,antibiotics and nebulisers,we have always had very quiet birthdays for him till now but this year I went all out and made it a huge party !our kids deserve it too!!

Unknown said...

Belated Birthday wishes to Xena!!! God Bless.
Its amazing that you have managed to keep her TV free even now!!!Keep up the good work :-)

To be or not to be .. said...

Happy birthday to the beautiful little sunshine :) ... may she always be full of joy and chirpiness... Here is wishing her good health always !!

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Thisisme said...

though im late here, a very happy birthday to xena :) hope her bdays become more n more fun n bring lot more happiness with each year! :)

Anonymous said...

Belated Birthday wishes to darling Xena! <3

I hope the year brings her good health and lots of happiness!

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