Monday, March 31, 2014

Challenge accepted! (Err... kind of)

So my sister-in-law sent me a message from India, "Are you doing the A to Z blogging challenge?"

So I asked her what any extremely blog-savvy person who has been blogging for over a decade would ask, "What on earth is the A to Z blogging challenge??"

And it was then that she went off radar, leaving my question hanging. I found out later that she had dropped her phone and killed it her phone had fallen and died. I waited for a while but nothing happened. There was complete silence from her end. I waited for a very very long time and when five whole minutes had passed, I couldn't take it any more. I turned to Google devta. It turns out that if you take up the A to Z blogging challenge, you need to write 26 blog posts in the month of April, with topics based on the letters of the alphabet in sequence. So, on the 1st of April, you write a post about something that begins with the letter A, on the 2nd you write about something that begins with B and so on.

I think I have gone completely bonkers because I have decided to do it. In spite of the fact that: 1) I only found out about it a day before, which means I've had no time to think of topics and perhaps even cheat prepare a repository beforehand; 2) I'm a mother, which means my computer time is super unpredictable; 3) Viv is going to the US for two weeks so I'll be taking care of Xena all by myself FOR TWO WEEKS and I'm not sure I'll remain sane enough to blog; and the most terrifying of the lot, 4) holy cow 26 posts in a month.

So who's up for it? You can actually register for the challenge formally, which means a bunch of people will come check on you. *gulp*

Or you can do it like how I'm doing it (with the bailout option) - chal try maarte hain yaar. :)

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

My joyful joey

Apparently I'm the mama kangaroo and she's the joey (or 'doey' as she likes to say) who wants to sit in my pocket. Though I think it's the 'doey' who's got mama kangaroo in her pocket. :)

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. :)

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The hunger games

Okay, this video is from December last year but somehow I missed uploading it here. Viv helped to add English subtitles to this one.

Here's my never hungry caterpillar, describing the very hungry caterpillar and expressing her utter disapproval at the fact that it was hungry again.